Tuesday, January 20, 2015

#56: Family Matter


Season: 2

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:

Pete's ex-wife and son are kidnapped in the Louisiana bayou by an old associate of Pete's who claims that Pete was responsible for his family's murder.  Pete surrenders himself with MacGyver secretly following close behind.  Eventually the bad guys discover MacGyver's presence, and a game of cat and mouse ensues.  

Memorable Quote:
I can't ask you to help me on this one.  ~Pete
So don't ask.  ~MacGyver

Highlight:
The Obadiah character is fantastic.  MacGyver finds him innocently fishing on a small pier in the bayou and asks to borrow his boat.  It's quickly revealed that Obadiah is undercover and working for the bad guys, and fortunately MacGyver figures it out by observing that Obadiah lied about tying his own fishing flies (MacGyver notes that they are store-bought).  A creative scene, and the actor playing Obadiah is great.  Also it gives rise to another memorable quote that I enjoy: "It was pretty obvious that Obadiah had sold me down the river.  So I wasn't too upset that I hadn't given him a deposit on his boat."  Of course, one may wonder why Obadiah didn't just take MacGyver out right there, but as my mother says, "then there wouldn't be a show."

And speaking of Mom, allegedly she had some interest in naming me Obadiah.  I don't dislike the name, but I am glad my dad was around to provide some counterpoint.  

Lowlight:
The part about Frank embezzling company money to write phony intelligence reports rings a little hollow because he is unwilling to admit he did it.  At this point, why keep up the act? And why blame Pete?  Though if he is a crazy man, then I suppose you can throw logic out the window.

Best MacGyverism:
Lots of good ones to choose from.  I'll go with bombs made from hollow bamboo tubes filled with methane ("swamp gas").  The tubes are capped with mud and have a stalk for a fuse.  

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • After several serious episodes, it's nice to be back to some old-fashioned fun and adventure! MacGyver makes his only visit to Louisiana in this episode, and I love the bayou as a locale in stories, from U.S. Marshals to my own The Nightingale Moon.
  • MacGyver, on a motorbike, in the bayou, surrounded by numerous hostiles.  Let's just say I'm in.  
  • The tracking device MacGyver has with the arrows looks like it would be imprecise and difficult to use. 
  • Cool idea of following a car from in front.  Then a nice move grabbing the watch with the tracking mechanism and strapping it to the bottom of the other car, even if there's no way anyone could move that quietly and avoid detection from that close.
  • 16:27 - fantastic music that we hear many times throughout the early part of the series.  
  • I'm probably in the minority on this, but I like Pete's son, Michael, even though he's somewhat annoying, whiny, and disrespectful.  I like his passion, and he seems like a genuinely good guy.  He's certainly preferable to the smooth-operating, deceitful Michael we see in Fraternity of Thieves (played by a different actor).  
  • As much as I enjoy MacGyver's boat ruse, I don't think a boat could steer itself for very far.  Nevertheless, a great scene as the boat is blown up and everyone thinks MacGyver is dead (though Pete mentions later that he has his doubts given that MacGyver is "damn hard to kill"). 
  • Some great stuff as MacGyver creates an explosion and then rigs something up to rip off part of the building so the Thorntons can escape.  Pete and Connie get caught by Obadiah, but MacGyver finds Michael just in time before he stupidly reveals himself. MacGyver is in total command of every situation throughout this episode, and everything goes right for him.  I love episodes like that.  
  • Nice denouement in MacGyver's apartment as he cooks his "bayou burned blackened redfish" while Pete and Michael plan a trip to the Lakers game.  Then MacGyver ends up nearly burning down the apartment while cooking his fish.  

Final Analysis:
Now we're talking!  My kind of episode!  This one has it all: a strong role for Pete, lots of bad guys, and of course MacGyver doing lots of cool stuff.  Plus it's in the bayou, which makes it awesome.  And for those who are into things like plot and character development, it even has some nice family bonding between Pete and Michael.  Why is it only at 56?  Heck if I know. Actually, it's probably just because the top 50 episodes are the greatest things since snow days. Next up, MacGyver is saved by a true hero.  

14 comments:

  1. I might've ranked this one higher, but the first half of the episode sort of plods along waiting for something to happen. And if Frank's 'revenge' angle didn't hinge on his being an idiot.

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  2. I've been about 50-50 in predicting your next episode based on the teasers. I whiffed on this one though, expecting MacGyver "going to help a friend in need" meant that "Jack in the Box" was next. Anyway, there was much to like in this episode as I also liked the bayou setting and thought it seemed authentic in the production. I'm very curious where the producers found such a swampy setting to film this in southern California! There were also some very strong MacGyverisms, my favorite also being the bamboo bombs, and the pyrotechnics of the boat explosion was very impressive. I didn't like Obediah quite as much as you but he was fun....and I'm also blown away that you were almost named Obediah! The epilogue with the burnt fish bit in MacGyver's apartment was one of the series' better epilogues as well.

    Overall though I didn't like the episode as much as you. I agree with Highlander that Frank's delusional logic really took away from his bloodlust. Frank was selling secrets to the enemy and has the nerve to blame Pete for his family's death? I guess I can understand to a degree the idea that he was merely deranged and driven to madness by the loss of his family, but why would this group of lieutenants be such loyal servants to the whims of a madman? I know I'm overthinking it, but it would have been a much more compelling story if Pete really had some level of responsibility for the sneak attack that killed Frank's family. Beyond that, this episode stood out like a snowman in July tone-wise amidst the lighthearted fare of season 2. That in itself isn't a criticism as I preferred a darker-edged MacGyver to the more cheeky fare that defined season 2, but I was a bit taken aback by the viciousness with which Frank repeatedly alluded to killing Pete's family. In seven seasons of MacGyver, I'm pretty sure "I want to see the light of happiness in your eyes...and then I want to see that light burn out" was the ugliest line ever delivered.

    Those things kept this from being a favorite but as I said I did find it an enjoyable hour. As for the actors that played Connie and Michael, I liked them both. I absolutely hated Connie's plotline in "Hind-Sight" so for that reason alone I preferred Penelope Windust to Linda Darlow as Connie. And while T. Scott Coffey was perfectly competent as Michael, I will say that I thought Hank Stratton was more charismatic playing Michael in "Fraternity of Thieves". At the episode's end, you really hoped that Michael and Pete had patched up their differences but we unfortunately found out two years later that that was not the case. Anyway, I rank this episode #107.

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    1. Upon further thought, the ugliest line ever uttered on MacGyver was definitely Larson's thoughts on African Americans in "The Challenge". Frank couldn't quite compete with Larson on that front.

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    2. I'm fairly sure I'm going to be on an island for my next episode (i.e. having it ranked much higher than most other fans would).

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    3. I'll admit you have me stumped based on your teaser what could be next with MacGyver being "saved by a true hero". Going down the list three episodes you have not yet covered vaguely apply to that description but I can't pin one down.

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    4. If all goes well I may have it up later tonight (feels like it's gonna be a short recap).

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  3. I like this one - its got a season 1 feel to it and like you all, I love the Cajun setting and agree that its surprisingly realistic, especially compared to some of the locations we are supposed to believe in. We've got a nasty, mad, Dennis Hopper-style villain with numerous sidekicks although its hard to believe that he and Pete were ever friends and the convoluted revenge story is stretching credibility. Its also difficult to imagine Pete being such a bad father; he always seems so avuncular and responsible.

    Its still early in the series and MacGyver is in gung ho mood - 'I've got a plane to catch' without a moment's hesitation. I love the MacGyver-on-a-motorbike scenes, in and out of the bushes, crawling under cars and all in a cool black biker jacket and Black Levi's combo. Such a shame the jacket cops it later. We have some good MacGyver expertise coming into play - timing the villains drop off spot and knowing all about fishing flies. I'm sure its not hard to drive one of these boats but I love it that MacGyver can jump into any vehicle or be confronted by any piece of machinery and immediately knows how to drive it. I'd be useless

    There's some good reinforcing of the MacGyver myth with 'One guy?', and 'He's still only one man.' Yes, but he's all you need and as Pete says he's 'damn hard to kill'. I enjoyed him picking off the villains one by one and pulling off the entire back of the house to rescue Pete and family. All this and still time to to help Michael re-assess his relationship with Pete over a brotherly chat. What a guy! Both MacGyver and Pete show some cool combat moves in this one. As you've mentioned many times,MacGyver's fighting skills vary throughout the episodes but I don't see it as a linear progression towards competence more a wavy line up and down throughout the series!. I'm actually not so keen on the ending -its a bit contrived and happy-families-ish and I never enjoy it when Mac makes mistakes! All in all a great episode and in my top 20's , if I've got any space left!

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    1. So inspired by he Louisiana vibe, I've been listening to Hank Williams singing 'Jambalaya' this evening!

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    2. Nice! I like the Karen Carpenter "Jambalaya" version myself. I think your top-20 is getting pretty crowded!

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  4. If you really wanna get your redneck on you can listen to Mel McDaniel's "Louisiana Saturday Night".

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    1. Thanks for the tip - its good!

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  5. Another strong episode from season 2. I definitely like having Pete involved more as the series has progressed and this was his episode. He was in good form when humorously trying to stall the drivers while MacGyver got the tracker sorted. Some of his angry outbursts at Frank, even though he could have been killed at any time, were particularly strong moments. Even when the boat was obliterated, with to his knowledge MacGyver actually piloting it, he still had hope and belief that his friend was not in the explosion. His unshakeable faith in MacGyver was certainly well founded! The 'donkey engine' to rip off the wall was a fun action scene and it was then important for the story to have Michael get away alone to talk to MacGyver about his relationship with his father. Pete's flooring of Frank at the end was great and reminds me of his spectacular fight in 'Early Retirement', he can certainly handle himself!

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  6. "And speaking of Mom, allegedly she had some interest in naming me Obadiah. I don't dislike the name, but I am glad my dad was around to provide some counterpoint."

    ROFL! Too bad I could have called you Oby. :)

    "I'm probably in the minority on this, but I like Pete's son, Michael, even though he's somewhat annoying, whiny, and disrespectful. I like his passion, and he seems like a genuinely good guy. He's certainly preferable to the smooth-operating, deceitful Michael we see in Fraternity of Thieves (played by a different actor)."

    I like the 2nd Michael better who played him, and I like the 2nd Connie better that played her!

    "Nice denouement in MacGyver's apartment as he cooks his "bayou burned blackened redfish" while Pete and Michael plan a trip to the Lakers game. Then MacGyver ends up nearly burning down the apartment while cooking his fish."

    Hahahaha. It just showed that Macgyver is not perfect! :)

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