Saturday, January 17, 2015

#59: Blind Faith

Season: 6

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:

A female presidential candidate from a Latin American country comes to the U.S. for protection provided by the Phoenix Foundation and Pete, her old friend.  MacGyver recovers a video from her contact that shows the brutality of the current regime and delivers it to a tv studio where it can be played for the world.  Meanwhile, Pete's glaucoma has worsened to the point where he can barely see. 

Memorable Quote:
I'll be your eyes.  You be my hands.  ~MacGyver

Highlight:
The entire scene at the train station and rail yard is great where MacGyver meets Richardson (played by one of the guys from The Invisible Killer).  The great music combined with the cloudy skies provides a strong sense of importance and foreboding.

Lowlight:
Not fun to see the bomb go off and severely burn MacGyver's hands.  This is the beginning of a rough 4 episode stretch for our hero:
  • Blind Faith - bomb goes off and severely burns his hands
  • Faith, Hope and Charity - steps in a bear trap
  • Strictly Business - gets amnesia after being fire-bombed by Murdoc
  • Trail of Tears - gets shot by a shotgun
Good God!  He should take a year-long trip to the beach after all that. 

Best MacGyverism:
Sends electrical current through metal door using cables and a GPU truck. 

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • A serious, edgy tone right from the jump - I like it. 
  • Our streak of bad guys taking a spin on the good side continues with a Michael MacRae appearance as a DXS big-wig.  We've seen him as a bad guy in The Challenge and Eagles
    • UPDATE: he's a bad guy after all!  Forgot about that part.  I take back everything I said. 
  • 6:00 mark - whoa, a reference to Jerico broadcasting!  I wouldn't have thought the company would have survived the events described in Jerico Games - at least you'd think they would have renamed the company.  And a little later in the show, MacGyver even makes an appearance at JBN studios.  That must be awkward.   
  • 6:53 - why is MacGyver driving a taxi?
  • 10:00 - wow, Samantha's drink of choice is apple juice!  My kind of gal!  Apple juice has always been my drink of choice - kind of a bummer to learn as I got older that it has more than a little bit of sugar and so drinking half a bottle per meal was not the healthiest thing. 
  • 11:00 - powerful scene between Pete and MacGyver in the safehouse kitchen where Pete discusses his glaucoma and MacGyver fights back tears as a violin plays somberly in the background.  Here's a link about Dana Elcar and his real-life blindness (same link I included in the Hind-Sight post).  It's mentioned in the video that this episode was Elcar's idea.  
  • Looks like the same trainyard from Early Retirement (a quick check of the shooting locations on rdanderson.com says that it is). 
  • Once MacGyver and Richardson see the bad guys, why not just leave the trainyard and come back later for the tape?  As mentioned last review, one of the two hit men is played by the same guy who played Lucky Charlie in Jenny's Chance

Final Analysis:
Good episode, very intense, and an important episode for Pete, though it's fairly depressing as much of it is Pete talking to Samantha or MacGyver about his blindness with violins playing sadly in the background.  And the "I'll be your eyes, you be my hands" moment comes off a bit silly compared to the seriousness of the episode up to that point.  Next up, one more Season 5'er bites the dust!  

13 comments:

  1. I've always been a little lukewarm on this episode. It has its high points but isn't a favorite and you touched upon a couple of its liabilities. I mostly enjoyed the first half and the secret agent vibe we got from it right down to identifying the contact by wearing a special dove pin. The cloak and dagger business was generally over by the series' later seasons so it was nice to see it back. The trainyard scenes were intense and my favorite part of the episode. Richardson being gunned down three times by the hit men was dark and violent enough that I thought I was watching a fourth season episode for a moment! And just as a quick aside, was it just me or did MacGyver seem like he didn't much care for Samantha in this episode? I always felt like he was a little frosty towards her.

    But I thought things went downhill in the second half of the episode. Stams' motives for selling out his country to a crackpot Latin American revolutionary was extremely murky and I felt as though the audience needed to know what his angle was. And Pete's eye situation made for some great scenes, particularly the one where MacGyver confronted him in the safehouse kitchen fetching Samantha's apple juice (I liked it as a boy too!). That was a strong, emotionally charged scene...one of the series' best. But from there, I felt as you did that we wallowed into some Debbie Downer melodrama as Pete and Samantha bantered about Pete's vision loss repeatedly. I loved that this series found a continued role for Dana Elcar's tremendous contributions to this show and didn't dump him while he was down, but have always felt that Pete's deteriorating eye condition served as a metaphor for this series' loss of narrative vision and creative nadir. Fairly or unfairly, it's why I've typically felt this episode was a pivot point where "MacGyver" as a series lost its edge.

    And like you, I didn't care for the "I'll be your eyes, you be my hands" moment. In one sense, it was a clever way for Pete that he was still useful even while blind, but a plot device can be clever and still be silly and even a little tacky as it was here. It seemed like it undermined the seriousness of the overall treatment of Pete's pending blindness. Interestingly, my mom noticed that Pete was nowhere to be seen several episodes in a row in the middle of Season 6, and that coupled with the eye drop scene in "High Control" and I had a feeling something was up with Pete leading into this episode.

    Overall, a good hour with pretty good acting all around but not one I loved. I had the same thoughts on Jerico Broadcasting where I'm sure MacGyver was REAL popular two months after his doppelganger gunned down the network's namesake. I mentioned earlier that actor John Considine wrote a bunch of MacGyver episodes and this was one of them. I rank this one #113.

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  2. This is where we disagree a lot. I like this episode - include Mac's suggestion about the eyes and hands. The scene shows their ability to cooperate - even when they're frustrated at each other. And Mac had a pretty good reason to be frustrated as hell. Burnt hands? Yeah - there was probably some serious pain happening there and the fact that he was able to work with Sam and Pete to get them out of the warehouse w/o getting killed is pretty good.

    I do like the scene in the railyard too. Very 'spy'.

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    1. I do like the moment MacGyver and Pete get upset with each other when Pete is driving - seems very genuine and well-acted, and it's nice that they're able to put it behind them and finish the job.

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  3. I forgot to mention this last night, but I notice you made mention of the music in at least one scene in this episode. MacGyver had three primary composers--Randy Edelman, Dennis McCarthy, and Ken Harrison--all of whom were first-rate. But in seasons 6 and 7 there was another composer named William Ross who did the music for seven episodes, including this one. I didn't like him nearly as much as the big three but he had his moments, including one episode ahead on both of our lists which I thought was his finest hour.

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  4. Hi, Nick. I LOVE this episode primarily because of the scene with Mac and Pete in the kitchen with the apple juice and it looks like, (genuinely), Mac (RDA) is moved by Pete's condition almost to the point of tears. And I have always wondered how they got the explosion in the trashbin done without actually hurting RDA in that scene. Then he and Pete working together and getting angry with each other makes a great part of that scene. Finally, at the end, when Pete says to Mac, "You want to go bowling?" really thought that was cool. I liked the woman in the episode because she is so convincing in her role and in her "old" love for Pete (as a very close friend...). Anyway, I would rank this episode much higher - but that's just me.

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    1. The reports at the time was that RDA had a hard time with that scene and was breaking down several times during filming it. He and Elcar apparently really bonded on and off the set during MacGyver's tenure.

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    2. Thanks for sharing. I agree that the scene is quite powerful and I believe that RDA was genuinely affected, and that comes through in the scene. MacGyver and Pete always had tremendous chemistry, and it makes sense that the actors would follow suit.

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  5. When I said I would rank this episode much higher, I mean - much better than #59. But, again, that's just me.

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  6. We have another atrocities-on-film episode, his time linked with Pete's distressing glaucoma issue. I agree with you all - RDA/MacGyver's emotion is pretty raw in this one, but as a show, I found the scenes with Pete and Samantha in the house rather slowed things down too much. Uh Oh... its another safe house which is not at all safe. Why didn't anyone notice the villains parked outside and following MacGyver in his inappropriately noticeable yellow taxi. The railway station scene was exciting and full of suspense but with another minor character meeting an explicit cold-blooded death. You'd have though that MacGyver might have had to do some explaining to the police rather than go to the broadcasting company and watch the film. I didn't understand why Stams kept Pete alive 'as bait' as MacGyver would have gone to the house anyway the moment he realised there was a problem and wouldn't have known whether Pete was alive anyway. Stams's reason for hie offline DXS activities was quite convincing and gave us an insight into how a renegade faction might well operate if they didn't agree with official policy - always a good topic for conspiracy theorists. I thought the escape scenes were excellent, and while you wouldn't want to see MacGyver badly injured, he still takes charge and gets everyone out with some well thought out MacGyerisms. It looks like RDA picking up the flaming can, then the stuntman is carrying it but looks like RDA as it explodes - must've been difficult to film. I too enjoyed Pete's 'Wanna go bowling' joke as the least likely activity they could both do. A good episode if marred by the slow scenes and ranked in the 60-70s for me.

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  7. This was the second episode that left me with a tear in the eye. There were great performances all round in such an emotionally charged story. It didn't matter that some scenes were a bit slow on the action front, everything was about the main characters and their close friendship. Richard and Dana just work so well together in dramatic, touching or funny scenes and here they were at their best. The revealing of Pete's glaucoma was done with great heart and emotion and the scene is one of the most strongly acted in the whole series for me. I also found the "I'll be your eyes, you be my hands" line just perfect, it gave Pete the confidence he needed and the knowledge that MacGyver needed him just as much as he needed his friend. It was a really brave decision for Dana, and the writers and produces, to introduce his real condition to the character of Pete and, as upsetting as it is to watch, it adds an important emotional narrative to season 6.

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    1. What was the first episode that left you with a tear, was it Passages or The Madonna? If you're interested in learning more about this one, I talked to John Considine (who wrote it) for both a Q and A and a podcast and he discusses this one.

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    2. Passages. I wasn't actually particularly keen on The Madonna; the homeless lady being an angel or whatever didn't feel right when it was supposed to be set in reality, whereas Passages could get away with the boat to the afterlife because it was all happening in MacGyver's head. Maybe I need to see it again to appreciate it more. I didn't notice that the writer was also the actor who played several characters in the series. I'm afraid I am not very knowledgeable about actors and their careers so I didn't recognise John Considine. I read and listened to the part of your interview about Blind Faith and it emphasised how nice a man Dana was and the sad situation with his glaucoma. It was amusing to hear how John pitched his ideas and each time there was something that wouldn't fit in MacGyver - MacGyver in his house; he doesn't live in a house! It must have been very interesting for you to contact people involved in the series. I couldn't go further because it would have revealed future episodes!

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  8. "Memorable Quote:
    I'll be your eyes. You be my hands. ~MacGyver"

    What a great quote!!!


    "Lowlight:
    Not fun to see the bomb go off and severely burn MacGyver's hands."

    I know! Ouch!!! Poor Macgyver! :(

    "6:00 mark - whoa, a reference to Jerico broadcasting! I wouldn't have thought the company would have survived the events described in Jerico Games - at least you'd think they would have renamed the company. And a little later in the show, MacGyver even makes an appearance at JBN studios. That must be awkward."

    I know right?!!?! Damn! And yeah they should have renamed the company, and yeah it must have been so awkward for Macgyver!

    "powerful scene between Pete and MacGyver in the safehouse kitchen where Pete discusses his glaucoma and MacGyver fights back tears as a violin plays somberly in the background. Here's a link about Dana Elcar and his real-life blindness (same link I included in the Hind-Sight post). It's mentioned in the video that this episode was Elcar's idea."

    Great scene!!! Makes me cry! So sad. :( Poor Dana! :( I had no idea it was Elcar's idea!

    "And the "I'll be your eyes, you be my hands" moment comes off a bit silly compared to the seriousness of the episode up to that point."

    I didn't think it was silly. I thought it was sweet. Macgyver and Pete are best friends and want to help each other out! I'm your eyes and you are my hands. Awwwww! :)

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