Saturday, July 19, 2014

#111: The Wish Child

Season: 2

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
MacGyver goes to Chinatown to pick up a friend's 14 year-old brother from a birthday party.  The boy is not at a party, however, but rather is with criminals while fraudulently pretending to be an ancient Chinese mythological figure, The Wish Child.  The boy is kidnapped and put on a freight to China, but MacGyver rescues him just in time.  

Memorable Quote:
"I changed my mind – I’m not taking that cruise."  ~MacGyver, after escaping from a shipping crate, to some perplexed dock workers.  
 
Highlight:
I enjoyed the part toward the end where MacGyver runs into a bad guy on the boat while pretending to be a mechanic.  First MacGyver drops a tool on the thug's foot and then hooks his belt to a wire and raises him off the ground while the thug repeatedly yells, "Get me down!" in an amusing voice.  

Lowlight:
Paul/The Wish Child's acting.  

Best MacGyverism:
Uses the smoke from a fire extinguisher to make a Wish Child statue appear like it's floating to distract Mr. Lee, though it's unclear why the smoke hides everything else except the statue.  

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • For the intro, we have shots of people on the beach (mostly women in bikinis) while MacGyver's voice-over says, "I grew up in Northern Minnesota, and I remember snowdrifts that would bury whole parking lots, icicles longer than a hockey stick, and being stuck with three layers of clothing.  My favorite, though, was when they announced exposed flesh warnings on the radio to prevent frostbite.  When I came to California, I found it’s really a small world.  They had exposed flesh warnings too called beach parties.  The type of party that did away with frostbite.  Did away with most of the clothing too."
    • Of course MacGyver is from Minnesota, but I hadn't known or remembered that it was Northern Minnesota.  I'm glad that's true and that he's not from Minneapolis/St. Paul or a suburb.  Nothing against the Twin Cities, but it's much cooler (and I suppose colder) to be from Northern Minnesota.  
    • This episode has a ton of voice-overs, i.e. MacGyver talking to himself and we get to hear his thoughts.  I LOVE the voice-overs.  Sadly, it appears that RDA himself did not (I read that in the beginning of the Fugitive Gauntlet comic book).  They go away in the later seasons, and it's too bad because it is always nice to hear what he is thinking.  
    • I used to watch MacGyver on USA network, and when I first rewatched the episodes on DVD, I sometimes noticed new scenes that I'd never seen before.  Almost like a deleted scene, it didn't make it into the televised show, but they stuck it in the DVD.  Now that it's been years since I've had the DVDs, it's hard to remember what was a new scene and what was not, but I think this whole beach thing is a new one.  
  • After the beach, we go right into MacGyver's apartment where he is dressed like the Karate Kid and sparring with a woman in a mask who turns out to be Tia Carrere.  This episode also includes George Takei and James Hong - some nice star power here.  
  • After the sparring, MacGyver gets a phone call, and it's for Lisa (Tia Carrere).  Turns out someone wants to finance her karate studio, and he wants her to fly to San Francisco immediately.  Not sure how the financier knew MacGyver's number or that she'd be at his apartment.  And maybe she should have talked to him for more than ten seconds before getting on a plane, because at the end of the day we learn things didn't work out for her.
  • Nice foreshadowing where we see the dragon mask in a garbage can, and later MacGyver uses that mask on his remote control car to distract a guard.
  • I like how MacGyver just walks right into the meeting room, Martin Riggs-style.   
  • Unfortunately, his bravado only manages to get him knocked out and placed in a shipping crate full of fireworks over the harbor.  He blows out the side of the crate and finds himself hanging on while dangling in the air - a famous scene immortalized in the opening credits.  There are also some great lines like "No one told me the party moved upstairs," and "I was sitting on a pile of fireworks and some joker is outside playing shake, rattle, and roll."  I have no idea what that last one means.  
  • I like Sam, the slick but good-hearted friend who knows the Chinese language and the neighborhood.  Too bad we don't see him in any more episodes. 
  • Sam says that the Wish Child legend is "ancient" but also that it took place 400 years ago. Not exactly ancient.  But he did say something about the Wish Child being reborn at that time, so maybe it does go back earlier.  
  • "Old Minnesota wisdom: If you don’t want to be touched, look downright untouchable." ~MacGyver.  You can never have too much old Minnesota wisdom. 
  • For the second straight episode, MacGyver et al just walk away in the end from the bad guys without a modicum of urgency.  I like the word "modicum." 
  • The end credits have a good shot of Karate Kid MacGyver.  Did you know that every end credit shot includes MacGyver?  True story.

Final Analysis:
I like this episode, despite the ridiculous premise of criminals believing the boy is a mythological figure.  Overall it's much better than I remembered - I'm not sure why I had it so low. I think I thought that the boy's acting really brought it down, and while it's not great, it's not a disaster. The villains are now starting to be more menacing and competent.  Overall, things are taking a clear turn for the better at the MacGyver Project.  Next up, we stay in season two for the first act of a two act drama.  

19 comments:

  1. Takes more than a modicum of skill to deconstruct this series -- hats off to you for all your hard work to date! Keep 'em coming!

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  2. Thanks Liney! Slowly but surely I'm making my way through the list!

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  3. We're close on the ranking of this episode but little else. I found the voice-overs that were so heavy in the early episodes of season 2 to be very cloying and sent the show in a lighthearted direction that I thought ill-suited it. I was glad they ended them. As for this episode, the beginning was enjoyable and I liked the "dangling over the harbor in a fireworks crate" bit alot. It went downhill for me after that as they didn't seem to have an hour's worth of material and stretched it out with filler scenes of characters spending several minutes walking/running up and down the corridors of Mr. Li's ship and the lame fight scene at end where MacGyver lassoed the villain's leg with a string. It wasn't a total loss as there were interesting scenes here and there but it felt like this one was pasted together in a pinch, and the fact that four staff writers collaborated to grind this sausage out of the production machine adds to my suspicion on that end. I ranked this one #114.

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  4. The original episodes - the early ones - were 50 minutes long, then the FCC allowed more commercials and shows were reduced to 42 minutes, so when USA network ran the earlier ones - and some later ones - they cut scenes to fit all those commercials. There's a scene from The Wall that I knew was missing from the USA version b/c I'd seen it in the first-run version.

    I'd have ranked this ep low too, I was disappointed by it. It didn't live up to what I had expected from the TV Guide description I'd read at the time.

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  5. The introduction to this one had some definite appeal and the camera operator must have had fun getting the, ahem, right shots! Now we know why MacGyver has the beach front apartment, and he obviously still had his mind on the ladies when telling Lisa that he couldn't forget she was a woman!

    Anyway, this episode was a bit haphazard to say the least. Chinatown was an interesting setting but it seemed strange to compliment it with the old looking ship with hidden rooms. I initially thought that the actor who played Paul had been in a later episode, Murderer's Sky, until I checked and found that he had only been in this one. I think the whole Wish Child premise would have played out better if the 'child' in question had been a lot younger. It sounded daft every time someone mentioned the Wish Child and then you saw a fairly mature looking teenager. This was especially funny when they escaped from the lockup at the end and Mr Lee keeps yelling for the 'Child'. It was good to finally see the 'hanging from a crate' scene from the opening credits, with a funny comeback from MacGyver as he walked away from the bemused harbour staff! There seemed to be another disembodied voice moment (I seem to be good at picking these out for some reason!) when the crook was hooked up in the ship. His mouth is moving but it doesn't look like he's saying 'get me down'!

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    1. When I was a kid, I used to get this one and Murderer's Sky confused also.

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    2. This is a midlevel episode for me. Its solid and interesting, and nothing about it really bothered me. It was fun from beginning to end and brought us the quote getting "shanghaied in Chinatown" (the term Shanghai was also used in Unfinished Business with Jack Dalton using it referring to Pete). Its also replete with interesting and multirole actors: the internet famous George Takei, the four-episode and many movie James Hong, two-episode Tia Carrere. The actor who played Paul died in 2002, age 31. I wonder of what.

      Its easy to confuse Paul Chan with Luke Chung, it probably would have been worse had they been the same actor. I really like that about recycling actors. And this also shows how someone said on another post that this show really had a lot of plot and setting diversity.

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  6. "This episode has a ton of voice-overs, i.e. MacGyver talking to himself and we get to hear his thoughts. I LOVE the voice-overs. Sadly, it appears that RDA himself did not (I read that in the beginning of the Fugitive Gauntlet comic book). They go away in the later seasons, and it's too bad because it is always nice to hear what he is thinking."

    What!?!?! RDA didn't like the voice overs? I had no idea.. Why didn't he like them!? I love the voice overs too!

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    1. I think it was a time thing, since he was already overworked and in every scene and then they made him do additional hours of voiceovers.

      And thanks for the comments! Are you currently rewatching the series?

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    2. "I think it was a time thing, since he was already overworked and in every scene and then they made him do additional hours of voiceovers."

      Awww poor RDA! :(

      "And thanks for the comments! Are you currently rewatching the series?"

      You're welcome! :) Actually, I have rewatched some episodes of the series, because this new fake Macgyver isn't cutting it for me. It's awful. So I watch the real Macgyver and that makes me feel better. I gave the new show a month in October and now I am done. I will watch the episode when Murdoc shows up. I wonder how they will introduce him.. Will Murdoc and Macgyver know each other and used to be BFF's, and then had a falling out? ROFL!

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    3. The way they're mucking up the whole of the ethos of MacGyver w/ the new version, that's probably EXACTLY what they're going to do. And that makes me really sad. =(

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  7. "Highlander_II says The way they're mucking up the whole of the ethos of MacGyver w/ the new version,"

    Yeah they are mucking it up really badly!

    "that's probably EXACTLY what they're going to do. And that makes me really sad. =("

    Yeah really sad and stupid! :(

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  8. When I first saw this episode, I remember thinking “wow, Ernie’s grown up!”, and I have no idea how that’s possible as I’ve never seen Murderer’s Sky before this CBS rerun and in the early nineties there was no way of looking up episode casts ahead of schedule. I started watching this CBS rerun from season 3 (they started over after the last episode), and when I saw Ernie’s name in the opening credits, I expected the episode with the boy with the white hair, then I thought perhaps he was in both episodes until I looked up who played the wish child (I agree that he should have been younger). They do look similar but Paul doesn’t come anywhere near Ernie’s kind-hearted personality.
    The first detail that come back was MacGyver’s way of escape from the box (a terrible idea, looking at it now), and him suddenly finding himself in the air, of course. Great shocker. The “shake, rattle and roll” is a reference to a song with the same name and the shaking of a dice in a cup before the roll. Watching it now, the brolly grappling hook on that thin rope didn’t look that good an idea either. Would it not have been quicker to stack a few of them bins and boxes on top of each other? The lid frisbee was pretty cool though and that they left the mystery open by the palm print fit and the heart attack.
    I liked Sam too, especially his offering of “real genuine copies of a certified replica”.
    A few years back I saw the Mythbusters trying MacGyver’s gunpowder lock blow and they had to change a number of things to get there. I think the first problem was that they couldn’t just unscrew the cartridges with fingers like MacGyver, then they had to use a lot more gunpowder and ignite it electronically (final verdict: busted). I love when they take on MacGyver. And the oil stains looked kind of good on him in a way of making him look like one very hard worker.
    “I remember the age when it was cool to be bad. Dumb age.” I really like this one because MacGyver has no problem admitting that we weren’t any better instead of the older generations’ knee-jerk complaining about the younger ones!
    As for the new series, muck up indeed. I’m gutted. I had my part of moaning about it at the Countdown comments because it took a direction that I can only define as a number of mistakes as bad as easily avoidable.

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    1. I bet there's a 90% consensus among the hard-core fans of the original that this reboot is a turkey. My guess is most of those watching the reboot are the casual fans of the original who don't remember too many details from it, and are simply watching the reboot because they're middle-aged and have little else to do on Friday nights.

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    2. Is fake!MacGyver still a lead-in to H50? that may be the only thing keeping it alive, b/c H50 is still pretty popular and ppl do that 'sit down at 8 and watch through the night' thing.

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    3. "Mark says I bet there's a 90% consensus among the hard-core fans of the original that this reboot is a turkey."

      Yup!!! The reboot IS a turkey!!!

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  9. There are definitely "worse" episodes than this, but this is hands down my least favorite one to watch. It's an absolute clunker from the early seasons which is my favorite part of the show.

    If I had to give a reason or two why, it would be because I'd much rather view something absurdly stupid like some of the later season duds than a snoozefest like this. It's also annoying to see a good cast of guest stars wasted on such a terrible central character and plot.

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  10. Hi Mark, lovely to read you again, the amount of knowledge and information you shared about production details is unbelievable! I agree about Gotham; I don’t have a problem with reboots in general, it’s just that in the case of “MacGyver” I so wish I wouldn’t keep getting distracted and bothered by the fact that the characters inexplicably wear the names of those from a series they have next to nothing to do with. Without that I would likely to enjoy the new show like I generally did Scorpion it reminds me a lot more of than “MacGyver”. Even in the one scene I watched of it on YouTube my only problem was this lack of continuity as not only the otherwise pretty cool action was nothing like anything from the original series but MacGyver introduced himself by his full name. Bloody hell!

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