Thursday, January 29, 2015

#49: Faith, Hope & Charity

Season: 6

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
While tracking a gray wolf in the woods for the Phoenix Foundation Endangered Species Program, MacGyver steps in a bear trap and hurts his foot.  He is taken in by Faith and Hope, some charming older ladies (and sisters) who run a bed and breakfast.  Meanwhile, their friend has stolen a million dollars from the mob and is killed in their backyard, and now the mobsters descend on the home looking for the money.  

Memorable Quote:
Oh, poop!  Lighten up MacGyver.  ~Faith

Pretty much every scene involving MacGyver, Faith, and Hope.  I especially like the one toward the beginning when he first wakes up and learns that he's going to be stuck there for a week. 

I hate when he steps in the bear trap!  OOOUUUCCCHHHHH!!!!  There are no good MacGyver injuries, but this is the worst one for me to watch, even worse than Passages or Back From The Dead. And why are he and the old ladies walking so quickly through the woods when they know there are bear traps around?  If I suddenly found myself in those woods, I would walk at .005 miles per hour and would carry a stick and poke every inch of ground ahead of me.  One thing's for sure: I wouldn't make a good ER doctor.  OOOUUUCCCHHHHH!!!!

Best MacGyverism:
I like whacking the bad guy in the face with the mop covered in cayenne pepper.  

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • 5:24 - the Leo character is played by the same actor who played Vincent Battaglia in The Madonna.  And a little later we'll see Herb Edelman who was also a bad guy in Split Decision and The Lost Amadeus
  • 6:45 - the trap is removed from MacGyver's foot, and I can resume breathing.  
  • 9:30 - great moment where the ladies are insulted when MacGyver asks to be taken back to his motel.
  • 10:10 - and they have blueberry pies in the oven!  I love these women.  I wouldn't want to step in a bear trap, but the thought of lying in a cozy room while eating home-cooked food and being waited on by these ladies is very appealing, even if MacGyver doesn't think so.
  • "How was I supposed to know his ticker was gonna stop?" the incompetent goon asks. Maybe because he said about fifteen times that he had a heart problem?
  • 18:34 - "The man's a walking accident!"  LOL.
  • 20:00 - MacGyver wakes himself up by coughing.  It's a nuanced little cough and kind of impressive the way RDA does it. 
  • 21:10 - smart move making a crutch out of the coat rack. 
  • 22:46 - funny how Faith tries to hide the shovel behind her back as if MacGyver can't see the dead body on the ground. 
  • 27:11 - "Wait a second, Mr. Gimp has something to get off his chest."  
  • I like the Underground Railroad angle (in fact, my book also has an Underground Railroad escape route scene).  However, it would have made more sense for this story to be taking place somewhere in the Southeast U.S. instead of California (when MacGyver was looking at the will, you can clearly see "California" in handwriting).  But a quick Google search just now does return a few hits about the "little-known" California Underground Railroad, so what do I know. 
  • UPDATE - later in the episode we clearly see that the ladies' license plate says Minnesota. Once again, not the place with the most Underground Railroad stops, but at least makes more sense than California.  
  • Funny how the ladies never could find the hidden tunnel in 60+ years but MacGyver finds it in 5 minutes. 
  • 35:49 - some sweet late-season MacGyver music
  • 38:32 - "Ohhh, I wish I were 30 years younger!"  This episode is a delight. 
  • 42:31 - "Couldn't get in?  It's just two old ladies and a gimp!"
  • This episode definitely has a "Home Alone" feel to it.  That movie came out in Fall 1990, and this episode was March 1991 so surely there was an influence there.  I remember every single person in my 5th grade class had seen Home Alone - it was a phenomenon, and I loved it along with everybody else.  

Final Analysis:
Wow!  What a treasure this episode is!  A glorious, hilarious hour of television, even better than I remembered. Probably the funniest episode there is, and one that would appeal to young and old, male and female. The bed and breakfast locale is like a dream, and the ladies are sensational, as is RDA as the straight man.  Now obviously the crooks are a little goofy and slapstick, but it totally works for me here.  I can't say enough good things about this one, and there's a good chance that I have it too low. Next up, the return of an old "friend."


  1. The cayenne pepper mop is my all-time favorite 'MacGyverism' ever. =) It's so simple, yet so clever and something anyone could whip up if they needed to. (Or modify if you don't have a string mop.)

    This episode ranks pretty high for me (higher than you have it here). The little old ladies kinda make me roll my eyes, but in an 'I know ppl like that' sort of way.

    I can see Mac not wanting to laze about being waited on - he's one of those 'always moving' types of people who doesn't want to be in other ppl's way. He had a perfectly fine hotel he was using, so there was no reason to take up valuable space in the ladies' B&B. They're just the 'kind old lady' types who were gonna take care of him no matter what he said. And the clash between them all if funny. =)

    1. I'm all about the simple MacGyverisms since they are relatable and are things that normal people could think of. The guy's reaction to not being able to see is really funny too.

  2. I had this one figured out at "ouch!". The only moment in the episode's entire run where MacGyver's pain was more tangible was when his gunshoot wound was cauterized by a fireplace tool in "To Be a Man", but at least he got to be unconscious for that one! Not an experience I care to go through any time soon. Anyway, I said last month that there was at least one silly episode I really liked and this was the one you guessed. You were correct! It's genuinely funny and the viewer never quite knew what Faith and Hope's angle was, which made it even more fun. And unlike slapsticky episodes like "Honest Abe" and "Soft Touch", the action story didn't take a backseat to the silliness here. The story holds together nicely as well. There were a few scenes where their bickering grew tiresome but for the most part the tone was just right. And I also picked up on the "Home Alone" hat tip which I thought was nicely played with a number of "MacGyver"-specific twists, and it came at a time in the series run where things were otherwise going a little soft in my opinion.

    I also loved the scene where MacGyver awoke in the "daisy room" with Faith and Hope in his grill. I remember watching this the first time and my dad walking in the room for this scene, smirking as MacGyver was pampered and annoyed by the doting sisters. Antony Holland was fantastic as always as Leo, just as he was in "The Madonna" and other episode still ahead on your list. While his death by hammock was pretty gruesome, it was also a pretty original idea, and raised the stakes of the nastiness of an otherwise bumbling trio of hapless wiseguys. I never picked up on the "California" will but growing up in Minnesota, I sure did recognize the Minnesota license plates on the old ladies' vintage car. And since the northern Minnesota woods are where the wolves are, that makes since. As you said though, it most decidedly was not where slave-freeing abolitionists live. More on that in a separate post but either way I can forgive the geographical ignorance with the cool underground tunnel hideaway and everything that came with it. Just all kinds of fun.

    The Home Alone-style gauntlets were all great too, especially the mop full of cayenne pepper. And while I also loved the closing action scene of Gorman driving his beloved car through the house and the hidden cookie jar full of mob money being exposed, the weakest part of the episode was that ridiculous reverse vacuum stunt. While I appreciated the cleverness of the blueberry pies alluded to in the beginning coming together as a plot device in the end, I can safely say that sticking a vacuum cleaner into a vat of blueberry pie filling is far more likely to result in electrocution than a gigantic super-soaker. Definitely a "don't try this at this at home, kids" moment and frankly a little irresponsible on the part of the writers. Still, agree totally that this episode was fantastic and our ranking is similar. I have it ranked #57.

    1. I had a similar thought about the vacuum in the vat. I couldn't figure out - even when I first saw this episode - how the vacuum functioned correctly spitting hot blueberry sauce, since it's a standard canister machine for cleaning dry flooring.

    2. Yeah the vacuum cleaner/blueberry pie super soaker was not the best idea - maybe instead he could have just thrown the vat on him. And I'm curious what the "separate post" is that you're alluding to - there's not another Underground Railroad episode, is there? Wait a minute, now I have an idea which one you might be thinking of - it's one that I don't remember quite as well, kind of unusual because most of the ones from here on out I remember pretty well.

    3. Last month, Al made some interesting British-specific observations about "Legend of the Holy Rose" and again this week in "DOA MacGyver" regarding some stereotypical portrayals of the English and I said I'd do the same in episodes specific to Minnesota that seemed off to this native Minnesotan. This episode sure seemed to be set in Minnesota, and on top of the Underground Railroad angle Nicholas touched upon in the review, I also think the relationship between man and wolf in this episode felt like the Hollywood perception of how the locals view wolves in wolf country. Outside of a relatively small group of environmentalists, wolves are not loved by the locals in northern Minnesota. They kill their livestock and even attack people in certain conditions. They're on and off as a protected species but when their numbers get larger and the locals are unable to trap them, there are more "incidents", particularly involving livestock attacks. With that in mind, Faith and Hope's vocal reverence for "protecting the wolves" would not be likely to make them popular bed and breakfast hosts in an area where a good share of their tourist population (and thus customer base) would be hunters and trappers. Obviously this a small criticism and doesn't take away from my enjoyment of the episode, but Faith and Hope going public with donating $1 million in mob loot to "save the gray wolf" would put them on the wrong side of public opinion in their backyard, which I can't imagine would be too good for business.

    4. Nicholas, I meant a separate post on this episode--the one I just posted--not on another episode related to the Underground Railroad.

    5. Ah, I got it now! And you can call me Nick, btw. Interesting stuff on northern Minnesota. In that state, I've never been north of MSP, and I've always imagined northern MN to be a cool place to visit, though I've been to northern WI and wasn't really captured by it. I remember seeing on your blog that you have been to every town in MN. Would you recommend it as a destination spot, and is it much different from northern WI?

    6. Highlander if such a thing exists (a vacuum that doubles as a super soaker), I want one!

    7. Nick (I thought that's what you went by but thanks for confirming), I like northern Minnesota more than northern Wisconsin but some of that is based on my deeper knowledge of the region and personal connection associated with memories of visiting family and friends there. I haven't journeyed every nook and cranny of northern Wisconsin but definitely think there's more culture in northern Minnesota. No northern WI city I've been to has as much character as Duluth, the biggest city in northern MN. Just north of there you have the Iron Range and the string of gritty old mining towns built along a 75-mile stretch of territory where more than 50% of the world's iron ore comes from. Three of the nation's largest paper mills can be found (and smelled) in the northern Minnesota towns of Cloquet, Grand Rapids, and International Falls. West of there, you'll find a more dense "lake and woods" type culture you're familiar with from northern Wisconsin and you might not like that as well, and then there's a farm area where they make most of the nation's snowmobiles in the state's northwest corner. There are three very sizeable Indian reservations in northern Minnesota (and several more small ones) but the biggest one (Red Lake) is a closed reservation where the white man is definitely not welcome. I drove through there once at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning just so I could get to "every town" but have no intention of going back and would advise you avoid the place too. You'll be fine in the other reservations though. Needless to say there is no real-world "Mission City, Minnesota", but the Vancouver setting sure authenticated the look of MacGyver's "visits back home".

    8. Interesting stuff - maybe some day I'll make it up there.

  3. Interesting what Mark says about the unlikely 'save the wolf' stance of the elderly ladies for the area hey live in; I'd been wondering about that myself. I like this episode; it works well for an amusing MacGyver episode which can't be said for all of them.
    We know early on from the shots of traps and references to them that someone's going to step in one. Our hero doesn't suffer in silence when he does and while poor MacGyver is rolling around in agony its quite amusing that one of the ladies starts a long explanation of who they are and what they do.

    I like MacGyver's braces and pink shirt. You'd have thought they might have incorporated the braces into a MacGyverism later. MacGyver's expressions while the ladies are fussing over him are good - the ladies are horrified at his suggestion of a motel, he by the idea of having to stay a week. He has a similar look of alarm when Faith/Hope? says if only she was 30 years younger!
    Leo is a sympathetic character, sneaking out for ciggie breaks and a nice guy and what happens to him is an unpleasantly recurring theme in the series.

    Poor MacGyver - he falls downstairs as well: I can see why you described this episode as 'ouch'. I like it how when he's been asleep he checks how long by testing the temperature of the tea in the cup - why look at a clock like anyone else? Its quite amusing how we find MacGyver amid daisy wallpaper, willow-pattern china and needlepoint cushions;its not his usual environment at all.
    Its a great moment when Faith/Hope? says 'lighten up MacGyver' just because he was questioning whether they should be burying the body without the police, coroner, paperwork. They show their feisty side too when one of them overenthusiastically goes to bash the already unconscious bad guy on the head and with the 'what would your mother say'. Its also amusing when they reveal they thought MacGyver was such a'goody two-shoes' he'd make them hand back the money! You almost feel sorry for the bad guys.
    I always enjoy it when MacGyver gets to hotwire a car -'its alright we don't need a key'. Too bad he didn't get the time to do it here.
    All in all a good one; RDA plays a good straightman, the writers have worked hard to come up with ways even an incapacitated MacGyver can defeat the villains and the ladies, though annoying, are ultimately resourceful and not at all 'goody-two-shoes'. Its redolent , I agree, of 'Home Alone' (I agree, its great fun) and also reminded me slightly of 'Arsenic and Old Lace' although our elderly ladies don't actually murder people. I'd rank it a bit higher, I think.

  4. You could retcon that it took place near Mason-Dixon, and Leo was just from California on vacation far away. ...however, the gray wolf is largely confined to Canada, with only a few spots in the US.

  5. I wanted to say I love this blog! I am going through watching MacGyver for the first time, and so after I watched an episode I like to see what you had to say about it. I had to laugh on this one because I to couldn't breathe until that trap was off. I was all tense for I knew he was going to step in it, but didn't know when! Talk about edge of your seat, or treadmill which I was walking on at the time:-)

    1. Thanks Betsy, glad you're enjoying the blog! I always know when that bear trap moment is coming and always hate to watch it!

  6. Poor old MacGyver has really been in the wars during season 6 but getting his foot caught in a wolf trap was probably the most eye wateringly nasty. It's a shame that all the drama generated by this was then sent into comedy territory with the two annoying old ladies and the dopey crooks. It was certainly a different style of episode but not one I thought worked particularly well. There was also possibly the biggest overreaction to minor injury and worst quote of the entire series; "What happened?" "I dunno, somebody hit me in the face with a mop!"... Hmm...

  7. "Lowlight:
    I hate when he steps in the bear trap! OOOUUUCCCHHHHH!!!!"

    Oh I know!!!! Ouch is right!!!!! :( Poor Macgyver! I just want to help him!!! :( I have 1 question though. I have wondered this sine the episode first aired. Did the ladies drug Macgyver's tea or not?! :) He wondered himself when he stuck his finger in the cup to see haha.

    1. I don't remember him sticking his finger in the cup but I don't think Faith and Hope would be the type to drug him!

    2. "Nicholas Sweedo I don't remember him sticking his finger in the cup"

      Oh! Well I guess you will just have to go back and watch that! Good excuse to watch the episode hahaha.

      "but I don't think Faith and Hope would be the type to drug him!"

      Mac thought so hahaha. I guess you will just have to ask the producer or one of the people working on set about it! :)

    3. As weird as those women acted, I wouldn't blame Mac for checking his drink out. And forgive for saying this but, Mac was caught in a trap wouldn't it have done more damage than what we saw on the show?

  8. Another episode I really love and enjoy every time I watch it.

  9. Hey this episode was so funny. We enjoyed lot.