We had a conference with our son’s teacher this week. He’s doing well in everything, but his reading comprehension is needing some work. It occurred to me that if we can get him to narrow down the plot of what we’ve just watched into a couple of sentences, that would probably help him understand what he should be doing with chapter books as well.
He had something of a grasp on “The Assassin,” written by James Schmerer, but an important part of it eluded him. He thought that this was about a group of “assassinators,” because the dude, shown above escaping from custody in a scene that seems oddly like the later escape of Dr. Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, wears different disguises, like all good assassinators do. I enjoyed this more than the last few episodes we’ve watched, especially the terrific fistfight in a watchmakers’ shop, and our son thought it was mostly good, even if the number of bad guys had him stumped.
Tonight’s episode was a quick substitution. I’d intended to watch “A Prisoner of Conscience” because it has Marvin Kaplan and Jane Merrow in it, but I accidentally noticed the plot description on the DVD. It’s about MacGyver trying to escape from a mental institution, apparently, and we weren’t happy about showing our son that. “The Assassin” does have another familiar face, Corinne Bohrer, who has guest starred in everything but is probably best known as Veronica Mars’s mother, Lianne. Bohrer was back on TV last month as the Trickster’s sidekick, the wannabe villain Prank, in The Flash. I run hot and cold on the CW’s superhero shows, but I do adore their sense of history. Bohrer had played Prank alongside Mark Hamill’s original Trickster on the 1990-91 version of The Flash as well.
That’s all from MacGyver for now, but we’ve already picked out some highlights from season two and will be watching those in April, so stay tuned!
I’m always happy to watch Teri Hatcher in just about anything. I think she’s by far the best Lois Lane ever, and I appreciate how she’s made appearances as other characters in later Krypton-style TV like Smallville and Supergirl. And of course, she was Susan in ABC’s long-running hit Desperate Housewives, and the unforgettable Sidra in Seinfeld. One of her earliest screen appearances was as Penny Parker in this 1986 episode of MacGyver. The character, despite her gigantic eighties hair, brings out the suffering in our hero so very well that she came back for four more opportunities to drive him to distraction.
Richard Dean Anderson’s talent for comedy doesn’t get nearly enough appreciation. It’s what kept Stargate SG-1 entertaining when the plots were at their most exasperating, and it makes what could have been a tedious runaround with a deliberately annoying-beyond-belief dingbat of a dancer very entertaining. Hatcher’s role is kind of thankless and one-dimensional, and it’s a little unfair that she feeds our hero all the best lines, but I’m looking forward to her driving him crazy again when we get to her next appearance two or three months from now.
Also notable this time: the producers almost made up for pilfering all that stunt footage earlier in the season with a very impressive car crash in the climax that had our son jumping out of his seat. And because the weird finger of coincidence keeps hovering over my life lately, I have to point out that the location used for the Bulgarian park full of old men playing chess in front of the carousel was actually used in the climax of the last episode of Charlie’s Angels that I watched, a couple of days ago. It’s not that crazy – if you want to start listing TV shows filmed in Griffith Park in the seventies and eighties, we’ll be here all week – but I can’t help but know the place in front of me isn’t actually Bulgaria when I watched Farrah Fawcett skateboard through it just 36 hours earlier.
You sort of get the idea that television in the seventies, back when they were making shows that could be run in whatever random order any goon at a TV station could show it, simply didn’t try very hard to find any internal consistency from episode to episode. This is only the second installment shown, but just like you could tune into any random episode of The Fugitive and understand the premise and watch David Janssen look like he’d been on the run forever, all the characters act like they’ve been looking for Sanctuary for many months and had all sorts of adventures we didn’t see.
Logan and Jessica also act far more intelligently and with more awareness than anybody who’s lived their lives in the sheltered upbringing that they’d had. They get caught by humanoid-looking aliens who are collecting specimens two-by-two throughout the galaxy, which I’d have thought would be the sort of premise that our heroes would have considerable trouble understanding. I guess Rem gave them a crash course in juvenile sci-fi sometime in those many months of stories we never saw, because Logan’s plan to make the baddies’ home planet believe this ship couldn’t escape Earth’s gravity is a pretty tall order for somebody who only learned the air outside his city wasn’t poisonous just a week previously.
Anyway, this is pretty silly and didn’t engage me very much, except for Rem, who is by far the most interesting, curious, and resourceful of the trio. The story is by James Schmerer, who had produced the final two seasons of the western drama The High Chapparal for NBC, but may have become acquainted with D.C. Fontana by contributing a script to the Star Trek cartoon in 1973. Among the guest stars playing the disguised-as-Earthings aliens, there’s Leslie Parrish in one of her final acting roles (she retired in 1978), and Angela Cartwright, who had played Penny in Lost in Space.