Friday, December 26, 2014

#73: Children of Light

Season: 5

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
A young woman comes to MacGyver's houseboat claiming to be Sue Ling, a Chinese orphan sponsored by MacGyver long ago, but MacGyver and Pete soon discover that she is really Sue Ling's roommate, Mei Jan.  They also learn that Sue Ling was killed during the Tiananmen Square protests, and Mei Jan has a videotape that shows the violent acts committed by the Chinese army against the student protesters.  The local Chinese consulars kidnap Mae Jin and take her videotape, and MacGyver breaks into the consulate to rescue her.  

Memorable Quote:
Free Mei Jan!  Free China!  ~Protestors outside consulate

The last 15 minutes when MacGyver is in the consulate - a lot of action and good music.  I particularly like when they run through the kitchen and MacGyver throws one of the goon's guns into a boiling pot of water.  

The part where they're watching the Tiananmen Square protests on VHS is a bit slow and drawn out. 

Best MacGyverism:
Takes a metal pole and bends it into a shepherd's crook shape.  Ties one end of a long cable to the consulate roof and throws the other end to Pete to tie onto a van bumper.  Grabs the metal crook and slides down the rope off of the roof.  

It's a memorable escape, though it must be noted that if anyone ever actually tried this, they would crash violently into the van at a very high speed and break every bone in their body.  

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Whoa, it's Tzi Ma!  Great actor who I know from Rush Hour as Consul Han and 24 as the loathsome Cheng Zhi.  I didn't realize he was in this episode until I saw his name in the opening credits.  He plays Wing Lee, a student who is part of the protest movement.  
  • 12:56 mark - fun little moment as MacGyver gives Pete an ice pack and also a gentle pat on the head.  
  • 15:45 - Pete and MacGyver give Mei Jan their patented "silent staredown of disappointment," last seen given to Michael Thornton in Fraternity of Thieves.  
  • Back to Tzi Ma.  At the end as Wing Lee takes charge of the protest outside the Chinese consulate, I thought of his polar opposite Cheng Zhi (24) character who ironically is the head of the very same Los Angeles Chinese Consulate.  The security is about 1000 times more sophisticated when Jack Bauer breaks in to steal a prisoner in Season 4, and he would have pulled it off if not for one of his men being unmasked and captured on film.  Cheng Zhi makes it personal with Bauer and kidnaps him at the end of Season 5 where he is tortured for 2 years.  I was very glad that Bauer got his revenge in Season 9.  It is interesting how Bauer's crime of breaking into the consulate was considered an act of war by the Chinese and was a serious enough offense that the President lied to China and Bauer faked his own death, yet when MacGyver breaks into the consulate, there's not a whiff of outrage from China - instead just international embarrassment for the scenes from the videotape. 

Final Analysis:
The first half of this episode is fairly slow and unmemorable, but the second half is exciting. Coming up next, MacGyver faces one of his largest-scale threats, possibly the largest! 


  1. We're pretty far apart on this one as I thought the first half was better than the second. The only part of the episode that really captured me was the videotaped footage of the Tiananmen Square massacre and Mei Jan's very personalized narration and response to it. I also got a good kick of MacGyver fixing Pete's alarm clock at the beginning that the viewer was led to believe was a bomb going off at midnight. It was gimmicks like that kept MacGyver fresh and fun for me, even for a generally dark episode. The early unfolding of the "who is this girl?" mystery intrigued me and I liked how despite her slippery tactics, her cause was sound and the character became not only likable but quite admirable. And yeah, it's hard to miss the name "Tzi Ma" when one encounters it in TV credits and he's been on a ton of shows as the "token Asian guy" over the years, but I agree his most memorable role was in 24. And it's fun to compare the sinister Cheng Zhi with Wing Le on MacGyver.

    The second half felt a little more conventional to me, and you touched upon what worked least for me in the second half....MacGyver thinking he could sneak into the Chinese consulate undetected. The ambassador running the consulate echoed my feelings completely when he said "Really Mr. MacGyver, do you think you are dealing with children here!" And while I liked MacGyver's TV antenna escape, this was the third time on the series that he used that "ride the wire" gimmick as it was done before in both "The Prodigal" and "Back from the Dead". This may have been the most sophisticated of the three but it still felt the least consequential to me since I had seen him do it twice before. This was an episode I generally enjoyed but rank it modestly because the execution felt a little too conventional to me. I ranked it #110.

    Gotta say I'm impressed with your pace here....two episodes in two days! Can we expect this same pace over the next 72 days? :)

    1. Haha thanks, unfortunately I don't think I can keep up this Usain Bolt-pace! It's just that I have some extra time this weekend. I'd say my pace is now around 2 per week, sometimes more. If that holds then I'll be done in 9 months. Earlier this year it was more like 2 per month. It helps to know that there are people reading it - when I first started, that wasn't the case. Also I'm enjoying these episodes much more and that will only increase. Though the bad ones were fun to write about and make fun of, but it was hard sometimes to get excited about watching the next one. Now I am always excited to watch the next one.

  2. I liked this episode very much....both because Tianamen Square was a very real and both tragic and hopeful event and I admired the MacGyver franchise for taking it on as a topic...and because it was an amazing episode using the MacGyverism of escape from the embassy. Thanks for your explanation of the episode. I enjoy your blog.

    1. I also had a lot of respect for the series for taking this issue on.

  3. I've really got a lot of catching up to do now! Will also try to get round to commening on some more of the earlier postings - there's some of my favourites ranked way down there!

    1. Looking forward to your comments!

    2. Have finally got around to re-watching this one. and I have to say, its not high on my list of favourites - I'd rank it around the 110, like Mark. I agree its a serious cause for the series to take on and maybe because of that I found it a little too worthy and slow especially the exposition around the tape and Mei Jan's identity, admirable though she is, and the embassy scenes involving the diplomats discussing the situation, MacGyver just spends too much time listening and going through a variety of expressions for me. I too liked the beginning where the viewer thinks MacGyver's defusing a bomb and the pat on the head. When they leave the house boat early on wouldn't they have noticed two very obvious carloads of Chinese heavies? And in the embassy, they're smart enough to spot MacGyver's break-in (I liked his coolness when faces with immediate discovery) but not to remove his knife which he subsequently uses on the roof to cut the wire.The escape is a good one but we've seen it all before.

    3. I laughed at that too when they leave the houseboat and don't notice the guy taking their pictures from 15 feet away. I didn't pick up on his use of the knife at the end, so good observation there on your part - that is silly that they didn't take his knife away.

  4. It just played on ME-TV i played Yang the chinese thug who was taking pics and kidnapping the girl. If you notice there is a clothe malfunction when I get out the car at the university and I`m wearing a suit and later taking pics i`m not LOL

    1. I just went back and checked and I can see the goof! Thanks for sharing!