Monday, February 9, 2015

#39: Silent World

Season: 2

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
Some thieves have been going across the country stealing parts of a voice-activated missile that MacGyver and the Phoenix Foundation are testing.  Phoenix is using the same technology to help deaf students hear for the first time, and the teacher at the deaf school recognizes one of the bad guys at the missile site from a recurring dream that she's been having.  She and MacGyver go to the lake that appears in her dream, and the dream's events slowly begin to unfold in real life.  

Memorable Quote:
Thank you, MacGyver  ~Maria (deaf student)
You're welcome.  ~MacGyver

I like the part where Carrie spots Crane at the missile site and then all hell breaks loose, including an incredible head-first leap by MacGyver (pictured below) where he looks like Air Jordan diving behind the jeep to avoid the gunfire.  Though it's not clear why Crane didn't just shoot MacGyver at the same time that he shot his underling (though he does seem to take two quick shots and misses badly).  I know, I know - if MacGyver got killed, then there wouldn't be a show.

It's getting harder and harder to think of lowlights during these great episodes!  I guess I'll go with the beginning where Crane is presenting to the 3 person panel of bad guys at a table in a dark room (who I believe are part of HIT = Homicide International Trust).  We see the panel again in at least two other episodes, and it creates a great mood of foreboding and villainy.  And Crane is competent and cocky, which make for the best villains.  That said, some of his lines in the meeting with the panel are a bit cheesy and over-the-top, and I think they could have made this scene darker and more ominous  

Best MacGyverism:
Builds a water clock by filling two plastic bags with water and tying them to a branch.  Ties the branch to the on/off switch of the hovercraft and pokes a hole in one of the bags, so as the bag loses water, it brings the balance beam (i.e. the branch) down which pulls on the switch. 

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • 9:30 - MacGyver asks Maria (a student at the deaf school) if he trusts her and she says no. Based on his reaction, I wonder if she went off script there.  
  • "I can't imagine what it would be like.  Hearing for the first time."  ~Pete
  • Fun heist scenes in South Carolina and Indiana that show the bad guys stealing different components of the missile. 
  • Seems unusual of MacGyver to take the non-scientific point of view (after the van with lightning painted on the outside coincidentally almost hits them) in convincing Pete to have the Phoenix Foundation study Carrie's dreams.  Perhaps it's because he cares about the young lady.
  • I'd think it would be hard to have a nightmare on demand in the middle of the day (like when Carrie is in the sleep lab and hooked up to the sensors).  OK, 1,2, have your nightmare!
  • Big fan of the software that lets MacGyver match up a lake outline drawing to a real lake, though I wonder if it would have worked had MacGyver's drawing been rotated in any way.  It was fortunate to be perfectly in line.    
  • Pretty cool how the dream becomes reality with subtle differences (e.g. MacGyver is hit by a hovercraft rather than a car).  And there's at least an attempt to ground everything in reality - Carrie was hiking at the lake before and saw the things that made up her dream (though it makes me wonder why she didn't remember the lake earlier). And another chance for Crane to shoot MacGyver after he runs him over but instead chooses to drive away.  The lesson for all aspiring secret agents: it's not as easy as it looks in the show - in real life the bad guys just shoot you.  
  • 36:40 - fun moment where MacGyver playfully blows a little stream of water behind the boat to get the bad guy's attention.
  • 37:40 - time for a shake
  • 43:15 - love the use of the tin can to finish off Crane. "He's ok, he's just dreaming." Haha. 
  • Fantastic denouement as MacGyver and Carrie are slow dancing in his apartment. He's about to move in for the kiss when Carrie wakes up and the audience realizes she was imagining the whole thing.  Or was she remembering?!  A similar scene unfolds between Bond and Miss Moneypenny at the end of Die Another Day.  And then a nice conclusion in the school as Maria (the deaf student who was using the hearing machine earlier) says thank you to MacGyver (see memorable quote).

Mary Beth Mothersell (who plays Carrie) was kind enough to answer some questions and share some memories from her appearance in this episode. 

    NS:  Do you remember anything about the scene where your character relives your nightmare in the sleep lab?  I've always liked how the elements in your dream partially come to fruition later.
    MBM: I do remember that scene well, I worked with my acting coach to visualize the “dream” and recall the responses, and it was a fun scene to do.

    NS: The ending scene is really funny where you're about to kiss MacGyver but then you wake up and the audience realizes it's a dream. 
    MBM: The final scene was one of my favorites, I had a great time dancing with Richard Dean Anderson. I’m glad you enjoyed it. The line "Oh, you were fine" was a loaded line, and fun. (Side note, the cast and crew of this show were great to work with…and I also met Henry Winkler, he was amazing!)

    NS:  Does anyone else ever bring up MacGyver with you or recognize you from it?
    MBM: Yes, people do remember me from that show, and watch it on the internet (Netflix). The show itself was so popular, and one of the first prime time shows to have closed captioning available, so the deaf community was very excited to have deaf and hard of hearing characters on the show. (Back in 1986-87, not every show was closed captioned, so the ones that were captioned, we all loved to watch.)

    NS: Any other thoughts or memories about your MacGyver experience?
    MBM: This was a physical show, and I had the chance to do some of my own (small) stunts, as well as go on location and be kidnapped into a hydroplane, haha. Great memories, good people, and a wonderful opportunity for the deaf and hard of hearing actors involved with this. The people in charge also made sure I had a great sign language interpreter, Lou Fant. Kudos to John Rich and Henry Winkler, who produced this show.

    What was key to the success of this episode was that all of the actors who played deaf characters really were deaf or hard of hearing, and not pretending to be. That gave the show great credibility. You probably have seen “Switched at Birth”? That is the latest show with deaf and hard of hearing characters. It is captioned, and also open captioned when lines are only performed in ASL (American Sign Language).

    Final Analysis:
    Fantastic episode.  Great fun from beginning to end, with a strong plot and cast of characters to boot. Crane is a good villain, and Carrie is a dynamic and memorable leading lady.  The scenes at the school for the deaf are sweet, and all the dream stuff, while it does skirt the line of being overly magical, has enough of a foothold in reality that I'm fine with it. Coming up next, I'm about to go on a binge of sorts (you'll see what I mean after the next few reviews).  


    1. This one was in the back of my mind when you mentioned a "memorable female sidekick" coming next but I was more inclined to believe it was one of two remaining season 1 episodes on your list. There was much to like in this episode and as you said it was generally good fun from beginning to end. I didn't like it as much as you but it was well done, particularly the first half as the viewer was wondering how the two stories of Carrie's dream and the missile thieves could possibly intertwine. As for the three "board members" dudes, I don't think we're supposed to believe they were part of HIT because the trio of board members from the later episode you're citing were completely different. But this trio was made up of the same actors as the trio from the season 1 episode "Deathlock", and their presence wasn't nearly as imposing and fearsome as it was the season before since we got to see their faces and since they were so easily played for fools by David Crane.

      Crane and his people's heists were pretty fun and while the idea of stealing a missile piece by piece and covering your tracks seemed like a really brilliant and original idea at first, somebody once told me there was a movie with a very similar plotline that this story likely borrowed from. Either way, it was well executed and the crazy mayhem that broke out when Carrie spotted Crane was exciting, especially that great leap by MacGyver you cited. The dynamics of the dream were interesting too although the dream analysis got to be a little tedious by the third act. MacGyver and Carrie had good chemistry but I always wondered by deaf actress Marlee Matlin, who RDA was dating at some point in the general timeframe, didn't play the role of Carrie. I felt like maybe the role was written with Marlee Matlin in mind but it didn't work out for whatever reason, and am curious to hear the e-mail comments from the actress who played Carrie. The early scene using the Moloch Missile program to allow the deaf girl at the school to hear for the first time was pretty powerful and lended some uniqueness to the story.

      While the ending was decent, it didn't completely jive with Carrie's dream. She never saw an old car coming off the lake and hitting MacGyver, for instance, the way she saw everything else in advance that previewed events in her dream. The hovercraft coming off the lake to hit MacGyver happened AFTER the dream. Small detail I guess but it didn't go unnoticed. I liked his plastic bag water clock thing well enough too, but the tone in that part of the episode was an inflated with season 2-style cheekiness as the bags were inflated with water. I didn't hate that season 2 cheekiness but didn't feel it was the tone that made for the best episodes of the series. Still, a solid episode from beginning to end and almost dead center in the middle of my rankings at #74.

      1. That's interesting, I had forgotten that RDA had dated Marlee Matlin, and your theory makes sense. Even though HIT wasn't formally around at the time of this episode, I like to imagine that it's the same group since in the later episode HIT has the same format with the 3 people and the table. I don't follow what you're saying about the hovercraft coming "after" the dream - she did see Crane in the car which was in the dream, and some of the things like the Moorish warrior were not exactly how she dreamt it (it was just a guy on a horse), so I figured the hovercraft was similar in that it was slightly different from what she imagined.

      2. The car coming off the lake and hitting MacGyver didn't happen before the dream though. The other stuff that happened was all a scattershot of previous images already processed ranging from David Crane to the "Moorish warrior" to the steel skeleton. I suppose you could say she saw the old car and the hovercraft on the lake separately and that melded together but MacGyver getting hit was more of a clairvoyance sort of thing that didn't quite fit least for me.

        Interesting timing for this to be in your countdown as I had one of the weirdest dreams of my life last night. I was attending this bizarre contest with about a dozen guys that took place at a steel foundry. They buckled their underneath a roller-coaster like track at the foundry and a bowling ball ran the course of the track going in and out of the fires of the foundry, glowing bright orange from the heat. The guys who couldn't take the heat from the ball as it rolled directly over their arms on this circular track unbuckled themselves and withdrew from the contest. The guys' girlfriends were all watching the contest and the guys that quit the contest early from the extreme heat were dumped by their girlfriends who were humiliated at their "wimpy" performance. I've always had oddball dreams but can't imagine where I would have processed this madcap marathon of events. Might need a Phoenix dream analyst of my own to decipher this one.

      3. I see what you mean now - the other stuff Carrie had seen in real life but not MacGyver getting hit.

        Do you generally remember your dreams like you remember details about your life? I don't usually remember dreams more than an hour after I wake up. That would be cool to have your dreams analyzed by a Phoenix analyst - maybe you went bowling recently and then watched Hearts of Steel?

      4. The tip I've always heard for remembering your dreams is to keep a 'Dream Journal' and write them down as soon as you wake up. It trains your brain to hold onto the images/story longer.

      5. Ha! Haven't gone bowling for six months and haven't watched "Hearts of Steel" in a year and a half. I'm usually like you in that 90% of my dreams are forgotten within an hour after I wake up.

    2. Generally going on a "binge" constitutes a poor choice but perhaps not if involves "MacGyver" viewing.

      1. All I'll say is that I'm binging on a particular type of episode - and don't worry, it's not all season 4!

    3. Haven’t had time to re-watch this one so won’t go into detail as I haven’t got Mark’s amazing powers of recall.
      Great to hear Mary Beths memories of filming. I don’t think I’d realised that the slow dance scene was a dream and now I do, it makes a lot more sense! I’m with you on the amazing leap as the ‘mayhem’ breaks out and certainly remembered that as one of the highlights. Heart-warming scenes with the kids too. Quite like the scientific interpretation of dreams idea, (MacGyver would never go for the superstitious approach) but although most of it is explained by what she has unconsciously seen before, there are still some elements of prediction which leave us something to think about. As you point out there are the usual unlikely moments where the villains don’t finish them off when they could but that’s a question for almost every episode!
      Competent villains, good story. Ranked around 48 for me.

    4. This one doesnt really stick out for me, but it is fun. An interesting combination of the missile heist with the deaf involvement. Deaf people are an interesting bunch. Ive had some experiences with them. A teacher who lost his hearing in a sporting accident in college. He didnt know ASL, but could read lips and spoke like most deaf people speak. Then I worked for almost a year with a deaf guy on an overnight shift at a store. He was cool and sometimes worked hard, sometimes was difficult and uppity.

      He wanted to do things that we werent involved with and would claim discrimination from time to time. He was also very much into erotica, which Ive heard from a friend who worked with a deaf dean at a college. He also had "dirty" interests, so maybe its more of a thing for them than average. Our guy we swore he felt superior to us and that hearing people were lesser, so we would joke about him being a deaf supremacist and all that that entails (such as imprisoning, deafening, or killing the hearing). Overnight shifts inspire a lot of dark and macabre creativity...

      At my current job, we had a guy who was at least part deaf. He could speak somewhat, and had a hearing aid, so he could probably hear to some extent. He was somewhat scruffy and I did get curious if he had any prurient interests.

      Now, Im not finished at all with my deaf experiences. When I went to Israel on a trip a few years ago, they brought us to a museum for the deaf. A simple, but unusual museum, where we had to put on earmuffs and work solely thru visual representations. None of us knew sign language! I am not sure if that exists anywhere else in the world, but I really wanted to open museums like that in the US. Perhaps one day I will.

      In light of all this, I wish I had taken an opportunity to learn ASL. Deaf people have a rich culture that is absolutely amazing and my experiences with it only inspire me to want to have more. A friend of mine taught her toddler sign language and it enabled him to communicate before he could even speak! He was able to signal that he was tired or hungry and other things. I definitely would want to try that with my eventual kids.

    5. "Crane is presenting to the 3 person panel of bad guys at a table in a dark room (who I believe are part of HIT = Homicide International Trust)."

      Oh wow!!! I didn't even think that they could be HIT! :0

      "Fantastic denouement as MacGyver and Carrie are slow dancing in his apartment. He's about to move in for the kiss when Carrie wakes up and the audience realizes she was imagining the whole thing. Or was she remembering?!"

      Hahaha. She was daydreaming. :) And I don't blame her one bit. :)

      Mary Beth Mothersell (who plays Carrie) was kind enough to answer some questions and share some memories from her appearance in this episode."

      Wow thank you for this! Where did you meet her?

      1. I haven't met her, just found her contact info and sent her an email.

    6. This is the third episode that I see MacGyver wearing that blue and pink (mainly blue) shirt. The one that he is wearing when he is with Carrie in his apartment drinking tea (??). I don't remember the first episode I saw him, but if I am not wrong, the second time was in Family Matters. I can't remember if the first time I saw was while watching the episodes using this project as reference, if so, it is one of the episodes listed before Family Matters (I am watching this from the not too good episodes to the amazing ones :-)). It seems like it was one of RDA facorite's shirt.

    7. A memorable episode, partly as the one that grown on me perhaps the most. I didn’t used to like it because of what I thought were supernatural predictions not fitting the show’s genre and MacGyver’s views. I’m not sure why as now after the rewatch some of the most memorable quotes (besides “never laugh at what you don’t know”) are when both the doctor and MacGyver give perfect down-to-earth explanations (“Dreams come from what we’ve seen and what we’ve done”, “residue of the days events”, “the problem is retrieval”), and the one detail which didn’t come from her memories can be put down to coincidence.
      I liked MacGyver’s lack of “sense of military discipline”, much as it was at odds with his military past, and the general’s name as someone to supposedly able make peace… by operating missiles.
      I thought the hearing device was a bit weird, I’m not sure how the current was supposed to translate to anything more specific than sound or no sound.
      I have no idea how a deaf person can speak so well as Mary Beth Barber, I remember a deaf girl, a couple of years younger than me, at school when I was about ten, and she could not form words.
      The clever plan and smooth execution of almost all the steps of the missile theft was ace, including a cool little move of one of the thieves hopping in the back of the truck. I liked Crane too, with his very expressive face and especially his confidence towards the board members which was the total opposite of Quayle’s cowering and was only topped by Murdoc.
      The other reason why this episode was special for me was that after I first saw it when I was a kid, not having a block of ice, I built a Target: MacGyver pots-and-pans / this episode’s water clock diversion-combo in a storage shed as my biggest-most memorable MacGyverism try. I balanced a plank of wood across one of the horizontal beams that supported the roof. On one end of the plank I piled up the articles that were to make noise, to the other end I tied the carrier bag leaking water of the same weight, then left the shed and listened. Of course it was a success, I was jumping up and down with joy then did it over and over again with various timings. I still have a grin on my face remembering it.
      One more thing here – listen to the music after the “But with a little bit of imagination” and once again when the camera pans on to the start-stop switch, then listen to the intro from 18s of this song (great song by the way, recommended listen!). Lovely pieces of Edelman-music, too, a bit later.
      And another spot-on Final Analysis & lovely interview!

      1. I enjoyed the story of your homemade MacGyverism time-delay diversion -- very cool!