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Eerie, Indiana 1.2 – The Retainer

Last time, I was having so much fun talking about the experience of Eerie, Indiana that I didn’t have room to mention the cast. The show focuses on Marshall Teller and his buddy Simon. Marshall is played by Omri Katz, who audiences had seen growing up as JR Ewing’s grandson in Dallas. Simon is played by Justin Shenkarow, who would later work for several seasons on the cult hit Picket Fences and is still quite active today as a voice artist in cartoons and games. Their characters are part of a silly and proud line of children who know more than the grownups about creepy goings-on, and their investigations in Eerie would do the Goonies and the vampire hunters in The Lost Boys proud.

The thankless roles of Marshall’s clueless family go to Mary-Margaret Humes, Francis Guinan, and Julie Condra as big sister Syndi. They’re joined in this afternoon’s episode by Vincent Schiavelli, that guy with the beard who was always playing mobsters, as an orthodontist, and Patrick LaBrecque, who was only in the business for a few years, as a kid with a retainer that picks up the brainwave patterns of dogs.

“The Retainer” has the feel of an episode that was written before everybody working on the show really nailed down what they wanted to do with it. It’s considerably more grisly than any other episode – while not stated, it’s strongly implied that the city’s dogs actually maul two people to death – and the whimsy doesn’t have the feel of black comedy, just oddly bolted-on Saturday morning humor. Our son enjoyed it nevertheless, in part because our kid likes dogs a whole lot, and perhaps in part because a scene where the kid with the retainer and Marshall – listening in by way of a Walkman – overhear some dogs singing “Dem Bones” was a lot like a similar singing scene in a classic episode of The Goodies.

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MacGyver 2.13 – Soft Touch

Teri Hatcher’s character, the bad luck-prone Penny Parker, came back for another go-round in this silly and fun story. This time, she stumbles across a couple of hitmen, played by the very familiar faces of character actors Vincent Schiavelli and Robert Donner, at the same time that Mac is babysitting a Soviet defector. I liked this one because it’s a great example of the Maverick formula. Rather than a “serious but never hopeless” story, it’s “hopeless but never serious.”

Oddly, we thought that our son’s favorite bit was when Mac threw a flare on the roof of the hitmen’s van and our son exclaimed that it was dynamite. He wasn’t actually disappointed when it didn’t explode. He’d earlier seen the hitmen test their voice-activated bomb by blowing up a wheelchair, and that was a big enough bang.

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