Tuesday, January 6, 2015

#68: Ma Dalton

Season: 4

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
An anonymous person mails Jack Dalton several packages containing his deceased father's personal effects.  Jack suspects his mother is sending the packages, and his suspicion is confirmed after he and MacGyver do some research and find his mother, Francine, whom Jack has never met.  She possesses evidence that would send her crooked employer, Arthur Bandel, to prison, but Bandel kidnaps Jack and offers him to Francine in exchange for the evidence.  

Memorable Quote:
You all right, Jack?   ~Ma Dalton
Well the last 37 years have been kinda tough.  ~Jack

Fun scene where MacGyver and Jesse Colton are breaking into Bandel's office building through a grate on the outside.  MacGyver is slowly and methodically removing the screws when Colton pulls out a shotgun, causing MacGyver to jump out of the way as Colton blows the grate open with one shot ("I thought you said you were in a hurry").  Then MacGyver sheepishly looks down at his weak little pocketknife.  Good stuff.  

I'm having a hard time coming up with something.  I guess I'll go with Jack getting shot down by his mom when they first meet because it's sad.  

Best MacGyverism:
Uses a piece of metal to loosen the bolts that attach the handcuffs to the van.  

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Watching again with the MacGyver Project Mom!  First we saw The Madonna involving [references to] MacGyver's Mom, and now it's Dalton's Mom.  Couldn't have planned it any better!  
  • The opening shows MacGyver returning home from the Arctic Circle where he spent 3 weeks monitoring whale migration.  Honestly, that sounds fantastic - can I sign up to do that?  Unfortunately for MacGyver, Jack is building a plane inside the houseboat. It's reminiscent of The Odd Triple's opening scene from two reviews ago where MacGyver returns from a mission hoping for some peace and quiet but is thwarted by Dalton taking over his house.  
  • 2:12 mark - funny moment when MacGyver hits his head on the plane wing.  
  • I remember as a kid watching this episode and asking my Mom what a bounty hunter was and thinking it sounded like an awesome job.  The episode has a Midnight Run feel to it (especially Marty the emotional bail bondsman), and a quick check of the dates reveals that this episode was made 5 months after Midnight Run came out, so surely there was some inspiration there.
  • 23:20 - a nice dive away from the oncoming car.  I'm not sure I can count it as a carikaze because he doesn't run right in front of the car before immediately jumping out of the way.  I may change my mind on this later.  
  • Big fan of Jesse Colton and of the Coltons in general.  I already reviewed Second Chance, where Jesse goes to Thailand looking for his son, but chronologically this is the first episode involving a Colton and the origin of how MacGyver got to know the family.  You may or may not be seeing some members of the Colton family in the next two reviews...
  • "He's pretty dumb, now he's got nothing."  ~Dad on the part where Jesse is talking on the phone to the bail bondsman trying to get more money only to have MacGyver and Ma Dalton escape in his van.  Dad doesn't usually watch MacGyver episodes (instead chooses to read) but sometimes will pipe in with a comment.
  • Quite a move by MacGyver hanging on to the bottom of the elevator as it goes up. "That's not an easy thing to do."  ~Mom
  • 43:50 - MacGyver slams a giant steel door on top of the unsuspecting goon's head.  I don't think it's a stretch to say that type of impact may kill the guy.  
  • We're now officially in the upper half of MacGyver episodes!  If you missed it, here's a link to my special edition "Halfway Point Podcast."

Final Analysis:
A good, solid episode of MacGyver that is enjoyable and entertaining.  It's nice to see some depth from the Jack Dalton character, and the presence of Jesse Colton adds some oomph to the episode.  Mom didn't remember this one very well but enjoyed it too.  Next up, did I mention that we may be seeing some more from a/the Colton(s)?  


  1. I knew this one was coming next given that you made an arbitrary comparison of this episode to "The Madonna". The recent pattern of your reviews of your middle-of-the-pack episodes swinging like a pendulum on my list from favorites to least favorites and back again continues as I wasn't a fan of this one. More than any other episode of the show's run, and perhaps particularly because it was smack dab in the stylistically diverse and daring Season 4, this one feels like an episode of "Simon and Simon" or "Jake and the Fatman". Both were competent 80s crimefighter shows but lacked sizzle and rarely strayed from the middle of the plate for storytelling. But even that comparison gives this episode a little too much credit for me as the story just seemed sloppy.....

    In general, the faceless corporate crooks seemed like small potatoes as foils for MacGyver, particularly in an episode sandwiched chronologically in between a Zito and Murdoc episode! Second, I get why Francine was in hiding and didn't want Jack to find her before she went to trial, but why was her cruelty towards him when he got there necessary? Couldn't she have just told him to come back in 48 hours after she testified? And what was up with Sparky? Did he really have to mail that anonymous package to Jack days before Francine went to trial, risking her secret? And what was up with his bizarre behavior on the phone seeking the right government agency? All this stuff stacked together really left me cold and thinking this episode was pasted together in a big hurry, a feeling reinforced by the mediocre final act where MacGyver was reduced to randomly flipping circuit breakers to draw out the bad guys after him one by one rather than doing anything cool. But the episode did have one redeeming characteristic and that was Jesse Colton. I was also a big fan of him (and his brothers) and we got to see him at his surly best in this one. I also will admit I liked MacGyver's elevator stunt.

    As for your other comments, my dad was not a loyal MacGyver viewer the way my mom and I were but he watched a pretty good number of them back in the day as well. And as a crazy personal aside, I once dated this girl who was in the bail bonds business.....a bona fide bounty hunter. When I joked with her that I bet the profession probably isn't quite like the movies, she corrected me that she does have to make arrests and has a bullet hole in her car from when a "skip" shot at her. And she wasn't joking!

    1. All that and I forgot to give my ranking of this episode....#133.

    2. The 'piece of metal' Mac uses to free himself in the van is a wheel brace...

  2. My ranking for this episode is closer to Mark's than yours. I'm not a big fan of this one - though, when I was watching through, I found I like it a little more than I remembered (and more than some of the other episodes), but not by much. I think it's something about Francine that puts me off.

  3. I guess i'm somewhere in between you on this one; The Dalton episodes are not generally amongst my favourites although this was better than some. MacGyver has his finger bandaged (presumably due to a real-life RDA injury) and he explains to Jack how he is supposed to have done it but I couldn't quite catch it. Still, later on he manages to punch a goon and use his hand pretty well.Like the stripey T -shirt and leather jacket combo here! A couple of MacGyver's action stunts are exciting; hanging off the car bonnet ( I think you can count the subsequent dive as a carikaze - he does seem to be running across and dives spectacularly into he bins!) and hanging off the lift. Slick move by MacGyver to disarm Colton but wouldn't the latter have just grabbed the gun back again since MacGyver, hating guns as he does, is holding it the wrong way round.? I couldn't understand why the goons go up to the roof to get to the electrical room when MacGyver seems to enter from inside on the 5th floor. If they had, I suppose the writers wouldn't have been able to use the steel door knockout - ouch! I enjoyed these odd moments rather than the episode and story as a whole but there were a few good scenes so I'd probably put it somewhere in the 90's. If you like the Coltons I've got a feeling you're going to come up with one of my least favourite episodes pretty soon!

    1. He told Jack the finger injury was from "frostbite." And you've convinced me - it should be a carikaze and I'm adding it to the list!

    2. Frostbite -, that makes sense! Watched this one just before the Odd Triple which I've just reviewed too and would probably put Ma Dalton slightly higher. MacGyver's just a bit more laid back and my preference is generally for the less slapstick.

  4. Hi There,

    I've been rewatching MacGyver lately. Probably because the new one just came out - it made me nostalgic for the old one...which I first watched in Spanish. LOL. However, I had never seen all the episodes, so it's been fun actually watching them all.

    Anyway, I've enjoyed reading your reviews/rankings and all the extra bits.

    I did want to let you know that in your Episodes by Season's list, the link to this one, Ma Dalton, is broken.


    1. Thanks Lori for pointing out the broken link (I fixed it) and glad you're enjoying the rewatch and the blog!

    2. It would be neat to watch MacGyver in Spanish. I watched several other shows and movies overdubbed in Spanish. Quite fun to see if they can get the words to match the actor's mouth movements.