Tuesday, December 16, 2014

#77: Soft Touch

Season: 2

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
Penny Parker delivers a singing telegram to the wrong house and witnesses someone being tortured.  The bad guys later kidnap her and Biff, a Russian political prisoner who MacGyver rescued in Siberia and took to the U.S.  MacGyver saves Penny and Biff from a freezer and then they all head down to City Hall to stop the assassination of a Colombian leader.  

Memorable Quote:
But if life in America is like this, who needs movies?  ~Biff
It's true.  All you really need is...Penny Parker.   ~MacGyver

RDA is always great as the straight man whether it's to Jack Dalton or Penny Parker, and this episode is no exception as there are numerous genuinely funny moments, including MacGyver and Penny looking for the house she walked into earlier  ("Penny, they're all brown") and then when they watch Penny's infinitesimal guest-starring role ("That was it?").  But my favorite is at the 14:00 mark when she crashes his jeep into the garbage cans and then his reaction as he discovers the damage to the back bumper.  Fantastic stuff.  

Not enjoyable to see the agent getting tortured with loud music until his eardrums burst. 

Best MacGyverism:
Takes pieces of magnesium from wheelchair wheels and heats them and some rags inside an iron pipe in order to expand the freezer lock.  

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Totally forgot about the brief opening scene in Siberia.  I like it, but the writers should have made an effort to let the audience know that this was not the first episode for Yuri (Biff). 
  • We just saw Michael Ensign getting thrown out of a helicopter - now he's getting shot and left in a freezer.  
  • 12:30 - Pete orders MacGyver to take Biff to New York the next day, but then the next day comes and this trip is never mentioned.  Maybe they got distracted by everything else that was going on. 
  • 30:23 - love the tossing of the flare onto the van roof so it can be followed
  • I feel like I should like Biff more than I do.  He's a nice guy and the acting is fine, but I just wonder if he was really necessary for the episode.  His scenes, like the one with him and Penny talking in the freezer, tend to slow the pace down without adding much value. 
  • I'm a huge James Bond fan (have read all the original books and seen all the movies), and Tomorrow Never Dies is my favorite of the Brosnan movies and one of if not my favorite Bonds of all time.  I just love everything about it from beginning to end.  In the middle of the movie, Vincent Schiavelli appears as a memorable villain, Dr. Kaufman. Bond walks into his hotel room and finds the body of Paris Carver (Teri Hatcher), and then he turns around to see Kaufman pointing a gun at him ("I could zhoot you from Zhuttgart and ztill create ze proper effect, ya?").  Vincent may have taken down Paris, but he couldn't stop Penny Parker!  
  • The ending scene is fun, and good use of the wiring by MacGyver to take down the bad guys.

Final Analysis:
I liked this one more than I remembered.  Reading my synopsis again, it sounds ridiculous, but it is actually pretty solid from beginning to end, and there are lots of fun scenes between MacGyver and Penny.  Next up, let's go to Season 1 for the first time in a while!

And if you're still looking for a Christmas gift for any 12 year-olds that you know, consider my book The Nightingale Moon!  


  1. Uff da! I didn't like this one. And I did like it as a boy but I don't find it to hold up well at all. Surprised you like it given your previous distaste for the slapstick episodes considering this was one of the more slapsticky episodes "MacGyver" made over the course of seven seasons. It reminds me of "Honest Abe" in that there's a lot of talent in the cast but every major player in the story besides MacGyver himself is a cartoon character, and the thin action plot plays second fiddle to that gag reel aspect. There were a number of humorous and fun moments to be sure but this episode stands out as Exhibit A why I disliked the general tone of season 2.

    I've touched upon my love-hate relationship with Penny Parker in the past but this is the episode where she really grates on me. Teri Hatcher has the charm to pull the character off but I wasn't fond of much of the material she had to work with here ("you undoubtedly had a troubled childhood" to the hitmen who just kidnapped her) and thought it made her seem dumber than what her character was meant to be. There was an aura of amusement to be found here and a competent cast that helped things from spiraling into a "MacGyver's Women" level of insipidness for me but I gotta say I dislike this one more every time I watch it. Sorry to step on your review. It was a very high-rated episode back in January 1987 so perhaps your sentiment is closer to the mainstream than mine. I ranked it #132.

    1. Interesting take. I hadn't thought of it as slapstick like Honest Abe, but I can see where you're coming from. I think it's because I didn't find Penny annoying unlike Abe or Lulu or Pinky, in fact I really enjoyed her in this episode and found the scenes with her and RDA genuinely amusing.

    2. We're in basic agreement over a general dislike for the really lighthearted and slapsticky episodes but I've made my own exceptions. In my case, I rated "Harry's Will" pretty strongly because I liked the story and found it reasonably funny aside from the odious Rich Little cameo at the end. And there's at least one more really lighthearted episode that has yet to appear on your list and is well into top half of mine.

    3. Now you got me curious as to which episode left is the really lighthearted one! My best guess is either Faith Hope + Charity or else one of the Dalton ones. I'm a big fan of FH+C though I don't remember where exactly it's ranked (since I've been avoiding looking at the whole list since I made it).

  2. Had no idea you were an author. I just might have to pick up a copy of your book! Have you published anything else?

    1. That'd be great, thanks Mark! Hopefully you'd find it more Holy Rose-ish than MacGyver's Women-ish, and it does involve treasure hunting! It's the only thing I've published - I have an idea for a sequel but haven't started on it yet.

  3. "Vincent may have taken down Paris, but he couldn't stop Penny Parker!"

    Nobody can stop Penny Parker! Hahahahaha!

  4. One thing that bothered me was Pete being a bit too brave to just turn the bomb off. Why would he do that anyway? The bomb squad was right next to him. Great episode but this really makes me a bit mad.