Saturday, January 30, 2016

Legend -- Episode 2: Mr. Pratt Goes to Sheridan

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
Legend is asked by Jim Siringo, a bank robber accused of killing a guard, to be present when he turns himself in.  Siringo also claims that he is innocent of murder, and he asks Legend to investigate the case and to try and clear his name.  Legend and Bartok discover signs of a larger embezzlement scheme, and they and Siringo stage a bank robbery in order to get at the truth. 

Memorable Quote:
See, I believe in you, Legend.  And I'm willing to turn myself in and save my good name, so long as I know that Nicodemus Legend is on the case.  ~Jim Siringo

Stephen Baldwin is fantastic as Jim Siringo -- he adeptly portrays Siringo as a likable outlaw who is hardened but also warm and sincere.  In particular, I enjoy the scene where we first meet Siringo as he tracks down Legend in a dark alley and humbly asks him for help. I remember watching of a lot of The Young Riders when I was kid because my older sister loved it, and Baldwin starred in one the featured roles as a young Buffalo Bill Cody who happened to be my favorite character on that show.

The Roscoe character gets off to a good start (I like the scene where he meets Legend in the saloon) but toward the end he's practically catatonic during the balloon escape and the bank robbery.  It would have been nice for him to show at least a little bit of emotion and energy during these scenes. 

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • The set design in this show is excellent, and they do a great job of recreating the Old West. 
  • It's a Robert Donner sighting!  He was a MacGyver veteran who featured in the two Western episodes (Serenity and MacGyver's Women) as Milt Bozer, and he also appeared as different characters in Soft Touch and Cleo Rocks.  In this show, he plays the mayor who also has other roles around the small town (e.g. taxidermist). 
  • One other MacGyver connection is that this episode's director, William Gereghty, directed 19 episodes of MacGyver and was the director of photography for 54 episodes.  
  • After the first few minutes we get our first look at the Legend theme song.  I like it, and I like theme song openings in general for television shows -- sadly they're not as common as they once were. 
  • Not sure why Legend and Bartok are still having the conversation about Pratt not wanting to be Legend -- I thought they settled that at the end of the last episode. 
  • The scene with all the pale dead bodies in the morgue is a bit startling and creepy.  I like how Legend mentions Edgar Allen Poe and then drops some subtle Poe references including "telltale heart" and "nevermore."  Thanks to 8th grade English class for helping me pick those up.  
  • The electronic taser is cool, and it gives Legend and Bartok a way to fight back against gunfighters without killing them and fits with the mad science theme. 
  • I like how Legend cleverly tells Siringo to take him as a hostage so that they can escape together, but earlier in the bank Roscoe told his partner that they would kill Legend if he got in the way, so why don't they just shoot Legend and Siringo?
  • Yikes, Mrs. Yancey is just shooting first and asking questions later!
  • I'm starting to enjoy RDA and his character more by this point.  He still overacts, but I'm getting used to it.  It reminds me a bit of Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies where it's an over the top performance but once you accept it, it becomes more enjoyable.   
  • It's not clear to me what was in the safe at the end -- was it records of the embezzlement?
  • Nice shot at the end of the balloon in the night sky with the moon in the background and the cactus in the foreground. 
  • The episode title would have fit more with the previous episode than this one.  Or else it would have made more sense to call it "Mr. Pratt Goes to Tucson" since that's where most of the drama takes place. 
  • Be sure to check out the Legend page on the Richard Dean Anderson website where Kate Ritter is creating an episode lexicon complete with photos and trivia.  So far she's done the first episode, and she said she's trying to keep up with me!  

Final Analysis:
I'd rate this episode as a step up from the first one.  While it still is fairly slow and lacking action, it has a better plot and better characters (highlighted by Stephen Baldwin's Jim Siringo), and it helps that we now know the recurring characters.  It also helps that unlike the previous episode, this one is not 90 minutes long. 


  1. Just watched this episode tonight. I agree it was better than the pilot and considerably less drawn out. The story was decent too although, as you said, could have used a few more moments of conflict in the middle stages. I was wondering if you ever watched "The Young Riders" as a boy because Stephen Baldwin definitely seemed as though he was reprising his role as Buffalo Bill Cody in a sense here.

    The set was indeed impressive and there were some solid production values throughout, particularly the explosion scene where they blew open the safe. As you said though, for all the drama surrounding the safe explosion, there was little satisfaction regarding what they found in it. Overall though the story was reasonably well put together.

    Perhaps I'm just too hard-wired to envision RDA as "MacGyver", but I never got used to him as smart-alecky Jack O'Neill on "Stargate SG-1" and have a hard time getting used to him as Nicodemus Legend. There were moments early on--while riding the train and in the saloon--where his mannerisms were reminiscent of MacGyver's nerdy alter ego Dexter Fillmore. The one moment I genuinely connected to the character and didn't see him as "Western MacGyver" was his emphatic hoot after drinking that swig of bourbon hidden in the tea cup.

    A modestly enjoyable hour of television but largely still reinforcing my original lukewarm impression of this series from my original occasional viewings during my junior year of high school.

    1. It's funny you mentioned Dexter because I was thinking the exact same thing, that there were a few moments here where his voice and mannerisms reminded me of Dexter. Were you a Young Riders fan? I think my sister probably liked it because of the cute guys involved - I don't remember much of the details but I remember watching it with her and enjoying it.

    2. On the RDA forum, Kate wrote regarding RDA's over-the-top performances:

      I suspect the more he got away with it, the more over-the-top he became. You do start to get used to it, but there are times later in the series his portrayal is almost cartoonish. Even RDA himself has admitted more recently at conventions, that he was having way too much fun and "somebody should have stopped me!"

    3. I wasn't a "Young Riders" fan. The show was competent and mildly entertaining--definitely one of the better shows in those dreadful 1989-1992 seasons when the airwaves were being completely taken over by sitcoms and low-budget reality crime shows--but it never really captured my imagination. I was in junior high at the time and the girls in my friends' group loved it--also because of the "cute guys"--were twisting my arm to watch it. I'd watch it on occasion but it never rocked my world by any means.

      You could tell RDA was loving this role, which he has made abundantly clear in every interview he's ever given when "Legend" came up. It's too bad for his sake he didn't get a chance to do a second season.

  2. I agree with almost everything Nick has said here and feel that this episode works better. Its my no. 1 so far.
    Once again there was some amusing moments; the mayor hoping for a massacre because it adds to the tourist value of a place, Ramos’s ‘Why do they always have to be English’ as he names an obscure Mexican (?)’Robin Hood’ and Bartok’s likening of Legend to Santa Claus ‘He’s pretend but he always delivers’. (A bit anachronistic for the 1870’s but never mind).
    So far it’s meeting at least some of my criteria for a good show; references to decipher and some intelligent writing. I like the science but am less keen on the wacky gadgets (I usually preferred the simple to the overly-complicated, MacGyverisms) although visually they perform well.
    I enjoyed the forensics, Western-style, and the entire Gothic scene in the morgue and the Edgar Allan Poe refs; I got ‘The Telltale Heart’ but not ‘nevermore’ (well spotted Nick) and had to look that one up, as well as the source for Bartok’s ‘The truth shall set us free’ (The Bible and various academic institutions using it to emphasis the value of knowledge), I agree with Nick , some good moments where Siringo teaches Pratt the value of protecting a good name, especially if its originally undeserved and also the occasions where Pratt /Legend demonstrates his obvious intelligence and some of his sarky, grown-up humour.
    Like Nick, I thought they’d dealt with the reluctant hero motif in the first episode. So far (admittedly with a very small sample!) the episodes have a formula - Pratt misbehaves and refuses to be Legend. He then has a deep conversation with someone who makes him realise that Legend is a character worth bringing to life and that people are relying on him. He then does the right thing, albeit with some moments of recidivism, with some powerful motivation from Bartok.
    It’s interesting to read what Kate says about RDA’s performance and his own admission. Lots of Nick’s previous interviewees have mentioned RDA’s good comic timing and I would agree, the timing is fine, it’s the mannerisms and physical overacting that are bothering me. I can understand Mark’s comment about Jack O’Neill but I actually thought that he handled the O’Neill character’s cynical, and often black, humour pretty well. I suppose it’s easier to be a serious action hero with a sense of humour without becoming cartoonish than a light-hearted reluctant one. As everyone notes; RDA obviously loved the role of Pratt and maybe he would have calmed down a bit if the series had carried on longer.
    Whew. sorry, rather a long comment here- Will try to be less wordy in future!

    1. No need to be less wordy - it's fun to hear your thoughts! As for Ramos's comment, Joaquin Murrieta was a real person, and he features in "The Mask of Zorro" (one of my favorite movies) as Antonio Banderas's brother.

    2. Thanks for the Murrieta background. I didn't quite catch what Ramos said and now having looked him up, I realise Murrieta was the inspiration for Zorro. Haven't seen the film but remember watching a very old tv series years ago.

  3. This one is better than the pilot ep. I do like when the coach shows up and they're all expecting Pratt to get out and he's just not there. And Bartok has to go hunt him down at the saloon. =)

    I think Bartok's gadgets are probably my fave parts of this show. I much prefer Stargate and MacGyver to Legend, myself. I remember reading/hearing from an interview once that RDA would only take the Jack O'Neill role if he could 'soften' the character up a bit from the movie, which they let him do. And it does take a bit of getting used to seeing him as Jack when you're so used to MacGyver. But Jack is a great character. =)

    1. Are you currently doing a rewatch of Legend?

    2. Not fully - I pulled up this ep on Youtube and watched a little bit of it. I've only seen Legend like twice? so i have to go back and look at the eps to remember what happened. But I do like Bartok. =)

  4. My kid sister and I became Macgyver fans mostly because of your previous blog. I was so sad when I finished reading all your episode recaps (except The Invisible Killer, which I'll read after I watch it so I won't spoil anything, like you suggested). I'm excited you're doing a new RDA project! Thanks to all yall for giving your thoughts on great tv shows I'm way too young to have seen live. Every time I get the chance to watch a new Macgyver episode, I come back to the blog and read everything and all the comments. Great job on everything and the fascinating interviews. I'm ordering your book for my younger sister's birthday.

    1. That's great to hear, thanks very much Rebekah! Glad that you enjoyed the blog and the show, and thanks also for getting my book - I hope your sister enjoys it!

  5. We just finished watching it. We both loved RDA as Legend. No wonder he liked this show so much! His "what a coincidence" at the saloon and "Oh, do tell," in the hot air balloon we so over the top. And he does sound so much like Dexter at the beginning. I think the reason Roscoe didn't shoot Legend was because of all the townspeople watching. And my guess is the books were detailed records of the embezzlement. They would have to have records in order to keep track of how much they had skimmed, how much was left, and where it all was in order to keep up the front of an honest bank.