Friday, January 16, 2015

#60: Jenny's Chance

Season: 5

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
The father of Jenny Larson, a friend of MacGyver and Jack Dalton's, is murdered by a crooked horse and stable owner named Henderson.  MacGyver, Jack, and Pete set up an elaborate con scheme to try and get Henderson to admit his crime.  The three go undercover: MacGyver as Dexter the super-nerd, Pete as a southern bookie, and Jack as a Cuban gangster. 

Memorable Quote:
I'm strictly into mainframe systems.  Program development.  ~MacGyver/Dexter
What kind of program development?  ~Henderson
COM-Puters.  ~MacGyver/Dexter

Good surprise ending as the audience is fooled along with Henderson (at least I was when I watched it for the first time as a kid).  I like the fake Dexter they have by the computers (in fact, that is Steve Blalock, RDA's stuntman).  And I'm about 95% sure that it's not RDA actually playing Lucky Charlie 2 because the look and the voice don't resemble him in the slightest.  But the IMDB cast lists no one as Lucky Charlie, so I could be wrong.  If it really is RDA, then it's his best acting job yet.

UPDATE: turns out it was another actor and I missed it on IMDB (I probably missed it because the character is listed as just "Lucky.")  Mark is right, the actor's name is Ed Trotta and he was also in Blind Faith.

Not sure what's worse: Jenny's dad gets kicked in the head by the horse or Pete's southern accent.  I'll go with the latter. 

Best MacGyverism:
Hooks a microspeaker up to something (a light switch control?) to produce a high pitched noise. 

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Here's another episode, like Twice Stung, where it doesn't pay to question the plot too much. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy!  
  • In the opening, you'd think Henderson would have enough sense to pick up the microspeaker part that was dropped in the stall.
  • Linda Blair stars as Jenny Larson.  I read about her online and learned that she played the little girl in The Exorcist.  Can't say that I have ever seen or will ever see that movie (not a fan of the horror genre), though I do know that the priest in that movie (and later Ara Parseghian in "Rudy") once dated my aunt.  
  • Last review we had Madison Mason taking a spin on the good side, and now it's frequent bad guy Dale Wilson's turn.  
  • I love the Derby Grill, looks like my kind of restaurant (and kind of amazing that Henderson has never heard of this particular racetrack-themed eatery in town).  This whole episode reminds me of The Sting, which featured a young Dana Elcar.  I remember watching that movie when I was about 9 or 10 and I asked my parents so many questions that we broke the VCR from pausing so much.  I'll try not to break any VCRs tonight.
  • I think MacGyver/Dexter pushes his luck a little too long in the stable with the kicking horse. 
  • 43:55 mark - amazing, incredible dive by the bartender over the bar to dodge the flying VCR. You gotta see this to believe it. 
  • Who knew I'd have two separate points about VCRs?

Final Analysis:
In retrospect, I had this one too high.  It's ok and fun to watch, and I like the elaborate con they pull off and how it's revealed at the end.  I'm also a fan of the horse racing theme in general, and it's a nice backdrop for this episode.  But it's not better than the last ten to fifteen that have been reviewed. Coming up, three more good episodes to get through before we take a step up even further to the Top 56, when this blog is going to turn into one major love-fest. 


  1. This is my fave of the Dexter episodes. (And I have it ranked much higher than you do.) I've always liked this one quite a bit.

  2. This was my favorite of the three "sting" episodes as the plot was by far the most elaborate. Our rankings are very close here and, unlike you, I don't think it's ranked too high. In fact, the fans who've rated episodes on have put this one in their top-5, possibly as high as #2 the last I checked in on it. I think that's too high since the convenience factor of these "sting" episodes always annoys me at least a little. What if George Henderson hadn't insisted on sending his man to scope out The Derby Grill after Boyle made the bid on Jenny's Chance? The whole plan would have been grounded. And how about when Dalton was trying to convince Henderson and his man not to let "the real Lucky Charley" slice Dalton up with his knife? If Henderson hadn't bought Dalton's excuse that "he needs him to get past Boyle's security", that would have been the end of Dalton, right? As you said though, no point in overthinking these sting episodes...just run with them.

    And in this case there was plenty I liked to run with. And I liked that in this episode, an actual unplanned event (the capture of the real Lucky Charley) forced them to shake up their original plan. But even before that, I really loved the idea of using a deaf horse to fix a race by disturbing all the other horses with the equivalent of a dog whistle. And the elaborate computerized betting system that allowed Boyle and Dexter to game the odds was very clever and well thought-out, as was Boyle's request to count the laundered money which fed the serial numbers of the bills into their system and busted Henderson on that charge. I also really liked George Henderson as a villain, who was played by an actor named Vic Tayback (most famous from the early 80s sitcom "Alice") who died only months after this episode aired. It was his last acting performance.

    Yeah they got me with the surprise ending as well, but I'm not a big fan of the "Scooby Doo" mask bit and also found it hard to swallow that the "real Lucky Charley" was MacGyver all along. I'm quite certain it wasn't RDA under a mask the entire time. "Blind Faith" is an episode still left in your countdown. I believe one of the hit men from that episode is played by the same actor who plays Lucky Charley, although I don't know the actor's name. And I think the writers of this episode--Rick Drew and John Sheppard--can be credited for creating the Dexter character, which you inquired about in your last review. Urkel was just starting to explode into popular culture when this episode aired, so I wonder if Dexter was inspired by way of knowing that though. Anyway, I really liked this episode and still do. The story is meticulously crafted with a lot of attention to detail, and as a some-time writer of adventure stories and scripts, I really respect that. I rank this one #61.

    1. You're right, it is another actor who was also in blind faith (I just updated the post with the info).

  3. Forgot to say than when you teased that you'd be reviewing "a similar episode" to "Deep Cover" next, I figured it had to be this one. At this rate you'll have burned through everything from season 5 before you get to your top-50!

    1. Wow, only 5 season 5 episodes left! And after I do #58, there will be 4 season 5 episodes left! But as I mentioned recently, at least one from every season will be in the top 11.

    2. Also it was nice and convenient to watch two episodes from the same DVD without having to grab a new one.

  4. I wasn't excited at the beginning of this episode, horse racing doesn't seem to have the ingredients for an interesting adventure beyond crooked owners, jockeys or bookies. How wrong I was! As soon as the logo on the Dalton Air aeroplane was revealed then I had a hunch that it would be far more than a typical betting scam! What a fantastic, if slightly fanciful, sting operation to catch Henderson! It was great to have MacGyver, Pete and Jack all working together again and the disguises and aliases were brilliant fun! I never guessed that Lucky Charlie 2 was Mac in disguise and even finding out that it wasn't Richard under the prosthetics doesn't spoil that moment when he peeled the latex off! Anything Murdoc can do, so can Mac! On reflection it did appear that Lucky Charlie 2 seemed a bit tall and lanky for Richard. Incidentally, to me the Dexter character had shades of the early, geekier Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG1, I wonder if Rick ever thought of that! Dana was again faultless in his role, I like Pete more and more as the series goes on. I have to say that so far, and admitedly without the first season and a half behind me, this episode would be very high on a favourite list, certainly higher than the 60th place given here!

    1. I don't blame you - it's a fun one with some good twists and as you said having MacGyver, Pete, and Jack working together is enjoyable.

  5. The first episode of Dexter!!! I LOVE DEXTER! :) Too bad Dexter wasn't in a lot of episodes. :( I can't get enough of Dexter! And that twist at the end, shocked me back then!!! Love this episode.

  6. Anyone ever notice the joke in the background noise at the supposed betting joint? "Billy's Colton"?