Sunday, March 6, 2016

Legend -- Episode 7: The Gospel According to Legend

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
A preacher comes to town offering salvation to the townspeople, but Legend is immediately suspicious because he recognizes him as a huckster from their days in San Francisco.  The preacher turns the town against Bartok, and Legend discovers that the preacher is in league with a businessman who hopes to sabotage Bartok's rain production research in order to profit from drought resistant fertilizer.

Memorable Quote:
Now Ernest, we're not so different, you and me.  Both selling books, helping people feel better about themselves.  Only difference is my book's older, truer, and better than yours.  ~Willy Miles

The final scene where the mob is setting fire to Bartok's house with Bartok, Legend, and Ramos inside brings some welcome excitement to a series where it is too often lacking. Though I am surprised with how quickly the unruly mob calms down and disperses after Legend comes out and punches Willy.

I like the scene in the middle of the episode with the revival meeting in the tent, but at the same time it drags on a bit too long.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • This episode was written by friend of the MacGyver Project John Considine (I recently talked to him twice, once over email and once on a podcast where he discussed Legend a little bit), and John's brother Tim features in this episode as the businessman Taggert.  John served as a story editor for Legend, and I reached out to him again to see if he had any additional memories to share. He said: 
    • That episode was near the end of our 12 show series which Paramount did not pick up, so at the time a lot of people were getting ready to look for other jobs. I was trying to finish reading all the agent-submitted scripts for their writers and writing acknowledgements and critiques. I hated the thought of writers knowing they had a script submitted for a show and NEVER HEARING BACK from the producers. It was a killing job... we literally had a couple of hundred scripts..., but it made me feel good to put in the time and energy for my fellow writers. Writers rarely get much respect in the film/TV industry. The show itself, because of this last chore, flew by without much involvement from me. Had I not been so engaged in the frantic script reading chore, I would have been closer in touch with the cast and crew. Remember too, that we and the entire production team were at Paramount studios in Hollywood, while the actual show we were writing and producing was being shot in Tucson, Arizona. Not the best situation, but that's what it was.
  • Willy Miles is played by Robert Englund who starred as Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare From Elm Street series.  Of course he is more famous around these parts for his turn on MacGyver as the morally ambiguous and somewhat wimpy Tim Wexler in Flame's End.  There's a good scene in the opening as he is preaching to the crowd while also exchanging knowing glances with Legend, whose lack of enthusiasm for seeing Miles can only be outdone by MacGyver's lack of enthusiasm at seeing Tim Wexler.
  • 9:25 mark -- nice James Bond-style move by RDA to throw his hat onto the hat rack.  I wonder how many takes that took.
  • "He's a phony.  He's making money pretending to be someone he's not."  ~Legend
  • I like the little electric bolts that appear in Skeeter's hair.  He's a fun character, and I learned from Kate at the rdanderson site that the actor who plays him is producer Michael Greenburg's godson.
  • Nice move by Legend to turn the tables on the dimwitted security guard by placing him on the defensive even though he caught Bartok and Legend breaking and entering.

Final Analysis:
I'm putting this as my number one episode so far.  I'm not saying that because Considine is my new BFF but rather because it has a good plot, it features Bartok as a more central character which is fun, it is well filmed with some impressive effects including the fire, smoke, and electricity, and it features Englund with a strong performance as the villain.  With all that said, I wouldn't say that I loved it, and I could easily see one of the remaining five episodes knocking it off its perch as king of the Legend mountain.


  1. I was curious what your thoughts were on this episode and we're in agreement that it's the best so far. Interestingly, the episode with the least action so far has the most interesting story. Robert Englund was excellent as the Bible-waving con man and his eye contact with Pratt in the episode's first scene set the stage for the hour ahead. I also really liked the narrative angle for Miles to pit the community against Bartok and all of his blasphemous "science", a historically relatable premise that even threw in Charles Darwin references to authenticate it. Bartok's speech after the townspeople set his vehicle was earnest and impassioned. I also liked the scene where Pratt conned the security guard into thinking he was doing a security check rather than breaking and entering....which reminded me of any number of the fast-and-smooth-talking cons Face routinely pulled on people on "The A-Team". The ending was creative and fun although, it must be said, a derivative and hokier version of Considine's lightning scene from "Good Knight, MacGyver". Definitely the most consistently amusing episode so far and a nice contrast to the previous week's clunker for me. I looked at the series' air dates list on and see that after episode 6, which aired May 23, 1995, UPN began a pattern of persistent pre-emptions of this series future episodes with a scattershot of airings on different nights in the summer months. Looks like they gave up on the series very quickly and were burning off the final six episodes whenever needed to plug a scheduling hole. Not too many series with such a limited run that flopped so badly ever came out on DVD so "Legend" fans should consider themselves lucky.

    I didn't know that Jarrad Paul, who plays Skeeter, was Michael Greenburg's godson but I recognized him right away as the main tech guy from a 2001-2002 NBC action show called "UC Undercover", a show I really liked in its brief 13-episode run. Interestingly (assuming it's the same Jarrad Paul and I'm guessing there's a very good chance it is), Paul is the co-creator of a current Fox sitcom called "The Grinder" starring Rob Lowe and Fred Savage. I loved "The Wonder Years" as a boy so I tuned in because of Savage but must say it's a very funny show and I've seen a few reviews listing it as the funniest show currently on network television.

    1. Interesting that our top two is the same so far. Pratt's smooth talking reminded me a little of some Burn Notice episodes I've seen lately where Michael has to make up things on the fly to support his cover story. They really did give up on this series quickly, and I wonder how much of the decision to make a DVD was due to the RDA fans petitioning Paramount for the DVD because they knew it was RDA's favorite show.

      I haven't seen the Grinder but have heard of it. I wasn't the biggest Wonder Years fan in the world but I did watch it and enjoyed it at times.

    2. Yes, Michael's off-the-cuff smooth talk to avert a crisis in "Burn Notice" is a good comparison to Pratt's encounter with the security guard as well. I've watched a few "A-Team" episodes recently which is why my mind immediately jumped to that but "Burn Notice" is definitely a more contemporary example. I'm guessing Paramount saw dollar signs due to the RDA fan base association and that's what compelled them to release the series on DVD. Because beyond that, it really is startling to look at that episode guide and see how even an upstart network like UPN gave up on this series after six weeks and then merely plugged scheduling holes to air the remaining six episodes over the course of the summer.

      Kinda surprised you were only lukewarm on "The Wonder Years". I always thought it was excellent.

    3. The Wonder Years was definitely a well-done show, I just found it to be a little on the somber and depressing side.

    4. I tend to like somber and depressing shows. Some episodes of "The Wonder Years" were like that I guess but I thought most were pretty feel-good.

  2. We all seem to be much more in agreement about the Legend episodes than MacGyver ones!
    Like Mark I enjoyed all the science versus religion debate and agree that Bartok's speech after the car-burning was excellent and almost moving.
    RDA/Pratt/Legend was at his best so far, I felt. There was much less cartooning around and the character was more serious, effective and likeable in this context. For once it was Pratt persuading Bartok to do the right thing.
    I really liked the meeting with Pratt and Miles trading Bible verses and the quotation from Keats letter to Benjamin Bailey;'I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart 'etc. How many tv shows would have a Keats quotation! As Pratt says he can 'trade rhetoric with the best of them'. There were plenty of quotarions to look up, (The 'covenant with death' speech was from Isiah 23;15 if anyone's interested!), I learnt a new word from Pratt; 'shills' - an accomplice to a con trick and found out more about Chinese locks!

    I enjoyed the 'follow the money' detective work and, like you both, the resulting smooth-talking conning of the security guard. There were even a couple of Macgyver-like moments when Bartok explains the molecular structure of the box before shattering it and the escape from the ropes in the barn. Skeeter continues to be an amusing minor character.

    There was intelligent writing and humour, interesting detective work and plot and at least some action at the end but I can't help thinking that RDA's more subtle performance is a key reason why I prefer this episode. It's gone to no.1 for me too.

    1. Yeah, we're all practically in lockstep on these episodes!

  3. The ending scene, when the rain comes right on cue to put out the fire and make Bartok looked redeemed reminded me of Legend of the Holy Rose, when the sun appears just in the nick of time to save Macgyver and Zoe. Funny how it turns Mordecai's pretended doctrine all on its head.
    I figured out pretty quick the the Creation company was out for Bartok, trying to close down their competition, but I didn't forsee it being the very ones trying to fund him. How clever to keep an eye on his progress with the front of forthcoming grants.
    My sister and I liked Legend's Dexter-like moments, but he was more believable as a person in this episode. We were excited to watch it since it was yall's new number one.
    Another interesting thing was that in the credits this time, there was no preview of the next legend episode.