Cat(harsis) fight! Cat(harsis) fight!

May 3, 2001 AD
First off, I do use cuss words in here. Not just my old-guard favored cusses, but also "bitch" and "pissed off". If you're offended by that, well, it's too late. But there's a situation here that just requires use of those words. Several times. Close together.

Second off, as I write this paragraph (at 1:00 AM on July 14, 2001 AD) I find I'm doing a lot of heavy re-editing. Because of that, be warned that all dates listed are the date the text was originally written, and that it likely got badly abused over the next week or two as I saw fit.

Third off, this page isn't being updated anymore as of right now (August 19, 2001 AD), except for corrections. Future installments of The Egolf Chronicles and Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies will be put on their own page.

Fourth off, there's been a shakedown as of right now (October 17, 2001 AD). Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies are now on a different page from The Egolf Chronicles.

Okay, so I'm at Lee Goldberg's site and I find he's put up some of his scripts and stuff for download. There's several Martial Law ones, including one for the episode TNN ran last night, "Sammo Blammo". Martial arts and high explosives.:)

But on to the point: One problem with the early episodes of season two of Martial Law was that Amy Dylan and Grace Chen (played by Gretchen Egolf and Kelly Hu, respectively) spent enough time sniping at each other that you were half-expecting a catfight to break out.

As sexually entertaining as some members of the audience would find that, that is a bad thing.

Now, I don't know if these scripts were edited after the show was produced (beyond a couple of "OMITTED" lines), but I'm going to make the (possibly dangerous) assumption that Lee Goldberg has as much editorial integrity as I do, and doesn't change things later to make himself look better, a la 1984.

I noticed, when reading the script after watching the show, that there was some subtle differences between the script and the final product. Which, for the hell of it, I'm going to point out.

So, contained below, is something I "borrowed" from the script Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin wrote for "Sammo Blammo". My commentary is in italics. The text is ripped right out of the file linked above, with only some minor editing to fit it into this page's format.

First off, the dialogue is slightly different, but it's only a few incidental dropped words, added "Well..."s and stuff like that. Major changes are noted below.

Use of closeups is rather important as well. There's three main angles (all shot from the back seat of the van where the scene takes place, BTW) - one where you can see both Amy and Grace*, a closeup of Amy* and a closeup of Grace.

(*Where, rather amusingly, you can see Amy's reflection in the rear-view mirror, making it rather obvious to physics students that she's completely blind to anything behind her because all she would see in the mirror was the camera. Good thing use of reverse gear never comes up in the scene, else the cameraman would need to be tied across the hood so he could get a shot while she backed up.)

Amy is behind the wheel as they drive through the BAD SIDE OF TOWN. Grace glances at the speedometer then glares at Amy.

GRACE: Do you need some help finding the gas pedal... or are we going to coast all the way there?

Amy just gives her a look.

Being a good driver, I suppose, Amy didn't give a look. Either that or it was cut out.

GRACE: See that button on the dash marked siren? That means we can go faster than the speed limit -- I read that in the rule book.

AMY: If I turn on the siren and floor it, you'll feel a lot better. But the guy we're going to see will hear us coming, disappear, and it'll take another couple hours to find him again.

Grace turns her gaze back to the street, even more pissed off because Amy is right.

Were I a better writer, I'd likely be warranted in pointing out that the subtle difference between "pissed off because Amy is right" (as it was meant) and "pissed off because she thinks Amy is a bitch" (as the audience was likely to take it - since Amy's been doing a great impersonation of a bitch up until this point) is very hard for an actress to convey. But I'm a two-bit hack, so I won't point it out.:)

But the point is moot, since this bit was removed at some later time - the camera never breaks from a closeup of Amy, and she doesn't give enough time between lines to cut to a closeup of Grace without evoking memories of that other LAPD-based show (Dragnet) and its use of a series of quickly-switched-between closeups for dialogue-heavy scenes.

AMY: You think I'm a rigid, pencil-pushing bureaucrat.

GRACE: You haven't proved me wrong. Your beat is your desk.

Amy smiles to herself -- she doesn't take it personally.

Now, here's where I wonder. Amy's driving and the camera is in the back seat. How could we see her smiling? (And no, you can't see in the rear-view mirror - I checked!)

She does have a sort-of smile on when she turns her head while making a right turn and delivering the next line**, but she's seen in profile and it could be anything from a smile to an I've-argued-you-into-a-corner-now smirk. In all fairness, I have the benefit of hindsight here.

(**Nothing like someone who can multitask well - I can't even chew gum and walk at the same time, mainly because I never chew gum.)

AMY: How do you think we found this guy? By searching the databases for known getaway drivers with big scars on their faces and then pulling up his file.

There's more of this, and I could spend all day doing this, but I won't. I will point out one more thing though, from a bit later in the scene....


BRUTAL THUG: You looking for a good time?

Grace is utterly at ease. Amy isn't... her hand is straying towards her GUN (...)

What I find amusing is that this was changed later. Amy, in the televised version, appears as calm as Grace.

And the gun bit is rather funny, since this is the one scene where she's not wearing the suit jacket she wears the rest of the episode. It could be due to how warm it is in LA, a minor continuity screwup, or it could just be so the perverts in the audience (me!:) could get to see Amy Dylan (who - in case you haven't yet noticed, though that's rather unlikely - is played by my current rant-page obsession, Gretchen Egolf) running around in a nicely form-fitting white shirt.

But, as becomes slightly more obvious once you've read this script, there is a very good reason for not wearing the jacket - so we can tell she's wearing her gun, and when she's reaching for it.

But when played out as it was, having the gun apparent makes the "Brutal thug" a real dimwit - when Amy charged past him to catch the escaping bad guy, he had a golden opportunity to grab the gun out of the holster on the back of her belt, and she wouldn't have even known, lacking eyes in the back of her head.

This is why I write fanfic and not stuff I expect the actors to ever even see.:)

So, what I found interesting about this is that the subtle clues hinting "maybe Amy Dylan isn't quite the bitchy by-the-book supervisor she's made out to be" were all removed.

Incidentally, in the next episode (in case you're curious, I'm writing in the hours on either side of tonight's showing of Martial Law) Lisa Klink (the writer) did a very good job of taking the sniping and naturally diluting it over the course of the episode. There was also some constructive dialogue as the two characters started to understand each other better. If the writers in season one had the same skill at wearing down the abrasive aspects through dialogue, CBS might not have removed Dana Dixon (played by Tammy Lauren) simply because she wasn't incredibly fond of Sammo's flashes of insight (his "Yoda moments").

(Incidentally 2.0, there was some gossip on Usenet at the time that she was ditched because she wasn't exactly sweetness and light off-camera. Of course, if it's on Usenet it must be true, right?)

And here's something else off Lee Goldberg's site.... Part of the original doc file outlining what season two of Martial Law was to be. (One bit of punctuation edited because I don't have MS Word installed and can't figure out what it's supposed to be from the binary - I made it a semicolon.)

Caitlin Sweeney

At 26, she's the fastest-rising female cop in the history of the department. She got that way by being single-minded about her work, absolutely dedicated to her job. Some would say obsessed.

Her goal is to be the first female police chief in LA history. To get there, she knows she has to not only be good, but better than everybody else. She will play the politics of any situation - and believes that this so-called promotion to the unit was actually designed by her male superiors to derail her rise to the top. To her, this is a demotion. She believes she's only one big arrest away from getting back into robbery-homicide and the promotion track.

As a result, she's relentless when it comes to pursuing a case, and making sure it's done if not by the book, within the bound of acceptable procedure. It's for her own protection - if they break all the rules to make a bust, and the judge throws the case out, they've wasted their time, returned a crook to the streets, and tarnished their careers.

Because she comes from a wealthy family, she can afford all the latest technology (even if the department can't), and is forever looking for any gadget that can give her an edge.

She talks to Sammo, Terrell and Grace as if she is the only adult, and they are unruly children when, the fact is, they actually have more experience than she does. Sammo has no desire to show her up; unlike Terrell and especially Grace, who will rub Caitlin's nose in a mistake every chance she gets. It's the one thing Grace and Terrell can always agree on.


What They All Have in Common:

Despite their differences, they genuinely like and respect each other. And together, make an extraordinary team. Although they may argue, although they may have different approaches, their basic respect and affection for one another never wavers.

Caitlin Sweeney is obviously (to me, anyway) Amy Dylan V1.0. Notice that she was sort of built from day one to be confrontational? That last line is kind of hopeful, but it's too much of a clash with the whole "rub her nose in it" bit. How can you respect someone if you insist on ragging on them for their failures?

May 3, 2001 AD (post-Martial Law)
What am I updating about? My following is going to love this. Yes, I have a following - he's a nice guy. I also have a second following who knows a thing or two about the television industry. Two more followings and I'll be a cult classic.

I am updating about.... Hair! Yes! In the official non-existent The Archon drinking game, a hair-based rant is the signal to empty the bottle if it happens on the index page, take as much as you can swallow in one shot if it's on the Random Thoughts page, and one drink the first time it happens on a Random Thoughts subpage like this one. So drink up!

Though this one is also about clothes. Isn't it grand?

So, I'm watching tonight's episode, "Thieves Among Thieves", and I have a Gilligan's Island flashback (that show is like LSD, I tell ya...). No, really. Sammo Hung was the Skipper, Arsenio Hall was a very badly sunburnt Gilligan, Kelly Hu was Ginger, and Gretchen Egolf was an extremely young Lovey Howell.

Why did I have a flashback? Simple: Gilligan and the Skipper never changed clothing all the time when they were on the island, except for comic purposes. Ginger and Mrs. Howell, on the other hand, were in different outfits at least every second scene. Same with tonight's Martial Law.

I noticed it while watching, and it was even worse when I rewound the tape I had made. Watch these timestamps I did. (Commercials taken out, so it only goes to 0:45:00.)

0:00:00: Show starts.

0:03:24: Gretchen Egolf and Kelly Hu (I'm too lazy to type the character names:) show up.
Clothing.... Egolf: Blue t-shirt, medium brown slacks. Hu: Black blouse and black slacks or leggings, can't tell.
Hair.... Egolf: Done in a way that makes lovers of bangs like me have random twitching fits. Left loose on the back and sides, with the front combed back over the top of her head, though not in the sort of extreme way Conway Twitty did with his hair before it mystically curled one day. What the hell was I talking about? Oh, yeah, sort of.... Ah, screw this:


(God, what an awful picture. Not just for the hair, but also for the grin. Half a million frames for some webmaster to pick from and he had to capture that one. Two seconds before, two seconds after, fine. But no....)
Hu: Left completely loose, slight waves at the ear. Plainish, but those waves make for a rather nice highlight.

0:13:40: After several cutscenes, Hu and Egolf are still looking the same as before. At this point they leave the scene of a crime and head back to the office.

0:14:55: They've left the office and gone to an insurance company's building, presumably fifteen to thirty minutes have passed (to wit: Ms. Egolf delivers the line "Fifteen minutes in front of a computer and we found a connection...."). So has a quick trip to the shopping mall.
Clothing.... Egolf: Red sleeveless t-shirtish thing, black slacks. Hu: Blue-purple blouse and black legging-type things.
Hair.... Egolf: Now, her hair is parted and the excess is pushed behind her left ear. Why not another picture?

(I'm too lazy to do tables so there'd be text alongside these....)

(It's going to be a long night; I have about fifty pictures of her I could use.)

There we go. Better picture, mainly because it was posed for. Why screencappers insist on catching her in a death's-head half-grin more often than not is beyond me.
It might be a better style, but I still take some issue with the hair. Because I can.
Hu: Waves have vanished. Her hair is parted and the excess is pushed behind her left ear as well. You'd think they were the Bobsey Twins of hairstyles if not for Hu's longer hair.

(Rant time.... For God's sake, what is wrong with BANGS?! They don't need to be pushed and prodded and shoved behind ears to look good! They just sort of fall by themselves so you can spend more time worrying about the REST of your head!)

0:30:50: After more cutscenes to Sammo Hung and Arsenio Hall (who are still wearing the same things as they were at the start of the episode), this is the end of a scene with Egolf and Hu. They look the same as 0:14:55.

0:31:40: (Not even one bloody minute! No commercial break, just one quick dialogue scene between Sammo, Arsenio, and the guest star.) Egolf and Hu are back at that insurance company's building. Are the receptionists there part-time fashion designers?
Clothing.... Egolf: White gray-vertical-striped blouse, unbuttoned black suit jacket, black slacks. Does a wonderful job of dulling down every part of her body that cues you on to the fact that she's female - for all I think she's cute, she can look just-a-little-too-butch-for-my-taste. Might not be so bad if not so quickly juxtaposed against that red sleeveless number. Hu: White sleeveless t-shirt or halter-top, can't tell, with a black shirt over it, white slacks.
Hair.... Egolf: No obvious change. Wooo. Hu: Pulled back in a ponytail. Were I a phrenologist, I could give a reading from here.

0:34:40: Egolf sheds the suit jacket. This improves things.:) And this is likely a trick of the light, but her slacks look more brown than black.

0:42:29: (Or thereabouts.) Big good-guys-arrest-bad-guys scene, Egolf and Hu present in background. Maybe one change: I don't know if it's the outdoor light of this scene (or the location shooting schedule), but Gretchen Egolf's slacks look medium brown again. Still no suit jacket, but the white/gray shirt's the same.

0:42:39: Presumably a lot of time has passed, since Arsenio Hall and Sammo Hung finally get to change their clothes for this scene.
Clothing.... Egolf: Greenish-beigeish blouse faintly reminiscent of military vehicles, brown dress. Hu: Red t-shirt, black leggings.
Hair.... Egolf: No obvious change. Wooo again. Hu: Back to left long/pushed behind her ear. Bobsey Twins again.

0:45:00: End of episode.

May 7, 2001 AD
BTW, I'm likely going to use character and actor names semi-interchangeably here. You've been warned.:)

May 10, 2001 AD (Episode: 'My Man Sammo')
Obsession of the week: I still don't know why anyone, least among them whoever did Gretchen's hair, thinks pulling someone's hair back in a supertight bun is a good idea. For something functional, it's fine. For form... never! However, the (likely high-maintenance) curls-that-weren't-quite-ringlets that she wore during the party scene looked simply wonderful. I like three dimensional hair. Were I more of a pervert I'd also comment on the dress she was wearing, how much time she spends walking around in it, and how it relates to that well-functioning hydraulic masterwork that is her hips and backside.:)

I also like how, rather than keeping to one outfit all episode or randomly changing for no good reason (see above), the writer stretched everything out to a multi-day timeframe so it made perfect sense when Amy's clothing and hair changed from scene to scene.

I'm more like a demigod: A lesser mortal would pick on the fact that Amy Dylan had no reason to be the one undercover, since while she did bear a distant resemblance to the arms-dealing woman she was replacing, no one not in jail knew what the dealer looked like. Of course, if you pay attention to the dialogue (well, Deep Meaningful Speech) a bit later in the episode - somewhat hard to do considering the low-cut dress Amy was wearing in that scene:) - it's not a flaw, but the point of the whole affair. She had no reason to be the one to go undercover, except to get rid of her own doubts that she could do it. The whole "I look like her" thing was a deliberately flawed excuse.

We're absolutely fabulous.... When Amy was decked out as the arms dealer at the beginning in the dark brown is-that-a-tiger-print-or-a-bad-attempt-at-camouflage outfit (not the low-cut one:), with her hair done up really weird, I had a flashback to Absolutely Fabulous. It's been a couple of years since I've seen AbFab, but I couldn't get the thought out of my head that if Amy had been holding a drink and saying something like "Darling? You are a fabulous wonderful individual!" or "Lovely, sweetie!" with a British accent, she would have almost perfectly invoked the memory of Joanna Lumley's AbFab character, Patsy Stone! (Or, barring speaking in a British accent, she could have just got bombed, smoked a cigarette or two, and fallen out of her car instead of getting out like a sober person. That'd invoke Patsy just as well.)

Gratuitous ratings moment: Not only was Amy kind of cleavage-intensive at one point, she (still in the same outfit) has to go through the following.... She's betrayed as a cop by the guest star, and (searching for bugs, I guess, or 'cause he needed the clothing for whoever was taking Amy's place in spy-camera range) the bad guy pulls a gun on her and orders "Strip!" Now, the conveniences of the direction mean she's currently facing away from the bad guy (which no self-respecting bad guy would do, in case she's packing heat and a death wish) and towards the camera. So you get to see her unbutton (well, untie) her jacket (which she's clearly not wearing a thing under, given how low-cut it was and my minimal knowledge about women's underwear) and go to open it, and... of course, it cuts to a new scene. It was one of those moments I wanted to be a friend of the director and on the set, if only to wait for him to say "Cut!" so I could run up into the camera's viewing range and throw dollar bills at her. (Poignant commentary, not wish fulfillment - for once.:)

May 14, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Blue Flu')
Gratuitous ratings moment: Amy gets her blouse ripped off (not like you saw anything, there was a beige brassiere and some of makeup's handiwork - still-bloody scabs - underneath the blouse) because her heart had conveniently stopped and was in need of defibrillation. Funny, I thought a heart defibrillator didn't restart a stopped heart, it stopped a fibrillated one (some of the muscle fibers get going on their own beat instead of the pacemaker's and it starts throwing the whole heart off). A massive shock is delivered so the heart stops dead and the pacemaker has a chance to reassert itself. I could be wrong, but considering the whole heart angle was kind of forced anyway.... Bleeding to death internally could probably cause heart problems, but you're likely to be dead soon after. Nope, she hung around in a coma for the rest of the episode, despite a slice of Usenet wanting her to die an ugly death. (Though not me, certainly.:)

This is also the first time I remember where she was wearing a blouse that didn't look uncomfortably like a man's shirt. Someone in wardrobe take the hint?

May 15, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Sammo Claus')
While my daughter's talking to Santa, why don't you sit on my lap and tell me what a naughty little elf you were this year.... Okay, for once never mind the excessive costume changes over the short term. Try to riddle this one out....

You're a woman. (Named Amy Dylan.)

You need to dress as one of Santa's elves.

You, ergo, need a green dress. Okay so far.

So you get one that shows cleavage.

An elf. Helping a department store Santa. Showing cleavage. Only green dress she had, maybe? Now, I'm not saying that Gretchen Egolf showing cleavage is a problem, mind you - I'm one sick puppy and enjoy that sort of thing. I'm just saying that only showing it in conjunction with playing an elf is kind of disturbing.

Who did wardrobe on these things and what sort of pervert are they? And how can I get into this rather entertaining field?

May 16, 2001 AD (Episode: 'No Quarter')
How to tell when the budget ran out: They blow up a car. Then when it comes time to blow up a goalpost, they use the fakest digital effect you've ever seen.

The ubiquitous hair comment: Kelly Hu was wearing a wig that had bangs. BANGS! Thank you God! Looked great, which is better than she normally looks.:)

Clothing: The t-shirt and vest combo Gretchen Egolf was wearing at the beginning of the show was nice. As was the epilogic final scene, when she was wearing a blue sweater - pretty blue, pretty tight. While my mother doesn't read this page, I'm obviously transparent in my feelings. While rewinding the tape of tonight's episode, my mother not only commented on the sweater, but she also told me she didn't want me licking the television screen if I replayed said scene.:)

Ah, the wonders of having parents who have better TV reception than you do.

Other fun things: Gretchen got to tackle and perform some pain-assisted interrogation on Michael Dorn (who was guest-starring as a corrupt politician). So any ST fanboys who happen to hate Worf (or like Michael Dorn in really worrying ways) can rest easier, a bit of wish fulfillment is taking place in Martial Law reruns.:)

Black (not African-American) comedy: While the darker tone of season two isn't always to my taste, there was a marvelous black comedic moment in this episode. The gang lord bad-guy person has killed a rebellious henchman, and the corpse has fallen behind the couch in his office. Before he has a chance to clean up the body, Michael Dorn (who was still assumed to be a not-so-corrupt-politician at this point) shows up, sits down on the couch, and has a short conversation with the gang lord. And all the time the gang lord is trying to be the gracious host when he knows there's a still-warm corpse not two feet away.:)

Another thing.... In this episode both Gretchen's and Sammo's characters got busted down to meter maids. So they were wearing similar uniforms. While the uniforms were sized differently (a short, heavy man and a taller, thinner woman can not wear anything of the same size:) the ties looked identical. Except Sammo's had to take the long route across his stomach, while Gretchen's got to go almost straight down*. So they're wearing similar ties, only Sammo's doesn't reach his belt buckle while Gretchen's goes past. This is why men and women should dress differently - the men always wind up looking worse.:)

*Someone reading this page is thinking "breasts" right now. Most likely me, but anyway.... Having two fat storage units (namely, breasts) has an advantage over having one fat storage unit (namely, a stomach). A tie fits rather neatly between 'em.:)

Ye gods, I'm a pervert....

May 18, 2001 AD (Episode: 'No Fare')
Rant time: First off, the writer (Paul Bernbaum) did an excellent job on dialogue. He also did a horrid job on characterization. I'm debating if I should have him given a medal or taken out and beaten.

Basically, he portrayed Sammo as a person with no life. Season one, Sammo had a girlfriend. He liked being away from the office. He took walks by the ocean. He watched the Discovery Channel. If I was half a foot shorter, a bit heavier, Chinese, and had a girlfriend and an office job, he'd be somewhat like me. I know they broke continuity between seasons, but the supercop-who-never-takes-time-off routine is a bit hackneyed, unlike the cop-who-has-a-life routine.

But here, he has no life (sort of like I really am...). He's forced to take time off and he still figures out how to get back on the job.

The dialogue was a treat, though. A lot of light comedy counterpointed nicely with the murder plot.

* * *

Amy (convincing Terrell to deliver bad news to Sammo): "You're partners, you're buds! You know, you could make it like a... male... thing."

* * *

Terrell (talking about Vegas to the uber-good-guy Sammo): "You could... hit the strip clubs, shut them down!"

* * *

Grace (on vacation time): "Where would you go?"

Amy: "I don't know. Some place with white sandy beaches and a deep blue ocean and lots of really strong...."

Grace: "Men?"

Amy: "Uh.... Well, I was going to say margaritas but yeah, men are good."

* * *

Terrell (convincing Sammo to calm down an angry Doberman): "You got that thang going, you know."

Sammo: "What 'thang' going?"

Terrell: "You got a thing with dogs and kids, you have a way about you...."

Sammo: "First I have a 'thang', now I have a way?"

* * *

There's several others, but they all require you to hear the delivery. (Actually, the one about men and the thang one need to be heard too.:)

Hair dee hair hair: Gretchen had her hair in a hey-that's-not-bad style* before going back to something like that first argh-I-don't-like-that image above.

*That was my fourth guess. Before that I wrote "form", "format", and "configuration".

(Stolen from But considering the gratuitous Coca-Cola placement, I don't give a damn.**)

(**Robbing Peter to pay Paul and then justifying it by dragging an unrelated third party into the mix. Sort of like a w4r3Z d00d, actually.)

Like this, except slightly wavier (which was a further improvement) and a bit further back so it doesn't block her far left field of vision. The scene was lit a bit better than this one too.

Incidentally, this pic is rather newer than Martial Law - it's from the film Nicolas, which was filmed on one of those new 24P digital cameras. So if some Star Wars fan starts saying how daring George Lucas is for filming Episode 2 on a 24P camera and being the first ever to do that, please educate (or hurt...) them for me. Episode 2 is the second American film to film on 24P! Nicolas - a $500,000-budget independent film - was first! (SW:E2 might make it to theaters first, but that's simply because independent films don't get as much coverage as Star Wars. Nicolas has already been shown - assuming my sources aren't mistaken - at Digidance and Sundance.)

Yes, mocking George Lucas is one of my hobbies.

May 23, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Honor Among Strangers')
Honor Among Strange Rangers: Ah, the Walker, Texas Ranger crossover. I suppose I must make the mandatory snide comment on Chuck Norris' ability to deliver every line with the exact same intensity no matter if he's ordering a beer or the bad guy to drop the gun*. But I just did, didn't I?:)

(*The world's most torturous zeugma. If you don't know what a zeugma is, look it up. Look up "gnomon" while you're at it.)

Here's some film stock for your gravy: More to the point... stock footage of a missile being shot. Talk about clashing with the rest of the show! And the missile launcher with the painfully obvious DirecTV dish (logo covered) attached to it was a nice touch too.

May 24, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Freefall')
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a nuclear fireball! Ah, the episode where the spy satellite hits Los Angeles. The beginning of the end.

Hair, hair, we must mention hair. Gretchen had a variation on that style I pointed out last time. Looked nice.

Begin the ending: But I must explain my "beginning of the end" comment. You see, this was about the point where Martial Law collapsed under its own plotline weight. The umbrella plot bad guys, Scorpio, just weren't incredibly interesting, and they were in five of the last six episodes. They had their moments, admittedly, but as soon as you heard Tim Curry's (or, later, Christopher Neame's) voice over one of those laptops, you knew that Scorpio was involved and that Sammo and the bad guy weren't going to be squaring off or even meeting in the big finale. And it sort of sucked all the mystery out of the episode.

To compare, Season One's bad guy (Chinese drug dealer Lee Hei) was kind of nice. He was hateful and killed without a thought, but he was kind of likable. He dressed loudly, but with a sort of over-the-top formality - he always had a brightly-colored vest on under his brightly-colored suit jackets, for instance, and it had a kind of gaudy-yet-rather-nice style to it. He was a complete bastard, but I didn't hate him for it - he was just too cool a villain to hate.

Scorpio and their enigmatic leader (The One - AKA Tim Curry or Christopher Neame) weren't like that. The One was the only recurring bad guy, the rest all died (save his second-in-command Miss Bock) at the end of the episode. And since you never saw The One (except for the series finale) he was kind of hands-off. He gave his orders via laptop and that was it. Ooh, there's a bad guy I can get behind. And Tim Curry was hamming things up something fierce - especially in this episode. And not kind-of-funny like he hammed in Rocky Horror, either. This was just ham. When Neame took over the role for reasons best known to anyone but me, he didn't have much to work with, except for Tim Curry's dubious legacy.

Another contrast: When Scorpio killed someone, the person often just vanished, with the implication that they were tortured to death. When Lee Hei killed someone, it was with some panache. Knocking them into a pool and then kicking a radio in. Or, the time his real estate agent tried blackmailing him. He leisurely told his henchman, "Bury him up to his neck in the sand, feed him to the sharks, do whatever you do to real estate agents."

I really should write up my opinion of the show and its changes....

(Take cover, 3000 word rant ahead. Feel free to take the detour.)

Middle of season one:

Getting rid of Dana Dixon (Tammy Lauren): Bad (but maybe necessary). Depending on who you ask, either the character wasn't working well with the other characters or the actress wasn't working well with the other actors. Assuming it was the character, then they really should have just used the dialogue to try improving her opinion of Sammo and his rather odd methods. If it was the person, then I can't really comment. So it was either a bad change or a necessary change, depending.

Adding Melanie George (Julia Campbell): Good! Ah! This was an improvement. Melanie was cute and her odd quirks (her talkativeness, her lack of cooking skills, her astrology beliefs) just made her cuter. Even her relationship with Sammo was a "cute" one, sort of like a teenage girl trying to draw the shy boy she likes out of his shell. Her transparent-as-hell attempts to get Sammo out on a date when he didn't quite understand the American dating scene were really funny, and added a nice light touch to the show. For instance, the time she asked him for some self-defense training and tried to get him to act like an attacker - when he wasn't quite as hands-on as she liked she basically threw herself into her "attacker's" arms. (Though the way she got away from him - the point of the lesson - was funny and wonderfully unexpected.)

Granted, if she had been in every episode, it would have worn thin very fast. But she was only around every few episodes and it worked well. It gave Sammo a much-needed personal life and some extra dimension. Their relationship did get more serious near the end (they kissed!:) but it could have kept at that boyfriend-girlfriend level for a long while without looking faked.

Adding Terrell Parker (Arsenio Hall): Goodish. While I didn't like Arsenio Hall at all when I started watching, and his character was a bit silly at times (read: silly like a clown at a funeral - often jarringly out of place), within a few episodes I had reversed my opinion. His acting was IMHO good, and his character's most obnoxious aspects (and the incredibly ridiculous elements of his past - come on, an ex-accountant?) were quietly done away with in the span of about three episodes and change, with only a few annoying throwbacks later on. Some of the writing made him look stupid though, like the time drug dealer Hector Florez (sic) was throwing frying pans at him while Terrell had a gun. If neither was armed and they were both reduced to throwing kitchen implements at each other, it would have been a marvelous fight scene. As it was, it was still funny but tainted with the question about why Terrell didn't use his gun or why Hector wasn't really scared of a cop with his gun drawn.

Ending on a cliffhanger: ARGH! I hate shows that do that. Hate, hate, hate. End the season on an up note or you likely won't be back for another one.

Umbrella plot bad guy Lee Hei: Good. Like I said, he was a nice bad guy. He was also fairly evenly-spaced in his appearances (two episodes at the start, one in the middle, two for the season finale) and the actor (Tzi Ma?) was talented as hell. Though, I do admit, Lee Hei needed to die at the end of the season; he had escaped from the cops so often it was becoming a cliche. But he deserved a better finale than the falling-from-a-helicopter finale he got. Even if he had fallen out and deliberately tried taking Sammo with him, instead of falling out and accidentally taking Sammo along when Sammo tried rescuing him....

Season two:

Replacing Producer Carlton Cuse with Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin, to increase the ratings: Uhhhh.... Well, they tried. They do deserve credit for the brave attempt (and for being flamed to death when they appeared on Usenet and still staying around to justify their decisions). But why CBS felt that the guys that turned around a failing Diagnosis Murder could do the same to a moderately-successful Martial Law is beyond me. The shows are so different it's like comparing apples and Illithids. Most of the following changes were their idea (fault?).

(July 29, 2001: Hmmm. I'd like to amend that last paragraph a bit. In retrospect, some of the changes were half-way done, Goldberg and Rabkin just saw them through to their conclusion. There's also some debate as to whether Martial Law wasn't on thin ratings ice before Goldberg and Rabkin took over. Granted, they didn't improve the ratings....)

Not following along from that cliffhanger, except for about six lines of incidental dialogue: DAMN YOU! The only thing I hate more than a cliffhanger is not following it up next season. Lee Hei was reported to have died in the fall, Sammo wasn't hurt at all. Lee Hei, and the audience, deserved better than that.

Getting rid of Melanie George: Goldberg and Rabkin (hence called G&R) claimed this subplot was too childish and made Sammo look like a lovesick teenager, or some such. It seems that very few people agreed. (Including me.) I liked the character, the scenes involving two of them were good (and sometimes heart-rending, like when Melanie was kidnapped), there was a good chemistry between the characters, and Julia Campbell is cute. 'Nuff said.

Replacing Lieutenant I've-forgotten-his-first-name Winship (Tom Wright) with I've-forgotten-her-rank Amy Dylan (Gretchen Egolf): No comment...? I'm biased as hell, so I can't really give an answer. But let's try anyway.... From an acting point of view, Gretchen and Tom were both IMHO competent, despite what others say (and someone had guts for casting an unknown like Ms. Egolf whose major acting credits are almost exclusively on- and off-Broadway stage work). Also despite what some others say, Gretchen's a hell of a lot better to look at. And I want her to bear my love child. (Did I just say that out loud?)

But on to their characters: Night and day. An older, black, well-heeled man vs. a younger, white, inexperienced woman. Their personalities are even more different.

After one whole season, Winship was still a blank slate. Were he more two-dimensional, he would have been a Larry Niven character. He was the guy who said "Okay, do it." and went back into his office for a few more hours. (Yes that's hyperbole. Not much hyperbole, but hyperbole nonetheless....) He had a few episodes where he did much more (and actor Tom Wright certainly did well with them), but they were exceptions.

Amy Dylan, on the other hand, was the opposite end of the spectrum - she was characterized so much that she became something of a walking paradox as her earlier aspects clashed with her later ones. Yet (I will likely hold this opinion until my dying day) both Gretchen Egolf and - more importantly - a few of the writers managed to work the paradox into a viable character. Some, of course, didn't; you need to throw half the episodes out.

While characters need to change and adapt, she didn't change so much as metamorphose. She started off being by-the-book and bossy, and wound up being a somewhat vulnerable buddy-buddy type who was more coworker than commander. Sadly, the change was completely necessary to make the character tolerable, else she would have gone the way of Dana Dixon (Tammy Lauren) before her.

Ideally, for the character to be much more cohesive, she'd have started out friendly (more like her later incarnation) but with the undercurrent of undeniable ambition that got her to the head of the MCU in the first place. The vulnerability part was fine as-is, though it was rather sporadic, showing up in two episodes ("My Man Sammo" and "Blue Flu") and then all but vanishing. I'm not saying she had to be a complete sissy or a paragon of invulnerability, but I find it amusing that she developed a weakness, conquered it, then redeveloped it within a month like pushing down bubbles under wallpaper. (First time she went undercover to prove to herself that she could do it. Second time she admitted that she didn't think she was qualified to head the MCU. Both are basically thoughts of inadequacy, and both times she mentioned fear of having her authority undermined through her own flaws.) Of course, Martial Law isn't the first or last show to deal with someone's problems in neat one-hour chunks.

(Suddenly an idea occurs to me. A bit of twisted fiction in which my two parody forms - the cynical, violent Archon and the lovesick Fanboy - square off against Amy Dylan's two aspects - the Authoritarian and the Friendly One. There'd be so much blood spilled it wouldn't be funny.:)

Never mind the disbelief one needs to suspend to accept that she was a mid-twenties woman who was already head of at least one, maybe two different divisions of the LAPD, and was almost promoted even higher mid-season (part of her adaptability, I suppose). Some people have actually blamed Gretchen Egolf for being so young - it's her fault she isn't turning 46 this week or something? Read the design docs off Lee Goldberg's site (or even the excerpt off this page) - Sammo Hung, Arsenio Hall, and Kelly Hu are all mentioned along with their characters. When referring to Caitlin Sweeney (the prototype Amy Dylan) no actress is mentioned, yet an age (26) is. That implies that Ms. Egolf was cast as an improbable character, rather than the character being made improbable to fit her. (Though, after some discussions with people on the topic, I do agree that casting a 26(ish*)-year-old to play a 26-year-old is a daring move in an industry where 26 is a viable age for someone playing a teenager.)

(*I'm guessing at Gretchen Egolf's age, given what minimal evidence - valid or not - one finds in the World Wide Webaverse. For all I know, she could be pushing 40 - she'd be looking damn good for 40, though.)

I'm also reminded of something inherent to cop-show dynamics. Either the commander is not seen very much and keeps a certain viability (he or she does command a whole division, not just two or three cops) or they're a full-fledged character and they lose their commander's aura. It's a rare character that can do both at the same time. Amy was both, just not successfully (or at the same time). But back on topic....

Replacing Louis Malone (Louis Mandylor) with Terrell Parker (Arsenio Hall): Necessary.... I think. What's up with this one, you ask? Wasn't Terrell Parker already on the show from about the midpoint of season one? Yes, but between seasons he completed his transformation from buffoon and wimp into a rough-and-tumble savvy urban type who had clearly been in a streetfight or two. In doing so, he became almost exactly the same as Louis Malone. One had to go, else they'd be fighting for the same lines and scenes. (Like the Wright/Egolf replacement, I have no complaints about either actor, despite one being almost universally hated for their poor acting/their character/just because. Unlike the Wright/Egolf replacement, I don't want Arsenio Hall to bear my love child. Interracial relationships can be so problematic....:)

I'd like to think that Terrell was the better one to keep because the character fit better to over-the-top humorous situations, but humor was downplayed in season two anyway. The character of Louis Malone would have fared better in season two's darker environs, if only because his humorous moments were all light - witty commentary, not physical or comedic gags - and were sometimes juxtaposed with much darker scenes. Also, actor Louis Mandylor was (so I'm told) a genuine martial artist and (so I've seen) faked his fight scenes well. Arsenio Hall could certainly act like he couldn't fight well (season one), but he couldn't act like he could fight well.

Such debate lends truth to the rumors that Arsenio Hall was going to leave at the end of season two (had the show not been canceled) because he didn't like the writing.

Umbrella plot bad guy Scorpio: Nope. I can't really think Scorpio was a good idea, especially since five of the six Scorpio episodes were clumped at the end. Easy way to get someone sick of it. At least The One showed his face in the last two and sort of brought the whole thing up a bit simply through use of - gasp! - acting.

Breaking continuity: YEARGH! G&R (After making up such a cutesy acronym, I had to use it once.) openly claimed that they were breaking continuity. Then they didn't, at least paying it lip service. (Else Amy Dylan would have been made commander with no explanation, instead of during the first ten minutes of season two's first episode.) But then came the later episodes ("Freefall" was guiltiest here and it was written by G&R) where we learn that Sammo's father had sent him away to be trained in martial arts. In the first season, Sammo's father was imprisoned during Mao's Cultural Revolution and Sammo was sent to Peking Opera School by the Chinese government, where he learned martial arts. Also, Grace was suddenly revealed to have grown up on the streets of Shanghai. Which explains her American accent and mannerisms just perfectly.

(Update, September 6, 2001 AD: Actually, that last one is wrong. You may wish to read this, which explains this precise continuity break.)

Sammo Law (Sammo Hung) being replaced by Sammo Law (Sammo Hung): Never. Another explanation: The character changed too much. He had the same name, but it wasn't him. Not only was his past different (see above), but the fish-out-of-water aspects were played up more, he no longer had a personal life, his English fractured slightly (though that could be accidental), and he switched from being more Western in thought (Shanghai is as Western as a Chinese city is going to get!) to being a closet Communist. No, really. He didn't call Amy a "capitalist pig" (though that might have been great comedy when Amy was learning martial arts), but he actually said that Gilligan's Island was a parable about "the struggle between rich and poor" and then claimed "it could have been written by Mao", which he clearly wasn't saying as an insult! (Scriptwriter Michael Gleason likely takes the blame for that one!) As long as you're supporting stereotypes, might as well have Arsenio put a bone through his nose and admit to eating missionaries.

Also, the scene in "The Thrill is Gone" where Sammo asks why Ginger and Mrs. Howell had so many different outfits is just begging for it, since Martial Law had the similarly clothing-excessive Grace and Miss Dylan.

"Sexying up" Kelly Hu and giving her character an acid-tongue transplant: Ick. Kelly Hu doesn't look bad, but she's not my cup of tea. She looked fine in the businesslike outfits from season one, insofar as a purple sweater and leather jacket look businesslike. It didn't help that the season two outfits she wore ran the gamut from gratuitously-tight to impractical-for-a-cop-unless-she's-undercover-as-a-streetwalker - talk about pandering to ratings. (See also my commentary on Amy Dylan being forced to strip, dressing as an elf, and getting her blouse torn off.)

In addition, Kelly's character had a new bad attitude that did little for her interaction with the bitchy Amy Dylan. Thankfully, both women got declawed posthaste.

Turning Kelly Hu and Gretchen Egolf into clothes-horses: Bad. I'm being uncharitable with this one, and I know it. I can't remember season one's clothing changes, just that I didn't notice them*. Ideally, I should research more closely before whining about it. Oh well.

(* June 29, 2001 AD: I've re-watched most of season one, and yes, sometimes people suddenly changed clothes for no apparent reason. To further abuse John Nathan-Turner's oft-abused quotation, "the memory cheats".)

While some things (like Amy not wearing her jacket in that scene detailed above) were incidental, I'm talking about the three-outfits-in-one-day thing. It shatters continuity only slightly less than the actors calling each other by their real names. Most episodes were admittedly free of this sort of thing - clothing was changed approximately once a day, less or more if appropriate. But some were so bad it was pathetic. Kelly Hu suffered a bit more than Gretchen Egolf, if only because Kelly was the "sexy" one.

(July 21, 2001 AD: I've now re-watched most of season two, and I noticed that I wasn't so much wrong as off-target. Their clothes weren't excessive, just impractically tight.)

The new MCU set: ???? I've heard people whine and whine and whine about this one: I don't know why. I know it was a different sound stage, and I know it was laid out differently from season one, but it still looks like the same place to me! There's a mural there that was at least part of the one from season one, and despite the more spacious digs (why does everyone use the free-standing PC terminals and not their own desks?) it still looks like it's at least the same office after a renovation. Really, this one just never struck me as being problematic. A bit unrealistic, but when there's so much more to whine about....

The darker, humorless environment: Ugh. Only a handful of season two episodes played up the humorous dialogue while remaining serious, and I found they worked wonderfully (despite having continuity holes large enough to drive a taxi through). Season one was much lighter in tone - Terrell Parker was more comedic (for good or bad) and the entire Melanie George subplot was light (save some wonderful dramatic moments). What few fish-out-of-water moments Sammo had were counterpointed sharply by obvious fish-out-of-water setups that collapsed when Sammo knew something a stereotypical Chinese person would never know.

Another contrast is that season two bad guys often relished torture as a weapon where the season one bad guys were more shoot-to-kill types. This isn't to say season one bad guys were nice - some plots involved baby stealing, a hunter using humans as quarry, truck drivers strong-arming older people, people trying to shoot down a plane.... But season two had a bad guy who wanted to kill Sammo via slow evisceration, a psycho who tortured a cop to death over the span of eight hours, someone who was using biological weapons to slowly kill cops for the hell of it, Scorpio, etc. etc.

Even the fight scenes in season two lost some of their over-the-top zaniness and comedy.

Writing and direction: ???? I can't comment on this one, since I was paying attention to the direction only after season two started. But I do remember that such things as the nice slowly-rotating-around-the-characters-as-they-talk shot were done away with, and closeups were at least slightly more prevalent. I don't really like closeups that much. They're fine for some things, but they don't really allow for you to see the other character's reactions to what the person in the closeup is saying. Writing was obviously darker, and I found it was a bit heavier on the Deep Meaningful Speeches that often accompany closeups. (As in: Amy and her fears of inadequacy, Sammo and his fears about never finding his son, Grace and the memories of how she was forced to watch someone be tortured to death, etc.)

New theme music: Fine. Well, season one's opening credit music was sort of "Chinese man in the starring role" music. It had some of the stereotypical Asian kind of instruments mixed with the electric guitars, though it was still very nice. Season two's opening credit music was more "It's a cop show" music but wasn't bad. The closing credit music, on the other hand, wasn't as good. Season one's was a wonderful electric guitar solo with only the most minimal Asian kind of influence. Season two's, on the other hand, was just a variation on the opening theme.

Sammo Wars: Could've been better. I'm being even more uncharitable here, and I've used an awful pun to boot. Sammo Hung claims to have spent, near the end, much time fighting the producers over the Sammo-Law-looking-for-his-son subplot, which got tangled in the Scorpio umbrella plot. Not only did he want his real-life son to play the part*, but he apparently didn't like the way the plot was handled. That's understandable - despite the fact that some people feel that Sammo Hung can be a real bastard about getting his own way - since at times it felt like Star Wars turned upside down. Imagine Darth Vader was good, Obi-Wan was evil, and Luke was evil being tempted to become good. Now you have an idea about how the subplot went: Sammo was the good Vader, his son was the evil Luke, and the head of Scorpio (The One) was the evil Obi-Wan mentor kind of guy. There was no "you're not my father!" line - just something akin to "you can't boss me anymore!" - and the ending was still Good triumphs over Evil, but still....

(*The Department of Immigration scotched that one, though Mr. Hung now says that the actor hired to play his son worked hard and did a good job.)

Anything else...? I don't know. Let me run through my tapes a bit more!:) (It'll be a 4000 word rant before I'm done....)

Rant Update: June 27, 2001 AD. Well, since Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin have been so good at keeping up an Internet presence even when assaulted by flamewars, I figure I might as well let one of 'em defend their choices. The following paragraph is from a message board post on Lee Goldberg's site, when asked what he'd do differently if he could do Martial Law's second season again. I'm not saying I agree, but I'm not one to stifle another's opinions, unless they really tick me off. It appears here in its complete unedited glory. I haven't even added the last period to that ellipsis, even though it bugs me.:)

I probably would have kept the main title sequence and hokey theme, not because it was any good, but because it was familiar and established. I would have made the same cast changes, though I might not have moved them to the MCU and created such a high-tech set (as cool as it was). What ultimately caused ML's demise had little to do with the initial conceptual changes we made (the ratings were sliding towards the end of season one and through the summer leading into season two), and a lot more to do with Sammo, Arsenio, and their relationship with each other, the rest of the cast, and with us more than anything else. Some day, probably some years from now when I have more perspective, I'll go into more detail. I'm still too close to it...

So there you have it. From what I've found, Lee Goldberg keeps scrupulously (and wisely!) quiet on the issue of actors' personalities - and this is either truth or a lie artfully built on known facts - so this is a bit of a departure for him. Not much, though, since I've already heard - second hand, I admit - that Arsenio Hall publicly stated that he was not fond of his character's direction under G&R, and that Sammo Hung has similarly claimed that he was locking horns with them over the issue of his character finding his son. The part about "their relationship with each other (and) the rest of the cast" was a new one on me, though. I didn't know that they personally had any problems (as is implied here) with each other or their co-workers. It sort of tosses a rather dark cloud over the blooper segments, since you wonder how much of their reactions to their coworker's screw-ups was just more acting for benefit of the camera and how much was their real reaction.

Though that bizarre and wonderful half-cackle that's only present twice, conveniently the only two times when Gretchen Egolf is in the scene but off-camera, does not sound faked. No one fakes a laugh like that.* Assuming it is her, then that means her on-camera laugh was faked, or at least better-controlled.

Oh, and I still think that the season two set looked like the same damn place!

* Just like I don't fake my own strange falsetto tittering (no, really, I have a deep bass voice and a falsetto laugh - if I try talking when I laugh I speak in that same falsetto).

May 25, 2001 AD (Episode: 'The Thrill is Gone')
Bangs for a Thrill: Never mind the weak pun in the title, since Thrill is, in-story, a new drug brought to you by your old pals at Scorpio. Kelly Hu must have got her hair cut between episodes, because here she has some wisps of hair that could be mistaken for... could it be.... bangs! Wooo! Time to go out and get bombed.

Gratuitous ratings moment: Kelly's character (Grace, for review purposes) lying in bed, without anything on save a sheet (due to the way she moves around, it's not exactly as sufficient as it sounds). I suppose I could sit here and discuss Kyle Strode's motivation for undressing the unconscious Grace, putting her in a bed, and not doing anything else, but it all comes down to this: They needed some flesh shown, and Grace certainly wasn't hopping in the sack with Kyle... just yet.

Get naked, then get dressed again: Something I find funny about CBS and their 9:00 programming slot.... They can get away with forcing a woman to undress against her will - see "May 10, 2001 AD (Episode: 'My Man Sammo')" on this page - or having someone undress a woman while she's unconscious (what I'm talking about right here). Sexual assault goes beyond the pale without any further payoff, since they can't show a sex scene anyway. So men - no matter if they're thinking with their balls or not - just have this thing about stripping women of their clothing (sometimes with an audience composed entirely of men - May 10, 2001 again) without any particular interest in what could possibly follow.

Okay, the May 10 one was sort of functional plotwise (if disturbing to see all those well-armed men standing around watching), but this one didn't really do anything to expand or explain the plot, just gave people a quick glimpse at part of Kelly Hu's right boob.

May 28, 2001 AD (Episode: None tonight, thanks to a Memorial Day Miami Vice marathon)
It seems that most of the opinions on this page clash with the rest of the world's opinions. Well, world, you can get stuffed.

But here's an amusing thing on difference of opinion. (From two different reviews of More Lies About Jerzy, a stage production from earlier this year, in which I'm told Gretchen Egolf spent more time onstage than her clothing did.*)

Holmes' often flat and flavorless dialogue doesn't help (Georgia to Jerzy: "It's hard to be with someone who won't let you in").


Her efforts to win his full trust make for some touching interaction, as when she states "It's hard to be with someone who won't let you in" and he responds "So how do we do this? How do I let you in?"

I found that rather amusing.

* I usually have these footnotes one paragraph below the footnoted line, but now I bumped it down a bit. Partly for word flow, partly to keep you reading with the lack-of-clothing reference.:) About one in four reviews of the show mentions the nudity, and virtually all of those comment on how gratuitous it was:

Gretchen Egolf, who is fairly likable as Jerzy's lover, has to endure a nude scene that's entirely gratuitous (if the lady feels comfortable taking off her clothes in front of Jerzy, why does she immediately cover herself up with a blanket?). -

I can't answer for the character, but I can guess at the actress' reasons.:) To quote Rez after he read the beta version of this rant... "Was probably friggin' freezing in there, for one :)"

The fetching Gretchen Egolf, playing the starry-eyed, gullible mistress Georgia, strips naked to prove some obvious point to our goading hero about 'naked feelings,' and rarely has an actress undressed onstage with less interest in the outcome. - The New York Observer

Incidentally, that's about the most damning comment about Gretchen's acting skills I've seen in 14 or so reviews of More Lies.... (The other damning one went like this: "The reporter (Daniel London) and his research assistant (Gretchen Egolf) - who has an affair with Jerzy - seem to be literary devices rather than real people." Everything else went from mediocre - as one reviewer said, "adequate" - to outstanding - uh... "outstanding".)

As a result, the production gives off the panicky sense that the narrative hasn't covered all its bases. (The scene in which Georgia takes off all her clothes to illustrate the difference between nakedness and the vulnerability of intimacy seems thuddingly gratuitous.) - The New York Times

Maybe the scriptwriter was as big a fan as I am.:) As proof, I point to the Martial Law fanfic I'm working on which has Amy Dylan (Gretchen's character) saying "Do a nice little striptease, then remove my clothing using only your teeth and tongue. I'm feeling frisky." I suppose I shouldn't mention the value of context to a quotation....

Best are Boris McGiver, Lizbeth Mackay, and Gretchen Egolf, delightful both clothed and in her nude scene, deemed gratuitous by the Times. Less so, I should think, than the play. - New York Magazine

Not-so-incidentally, that's not the most damning comment I've heard about the play, which reviews almost all claim is mediocre. Except for the few who loved or hated it, of course.

When Georgia calls herself "organized and awkward, neither of which has anything to do with being chaste, except in people's minds," she speaks for all the characters' difficulties in separating their own identities from other people's perceptions. When she strips naked in front of Lesnewski to demonstrate her willingness to remove all barriers between them, she displays the kind of redemptive trust that Lesnewski - a habitue of sex clubs and devotee of sadomasochism - is tragically unable to reciprocate. - Usenet (Attributed to Ted Merwin in an article for The Jewish Week)

My heavens. A NEUTRAL comment on the nudity! Will wonders never cease?

Almost every scene grinds its simplistic morality into the ground. This is particularly evident in the relationship between Jerzy and Georgia, where their heavy handed dialogue covers Big Issues including honesty, trust, commitment and the trappings of fame. When Jerzy discusses being physically naked as vulnerability, the play can't resist the obvious choice of Georgia shedding her clothes and asking, "Do I seem vulnerable to you?" - Matinee Magazine

Using the reviews as a benchmark, it seems to me that few people were paying attention to the vulnerability of the character at that point!

I'm glad I wasn't in New York City that week. Had I been, I'd still be kicking myself for missing it. I mean, forty-five bucks for a cheap thrill that you won't die from is pretty good for NYC. - Me

(No comment.:)

(Actually, I will comment. I'm going to get sued for slander one of these years....:)

(December 29, 2001 AD: Any of you regular visitors notice that I just added the Jewish Week and Matinee Magazine reviews? Or were you too busy daydreaming...?:)

May 31, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Final Conflict, Part 1')
September 30, 2001 AD Update: Probably should've done this before, but better late than never. If you're going to read this rant (or the rant for the other half of "Final Conflict") visit my Department of corrections, retractions, alterations, modifications, mutations, and other improvements on the truth.

I Wanna be the Only One.... Well, we finally get to see The One. Christopher Neame, I must admit, managed to add some dimension to the character, simply through use of facial expressions. I was duly impressed. The "kid tearing wings off flies" look that he cultivated for his "I'm winning!" kind of scenes was very nice. And he even managed to say "Sammo Laaaaaaw" sort of like Tim Curry did, though without quite as much bile behind it (or ham, depending on one's opinion of Curry's acting).

Ah, ah, ah, ah, Buried Alive, Buried Alive: Amy got to spend the entire episode, save for the beginning and the end, buried alive with her fiancé (Dennis, only mentioned before this in "Blue Flu" as her boyfriend, and not even seen there), who confesses to an affair. Ten minutes of screen time and he's already a real son-of-a-bitch, no offense meant towards his mother, who I doubt raised him to be such a pig. (Am I being vindictive? Hell yeah. I've seen what that sort of fictional thing does to a fictional relationship. It all ends in fictional tears.... I hope he rots in fictional Hell, the bastard.)

Someone was paying attention to continuity, and Amy didn't change clothing once.:)

Grace, on the other hand, got decked out as a construction worker in a skimpy undershirt and jeans for reasons which I'm still not entirely clear upon.

June 1, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Final Conflict, Part 2')
September 30, 2001 AD Update: Probably should've done this before, but better late than never. If you're going to read this rant (or the rant for the other half of "Final Conflict") visit my Department of corrections, retractions, alterations, modifications, mutations, and other improvements on the truth.

Ah, the end of the end. The final episode. Sammo turns his son away from the Dark Side and The One gets his British-accented candy-ass kicked. Woo. The end was kind of depressing, even though it was inevitable. Sammo and his son head off to China to continue their reconciliation, sort of leaving Grace in the lurch, since she treated Sammo like a father as well. (Blood is thicker than long-term father-daughterish relationships.) Amy and her adulterous fiancé might still get married (my suggested wedding gift: a male version of the chastity belt). However, it's in the air, as was Dennis - he wasn't even in this episode, but on a plane to New York that was taken over by Scorpio. Comparison:

Part one: Dennis loves Amy. Amy loves Dennis. Amy and Dennis are going to get married. Instead, they get buried alive by Scorpio. Dennis figures he's going to die and confesses that he bonked ex-girlfriend Christine one night. Amy hates Dennis. Dennis says he still loves Amy more than words can say. Cynical audience member (me) knows men better than that. Dennis again says he loves Amy more than words can say. Amy almost seems to buy it at one point when Dennis freaks out at learning what a dead body looks like.

Part two: Amy hates Dennis, sort of. Dennis is going to New York, I guess so Amy can clear her head and not have him in arms' reach should she decide to strangle him. Dennis might die, again, only this time Amy isn't going to die with him. Amy says she loves Dennis. Dennis doesn't die. Amy loves Dennis, but she still hates him. Wedding plans in similar limbo.

And Terrell is just Terrell. The end.

Up next: "Shanghai Express", the very first episode. But if you think I'm going to stop whining about things just because Gretchen Egolf isn't in the next month's worth of episodes, you've got another thing coming....:)

June 4, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Shanghai Express')
Ah, the beginning of the beginning.

Credits: Anyone who claims Kelly Hu was brought in to replace Tammy Lauren wasn't paying attention to the opening credits, which they're both listed in. The scene where they're walking side-by-side with the three male leads also kind of revealed that this "Grace/Pei Pei is working for the bad guy" subplot wasn't going anywhere. The fact that it took me two viewings to figure that out is beside the point.

Umbrella plot bad guy Lee Hei: Dressed rather somber, mostly, but always with a flash of color. (Light purple shirt under a black suit. Or, brown vest, purple shirt, red tie. And he almost made it work.)

Clothing: Everyone changed their clothing approximately once per day. Wow!

Hair: Tammy Lauren has a lovely head of hair, even if bottle blondes don't exactly turn my crank. She got it cut a few episodes later (witness its changing length during the credits). A few episodes after that, CBS cut her. I make no connections between those two events.:)

Sammo: Going from end-of-season-two to start-of-season-one makes one thing rather obvious: Sammo lost a good slice of weight while working on Martial Law. He didn't lose his trademark rotundness, but the stress of doing a weekly TV show with fight scenes obviously did a number on him.

Grace Chen (AKA Chen Pei Pei): She's described as being 25. Actress Kelly Hu was apparently turning 30 around the time of taping. In contrast, season two's Amy Dylan was about 26, and Gretchen Egolf was (unless my sources are full of it again - see next item) about the same age. Which supports the theory that the more popular you are, the younger your character is.:)

Dana Dixon: Yes, I had referred to Tammy Lauren's character as having the last name "Doyle". Yes, Louis Malone referred to her as "Dana Dixon" (or Dickson, but I remember a really cool actor - one might even call him a hoopy frood - named David Dixon so I'm going with that) in this episode. Yes, my notes were wrong. Yes, this is what I get for going off of a webpage that spelled "Dylan" with an "i". Yes, an "i"!

Sammo's Sage Wisdom of the Week: When asked why he gave three armed robbers his money without putting up a fight: "You don't break rocks with eggs."

Sammo's Effective Questioning Technique of the Week: He removes a lowlife's shoe and beats said lowlife on the ball of the foot with it, while asking questions. Then he says, "I'm a very patient man. I can stay here and question you for days!"

June 4, 2001 AD (The Egolf Chronicles, V1.0) (Roswell spoilers ahead.... Click here to skip.)
Cute, drunk, and completely blinded to her right. Oooh, baby. I tried watching Roswell tonight, as it should have been starting reruns of the last season (first three eps had Gretchen as the not-quite-human Congresswoman Vanessa Whitaker). But it got cancelled (so sayeth Internet scuttlebutt) and apparently the WB takes that as cancelling the reruns too.

Some people my age watch the WB to leer at the younger-than-them nubile teenage stars. I watch the WB to leer at the older-than-me married pushing-30 guest star. I'd like to think I'm the better adjusted.

Another amusing thing is that, in the span of a year and change, Gretchen's two television characters were Amy Dylan (age 26) and Vanessa Whitaker (age 36*).

* The wonders of SF. Whitaker's age(s).... Official age: 36 (as is noted in a death announcement in the funeral episode). Current body's age: 49, going on time-to-get-a-new-body 50. Chronological age: A damn sight more than 49.

Funny coincidences: 1) Both Martial Law and Roswell got new producers between seasons.
2) Both had Ms. Egolf in some sort of power-wielding role for at least a few episodes.**
3) Both got cancelled at the end of the second season.

Insert dumb 4th of July joke here.(**In Martial Law she quickly got less heavy-handed in her use of power and was more friendly, in Roswell she got too friendly with an in-use power wire and was quickly incinerated.)

Anyone who wishes to draw further comparisons is free to so. Anyone who wishes to link the producers to the cancellation is free to do so. Anyone who blames the woman who is the focal point of much of this page (and my hormones) is free to do so and then light their hair on fire. Thank you.

Ah, hell, why not a few pictures? (Thanks to Rez for the HTML tip that let me wrap the text.:) These have been appropriated from which I found - hold onto your command prompt - via a page linked from a page linked from Lee Goldberg's site. So I guess I can thank Lee Goldberg for indirectly furthering my obsessions. Poor man, he tries to perform a service and just winds up contributing to the delinquency of a fanboy.

(Update, September 28, 2001 AD: These images aren't from anymore. The ones on the linked subpage are, though. Click on one to get the complete explanation.)

(Since many of the pictures are from low-light or night scenes, they've been gammaed up by a factor of 2.0 or 200% or whatever your personal gamma choice calls it - click on the image for the original, or some reasonable facsimile.)

Quick rundown of the pictures: Top one is the evil Congresswoman Whitaker acting drunk and jilted to pry information out of one of the other characters. So, by extension, it's Gretchen acting like she's acting like she's drunk. Think about that too long and you want a pint or two yourself.

In all honesty, I included picture number one because I think it's kind of nice. Not only does she look good with longer hair (though that blondish streak she had in Martial Law looked like it was making a bid to colonize the rest of her hair) but I also like it because I'm male; drunk women - by default - turn me on. (Like all men, I can never tell if a woman's faking it.)

I didn't need to gamma this one up. No wonder!Second one - never mind that this text is next to the third, I'm going for an aesthetic here - is included for the pretty colors. And it was a major tip-off that Whitaker was an alien (in lieu of the actual episodes, I've read transcripts:) since most people don't survive grabbing a live wire and causing it to spark directionally by sheer force of will. Too bad one of the good aliens manifested the same ability to shove electricity around and hoisted Whitaker up onto her own high-explosive petard*** (pic number three, see left or up or left and up, depending on browser).

There's a good (relatively speaking) screencap just before these two that really conveys Whitaker's "I'm going to send you to Hell, you half-breed non-human bitch!" attitude in this scene, but the feral scowl and flared nostrils really don't do anything for Gretchen's looks, and it reminds me a bit too much of an elementary school teacher I had. Yes, I had a teacher who conveyed the "I'm going to send you to Hell, you half-breed non-human bitch!" attitude on a regular basis.

After getting all blowed up, Gretchen got to play a role only present in SF - after Whitaker's body was obliterated (or at least dry-roasted) in the explosive finale to episode 3, a fake was made to cover for her death and to lead the good aliens into a trap. So she got to play a copy of her character's corpse. There's one that I think should top her resume. (Seems like she spent all her onscreen time acting like she was acting. Meta-acting?)

She's really not breathing! Oh, it's a still shot, never mind.The fourth picture, of the funeral, is included because, when all is said and done, I'm a closet necrophiliac. (When you look like I do, any woman**** who's lying down and doesn't complain about things is fair game.)

You know, I just realized that - thanks to excessive viewing of assorted blooper segments and TV shows devoted to bloopers - I actually know several different things to say in an effort to get the "corpse" to start laughing.

***"Petard", despite sounding somewhat obscene, isn't - it's a kind of explosive - so "high-explosive petard" is almost tautology. Of course, the root word is rather crass to a Frenchman, but that doesn't bother me. After all, you can tick off a Quebec Frenchman by calling him an "Hostie pea-soup" (first word is pronounced "auh-stee", and means "Host", as in the one that is found in Roman Catholic church ritual... most Quebecer profanity involves the Church).

**** Qualifier: Any woman not related to me who's lying down. I'm a necrophiliac, not a pervert.

June 5, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Diamond Fever')
Is the Winship sinking? Or at least being demoted. I've referred to Winship as a captain on this page (now fixed), since Amy Dylan (and, by extension, scriptwriters Goldberg and Rabkin) referred to him as such in the episode "Sammo Blammo", and that was the last time he was mentioned. However, I should have known better than to trust a scriptwriter who's claiming that he's going to break continuity. The dialogue and (more tellingly) the big sign outside Winship's office door clearly denote that he's a lieutenant. (No telling what happened between seasons, but I'd like to be halfway accurate here....)

Sammo's Effective Questioning Technique of the Week: Emptying the suspect's pockets by picking the suspect up, turning him upside down, and shaking him like mad.

Louis Malone's Effective Questioning Technique of the Week: Splinters under the fingernails, or at least the threat thereof. I'll tell you, the early Martial Law episodes painted the LAPD as a bunch of really sick suspect-abusing psychos.... Oh, wait, never mind, that's what they are. (I'm going to Hell for that joke....)

Hair-pin(e): Tammy Lauren (and therefore Dana Dixon) got her hair cut. Doesn't look as good. Oh, well, she'll be gone by the end of the week's run of episodes anyway....

Clothing: Once a day, it looked like, except for Sammo's brief undercover stint as a Ming vase seller in gaudy shirt and gold chains. Speaking of which....

It's not a v-ay-se, it's a v-ah-ze! The fight scene with the Ming vase was delightful choreography. Winship's near heart attack over the near loss of the vase was delightful acting.

June 6, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Dead Ringers')
Calling a twentysomething by the name "Pei Pei" is a bit silly, isn't it? Chen Pei Pei reveals that her Westernized name is "Grace Chen", since her father was a fan of Grace Kelly. I suppose someone named "Pei Pei" (pronounced like "Pay Pay") who doesn't have a Chinese accent could get a bit hard to explain to viewers who start watching at episode #13. Then, there's scriptwriters, since even I can't type "Pei Pei" and get it right consistently. And I could see what a spell-checker would do to that....

Do you really think this episode was cowritten by Carlton Cuse? The Bad Guy (Gal) of the episode, Gabriella Zane, speaks of globalization of TV and makes reference to people in Madagascar watching Nash Bridges. Well, at least it staved off a crossover episode....

I lived on the streets of Shanghai with no family. My father wasn't too happy with that. Season two Grace made a throwaway comment about living in Shanghai. Here, on the other hand, Grace made a much more sensible throwaway comment. She was born in China (a later ep will state to a diplomat father) but "Grew up watching Scooby-Doo and The Brady Bunch" in the U.S. before moving back to China. This, unlike the Shanghai bit, explains why she's as American as the rest of the cast (save Sammo) but is still a member of the Shanghai police department. Breaking continuity is one (bad) thing, but breaking reality is another (much worse) thing.

(Update, September 6, 2001 AD: This needs to be amended; I should have done it a month ago, but it slipped my mind. After listening carefully to both season one's and season two's comments, it's possible to make them work together, albeit a bit uncomfortably, since season two's are more concerned with Grace's late teens while season one's comments are closer to her early teens. It's still not a great fit, but it's a fit nonetheless.)

It's like watching a train that's about to derail, really. The wonders of reruns. I know Dana's got two episodes left, and it's sort of tragic, especially with lines like these:

Louis (in reference to Bad Gal "Miss" Gabby Zane): "Do you think there was ever a Mr. Zane?"

Dana: "No, she's a black widow! If there ever was a Mr. Zane, she probably ate him."

Or, Dana (In reference to a drugged-up Olympian): "Oh, it was a big mess. They actually found blood in his steroid system."

But then you're not really sorry to see her go with lines like this one.... Grace finishes explaining why her Western name is Grace. Dana gives Grace a kind of offended/surprised look and then turns to Winship and says: "Lieutenant, could I see you for a minute?"

Okay, so it was a way of getting Dana and Winship offstage so the other three could run down the plot. But was the dirty look really necessary? Couldn't it have been done like she wanted to ask Winship about something not relevant to the plot, rather than - as was implied - to say that she didn't like these Chinese people coming along and arbitrarily changing their name whenever the hell they felt like it?

This is why Amy Dylan and Grace Chen went from catfighting to being confidantes in about eight episodes of season two.

June 7, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Funny Money')
Want a piece of skin? With your choice of colors and pattern.... Okay, so this isn't relevant to tonight's episode.... But actor Robert LaSardo - Hector Florez in Martial Law episodes "Requiem" and "End Game" - showed up in whatever episode of Nash Bridges USA Network was running. In both series someone made reference to his heavy tattooing.

Smoke on the water, fungus in the walls: There's one person in the entire audience who's going to get that joke, and only if he doesn't forget what I told him about my high school days and the time the fungus made people sick.

But more on topic: Sammo played a few notes on an electric guitar this episode. While looking for the name of Robert LaSardo for that last item, I found a source that I have no trust in whatsoever which claims that the notes were the opening riff from "Smoke on the Water", whatever that means.

Sammo's Effective Questioning Technique of the Week: Providing a hug and a shoulder to cry on for someone who really needed both.

What, you were expecting something violent?:)

How to write around someone: Grace Chen never interacted with the main plot. Instead, she spent all her time dealing with a subplot. This was a very good way of avoiding "third/fifth wheel" syndrome. It was also a funny as hell subplot.

Sammo Holmes, consulting detective. Pam Veasey, consulting scriptwriter. Hoopla, consulting IMDber. The Archon, consulting moron. I'm going to have to attribute this one to the IMDb (ye gods, I have sunk low). More accurately, to one of the people who posted a Martial Law review, Hoopla.

Sammo, while searching an apartment with Louis, points to a picture of the young woman they are looking for, who was seen with the (hospitalized) owner of the apartment. Then he pulls a Sherlock Holmes by stating: "The girl is Tony's sister. She's from New York. Took a red-eye flight into LA."

Louis replies, "You got all that from looking at the photo?"

Sammo says, "No. Her suitcase is next to the couch. You didn't see that?" Seems he read the (prominent) luggage tags.

Then, later, Tony's sister says this about her brother: "He even flew me out here on his private jet!"

As Hoopla points out, how could she take the red-eye flight and get the needed luggage tags when she flew on a private jet?

So, Sammo gets credit for being a fictional Sherlock. Hoopla gets credit for being a real-life one. Pam Veasey gets credit for being the scriptwriter who let that fall through the cracks. And I get credit for being a moron. I didn't even notice 'til I ran across the IMDb entry while looking for the name of the actor mentioned above.

Priceless moment: The look on Winship's face when listening to the two subplot characters (British rockers) insulting someone in thickly British lingo. It's a feather in Tom Wright's cap that he managed to convey things perfectly here (and again later in the episode) despite his utter lack of dialogue.

One episode left, get 'em while they're hot! Dana quote, when referring to arresting her Secret Service boyfriend who's turned rotten.... "I'm a cop first. I'm a heartbroken revenge-seeking woman second. Either way I win."

Priceless moment 2.0: Tony's sister (see above) thanks Sammo for saving her life, then says: "You are so cute!". After she walks away, Sammo looks rather happy with himself and says, "I'm so cute. Hmmm!"

Side-splitting moments: Sammo singing "Twist and Shout" in Chinese while the bloopers ran.

Here's how to make a minor character a complete jerk and do it right. David Hasbro (actor David Leitch) - the martial arts instructor for the LAPD. In earlier episodes he's shown himself to be an utter jerk, who's always been shown up by Sammo. In this episode, he tries to pick up Grace (in the guise of teaching her self-defense) and she kicks his ass.

Is USA Network having a theme night? I finish writing this thing on the actor who played Hector Florez showing up on Nash Bridges, and what follows it but JAG - guest starring Tzi Ma (Martial Law's Lee Hei) as a Chinese military type. Almost enough to warrant me staying up half an hour to see if the Chinese woman who played Lee Hei's daughter is going to show up in anything - USA's turning into a theme night for the guest stars of Martial Law's season one finale!

June 8, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Cop Out')
He's stalking me! Or am I stalking him? Read that last bit on Tzi Ma. He was on Nash Bridges tonight as a Chinese drug dealer. At least he's not typecast - on Martial Law he was a drug dealer and diamond/car smuggler.

So I like her now, and she's gone! Dana Dixon really did well this episode. She was very likable, yet still her sharp-witted self. So, of course, this is the last episode she's in.

Yet another euphemism for sex: Dana and her ex-hubby apparently wind up doing a bit of hunka-hunka-woo every time they share pizza. Never again (for the next week, anyway) will the line "Want a slice of pizza?" leave me with a straight face.

Alas Dana, we hardly knew ye. You know, from the right angle Tammy Lauren looks a bit like Vanessa MacNeil, a girl I was all moony over in high school, though Vanessa didn't have a chin cleft.

Dana's scenes with her ex-husband (Lance Carter, I don't know the actor's name) were rather good - though they were a bit friendly for exes, especially when they were in bed together.:)

Memorable Dana quotes.... (On stakeouts): "Kind of like camping with guns."

(When she finds out her ex-hubby has "borrowed" police evidence for his own gain): "That is evidence in an on-going case! I can't.... I'm never having pizza with you again!"

(After they knock out some crooked cops who broke into her house.) Lance: "Pizza?"

Dana: "Yeah, what the hell."

That last one is Dana's last line before vanishing. It's not "Carrot juice, carrot juice, carrot juice!"* but it's not much better.

*Colin Baker's (Doctor Who - Doctor #6) last line before being similarly ousted from Doctor Who.

Mudskippers: Fish out of water who don't seem to care that much that they're out of water. Sammo had a fish out of water moment today, though it was rather funny. When Louis Malone mentions "wraps" (as in the food) Sammo says, "I like Puffy Daddy." Considering Puffy's recent name change*, it's only funnier.

*Which might be a warranted change, as I know people who use "puff" or "puffy" as slang for "homosexual". Watch a Puff Daddy video and think of that, see if it makes you laugh more than Puffy's pathetic dancing attempts do.

Bad gay joke time: If this were the SFPD, would it be "Code Pink"? How does the bar called "Code Red" stay in business if violent vigilante cops are the only clientele? Oh, wait, this is the LAPD....

We're having a Tom Baker moment: Tom Baker (Doctor Who - Doctor #4, no relation to Colin) supposedly once asked the director if he could trip when walking down a hall, simply because it was a scene of nothing but him walking down a hall, with no value whatsoever. Martial Law took a page from that by having a purse-snatcher trip - twice - while running from the cops. It's the occasional bit of physical comedy like this that I missed in season two.

Gentle Ironies: Sammo Law (actor Sammo Hung) has a scene where he's driving around town in his new car. He passes a theater showing Jackie Chan's Rush Hour. While this is funny because Sammo Hung has directed several of Jackie Chan's films, it's even funnier when you think that Arsenio Hall's character was originally a wisecracking black sidekick cut from the same cloth as Chris Tucker's Rush Hour character.

And again: Guess who else was (according to that font of truth, the IMDb) in Rush Hour? Tzi Ma!

June 11, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Extreme Measures')
So nice of them to tell me: I knew Dana was getting nixed after last episode, but I can imagine how the first-run Dana/Tammy Lauren fans must have felt. The episode starts and she's nowhere in sight - no problem, since not every episode starts with every character. But then the credits roll and her spot had been supplanted by a couple of shots of Sammo. And the shot of Sammo & co. walking side-by-side has been changed to a Dana-free one.

And then, the slightly more subtle change I needed to watch two sets of credits to confirm - in the credits shot of Kelly Hu, there's one cut from episode one when she pulls Dana's gun using a fancy flourish (she twirls the gun after grabbing it, sort of the direct antithesis of a cowboy who twirls his gun then holsters it). You can't see anything of Dana but the back of her head and her long blonde hair, but they still cut the start of the shot (or zoom/cropped it) so you can't see anything of Dana but her left arm. I wondered about that one, since it's not identifiable as her unless you saw the whole scene in episode one.

Also nice of them to make no mention of Dana during the episode....

She's an airhead, but she's a darn cute one! No, it's not a harsher re-stating my opinion of Gretchen Egolf during some of the blooper segments, I'm describing Julia Campbell's character and Sammo Law's new friend-who's-a-girl, Melanie George. She's a wonderful comedic character and I think that having a not-entirely-defenseless damsel amongst the brown and black belts was a nice addition to the cast. Of the original five regulars - Sammo Hung, Kelly Hu, Louis Mandylor, Tom Wright, and Tammy Lauren - apparently the only one without martial arts training is Tom Wright (Lieutenant Winship), and he was (so I'm told) a stuntman before he got into acting. Their characters all have similar hand-to-hand combat training.

Sexy Sadie Sammo: Due to a case of mistaken identity (actually, someone not listening when Sammo said who he was), Sammo got seated with a support group for nymphomaniacs. An excellent "what the hell is going on here" look or two from Sammo (including in the next scene when Louis asks him what he learned while he was out) really make for some wonderful comedy.

Clothing: Once a day! Oooh!:) And whoever claimed Kelly Hu was dressing like an insurance salesman didn't see her running in that pink sweater. Or they know a better class of insurance sales(wo)man than I do.

It SPEAKS! Someone thought to give Winship a subplot about selling his kid's chocolate bars. Amazing what an actor can do when you give him lines that actually build character and not just plot.

Father knows best: Surprise (or not) henchman for the main bad guy is one of Grace's old boyfriends. He (when Grace still thinks he might be a nice guy) mentions that Grace never answered his letters, and she mentions that he never answered hers. Seems Grace's father intercepted their letters using his diplomatic ties. Considering that the fellow kills two people before the episode's close, I think Daddy was dead on this time.:)

Surface tension: Louis Malone, who sort of has a thing for Grace, asking about how her talk with her old flame went. Maybe I'm imagining things, but I think Louis Mandylor did a nice job of putting an undercurrent of "Oh, old boyfriend. How... nice." into the act without overdoing it.

Climbing down the evolutionary ladder: The main bad guy looked faintly like a monkey. Not nice to say, but he really looked a little more simian than most people care to aspire to. Funny, I thought a lawyer bad guy would look more like a snake.

June 12, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Trackdown')
Subplot-o-rama: Two very good subplots: One with Sammo trying to get his driver's license, and one about an ex-police officer's young daughter.

Where's Dana? Gone back to her hometown, as a few lines of incidental dialogue show. Ah, if only Louis Mandylor knew that the lines he spoke were a harbinger for Gretchen Egolf's even more succinct single line giving his character the kiss-off. Maybe it's just my rerun-given foresight obscuring my normal sight, but Sammo and Louis (the actors, as opposed to the characters Sammo and Louis) look kind of worried as they read those lines. Maybe they were being made uncomfortably aware of their own expendability?

Nice... peacocks: The difference between actor Sammo Hung and character Sammo Law.... A tattoo artist shows her peacocks (tattooed on her breasts) to Sammo Law. He looks like he'd sooner expect her to spontaneously combust than do that. In the blooper segment, Sammo Hung deliberately blows the first take by lolling his tongue. (If these bloopers are any proof, Sammo Hung's got a real mischievous bent.)

He's still a jerk, but he's a nice one.... Overbearing martial arts instructor David Hasbro (who invariably gets kicked around himself when he tries to kick Sammo around) actually has a redeeming moment - in exchange for pulling some strings to get Sammo a second driver's test (first sort of went out the window thanks to some "police business" and a hail of automatic gunfire scaring the DMV tester witless) he extracts a rematch from Sammo. Sammo wins yet again, and Hasbro still willingly holds up his end of the bargain. He's a jerk, but he's a jerk of his word!

A Pakistani actor who isn't playing a 7-11 clerk.... Is playing a DMV driving tester. Who wants to be an actor but doesn't want to play a 7-11 clerk. Very good performance from the fellow.

A Chinese woman and a white man walk in to a white-supremacist-owned gun shop.... No, it's not the start of a really bad joke, it's one scene from tonight's episode.

I hope they get paid well.... Stuntman takes a kick to the chest, lands on the roof of a van, falls off, and hits ground with the back of his neck or thereabouts. Owww.

Nitpick: I love little continuity mixups. Angle one, a little girl is holding a teddy bear/backpack combo under her right arm. Angle two, it's slung over her shoulder. They only cut between angles once, but they cut right in the middle of a dialogue line, so it looks like the thing teleported.

Quote of the nanosecond: Sammo (on driving in Shanghai): "You have to run someone over not to get a license!"

June 13, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Takeout')
Sammo Can Cook: The plot (everything was tightly interwoven except for Sammo's new bank account adventure, which felt tacked-on by comparison) revolved around an evil fried-chicken dealer who was trying to buy out a Chinese restaurant owner, by hook or by crook. But he picked the wrong guy to strong-arm: Mr. Wu (or Woo or something that sounds like that) had Sammo Law for a buddy.

Mirror reflections, looking glass variations: Mr. Wu(?)'s daughter, Vanessa, was an interesting character - a young woman caught between doing "her own thing" and the family business, which was ultimately a conflict between the bad memories (her mother's death) and the good memories (her childhood) she had of the restaurant. In addition, she made an excellent contrast to Grace Chen. While they were outwardly similar (Chinese women with American upbringings, students of martial arts) the similarities ended there. For instance, Vanessa Wu was enough of a connoisseur of traditional Chinese cooking (which included intestines and other things that you wouldn't notice if not informed about them beforehand) that she could identify the chef who cooked it. Grace Chen, on the other hand, fell into sheer terror at the thought of even nibbling on those kind of foods. Then, there was the fact that Grace was still practicing her fighting skills (and was comfortable in her line of work), while Vanessa's skills had fallen into disuse (and doubt about her future had crept up on her).

G.C. phone home: And there was Grace's continued avoidance of her "nagging" parents (who were phoning incessantly), while Vanessa almost lost her one remaining parent to a heart attack. Like I said, most of the subplots were tightly interwoven with the main plot.

What are you wearing? NOTHING? Vanessa Wu spent one scene at home with a naked man. Strictly an artist/nude model relationship, but when Sammo stopped by he didn't look convinced about things.:) Okay, in the last three episodes, he's met some nymphomaniacs, seen a pair of tattooed breasts, and now found a naked man at the house of his best friend's daughter. When Sammo is a fish out of water, he seems to always land in the red-light district.

What's the opposite of "fish out of water?" Louis Malone (for no obvious reason other than to make the funniest scene of the night) volunteering as a waiter at the restaurant, trying to cope with a Chinese customer.

Buffalo Duck, Peking Wings? Sammo asks Grace why they call a certain fast-food staple "Buffalo Wings". She says that the "Buffalo" refers to the place in New York (where the wings were invented) and not the large animal. Sammo's observation: "Like 'Peking Duck'." Now I'm left wondering if both of those are for real.

Random thought: "Buffalo" is a word that never looks like it's spelled right.

I drink purple ox blood: Oxblood (or brown, depending on the TV's tint mood) leather jacket + blue walls + purple sweater = purple-looking leather jacket.

I drink the blue stuff too: But then, Kelly Hu has worn a blue leather-like jacket before. It's just that this one seemed to change depending on wall color and lighting. So either it was just the jacket's tint off the walls or the continuity person should be slapped around a bit.

I can't think of a good chicken pun: Sammo fighting in a chicken outfit. He even made chickenish sounds instead of his normal incomprehensible shouting.

What should happen to all crooked health inspectors: Getting their own planted roaches dumped on them. I'm not going to eat fried chicken for a week, though.

And all that watching of Kung Fu just taught me that Chinese men have a lot of flashbacks to their skinhead days: The plot ground to a halt for one minute and fifteen seconds while Sammo and Vanessa had a relaxing Tai Chi meditative moment. It didn't seem out of place, and 75 uninterrupted seconds looking at the pretty lass who was playing Vanessa Wu isn't something I have a problem with.

Chairman (Sam)mao: Two episodes, two times the not-related-to-the-main-plot thugs (last episode they robbed a hardware store, here some other thugs robbed a bank) called Sammo "Chairman Mao". Not only do they know history, they also got their faces beaten in.

Reruns not scene (seen?) before: Is it just me, or did the exterior ranch shots look like they were from the same neighborhood as the "climbing tree" in "Extreme Measures"? And did the interior stable shots look like the stable that will be used in "Trifecta" later in the season?

I wish I could tell my bank's manager this: Sammo: "Does this mean I never have to come back to the bank?"

Bank manager: "Yes."

Sammo: "Good!"

Quote of the nanosecond: Sammo (when the nude model asks if he's got some time to give martial arts lessons): "Yes, but you must wear clothes."

Night of the Living Vanessas: I just realized that I've mentioned three women named Vanessa on this page. A recap for those who are asleep or dead....

Congresswoman (yes, I know the proper title is "Representative", leave me alone) Vanessa Whitaker: The character my current TV infatuation, Gretchen Egolf, played on Roswell. Gretchen also played Amy Dylan on Martial Law.

Vanessa MacNeil: My old real-life infatuation, who looks a bit like ex-Martial Law co-star Tammy Lauren.

Vanessa Wu: A character on tonight's Martial Law. Didn't set off my infatuation alarm, but the actress is cute. (She's also rather white for a Chinese girl!:)

June 14, 2001 AD (Episode: 'How Sammo Got His Groove Back')
Lovely title.

He's got a first name! And a family! At this rate he might actually gain a third dimension! Lieutenant Benjamin Winship. Benjamin. There's a Mrs. Winship, and they have a daughter. Granted, they serve as the vehicle for the subplot, but at least he got to have a domestic moment or two. (His speech at the end to the person holding the toys hostage was inspired.)

Harbinger Alert: Two episodes ago, Louis Mandylor gave the line of dialogue sealing Dana Dixon/Tammy Lauren's fate, a cold prequel to his own character suddenly transferring to a faraway police department between seasons. A perfect harbinger, as it were. This episode, Louis Malone got bumped from the major plot to the subplot, replaced by the uncle of the victim - Terrell Parker (played by Arsenio Hall). Make of that what you will.

Ginuw(h)ine. Oh, I'm going to Hell for that one.... Ginuwine (some music type) was playing Terrell's nephew, a recording artist who was shot by the bad guy in order to boost the bad guy's bootleg sales. Some people like his voice; I don't. Good thing he spent all but the prologue and epilogue in the hospital.

Throw Momma from the Train: The mother of Ginuwine's character was played by Vernee Watson Johnson, the same one who played Will Smith's mother on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Typecast as a hip-hopper/rapper's mother. What a lot in life.

Cuddlebug dolls? No, but I remember hugabug dolls: The subplot involved Winship trying to get his hands on a "Rainbow Sally" Cuddlebug doll (think of a salamander who's had a run-in with Rainbow Brite and her evil gang of graffiti artists) for his daughter. Terrell attempted to buy one himself and bribe Winship with it, but he lost it and Sammo wound up saving Terrell's hide.

The Cuddlebugs were obvious takes on fads like the notorious Beanie Babies, though I will admit that some of the Cuddlebugs shown were cute (like the blue spotted duck:) and didn't inspire fad-loathing in me. Of course, Rainbow Sally proves the unspoken rule of toymaking that states: "You can't make a salamander look cute without making it gaudy."

Cuddlebug continuity: Season two episode "Sammo Claus" has the MCU trying to find out who's stealing fad toy "Armando the talking armadillo". It also had a marvellous moment where a kid throws a tantrum to try get an Armando. The toy that she currently has (and throws to the ground, saying that it's not her favorite anymore) is a Rainbow Sally. Trenchant social commentary and wonderful unbroken continuity moment, all in one!

Oh, wait, this is the LAPD.... When the unarmed Cuddlebug hostage-taker finally gives up, there's more weapons pointed at her then at a real hostage taker, like filling a housewife full of holes is a viable course of action when the housewife's only possible violent act is ripping a stuffed animal open. (Yes, I know it's meant as parody. Whether it's a parody of fads or of the LAPD, I'll never know.)

Car, follow that taxi! Well, not quite. Terrell's love of police chases took on a whole new dimension when a crook hijacked Sammo's car (and therefore Sammo and Terrell). The news program playing on the radio that was narrating the events happening in and around Sammo's car was rather funny.

Terrell Syndrome: Terrell tries nudging Sammo into action, and the hijacker points his gun at Terrell and asks him what he's up to. Terrell claims he has Tourette Syndrome. Under normal circumstances I'd claim that was a horrible and insensitive joke, but I have to admit to smirking at it a bit.

World's fastest fight scene: Sammo delivers one punch to a glass-jawed bad guy.:)

Where's my Terrell Parker voodoo doll? I didn't like Arsenio Hall before he showed up on Martial Law, and I didn't like him in his first few episodes after he did show up - I was convinced he was the most annoying mass of DNA ever hurled onto this sick planet. In retrospect, I can see he was acting exactly what he was given - the most annoying character in the known universe not meant for a kid's show or for Adam Sandler.

Things that worked....

His attempts to make Sammo "hip" and Sammo's reaction. Maybe I'm crazy but I got a kick out of it.

Terrell and Winship interacting. Seems that Mrs. Winship dated Terrell before meeting the man she would marry. This led a very funny and awkward moment when Terrell's reminiscing started getting a little raunchy.

Terrell and Winship being in the same room. They're direct counterparts - Terrell (as he is here, for better or worse) is a black man who happens to be a police officer. Winship is a police officer who happens to be a black man. I didn't think of Terrell as being a cop and I didn't think of Winship as being black. Having them in the same room reminds you about how similar - and different - they are. Fortunately, after this point was made, Terrell's more annoying "hip black guy" habits got nixed.

Terrell's second fight scene. He fared well in that one, and answered the complaint some people have about these kinds of series - that everyone (good or bad) is a martial artist. Here's the answer: give the good guy who can't fight well a bad guy who can't fight well. There's still an element of excitement, but neither one is doing any sort of high kicking stuff.

The serious moments, like when he was comforting his family members after his nephew was shot and then again after a home invasion type affair.

Things that didn't work....

His first fight scene. He kicked someone and he went flying, while his target didn't even wince. No one can kick so hard that they propel themselves across the room without doing serious damage to what they kicked.

How he was buddy-buddy to Sammo's face, but kept calling him "Oddjob", etc. when speaking to Winship. Even the recently-removed Dana at her worst wasn't a backstabber. (She could be a jerk, but she was usually a jerk to one's face.)

How damn annoying he was. His pseudo-kung-fu moments were painful to watch, and some lines were so asinine (both in writing and delivery - for instance, his anguished scream when his Rainbow Sally doll met with a moving vehicle) that they should have sent a warning to TV affiliates in Jewish areas, given the intense hamming going on.

I'm flying! One stunt looked like Sammo was rigged on wires - he jumped three or more feet in the air from a standing start, without even bending his legs before leaping. I know that everything in the show is faked, but there's a difference between being faked and looking fake. This is why I didn't like The Matrix or the likes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Leaning on my suspension of disbelief and treating me like I don't understand grade school physics are two different things.

June 15, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Bad Seed')
Dem Crazy Canadians: I won't comment on the fact that Terrell Parker is an accountant turned LAPD press liaison turned detective. I won't comment on the fact that his accounting job brought in enough for him to buy a Porsche and yet he still went to the LAPD press office for no apparent reason. I won't make any of the old jokes about a black guy driving a Porsche. I will, however, ask who in the name of Jehovah thought up making a bunch of stereotypical Canadians (actually, these guys were fighting so vainly to conform the stereotype they weren't even doing it right) into car thieves who drove a Moosehead truck for a living. The hockey-playing Frenchman ringleader was a nice touch. It's scary to think that, for once, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues showed more sensitivity to foreigners than Martial Law did.

But the real icing on the cake, let me tell you, was Louis Malone's pronunciation of the word "Canadians!" He didn't sound quite that vindictive in previous episodes when talking about a hostage-taker or a drug lord. Sort of gave him a serious-childhood-issues-that-need-to-be-worked-out kind of hatred that makes you wonder why the LAPD lets him carry a gun (insert tired old LAPD joke here) or why the Writer's Guild lets the scriptwriter brandish a pen. To turn the tables, I will now be a Canadian acting hateful towards the scriptwriter. Brian Fuld: You will die in a pit of lime, my friend. Or fire ants, if my stock is replenished before I find you, eh?

(And Carlton Cuse: Rumor has it that your other show - Nash Bridges - is similarly anti-Canadian. If you had a run-in with the psychos at the CRTC - Canadian Radio and Television Committee or something - it would be understandable. However, please understand that is like treating every German like he or she was Hitler. The government hand-picks CRTC members from the deepest boondocks, places where outhouses are almost a luxury. In reality, no one in the CRTC not doing secretarial work knows what a radio or television is. Make members of the CRTC villains and, trust me, 99% of Canadians won't give a damn. If, however, you continue on your current path, I've got an iron maiden with your name on it.)

2.5 dimensional Lieutenant Winship has a brother! And a dysfunctional niece who's a villain in this episode! Amazing. You'd actually think they were treating Tom Wright like an actor and not a stuntman with second-from-top billing.

Put the voodoo doll down, at least after a few more jabs: Okay, so Arsenio wasn't hamming the lines as much. In addition, Terrell wasn't a backstabber this episode, just a suckup. This is an improvement, according to Dante. It's one Circle of Hell up, from the frozen Lake Cocytus (9th Circle) to the Second Bolgia - a sewage pit - of Malebolge (8th Circle).

I'm allergic to old gags: Sammo's allergies act up and he, thanks to his sneezing and sniffling, winds up buying an expensive watch at an auction. The trite setup has a payoff when the auction-house fight scene, where Terrell borrows some gauntlets from a museum exhibit to fight off a sword-carrying bad guy, was actually good.

Happy Birthd... oh, damn, we can't sing it. In the blooper segment, everyone on the crew sings Happy Birthday (in Chinese) to a fellow named William. A quick look at the credits revealed that it's likely William Cheng, First Assistant Director of the action unit. An accurate date was even given: by his own admission his birthday was, at the time of taping, "yesterday". And I'm sure William knew why they drew a chocolate icing fish on the cake, 'cause I don't.

June 18, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Lock-up')
The kick heard halfway around the block: When Lee Goldberg took the reins in season two, he said that he didn't want Terrell's gun kicked out of his hand ever again. So, I'm keeping count. Here's gun-kicked-out-of-his-hand #1, in the first fight scene of the episode.

He's still incompetent, but not that incompetent! Here's how to keep Terrell's character interesting in the fight scenes - he's an incompetent fighter, but he's good at improvising a club or snare-type thing out of anything convenient. The character also went through the episode without being annoying. A bit farcical, but not really oh-God-how-I-want-to-make-him-bleed-for-this like before.

I'm having a season two flashback. Flashforward. Whatever. The bad guy (Hessman) felt like one of the more coldhearted season two bad guys. I suppose a gangster who's running a gun-modifying operation out of prison is not going to be nice, but he reminded me a little too much of a less-cuddly Hannibal Lecter.

Okay, maybe they had Closeup-Intensive Long Meaningful Speeches in season one, too: Sammo talks of how his father was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution.

I put together a list. Now, if you want me t- So sayeth Terrell. It was apparently part of a punch line that got punched out in editing. Since you couldn't see his face when he was saying it (there was a closeup shot of Louis Malone's reaction to Terrell's multi-page list of things he wanted Louis to pick up for him) they really should have killed the sound for that line, if possible.

Want some eye-ced tea? Bad Gal Corrupt Prison Guard Type uses eyedrops in iced tea to give the drinker awful stomach cramps. Ah, the wonderful things you learn watching TV. Excuse me, I need to go poison someone.

I wouldn't have noticed if not for the bloopers: Terrell and Sammo are handcuffed together. Sammo has the key, and moves to unlock them. He doesn't even get the key within a foot of the cuffs, and they fall off. I only noticed when re-watching the scene after seeing the blooper segment where the cuffs fall off before Sammo even gets the key.

Is this a TV show? Louis Malone gives a phone number as 555-whatever. Fine, it's a TV show. But then later, you see a sign on a dumpster - that fills the screen - that reads:

*** Rubbish (805) ***-9400 (818) ***-2474

Where the asterisks are numbers carefully painted over with almost-matching-the-dumpster-color paint!

Quote of the moment: Sammo (sarcastic reply to someone asking how to use a not-very-well-kept prison toilet): "It requires balance!"

Moment of the moment: Sammo (undercover) asking a mortician if he could buy a green - jade green - coffin.

June 19, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Painted Faces')
Wanted to buy: One can(n)on cleaner. In the "Previously on Martial Law" flashback, Dana showed up twice. They can't quite get rid of her, no matter how hard they try.:)

Lee Hei's back, and he's in pastels! Number three out of Lee Hei's five episodes, and his third escape from the fuzz. First time the still-undercover Grace held a gun to Sammo's head and ordered him to let Lee Hei go. Second time (two days before this episode takes place) his prison transport was attacked in an ambush set up by his lawyer. Third time Grace had a gun on him (funny how she - like Sammo - wasn't allowed to have one and now gets one whenever convenient despite Sammo's continuing lack of one!) and got distracted long enough for Lee Hei to make a break for it. (Distraction is something the LAPD needs to work on. Dana had an almost identical thing happen to her in "Funny Money".)

His clothing was very nice. Magenta (suit jacket and pants) isn't a color many men could make work. Neither is a blue jacket, black vest, and orange shirt and tie! (Which explains why it didn't really work.)

Sammo's Effective Questioning Technique of the Week: Letting Terrell "I wanna be the bad cop!" Parker be the bad cop for once - but not until after the suspect had tried to spit at Sammo and accidentally hit Terrell instead.

Localized weather lighting patterns: Lee Hei somehow manages to figure out Sammo's cell phone number, and phones him. They're both in outdoor elevators, facing each other. Except for two panes of glass and a 40 foot drop, there's nothing separating them. Yet Sammo's face is bathed in gentle side-lighting while Lee Hei (in an identical elevator!) is cast into harsh overhead lighting. Remember, kids, being evil forces you to move in the shadows and stand in the badly-lit areas. I understand the technique, and I didn't notice it until my second watching (when someone said how ugly Lee Hei looked), but it makes it real obvious which Chinese guy is Bad.:)

But why Lee Hei did that freaky snake hiss thing, I'll never know.

Boom. When defusing a bomb, "there's a stripey one" is probably not an adequate description of a wire unless you're the comic relief. (It was funny though, since Terrell did a finger-twirling thing to denote the spiraling stripe pattern.)

MBF. God, what a bad joke that is. No matter. Both in this episode of Martial Law and the crossover episode of Walker, Texas Ranger ("The Day of Cleansing", if titles turn your crank), someone takes the long route away from a bomb (running right over it in Martial Law, running right next to the truck containing it Walker, Texas Ranger) simply so the two good guys could dive for the same cover during the Big Explosion. Good guys are smarter than bad guys unless the director tells them to do something really dumb.

Terrell Throwback Number One: Ten seconds on the bomb's clock and Terrell asks Sammo what to do. ("Run!" strikes me as the only valid option.) Good thing they didn't write Amy Dylan that stupid in season two episode "No Quarter", else she and an entire SWAT team would have been the LAPD's first unit that was well seasoned but slightly burnt on the underside.

Quickie Redemptions: The bigoted/ignorant cop (Portman) who was sent to Shanghai as the other half of the cultural exchange for Sammo and Grace has redeemed himself. He starts off looking (how apt) like he's in Hell, 'cause to him it is. But by the end of the episode he's both proved he's a good cop and traded in his ignorance (presumably his inability to show the former caused the latter), and is out on a date with a Chinese co-worker. He figured out that a woman's a woman no matter what country she's born in.:)

I'm half-French and not this bad: While the French are good for punctuating their sentences with their hands (not as good as Certain Other Europeans... cough...), Portman's got us beat. Every time he got on the phone, his free hand was waving around like a flag or pointing at the listener who wasn't in front of him.:)

Run-run-run-run-runaway: When Sammo picked up the phone and it was the newly-converted Portman on the other end, all the others (Winship, Louis and Grace) made a break for it to avoid talking to him. Terrell, having never met Portman, follows Grace and asks, "Who's Portman?"

Problem is, she's never met Portman either! He was sent away at the end of episode one, when she was still undercover and hanging out with Lee Hei. Unless his reputation got around (a possibility, though he's the guy people always try to forget) or Grace is a telepath on the side, she should be as in the dark as Terrell.

A Meaningful Speech that works: Terrell temporarily dons his old LAPD press liaison cap to rescue the new, floundering, press liaison. It's a speech sort of like Joe Friday's in the good ol' Dragnet episodes, except without the monotone voice and film noir sensibility. (Insert cheap joke here about how anything with Arsenio Hall in it is 'film noir'.) Terrell's duds were rather snappy too. Nice sweater and jacket combo. Didn't even need sunglasses to look at him, unlike Lee Hei.:)

Quote of the nanosecond: Inept henchman meeting his replacement: "Is he going to kill me?"

Lee Hei: "No, he's gonna take you to the zoo!"

Missing links: While typing this, I wear headphones (playing the VCR's audio through the PC - so I don't disturb anyone - or something musical, currently Ultravox's "The Voice") so I just missed almost all of what was playing on Fox Family channel - the episode of Early Edition that Sammo Law (Sammo Hung) cameoed in!

Funny, I didn't even know they were still running that show. Of course, if a Certain Site wasn't Flash only, maybe people who prefer a low-bandwidth browsing experience could CHECK THE SCHEDULE!

June 20, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Substitutes')
Retroactive typing: I haven't actually seen tonight's episode as I type this and the next four items. Thanks to my sharp memory, my VCR, and my almost-complete tape archive, I can look over the episodes beforehand. And yet I still tape 'em, because after a bad experience with a Memorex tape (I have since switched brands), I now like having two of everything I want to keep.

Credit where credit is don't: Arsenio Hall is finally elevated from "Special Guest Star" to his own opening credit spot, sharing top billing with Sammo Hung. Sort of obvious that they were going for the cop-buddy-show angle, since they could've just given him Tammy Lauren's old spot (which is still filled with a few random shots of Sammo). Oh well, at least the character isn't as annoying anymore.

Trust me, it looks nothing like her uncle Oscar: Terrell gets to go back to his old elementary-school alma mater to protect a kid, but gets stuck with the reality check after he learns that the name has been changed to reflect someone who has given money to the school. Goodbye North Central Elementary, hello Oscar de la Hoya Elementary.

Random thought: "Alma Mater" means "Bounteous Mother". Jimmy Kimmel (of Win Ben Stein's Money fame) has a different take on it: "(Bounteous Mother), from whose breasts I guzzled beer."

Rock it and box it: When I see the actor (Tony Plana) who was playing the villain (Chava Rocha - try saying that without thinking of a cockroach), I think of him as the family patriarch in those commercials for Showtime's boxing-related program Resurrection Boulevard. When I hear the actor (Joseph Ashton) playing the villain's son, I think of him as the voice of Otto Rocket from Nickelodeon's Rocket Power. Sadly, that does mean that I have actually sat through Rocket Power, though it certainly wasn't as painful an experience as sitting through Invader Zim.

Or, just rock it: And, of course, Rocket Power was on Nickelodeon's west coast feed right after Martial Law finished on TNN's east coast feed.

The kick heard across the high-rent district: Terrell gets his gun kicked out of his hand for the second time. Of course, Louis Malone has the same weapon-removal service bestowed upon him earlier in the episode.

This is how I liked Terrell's character: Being undercover in some insane getup, like when he was a curbside preacher-type in this episode. Wonderful comedy.

Or like this: Able to throw an elbow into someone's face when the opportunity presents itself.

Or even like this: In a scene with Winship, Terrell, and Sammo, Terrell deliberately keeps asking Sammo if a place is named "Echo Park", and Sammo keeps answering "Echo Park". But since Sammo is the straight-laced one, Winship gets angrier at Sammo for unwittingly keeping up the gag then at Terrell for starting it!

Diet C(h)oke: In "Shanghai Express" and again in this episode, Sammo has requested the brand-name soda "Diet Coke". Does CBS sign all its actors to lifetime product-placement deals?

Whatshisface Parker: In Terrell's first few episodes, Winship kept mispronouncing his name (more like tare-ul than ter-rel). In this episode, Terrell's old principal did the same.

I don't think they're running on Firestones: The bad guy makes his escape in a black Explorer, which swerves into a side alley as another one pulls out to throw the cops off. Given the recent SUV track record, I don't think swerving is a good idea.

Quotes of the nanoseconds:

Terrell: "Oscar de la Hoya Elementary?"

Sammo: "Welcome back!"

* * *

Student (looking at Terrell's old class photo): "What happened to your head?"

Terrell: "That's an afro!"

* * *

Chava Rocha (Yelling at his son, who he's kidnapped from the boy's mother.): "I did this for YOU!"

* * *

Terrell: "Hey, Chava! You're number three on the FBI's most wanted list. Do you feel cheated sometimes?"

* * *

Terrell (After improvising a weapon and using it to hit a bad guy into a swimming pool.): "If I could swim I'd still be whooping your ass!"

* * *

The squeak-and-squish sound that the recently-escaped class rat (Otto) made under Terrell's car wheel. Priceless!

* * *

(Sammo is getting Terrell to tell the students that he ran over their rat.)

Sammo: "In China, some people believe that the death of a rat results in seven years of bad luck."

Terrell: "So you're saying that if I tell the truth, the curse will go away, though."

Sammo: "No. You are doomed."

* * *

Terrell: "So, I guess your teaching days are over, huh?"

Sammo: "With you, I've just begun."

* * *

Terrell (Undercover as a preacher.): "E-V-E-L! EVIL!"

(The loudspeaker-distributed compliment he handed Grace was funny too.)

* * *

Me (While watching.): "Whoever wrote this did a fine job on the dialogue."

The writer, I learned later, was someone named Patty Lin. Credit where credit is due.

Over-the-top humor: This is what I mean by humor in the fight scenes: Both Sammo and Terrell turn cabled microphones into weapons, each in their own way. (Sammo uses his as a whip - though they shouldn't have added the sound effect - and two-man garotte*, while Terrell uses one as a one-man garotte* and makeshift handcuffs.)

*Nonfatal garottes, of course. They're the good guys.

If you still had that afro, you couldn't wear one! Why was Terrell allowed to wear a baseball cap - backwards - during his stint undercover in the school? Kids have no respect these days.

June 21, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Wildlife')
Regression therapy (or, Terrell Throwback Number Two): Terrell's last line was an ugly harkening back to his first episode, where he was the annoying-as-hell guy. Whoever wrote it should be forced to listen to it over and over and over again until something explodes.

Progression therapy: I've noticed something about Terrell's fighting. He's great if he has a weapon (even a stick, as this episode showed), but in an even brawl, he's not that good. What was wrong with the character like this? At least it sort of covered for the fact that Arsenio Hall doesn't look as good as the others during a fight scene - if the character is somewhat awkward, the actor has some slack to cover his own weaknesses.

The kick that wasn't heard by Len because he wasn't listening: Terrell's gun wasn't kicked out of his hand this time, but Louis Malone's was. On the other hand, Terrell hit a bad guy's gun away.

Do you have a lee-sance for this minky? There was a monkey in this episode, as well as some other things that would likely give PETA nuts coronaries. After seeing how easily agitated the monkey was, I was sort of surprised there were no monkey-related bloopers in the finale.

Deep Meaningful Sentence: Not a speech. Sammo says, "I was married once." then refuses to answer any questions about it. Amazing!

I loved your work in Passenger 57: I suppose Terrell Parker going undercover as Wesley Snipes was to be expected, since going undercover as, say, Arsenio Hall might compromise the show's reality a bit.:)

Blood on the tiling, fire in the sky: Sorry, had to do it. The blood leaking out of the fridge was a wonderful fake horror moment.:)

I tawt I taw a desert cobra! For once, I saw it coming. (I saw it the first time I saw this episode too.) Normally I'm too stupid to notice obvious things, but this time, I saw it. When the bad guy tells you "The police are looking for you. Take a month off, this should cover your... expenses." and hands you a briefcase, it is very bad to actually open the briefcase. I saw it coming, for once, and I'm proud.

Remarried so soon? In a fabulous continuity moment, last episode Terrell mentioned that his father was a Chicago fireman who died in the line of duty when Terrell was still a kid. This episode, his mother is getting remarried, and Terrell - being the presumably eldest son - doesn't like the idea of someone taking his place as his mother's emotional "caretaker".

How do you fix shrapnel? In a not-so-fabulous continuity moment, Sammo's driving around in his car. The same car that got blown up two episodes ago. Terrell makes the throwaway line asking Sammo if he got a good deal on getting it repaired. It was blown up. Boom. And now it's all in one piece.

Rather amazing, considering that he went through three cars in season two.:) (This one fell into a river or some other large body of water and the replacement seemingly vanished after the continuity-busting "No Fare" introduced yet another new one.)

(Update, September 11, 2001 AD: Read my "No Fare" rants for a correction of this point.)

I'm glad they got that car fixed.... Else Terrell wouldn't be able to give Sammo his new California "SAMMO" license plates. (His old ones were from when he was given the car - Rhode Island plates emblazoned "DA BOMB".)

Never ask a question unless you want to hear the answer: Terrell tries to short out the wedding plans by asking his soon-to-be-stepfather, "Do you know my mother snores?"

From the look on his face, the answer ("I know.") rather disgusts him. Hey, don't ask a question involving sleeping arrangements if you don't wanna hear the answer.:)

Do you come from the land.... Louis Malone's had another chance to flex his faux Australian accent - first time was in "Diamond Fever". Of course, one wonders exactly why he needs to flex said accent this time, when he's talking to people who have no reason to think he's Australian.:)

JUMP! Grace jumps off something high (in "Takeout") to attack a bad guy: She grunts so the bad guy conveniently turns around and gets into place for the stunt, which involves Grace grabbing a shotgun barrel between her thighs.

In this episode, Sammo jumps off something high to attack a bad guy. Since there's presumably less sexual innuendo in a man grabbing a gun barrel with his legs, Sammo doesn't grunt, he just plants his feet in the bad guy's back.

For all its lack of sexual innuendo, I think that Sammo's technique makes a lot more sense.

Happy Bir-DAMN! To quote a Random Thoughts from April 17, 2001 AD: Tonight, in one of those odd coinkydinks, Martial Law's end-of-episode bloopers (gotta love those) included one where the cast surprised Sammo Hung with a birthday cake and Arsenio Hall put forth a Herculean effort to say something birthdayish in Chinese.

That was tonight's episode. Do the math, and you learn that TNN is showing them at the rate of all 44 every two months and a bit. Not bad, considering they jumped from four-a-week to five-a-week partway through.

More math, and I'll finally have all 44 eps on tape - twice each, except for a bit of "24 Hours" that I missed last time - around August 10th. At which point this page stops being a Martial Law rants page and converts fully into a shrine for Gretchen Egolf, unless she does something to really tick me off or I get hit by a freight train. I'm hoping for the shrine bit, but I'll take the ticking-off thing over the freight train.

October 23, 2001 AD Lack-of-Sleep Litany Update: Lost in Space:

June 22, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Breakout')
Where do I get my lousy memory from? First time I saw this, my mother pointed out that the man playing the distraught husband was Scott Valentine, the actor who played Nick (Mallory's boyfriend) on Family Ties.

Overpass over troubled waters: The opening prison-labor jailbreak occurs at something described as the "6th Street Bridge" by one character and the "6th Street Overpass" by another. Since it seems to cross a (desolate) road, isn't "overpass" the more accurate one?

Villainous villainy: The bad guy (don't know the actor's name) looked the part of an escaped con and cop killer. This is a guy who would be typecast just by his general look. He did a good job of acting hateable, though.:)

Fighting words on paper: This time Terrell didn't even use his gun, so it couldn't get kicked out of his hand - he beat two guys into the pavement without so much as a twig for a weapon. He just used his fists! Seven more episodes before the Great Upheaval (season one to season two shift) and he's already starting to show as a streetfighter. On the other hand, Louis Malone didn't even get a fight scene in this episode, though he got to watch one of Grace's fights. So it begins....

Wild thing in formal wear: Sammo. Riding a Harley. Wearing shades. Wearing a helmet that looks like it was pulled off a Hell's Angel. Wearing a business suit. Wonderful for a laugh.:)

Romancing the Malone: Louis Malone is genuinely concerned for Grace at one point when she's undercover. Some hints of a new boyfriend/girlfriend relationship that will be so coldly killed off in just seven episodes. It's the Dana* thing all over again.

*I'm not letting her go - to quote Louis Malone (ironically, when speaking to Dana): "You're fixating again."

Is she fat? Terrell tries to set Sammo up on a blind date as a favor to a girlfriend who Terrell, as Sammo put it, is trying to sleep with. Problem is, last time Terrell saw the other half of the blind date (a few years ago), she was rather heavy. When Sammo finally extracts this detail from Terrell, Sammo says that he doesn't understand why everyone wants to be so thin (considering his own weight). And then he asks about exactly how fat this girl is.:)

Gratuitous ratings moment: Wow, first gratuitous ratings moment of the season, if you forget about Grace's shower scene (and also a bathing suit moment or two) when she was still hanging out with Lee Hei. (And how a shot of her in a bikini was not only in the season one credits, but was also one of the few season one shots that came back for the season two credits.)

But on to the moment (which I've almost forgotten). Grace heads into a biker bar and shows up the resident pool player. So she's decked out in tight leather, and I really didn't think it was flattering.

Is TNN breaking in a new guy? Twice (tonight and in "Painted Faces") the bloopers have been cut into a few seconds late because it doesn't come back from black screen after the last commercial. This is why I like having them on tape twice.

So close: Simple math. 45 minutes an ep. 6 hour tape. 360 minute tape. 360 minutes per tape / 45 minutes per episode = 8 episodes per tape. Yet somehow I never managed to fit eight full episodes on a tape. The last segment would need to go on the next tape, pushing a bit more of the 8th episode on that tape to the next tape.... And so on.

Well, I finally got tired of it and started a brand new tape last week. I looked at it tonight and made the rough estimate that there was an hour left on the tape, enough for the show and change.

Of course, I didn't think. Tonight was the 8th episode for the tape - the one that never fits. Someone up there loves me (or the ignorant in general) because it fit - with one minute left to go on the tape.

To whoever up there who loves me: Thank you!

June 25, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Captive Hearts')
Hearts currently under house arrest: I read that title and invariably think of the Infocom game 'Plundered Hearts'.

Postmiked envelope: Mike Post is listed as the music-type man in the closing credits of the previous show, The Rockford Files. He's also listed in the long-line-of-credits-fading-in-and-out-at-the-bottom-of-the-screen-during-the-first-dialogue-shot of Martial Law. He's also listed for damnear a hundred shows in the IMDb, and for once I think they're accurate.

Sounds Like a Melanie: Melanie George (Julia Campbell) was back, and may I say that the chemistry between her and Sammo was simply wonderful. They even almost kissed.:)

There was some perfect (and very cute) moments, mostly noted in the section on quotations.:)

Sounds Like a Melody: The name of the song I lampooned in that last bit.

Romancing the Malone 2.0: When Louis and Grace were posing as a married couple to catch a baby-selling doctor, they made a very cute pair as well. Especially when Grace reacted to how Louis was fabricating details of their sex life.:) Six more episodes before Louis gets the axe....

You seen (BURP!) my bicycle? Terrell was back in top form again, being the funny undercover guy who could improvise a weapon.

Winship busts out the can of righteous whoop-ass: The baby-stealing ring really raised Winship's ire. Not only did he call someone a "bastard", but he got the bad guy's henchman to talk by invoking memories of the henchman's kids. Poor henchman got shot in the back by the head bad guy for his trouble. If the cops come for you and you work for a bad guy, do not go anywhere near the bad guy ever again!

Winship evidently has the power of right and kevlar on his side. He's standing abreast with Sammo (on his right) and Terrell (on his left) when the bad guy pulls his gun and fires. He pushes Sammo and Terrell out of the way as shots ring out, and yet somehow manages to avoid taking the bullet himself.

Speaking of Infocom: The head bad guy was Nate Krill (Crill?). The head bad guy in Infocom's Enchanter was the warlock Krill. Any relation?:)

Quotations of the nanoseconds: First off, I must say that the excellent script was written by a scriptwriter (who else?) named Del Shores. Thumbs up for the script editors too, for not cutting the good stuff.:)

Melanie (hugs Sammo): "I'm not hugging you too tight, am I?"

Sammo: "No, you're hugging just fine!"

* * *

Melanie (who's working for the INS - the immigration department whatsit): "So, what are you doing here? Oh! They're not deporting you, are they?"

* * *

Terrell (teasing Sammo): "Melanie Law.... Melanie and Sammo Law. Has a nice ring to it! (...) You were blushing like a schoolgirl, bro!"

Sammo: "I was not!"

(That was enough to make me blush, since the one person who knows both this webpage and me in Real Life(TM) just has to say "Gretchen!" and I blush uncontrollably. In fact, I think I'm blushing now.:)

* * *

Melanie: "I think I have a muffin in my purse. I made it myself. I was running short on a little baking powder so I just used baking soda. It's really not bad, just... eat it quick."

* * *

The entire scene where Sammo and Terrell compare scars. A take-off on other cop-buddy stuff, but since Terrell's were mostly paper cuts anyway....

* * *

The scene where Terrell gives up his teasing and convinces Sammo to ask Melanie out. It was a genuine serious moment, and no one gave a speech! (75% of it was the two-shot format, and not just switching between closeups.)

* * *

Again, the entire scene where Sammo works up the guts to ask Melanie out on a date. It finishes when Sammo leaves and Melanie says, "Woo hoo!" (This was mostly closeups, though they at least sometimes cut to the person not talking.)

Terrell Parker, Rockette: All through the episode, Terrell is trying to do this jump-and-do-a-double-kick thing he saw Sammo do. He finally manages it when he grabs a mannequin leg and uses it as a club in place of the second kick. (Same effect, it counts!:)

Over-the-top humor: (In the fight scenes.) When Grace tapes up a bad guy and shoves him in a packing crate, or Sammo when he was mixing gymnastics with karate-type fights. Or Terrell during the whole of the mannequin-part fight.

It's only wrong if the guy who looks the other way is not your buddy. In "Cop Out", Sammo threw someone playing a defenseless crook off a building (and into some hidden padding). He did it so some crooked vigilante cops would see him do it, look the other way when giving their reports, and later let him join their rather exclusive vigilante cop club.

In the big finale for tonight's episode, Sammo beats the bad guy into a half-stupor, then kicks him out a window. He falls several stories and into traffic, presumably dying. Terrell sees it, yet nothing bad happens to Sammo. Ergo, Terrell looked the other way, or at least implied in his own report that Sammo was within his rights when he kicked the guy who was standing in front of a picture window!

Why I worship women: Julia Campbell can dance and wear high heels at the same time. I can't do either with any degree of success. (And if you ask how I know about the heels thing, I'll hurt you.)

December 29, 2001 AD Lack-of-Sleep Litany Update: Some scars never heal. Scriptwriters like that.

June 26, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Trifecta')
Quote of the nanosecond: Sammo (during a high-speed chase): "This Caddy is good! Very big! If we crash, we probably won't die!"

Tango tango cash: Is it just me, or is that a convenient string of letters for Terrell to be reading off a license place during a high-speed chase?

Romancing the... coroner? Louis was gently nudging Grace into going out on a date with the coroner, who had a crush on her. Why? Maybe he figured after a date with someone who likes hitting on women while getting ready to dissect something, he'd have better odds.:) Grace tries to break the date, but the coroner dumps her for Winship's secretary. Suddenly Grace doesn't want to break the date anymore.:)

"Brother John"? "Jacques" does NOT translate to "John!" I forget what it really translates to, but it's not "John!" After Terrell idly sings "Frère Jacques", Sammo sings the Chinese version and gets Terrell to sing along too. How many shows could take the scene of a black guy and a Chinese guy driving in a Porsche in downtown LA while singing "Frère Jacques" in Chinese, and have it make perfect sense?

Chibonics: Sammo tells Terrell that his attempt at speaking Chinese was "very terrible". Terrell replies that it's Chinese Ebonics, or "Chibonics". Given some of Arsenio Hall's criticism of the NAACP, I wonder how much of that is Terrell Parker speaking and how much is Arsenio Hall.

This is why it's an ensemble cast: This episode was an excellent show of how to work with an ensemble cast.

It starts with Terrell and Sammo in a high-speed chase, and progresses on to a whole-cast (including Winship) meeting after Terrell's first partner from his beat-cop days is found dead in the trunk of the car being chased.

Back to Terrell and Sammo doing some questioning.

Terrell does some questioning by himself at a racetrack; so does Grace. (This keeps 'em out of the undercover stuff later.) Sammo and Louis talk to the (retired LAPD officer) father of the dead cop.

Sammo and Louis go undercover at the racetrack. Terrell and Grace break into a house. (Well, Terrell does the breaking, Grace just admonishes.:)

Louis heads back to HQ while Sammo snoops around. Sammo gets in a brawl when he finds a dead body (and the fellows who made it dead), and gets arrested (along with the killers).

Winship, Sammo, and Terrell meet and hash out the plot a bit.

Big finale where Sammo, Louis, and Winship go beat some bad guy hiney. Grace and Terrell are absent. (It's at the racetrack, and they're known as cops. Sort of blow the whole thing open prematurely if they were there.)

Closing scene: Sammo and Terrell driving around in the car again.

This was a true ensemble cast thing, with perfect balance that didn't feel forced. Sammo spent as much time talking and bantering (there's a difference) with Louis as he did with Terrell. Winship even got some stuff to do (since this was a cop killing, and the cop was one of his detectives, I guess he was warranted in being so involved).

And they're off! They look off too! When the horses bust out of the gate at the racetrack, they looked like they had been blue-screened onto the track afterwards. A shot of a real race starting was too hard to find...?

Okay, maybe I'm wrong. First time for everything. When compared, the stables in "Trifecta" don't look like the stables in "Takeout". They're both white brick, but the "Trifecta" ones are solid brick to their tops, while the "Takeout" ones aren't - they have metal bars from about chest level up.

Titty bum titty bum titty bum bum bum. (No, this isn't about the bikini-clad woman at the beginning of the show.) Sammo riding a horse and chasing after a tractor while the William Tell Overture played was a stroke of comedic genius.:)

This entry rated R, or maybe PG-13, depending on how horny the ratings board is feeling today: Okay, an explanation of that last one. There's a crass joke whose setup I forget. It went something like "What song do you get when you see a naked woman facing towards you, a naked woman facing away from you, a naked woman facing towards you, a naked woman facing away from you, a naked woman facing towards you, and three naked woman facing away from you?"

Answer: The William Tell Overture. (Sing "Titty bum titty bum titty bum bum bum!" to the classic eight-note bit that symbolizes the overture and you'll figure it out, eventually.)

Why I like having two copies of each episode: TNN has changed their commercials. It used to be that each break was three minutes long, except the last, which was longer. But tonight, they dropped the second break to 2 min 30 sec and boosted the second last to 3 min 30 sec. (In other words, they shifted one commercial a few breaks later.) I was so busy with my watch timing things that I missed the first few seconds after the break. They're there on the other tape, though. (When I set out to get a whole series on tape, I get the whole... damn... thing.:)

June 27, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Big Trouble')
Do you like my jackets? Okay, this is the first time I've noticed any major season one continuity screwup dealing with clothes. Sammo started with a gray jacket and black (purple?) shirt, but then manifested a blue dress shirt and brown sweater one scene later, with no major time difference. Then it changed to an icky-brown jacket with a maroon (purple?) shirt. Unfortunately, he kept that icky brown jacket for the whole last half of the episode.

Purple? Watching something on two different TVs, depending on if you're taping it in the living room or playing it back next to the PC, doesn't do well for color contrasting.

If you don't like the jacket, how about the shoes? In the shots where Sammo was driving a big rig, sometimes he (well, someone dressed like him, anyway) was shown pushing the gas pedal and working the gears. His shoes were brown in these shots, but they looked black during the dialog shots. I'm a continuity demon tonight!

Notalie Portman: Winship, upon seeing the stuff taken from a bad guy, says, "I haven't seen that much junk food since Portman left." The scary thing is that if you total the dialogue mentions, flashback sequences, and actual appearances, regular character Dana Dixon only had twice the appearances of bit character Portman! (He showed up in two episodes, one flashback, and one mention. Dana was in five episodes, one or two flashbacks, and one mention.)

Family matters: Terrell had some nice family moments, both with his mother and his stepdad. Arsenio Hall acted 'em well enough.

So does sex: After seeing Terrell's mom and stepdad working together, Sammo tells them that in China that's considered good for the couple's love life. Terrell has his normal "Ewwww!" reaction to discussions about his mom's sleeping arrangements.

Then, Terrell's mom makes it worse by telling Sammo that she and her new hubby are doing just fine in the love department.:)

A pencil neck and eagle eyes: Marla Gibbs (Florence the maid on The Jeffersons, Mary Jenkins on 227) played Terrell's mom in the episode titled "Wildlife" and again tonight. My keen eyes spotted that she was, in one scene, holding a pencil (threaded between her fingers, not just grasping it) in her left hand. So, either Marla Gibbs is left-handed, or she's messing with my mind. (What mind?)

Deep meaningful sentences: In three lines and change, Louis Malone tells why he became a cop.

Unaextra: Why was one of the extras in the line at the post office dressed exactly like the Unabomber's police sketch? I suppose it could be just random chance, but then why did he put on the hood of his jacket just as the camera was beginning to pan past? "Red Storm" (two episodes from now) has Germans in it. Should I look for Hitler in the background of that one? Bit of info: real-life-murderer-based humor is not in good taste. (Never mind the cheap pun I made at the start of this paragraph.)

I liked the DMV better: In "Trackdown", Sammo sweet-talked a DMV employee into getting him a new driving test. He tried it again this episode at the post office. Didn't work.

Remember what I said about going to see the villain? If someone handed me a plate of anything "on a bed of spinach and oleander", I would not eat it. That spinach is real nasty.

The kick no one heard: Terrell dropped his gun, when confronted by a well-armed bad guy. He wound up not even needing it.

Are you na-ked? Now Grace has a run in with a naked man, though she suffered more disgust than culture shock, considering his size.

His weight! Weight! He was fat! Minds like sewers, you lot.

I do ice sculpture on the weekends: The bad guy is, according to legend, supposed to have: yanked out a guy's tooth, shaved it into a bullet in front of the guy, and killed the guy with it. Am I the only one who thinks that's impossible?

I'm amazing. No I'm not. I was running through my other tape of this episode. I saw a stock shot of the LAPD building that's Sammo & Co.'s HQ. I stopped the tape and fast-forwarded ahead a bit, then hit "play". (I was going to check "Red Storm" to make sure the baddies were Germans in that one, like I remember). Well, I hit "Red Storm" all right. And the same stock shot!

June 28, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Nitro Man')
I wish I had that easy a time getting a job. It made sense when Melanie went from being secretary to the assistant district attorney to being part of the Department of Immigration, since the assistant DA was dead and no longer in need of secretarial services. Now, she's magically become part of a bank that gets robbed. There's a throwaway line akin to the one explaining how Sammo's car regenerated itself.

Brutal: Melanie doesn't like people who wear Brut. I agree, though she was a bit polite in her use of adjectives to describe that foul toxin.

Holding Hearts Hostage: Okay, so what if that title would be more apt for my rant on the episode "Captive Hearts", or - taken literally - the season two episode "Heartless". Melanie gets taken hostage, leading to much dramatic tension if I hadn't seen this episode before. (I was, admittedly, on the edge of my seat the first time around.)

What a moron. No, wait.... When the security guard tried to arrest the bank robber and wound up losing his gun to the villain, I felt like screaming "MORON!" Until I learned that he was really in cahoots with the bad guy.:)

Chamberhail of bullets: So nice that they went for a small bit of reality here: when a gun's clip is pulled, the gun isn't unloaded - there's still one bullet in the chamber! Good thing Sammo knew they were keeping things real, for once.

Shadows of Season Two: When you see Kelly Hu's outfit spontaneously change (I guess she didn't like the high neckline on one outfit, so she went for something lower:) and Arsenio Hall pulling a Louis Maloneish high kick, you wonder precisely how much Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin can take credit/blame for season two when they were just maintaining the status quo.

Just Schmoo It. No, I don't know what that means either. I just like the sound of it.

Terrell's basketball subplot was a marvellous laugh, especially the speech about fundamentals (telling 10 year olds not to slam dunk and hang on the rim just so it'll get onto Sportscenter). I'm also sure everyone watching wanted the rival assistant coach (AKA suckup) to get properly humiliated.:)

The kick heard a good yard away: Terrell. Gun. Kick. Number. Three.

Can't. Think. Of. Joke. I'll. Make. Fun. Of. Shatner. A. Bit. And. Maybe. The. Trekkies. Will. Laugh.

Away yard good a heard kick the: Halfway through the show, the bad guy kicks Terrell's gun out of his hand. In the finale, Terrell returns the favor.

379.... Why was Terrell only counting only every second or third step that he climbed in one scene? Makes it sound like it was voiceover added later because they couldn't fit a boom mic in the longshot.

Bang bang boom: First a bank got shot up. Then the police HQ got shot up. They must have blown the budget on that one!

Macho macho man: This is where they made the budget up - less footage to film. 2:07 minutes of bloopers (including a fabulous shot of the body-armor-wearing gun-toting bank robber disco dancing!) with "Macho Man" playing in the background.

Getting Romanced by the Malone: Louis Malone blows 100-150 bucks on flowers for two girlfriends (one he's dumping, one he's keeping). Makes you wonder why he hasn't moved on Grace when he clearly likes her, unless Grace spurned him because of how much he plays the field....

Are they breaking in a new commercial guy? They ran all the breaks at three minutes even, except the last two, which went three and change. I did a quick bit of checking off two other programs and a clock that runs like... uh... clockwork and confirmed that they ran another commercial on me!

June 28, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 1.0)
Fun things from Lee Goldberg's site.... If you take various comments on the hypothetical Martial Law Season Three, plus some simple extrapolation, you get the following changes....

Extrapolation: Sammo Law wouldn't have left the MCU at the end of season two. Obviously. You can't call the show Martial ___. But that might have meant that Sammo's son would have been hanging around the MCU as well.

Extrapolation: Amy Dylan might have been married. So she'd be Mrs. Amy... uh... Whatshisface. Her boyfriend Dennis had a last name, I know he did. Besides, Amy Whatshisface has a really lame sound to it, and it's gender-confusing. (Checks tapes.) Taggart!

(Checks script for that episode.) Taggert!

Actually, Amy Taggert doesn't sound that much better then Amy Whatshisface. Sort of like how Gretchen Phillips (nee Egolf) sounds like someone related to the guy in The Mamas and The Papas. No wonder she kept her maiden name for her acting work (as almost all actresses do, but that's beside the point). Granted, "Phillips" is a bit easier to guess at the pronunciation than "Egolf" is, but everyone I meet screws up my last name in some new and amazing way, so I feel justified in screwing someone else's name up. The fact that I can't say my last name right either is also beside the point.

Goldberg comment: The return of Kyle Strode. Grace Chen's possibly-crooked boyfriend and mid-afternoon bedmate would have made a return, though the problems of him maybe having sent her to be tortured to death would have been a bit tough to reconcile. Slightly tougher for me, since I - and at least one poster to Goldberg's message board - thought Strode had died in the car crash at the end of "In the Dark"! (Three people escape from a police sting. Two escape together. One escapes alone. A car tears out of the parking lot like mad, supposedly containing the two. It crashes and explodes. Only one charred corpse is found in it. Who else could it be?)

The implication that the car and body were a Scorpio decoy didn't really sit well with me. If the body was dead when the car was moving, with the car being remotely controlled, then it (to be blunt) reeks of writing oneself out of a corner since the corpse is irrelevant. Why kill someone and stuff them into a remote-controlled decoy car that might not be used? Besides, if memory serves, the car had tinted windows so you couldn't see inside it. (Else Sammo and the audience would have figured out that the two people he was looking for weren't in the car.)

If the car was driven by a live human being, then they had to be a Scorpio agent intentionally crashing and dying to allow The One a diversion to escape. Either that, or it was Strode running for his life and going out of control accidentally. Now you've written yourself into another corner, unless someone can materialize Strode's dental records and prove that the corpse isn't his, which again reeks of writing out of a corner. (Though not as bad a corner.)

In Goldberg's defense, he claims that the actor playing Strode had to leave town for another gig, else he would have been in the series finale.

Goldberg comment: The return of Jake "Deathfist" Cord. Mario Van Peebles' one-shot character (a fight film actor doing research for his next film) in the episode "Deathfist Five: Major Crimes Unit" might have been brought in to replace Arsenio Hall, who was making an exit after season two no matter what. That would have been very interesting, since he was established as being able to fight but was a bit rough around the edges. (And it's not like Jake Cord, fight movie actor turned cop, would be any worse then Terrell Parker, accountant turned cop!) Also, the final scene of "Deathfist 5: MCU" implied that Amy Dylan was a fan (maybe a bit of a fangirl*, no less) of his. Hmmm. Extrapolate it into an episode idea and you could get something like.... Fangirl (newly-wed to a man who's cheated on her at least once) and hunky object-of-her-fangirlishness trapped somewhere confining. That could go so many different ways it's not funny. (Actually, it's as funny as hell!)

*Asking for an autographed headshot then being embarrassed when people find out about it sounds like something I'd do to Gretchen Egolf, and I'm the fanboy from Hell!

How about some unabashed quoting from the episode in question:

* * *

Jake (fishes around inside an envelope, pulls out a photo, gives it to Amy): "As promised."

Amy (realization quickly hits her; she grabs the photo, puts it behind her back and laughs nervously): "Oh, right! Thank you!"

(Jake leaves.)

Terrell: "You didn't ask for an autographed picture."

Amy: "It's for my nephew."

Grace (grabs photo from behind Amy's back and reads the signature): "'To Amy!'"

Amy: "It's my nephew who was... um... named after me."

Grace: "'To Amy, who knows all the right moves. Love, Jake.'" (Laughs.)

Amy (grabs for photo): "Give me that!" (Grace moves photo out of Amy's reach, Amy keeps grabbing for it.) "Grace! Don't make me hurt you!"

Grace: "I think the whole squad's gonna want to see this!"

* * *

Extrapolation: Amy Dylan with GREAT HAIR! Given that Gretchen might have let her hair grow out closer to her Roswellish shoulder length, the hair stylists couldn't have screwed it up like they did in this page's first picture. No, they'd probably have screwed it up in a new and more depressing way....:(

June 29, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Red Storm')
Dem Crazy Germans: Louis Malone does it again, constantly referring to the bad guys as Germans, with some (though not all) of the vitriol he directed at Canadians before. Okay, so they're German. But, more to the point, they're also terrorists. Can't call them that though, or someone who was sleeping through the bad-guy-introduction scene might not notice that the German deputy consul is in their pocket. Amazing how Malone is so pro-Chinese but seems to have a large chip on his shoulder for Canadians and a smaller one for Germans.

English only, please: Sammo's master (his martial arts teacher, back in the day) comes to the US to visit. When Sammo speaks in Chinese, Master Reng (I'm guessing at the spelling. I'm also guessing the one-named actor "Mako" listed in the credits played him.) says, "English only, please." One is left to assume he's honing his English and helping out the scriptwriter and the audience while doing it.

Nur Englisch, bitte: (I apologize for what's likely a lame translation.) Of course, Master Reng learning English doesn't explain why the German characters all speak English when talking to other Germans. (Except in the first scene, where they are plainly setting up that they are indeed Evil Germans.)

Orange Juice Hertz: Terrell makes a nice joke about what happened to "the last black man who went running through an airport", reminding me of OJ Simpson's old ads for Hertz(?). Unfortunately, he then goes to mention OJ by name in the next line, making it look like he's explaining his own wisecracks now.

Chamberhail of bullets 2.0: Sammo's got a great understanding of reality and when it doesn't apply. He pulls the clip out of a gun (like the previous episode), the bad guy points the gun and fires, and nothing happens. Unless there's a new kind of gun out for TV baddies that only loads when you pull the trigger....

Watch something three times and what they're saying might just hit you. Grace (sometimes in season one, mostly in season two) refered to Sammo by the title "lo lau shir", which you figure has something to do with the fact that he's her martial arts teacher. This episode - and I had to hear it a third time before I picked up on it - she calls Sammo's teacher something like "reng lau shir". It was then, and only then, that I realized that the first word was the person's name. Then I realized that "Lo" sounds more sensibly Chinese than "Law", but that the show title sort of hinges on the word "Law". Besides, "Sammo Lo" sounds like something containing saccharine.

Chinese martial arts teachers drink Coke: Now it's not just Sammo. Master Reng forgoes his favorite tea for Diet Coke. Why Diet? The man's a twig!

His lips say "no", but his eyes... wait, his lips are saying "yes" too. As if to jumpstart what's been implied all season, Reng tells Grace that Louis Malone is "a good catch." When Grace says they're partners in the police detective sense only, Reng says he senses that Louis is feeling a bit differently about things. (Why do Chinese people in TV shows "sense" things? They don't "figure", or "think", or even "feel", they just "sense".)

I'm not a "midget", I'm a "cameraman!" Two shots (the fax machine shot and a walking-down-a-hall shot) were shot from near ground level.

If I push you, you'll just go the other way. Reng tells Sammo to make time for other pursuits, like jetskiing. (Sammo has a game-show-won jet ski he hasn't used yet.) Too bad he's just going to get worse next season.

Quote of the moment: Sammo and Reng watching a Ginsu commercial. With the most wonderful look of confusion and amazement, Reng asks, "Is this a popular program?"

Moment of the moment: When Reng and Sammo were singing Chinese opera on the beach.

She's never going to be seen again: Sammo's agoraphobic landlady, with Reng's help, conquers her fear. Sort of puts her one-trick-pony character out to pasture.

Clothing: Since there's the implied passing of days, I didn't pay attention to the changes in clothing. Shame on me.:)

He must be REALLY bad: Most season one Martial Law bad guys kill one henchman. Today's kills a henchman and an arms dealer. (You think someone would notice all the screaming, gunfire, explosions....)

He only speaks Chinese: The bad guys fell for the "Reng only speaks Chinese" ploy. Despite that fact that Sammo's landlady already apologized to him in English for letting the bad guys in. Okay, it was a moment for the female guest star to bravely lie to her captors, but they were kind of stupid to fall for it. Dumb Germans.

Now why couldn't they leave this first one in? The bloopers tonight never get old. In the first, Arsenio is delivering a line, oblivious to Kelly Hu and Louis Mandylor fake-fighting on the far side of the two-way mirror behind him. They don't fight for long, because Kelly runs up to Louis and wraps her legs around his midsection. Louis then pushes Kelly up against the glass of the mirror (and starts moving her up and down in a rather suggestive way:), thus causing a loud "Thud!" which makes Arsenio and the actress he's speaking to jump out of their skin.

Then the other blooper is another keeper where Arsenio claims that "Master Reng is getting his freak on!" with the landlady (they're dancing) and Sammo fakes punching Arsenio. Judging by Arsenio's quick reaction to the punch (falling backwards), either he has a quick wit and phenomenal reaction time or the punch scared him enough that he fell backwards.:)

Random thought: See the line "... which makes Arsenio and the actress he's speaking to jump out of their skin."? Originally I wrote "... causing Arsenio and the actress he's speaking to to jump out of their skin."

The funny thing is you can say the second one and make it sound perfect, because the two "to"s don't sound quite the same. Looks lousy on paper, though.

June 29, 2001 AD (The Egolf Chronicles, V3.0)
Just a thought. While double-checking the spelling of "Phillips" for last night's Lack-of-Sleep Litany, I found the following on Northern Light.

Really sexy. Gretchen isn't looking bad either. (This image of Mr. and Mrs. Egolf Phillips courtesy of Here's hoping they don't find out I stole it.)

The marriage of Gretchen Egolf and Mason Phillips, both of New York, N.Y., took place at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 24, at the home of the bride's parents, Lancaster. The bride is the daughter of Paula and Gary Egolf. She graduated from The Juilliard School, New York City, and is self-employed as an actress.

Now comes the fun part. It's from the July 25, 1999 Sunday News (Lancaster, PA). It's a summary of a 92 word article. To get the whole thing, you need to fork over $2.95. Want to count that last paragraph and see how many words the summary is? My count is about 55.

92 - 55 = 37. $2.95 / 37 = about eight cents a word. (Kicks Northern Light around.) Oooh. At a similar price (but with at least a small chance of buying viable reading material) are two multipage articles. Being the sort of life form I am, I'm going to summarize the summaries.

People are a problem. Oh, sorry, wrong summary of a summary. (That was my horribly obscure tribute to the late Douglas Adams.)

As years go, 1999 was a big one for 26-year-old Gretchen Egolf. The Lancaster lass (who now lives in Santa Monica, Calif.) became a regular on a network television series, married Welsh actor Mason Phillips, and even had a (tiny) part in the new Matt Damon/Gwyneth Paltrow movie "The Talented Mr. Ripley."

"It's really nothing," insisted Egolf, who saw the film for the first time while visiting her parents, Gary and Paula Egolf, at their suburban Lancaster home Christmas Day.

* * *

"If you go to get popcorn, you'll miss me," Egolf said of her movie debut ("Student at Book Party", Quiz Show) back in 1994.

Okay, here's my take on these summaries of summaries.

A) She doesn't have an ego, or at least keeps it very well hidden. For damn good reason - if I ruled the world, someone who had an inflated ego over one season of TV and a total of six or so lines in two movies would be sent for re-education. (In my world, I'd be venerated as a god. A sad place, unless you're me. Be thankful I don't rule the world, 'cause I'd take my nickname "The Archon" as my real name and then start kicking some peon ass. I'd be doubleplusgood.)

B) I guessed her age right! I finally guessed someone's age right! Just based off some simple math, some possibly-inaccurate information about her Juilliard schooling and the assumption about how old she was when she graduated. And I got the right answer! Unless the author of this article did the same thing I did. Damn!

C) Yes, I watched Quiz Show just for that. Yes, I got it on videotape and have since MP3ized it. First person who says something cute about it gets hit with a very large hammer.

July 1, 2001 AD (The Egolf Chronicles, V3.2)
I watched The Talented Mr. Ripley tonight for the second time. No sound, unfortunately. First time I watched it was for - what else, what else, what else? - Gretchen's bit. Unfortunately, I didn't know precisely when it was, so I cut into the movie half an hour late - it conflicted with, of all things, Martial Law - and I figured that'd do. I mean, she had a name this time (Fran, as opposed to "Student at Book Party") so she must have had more to do, right?

Wrong. I watched a good slice of the damn movie and didn't catch more than a passing reference to her character. I downloaded a script later and found out something. She was in the first minute of the film. That's all.

So I watched it again tonight, with no sound. (Stubborn fellow that I am, I couldn't get it through valid means so I tried stealing it. Couldn't descramble the sound in time, though.) It sort of dulled the impact, especially since it was a singing bit....

But I noticed something. You want to talk about the whole Ripley impersonation thing? Never mind that, Gretchen was impersonating her Quiz Show character. No, really. I'm not smoking anything, just hear me out.

Both Quiz Show and The Talented Mr. Ripley took place in the late 1950s (despite being filmed half a decade apart). Both of the scenes in question were at some formal party thing. She had a similar hairstyle in both films, similarly-cut dresses, similar passing relevance to the plot.... (Okay, so she was at least a good deal more important in The Talented Mr. Ripley because if she wasn't there the whole thing wouldn't have happened.)

If anything, she was playing the same person both times. Get me a hammer, we'll see if we can make the scripts fit together even better.

But seriously, what the hell is it about her that makes people think "She'd be great at a party, circa 1958."?

July 2, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Requiem' - Season Finale, Part 1)
The kick heard in the other part of the store: Another Terrell kick moment, this being #4. With one episode to go before I stop counting, this isn't actually looking that bad. (It might hit six, which is about one every two or so episodes.) Between this and the comments about Grace dressing like an insurance salesman, Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin look like they've been caught in the Dust Hyperbole.

What do you mean, there's only two gaudy jackets in all of CBS wardrobe? Lee Hei's back, and so is his blue suit jacket (and matching pants). It's a nice blue, though maybe putting it onto clothes wasn't a great idea.

Go back to your Tae Bo videos, man! Billy Blanks, who my weak memory tells me is the Tae Bo video guy, is here playing the quintessential jerk who happens to be part of the DEA. Unlike the other jerks of the series, he doesn't redeem himself (Portman) or even prove he's not a 100% jerk (David Hasbro), though for a minute it looks like he might. For once, a career jerk - a disturbingly refreshing change - too bad G&R took this idea a leeeeetle too far and tried it on the regulars. (Cough, cough, Amy Dylan, cough!)

Mack the Knife: Not only the song I'm currently listening to, but also a reference to that snappy hair adornment/knife combo Lee Hei's daughter was carrying. I wouldn't mind one of those. Wouldn't mind the woman it was attached to, either - but only in the scenes where she looked really cute. She sort of ran hot and cold in just this one episode.

Terrell kicks ass. Film at 11. Not only in the literal sense (getting ready to usurp Louis Malone's place during the Great Upheaval, I see), but he also gets to bust out the Joe Friday Memorial "Drugs Cost Lives" speech machine.

You know, despite all the complaints about him, I thought Arsenio Hall did well here. Nothing really wrong with his Dragnettish speech, or his arguments with his money-laundering cousin, or his wiseass "compliment" of the DEA guy's shaved head ("You got a really nice head. I could never do that.")

Romancing the coroner! Remember how at the end of "Trifecta" the coroner dumped Grace and went out with Winship's secretary? Well, they eloped. (The coroner and the secretary, I mean, not Grace and Winship.) Not only did this kill off that occasional character, it left Winship in the lurch until Melanie George came along....

The woman is cursed. Especially since she's got one episode left before she meets cold oblivion. Melanie lost another job. How? If she hadn't been working at the bank, Sammo wouldn't have been there to see and short-circuit the robbery and wouldn't have been assigned to the case because it's normally out of his jurisdiction. If Melanie dumped Sammo, then I'd fire her!

But anyway, Winship temporarily hires her to replace his blissfully wed secretary. While this might have been a good move for Winship, it was a bad move for Carlton Cuse. The character of Melanie George likely wouldn't have held up to being in such constant close proximity to Sammo. Also, making her the secretary means you need to hope that the actress (Julia Campbell) doesn't get another gig, since the secretary role was never big and could have been filled by anyone on short notice. Making it an established character means she has to be written around if she's out doing something else. Granted, it might not be hard to write around since the secretary was never a big part, but I don't see why one should add complications when they're not needed.

Besides, this means that she's lost her job (or failed at getting a new one) more times than Lee Hei's escaped the fuzz, and that was becoming cliche!

Moment of the moment: What Lee Hei did to his blackmailing real estate agent/landlord (exactly which isn't really made plain). Made even better when he later claims that the rent on his beach house is "A real steal."

Evil by default: Lee Hei's evil, but his daughter (Lynn Pei Chin, or some other spelling, likely played by Elaine Lui) needed to prove to the audience she was evil. Since her aura's already partly established, she didn't need to kill anyone on camera, she just told her daddykins that the police-captured henchman (well, it was a drug buyer this time, but same idea) was bailed and killed.

Nice jacket: Grace (while getting her ass kicked by Lynn for the second time - her fault for saving the DEA jerk from getting to watch his own disembowelment at Lynn's hands) was wearing an absolutely wonderful leather jacket. I say wonderful, because it was almost identical to the one I often wear. (I love my jacket.)

July 3, 2001 AD (Episode: 'End Game' - Season Finale, Part 2)
Late Night with Sammo Law: TNN's running the next two episodes a bit late, thanks to their July 3rd and 4th marathons. I'm not complaining - I appreciate that they're running them at all! But I'd be here 'til three AM writing this if I wrote it the night of the show, like normal. So it's a mix of memory-assisted thoughts the night before and VCR-assisted thoughts the morning after.

The kiss of character death: Well, the aborted Melanie-Sammo kiss from "Captive Hearts" finally got completed, and that was the last anyone ever saw of Melanie.

Give a man enough rope, and he'll cliffhang himself. I hate cliffhangers. I've said it before, I'll say it again. Ending on a cliffhanger (Lee Hei and Sammo falling out of a helicopter) was IMHO like daring CBS to axe the show there and then.

How somber: When going on a military style attack run, Lee Hei dressed sensibly in all black. I didn't recognize him.

His other outfits are typical over-the-top numbers though. (That last one is a ghastly shade of orange-brown....)

Oh, and is it me or does Lee Hei's accent sound like it occasionally takes a trip out to New York City?

Ensemble-o-rama: These last couple of episodes really had the ensemble dynamic going. Terrell/Grace and Louis/Sammo scenes alternated with Terrell/Sammo and Louis/Grace scenes without feeling like it was forced.

I wanna go home, or to Petticoat Junction: Sammo burns a lot of bridges this episode, and the ones he doesn't burn get burnt for him. First he claims he's a failure and should go back home, then the deputy chief (played by Edward Albert - no, not the one in Green Acres, this is the son of the one in Green Acres) tells Winship they're investigating his unit, then Sammo gets pulled off the case and turns in his badge so he can save the recently-kidnapped Grace. Well, if he died from falling out of the 'copter, at least his affairs would have been in order.

He can't be dead, I just saw him in the flashback! Master Reng (or Ren or whatever) has his funeral in this episode. (Lee Hei ventilated him with a semi-automatic at the end of "Requiem".) The funeral was rather nice and respectful and didn't seem out of place at all. The sharp contrast between the dark-garbed mourners* and the orange-robed Buddhists was also nice.

(* Melanie, Terrell, and Sammo were the focus of the scene, and were dressed very dark - black, dark blue, etc. Winship was also dressed fairly somber but was in the background with the rather less somberly-dressed Grace and Louis - Grace's red suit jacket looked a bit out of place. Maybe if it were more burgundy....)

He's really on wires, you know: One fight scene was obviously tricked out with wires, but since it was a dream sequence, one begins to think that was the whole point.:)

Are you going to San Vicente.... For the first time that I remember, the name of the unit (well, division) Sammo belongs to has been shown. Above a large mural that's integral to the set is the sign "San Vicente Division". (The same text showed up on the side of a truck in "Requiem", but that wasn't conclusive). Funny how it was never mentioned in the dialogue and almost never seen, but in season two you won't be able to go an episode without hearing the phrase "Major Crimes Unit" or some abbreviation thereof.

So this is why she lost all those jobs.... As one scene starts Melanie gets off the phone with her mom, who wanted to phone Melanie's new boss (Winship) and tell him what good work Melanie was doing for him. Maybe one too many of those phone calls caused her excessive job loss.:)

Cloth-inuity: Okay, this episode was a bit silly with the clothing changes, though here it was plainly botched continuity - for instance, Terrell and Sammo each shuffled back and forth between three different outfits over the span of five scenes while a female bit character didn't change once - though Sammo was dressed the same (gray jacket, dark pants) in all the scenes she was in. From the looks of it, I could piece the shooting schedule together just off the clothing.

Nitpick: If Louis was following Sammo when Sammo was driving towards the place for the Final Confrontation with Lee Hei, why did Louis only get there two minutes after Sammo? And since he didn't know where it was, how could he get there without following Sammo's car?

You wouldn't happen to have a cousin named Amy Dylan, would you? Terrell is acting rather buddy-buddy with a young (white) lady who's skilled at cracking a PC. (Toni Davis, played by Jeri Gaile). Dunno if they wanted to keep the young woman on as a recurring character (considering how sweetly Terrell was acting, I don't know if he was just extracting a favor or trying to get more friendly...) but the equally computer-savvy Amy Dylan sank any possibility of that one. Though Arsenio Hall's half-joking comments about wanting to see Terrell Parker and Amy Dylan get something going in the bedroom (or damnear anywhere else, I don't think he'd be picky:) make me wonder if he was just transferring his character's emotions, or (more likely) Arsenio has a thing for skinny white girls.:)

Though I got to admit, he has very good taste....

What the hell's his name? Okay, I just postulated that Grace's use of a certain honorific when speaking to Reng meant, by extension, that Sammo's last name is "Lo" when spoken in Chinese. So why does every Chinese character - like the bar owner this episode - call him "Sammo Law"? Oh, yeah, the saccharine thing.

He's an overworked Cupid. This episode, part two of the season one finale, Sammo is getting overworked until Melanie (literally) drags him out to lunch. During lunch he says how happy he is to know her, and they kiss. After which Melanie vanishes from the Martial Law canon.

In "Final Conflict, Part One", part one of the season two finale, Sammo is again overworked. Amy Dylan (figuratively) drags him out to lunch. During lunch she says she's getting married to boyfriend Dennis and she wants Sammo to give her away at the ceremony (her father is dead, so he's not gonna mind). Dennis shows up at the lunch, and Dennis and Amy kiss - though one of Sammo's comments implies that he thinks they've been doing a good bit more than kissing behind closed doors.:) A few hours later Amy learns that Dennis has had a liaison with an old flame. Then the whole damn series ended.

Two disturbingly similar situations. I don't know if it means that Sammo is a Cupid when he's overworked or if he's the bane of all true love.

The kic- Terrell almost got his gun kicked out of his hand, but he held on to it. Counting it as a half-kick, and being nice enough to assume I missed one, that's five and a half, or once every 2.5 episodes. I'd like to stand by my Dust Hyperbole comment.

Louis got his gun kicked (well, knocked) out of his hand again, making my count for him three (though I wasn't paying much attention at first).

I have a deep respect for you, you moron! Sammo puts his own life in danger to save Lee Hei. Grace, duct tape over her mouth, still manages to scream a muffled "No!" Wait, was that her or the audience?

"Queer as the blazes" seems to be one of his strengths: Terrell is again at top form, likely for the last time. He goes undercover as a queer-as-the-blazes cell-phone salesman. The bit where he tries to wipe up a drink he spilled in Hector Florez's lap is priceless.

So much for top form: On the other hand, the fight scene where Hector was throwing frying pans at the no-longer-undercover Terrell wasn't quite top form. I mean, Terrell had a gun! Sort of took away from it a bit.

Moment of the moment: The nail salon scene where one of the young ladies working there tries hitting on Sammo by offering a free manicure. (Some head shrinkers think that sort of thing is a sign of strong attraction, since it's invoking an age-old grooming instinct. No word on how it is if the person grooms for a living, though.)

Gratuitous ratings moment: Since his wife died in "Diamond Fever", Lee Hei's spent a lot of time in hot tubs with buxom women....

Carrot Juice, Carrot Juice, Carrot Juice! Yes, Lee Hei's final outfit did look the color of carrot juice, but this is a reference to Colin Baker's last line before being ousted from Doctor Who, as noted on this page when Dana Dixon/Tammy Lauren got axed. Here's more last lines (not counting the blooper segment)....

Lee Hei: (As Sammo extends his hand to save Lee from falling.) "Help me, Sammo, help me! (...) I can't reach!"

Lee Hei, again: Okay, so he grunts and screams a bit after that last one. But the line "Ah! Ah! Yahh! AHHHH!" isn't exactly amazing.

Melanie George: (In reaction to a comment from Sammo, as he's professing how much he likes her.) "Oh...."

Melanie George, saying something that at least counts as a viable line: (After Sammo thanks her for buying him a snow-cone.) "You're welcome."

Melanie George, saying something that at least counts as a MEANINGFUL line because it makes a play on one of Sammo's comments on "American customs": (Just before that last one.) "No! Lunch is on me today. It's my treat, it's my custom."

Benjamin Winship: (After being shot while trying to save Grace from Lee Hei.) "They.... They got Grace!"

Louis Malone: (Watching the helicopter take off with Lee Hei, Grace, and Sammo inside.) "Sammo! Sammo!"

Hmmm. Does "Sammo!" mean "Carrot Juice!" in Chinese?

The end of the beginning's end. Beginning of the end's beginning? Uh.... The MIDDLE! And here is the middle point, the Great Upheaval. The passing of the reins from Cuse to Goldberg & Rabkin. The use of too many over-dramatic statements to make my point. Up next is "Sammo Blammo", the season two opener.

July 4, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Sammo Blammo' - Season Two Opener)
Full Circle: May 3, 2001 AD, I wrote the first rant on this page, and it was about this episode. We're coming to the end of the Martial Law rants, but I've still got enough vitriol left in me for a few more episodes.:)

I feel like taking all my clothes off, dancing to the Rite of Spring: They're lines from a Pet Shop Boys song ("I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing"), and they really don't have anything to do with my current feeling. But I didn't want to disappoint people expecting me to say something salacious in reference to this being Gretchen Egolf's first episode.

Her introduction was wonderful, since it was sort of implied that she was heading the terrorists who "neutralized" the guards and not the anti-terrorist unit that was trying to stop them. Too bad she spent most of the episode acting less likeable than the rather funny bit-part terrorists.

Shadows of season one: This episode was almost a perfect example of what Martial Law should have been. The best parts of season one without the annoying parts. Funny fight scenes - only two, but the plot could barely hold those - some really nice dialogue (from the male cast members, anyway), and a plot that was a wonderful homage to Speed. (Sammo gets a bomb strapped to him. It'll blow up if he stops moving for more than a few seconds.) The villain was suitably vile without being off-putting, unlike later season two villains. A lovely bit of escapism that season one's more formulaic approach would have had a hard time pulling off.

These aren't shadows, though. Season two credits, and how they related to season one....

Not counting the dozens of random shots in the fancy film reel kind of background (some of which are plainly season one, like the helicopter) there's a few season one shots in the credits.

First shot (Sammo): Don't know. Too generic.

Second shot (Sammo): Refinery from "Sammo Blammo". Season two.

Third (Sammo): Cactus fight from "Thieves Among Thieves". Season two.

Fourth (Sammo and Terrell): Dialogue from "Sammo Blammo". Season two.

Fifth (Sammo and Terrell): Maybe from "Thieves Among Thieves". Season two.

Sixth (Sammo and Terrell): Car blowing up from "Painted Faces". Season one.

Seventh (Terrell): Don't know, too generic. Might be season two, "This Shogun for Hire".

Eighth (Terrell): Maybe disco fight scene from "How Sammo Got His Groove Back". Season one.

Ninth (Terrell): Likely from loft scene in "Thieves Among Thieves". Season two.

10th (Terrell): Don't know, too generic.

(More of the reel-of-many-shots, mostly season two I think.)

11th (Grace): Just after final fight scene in "Thieves Among Thieves". Season two.

12th (Grace): Fight scene in "Sammo Blammo", though either at a different angle or from a bad take since it didn't appear the same in the actual scene. Season two.

13th (Grace): "Thieves Among Thieves". Season two.

14th (Grace): Same deal as 12. Season two.

15th (Grace): Grace in a bikini, from "Shanghai Express". Season one.

16th (Grace and Amy): If Amy's in it, it has to be season two. (With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good.) SWAT team scene, "Thieves Among Thieves". Season two.

17th (Amy): First screencap on this page. Likely something from one of the first three episodes. Season two.

18th (Amy): Amy shooting out the bad guy's tires, "Sammo Blammo". Season two.

19th (Amy): SWAT team scene, "Thieves Among Thieves", again from a different angle to what was shown in the actual episode. Season two.

20th (Sammo): Stunt scene (Sammo jumping from a first-story building), "Thieves Among Thieves". Season two.

21st (Sammo): Refinery fight, "Sammo Blammo". Season two.

22nd (Sammo and Amy, though you can't tell it's her unless you saw the episode.): Sammo disarming the assumed-terrorist Amy, refinery. Again at a different angle from the televised one. Season two.

23rd (Sammo and Terrell): Terrell hugs Sammo, who doesn't look too thrilled with it.:) "Thieves Among Thieves". Season two.

Obviously they only leaned on season one stuff if it had something exciting. Car blowing up, Kelly Hu in a bikini....

Nitpicks: So many, so many, so many.

A) How did Terrell know that the bomb would go off after three warning beeps when there's no indication he was told that? And how did Amy (in the same scene) know who the bad guy was? The script has a justification for it, but I don't see why those three needed lines of dialogue were cut. Was it really that imperative to sacrifice things so we could see five seconds more of Julie Brown crawling around and doing gymnastics?

B) Is there such a thing as a speaker cell phone? The one used here could broadcast sound pretty well. Admittedly, I know that's just so the whole cast could keep up on what the bad guy was saying without needing to re-hash old dialogue.

C) At the end of season one, Sammo and co. were already under investigation after a civilian (Sammo's master) got killed during one of their operations. Why were they now only "out of control" some indeterminate time after? Oh yeah, they broke continuity whenever convenient.

I wanna be like Sammo! Sammo Hung's got a small wisp of white hair right on his hairline. It's natural, and it looks it. Because of this fact, it's a nice highlight.

Gretchen Egolf's got a band of blonde hair (that melted back into the rest of her hair in the next few shows, then sprung back out in a later episode) that doesn't look natural. I can't say that fake polychromatic hair impresses me. (Some dark-haired people do grow random patches of blonde hair on their heads. That impresses me. I've been trying - by force of will - to make all the red highlights in my dark brown mane migrate to one spot.)

Guest star Julie Brown has a dyed blonde clump of hair on her hairline. Looks perfectly natural, at least insofar as it looks natural for a dark-skinned woman to have cooked spaghetti growing out of her skull.

I'm not a racist cop! It's just that more black SUVs commit crimes than white ones! In "Substitutes", bigwig drug dealer Chava Rocha had two black SUVs (Explorers) at his disposal. In this episode, art crook and bombmaker Daniel Darius (or whatever) spent most of his scenes in or around his black SUV (an Expedition).

666th street overpass: Is there actually a "Sixth Street Overpass" in LA? In "Breakout", the bad guy escaped by jumping onto a passing truck from something described as both the "6th Street Bridge" and the "6th Street Overpass". It was over a desolate road (not even yellow line markings on the pavement, clearly the "bad side of town") seemingly used only by trucks that pass by as a bad guy needs to escape.

This episode, the bad guy parks his SUV on the "6th Street Overpass" (at least, that's what Terrell calls it). Not only did the road (and the guardrails) look different, but the bad guy threw an all-important minidisc over the side, to be obliterated by the traffic below. And obliterated it was - the overpass was over a busy four-lane highway.

Evidently LA's been doing some improvements between seasons....

Couldn't we have got Tom Baker or Mark Hamil to play the priest? While the new MCU set was apparently built on an old Babylon 5 sound stage, I didn't know sound stages came with a free cast member for your first episode. (Jerry Doyle, B5's Michael Garibaldi, was in this episode of Martial Law.)

To boot, Armin Shimerman (I think), who played Quark in the equally numeric Star Trek: Deep Space 9 was also in this episode.

Grand Conjunctions, Great Upheavals: The lich Azalin briefly escapes into Prime Material Barovia, along with his archnemesis, vampire lord Strahd von Zarovich, and the arcanaloth/daemon Inajira. The entire Demiplane is torn asunder. Though it is returned to normal after the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind and the phylactery containing Azalin's soul are placed on the altar of the chapel inside Castle Ravenloft, the Demiplane suffers massive changes. Whole lands are swallowed by the Mists and the darklord power structure shifts slightly. (For instance, werewolf Nathan Timothy loses lordship of Arkandale, which is absorbed into Verbrek and comes under the rule of his son, Alfred.)

Sorry, that's the Great Upheaval of Ravenloft, not Martial Law.

What's to say that hasn't been said.... Not much. Check the next entry.

Change, my dear. And it seems not a moment too soon! (Colin Baker's first line on Doctor Who - not counting something he did earlier in the series in a bit part and not as the main character. It's in reply to the question, "What's happening?". It's also apt as hell.) Since I just gave the last words for the axed main characters, why not the first words referring to them and giving them the kiss-off?

Lee Hei: Sammo: "Are you seeking revenge for Lee Hei's death?"

Darius, or whatever Shimerman's bad-guy character was called: "Who the hell is Lee Hei?"

Melanie George: She didn't even get a kiss-off. God, what a screw. (Especially for any Melanie fans who might have been expecting her to show up....)

LIEUTENANT Benjamin Winship and Louis Malone: Amy Dylan, getting in her first ever bitchfest* with Grace: "Ever since Captain Winship retired and Louis transferred to the NYPD, your unit has been out of control!"

* I'm going to Hell for that one. But these first couple of episodes are painful to watch if you, like me, missed them and wound up seeing them after you saw the ones where Amy Dylan was off her high horse and Grace was off the rag.**

** I'm going to Hell for this one too. For those of you who don't know, "on the rag" is one of the many tasteful expressions used in reference to a woman's menstrual period. I don't often get this crass, but it fit so well with the high horse thing that I couldn't resist.***

*** Maybe I can redeem myself with this one. The difference between the catfighting Grace and Amy - and therefore, my perceived difference between acting like you have PMS (or even just a cyclic bad mood) and acting like a bitch - is that Amy was the willing instigator. Some of the stuff she said reeked of trying to start a conflict, whereas Grace was just really irritable. Once they both unsheathed their claws, the difference became academic.****

**** Redemption via education, and a slightly cleaner metaphor. This is like storing a sulfuric/nitric acid mix and cotton in the same place. Acid by itself can hurt you. Cotton's rather more harmless. Mix them and you get something worse - guncotton.*****

***** Going for a record here. So the story goes, C.F. Schönbein (discoverer of guncotton) spilled a sulfuric/nitric acid mix on his cotton apron, which he washed out and hung to dry. When it dried, it exploded. He probably knew he was on to something interesting.

More cussing ahead. While we're on the subject, I would like to point out that a man who wants his own way is often called a "go-getter" or "ambitious", while a woman who's the same is a "bitch". I don't use the word in that sense - I use it more as the female version of the profanity "bastard". The difference is that "go-getter" or "ambitious" doesn't carry connotations of a person's willingness to hurt others to get what they want, whereas the obscenities - to me at least - do.

Gratuitous Usenet Moment: Amy sayeth the following: "The computer files on the McQueen case were tagged. When we pulled the files up, it activated an electronic data chain which posted a public message to an internet newsgroup. The message read: 'The box is open.'" Doesn't make it obvious that the writers use Usenet.:)

But had Goldberg and Rabkin known what was going to happen to them on Usenet, they might have amended Amy's line to read. "... message read: 'The box is open.' It wound up starting a flamewar that's at 300 messages and growing. Most of the participants are pathetic little trolls wishing that I'd die an ugly death."

Terrell's too tall. And he can't sing. Terrell and Sammo have a marvellous duet where they sing "The Candyman". During the commercial break, there was a CD compilation ad for something with Sammy Davis Jr.'s much better (but less funny) rendition.

You know, if I washed my Terrell Parker voodoo doll in bleach and changed the hair, I'd have an Amy Dylan voodoo doll. How can you not love a person who delivers lines like these:

Amy (speaking to "risk junkie" Grace): "Ever since Captain Winship retired and Louis transferred to the NYPD, your unit has been out of control! A cop from China who operates as if he's still on their police force, a wild card who makes up the rules as he goes along, and an undercover risk junkie who gets in so deep she forgets what her job really is."

This is one of those lines for which half-italics needs to be invented. She stresses certain words, but not enough to warrant italics.

* * *

The scene listed at the top of this page. Though I admit the scene would have been much better if it could have been done as subtly as scripted.

* * *

Amy: "I stormed into the Deputy Chief's office. I told him someone had to make you accountable for your actions, to teach you to work within the force, not against it. (...) I was thinking a disciplinary panel might be a good idea. The deputy chief thought he had a better one. He chose (...) me."

(Some commentary from Terrell and Grace snipped out.)

Nice to know that the person who admits to trying to drag you up before a disciplinary panel is your new boss.

* * *

Sammo (In regards to his desk being changed.): "You're moving me?"

Amy: "I'd move the desk, too, but they're bolted to the floor."

This one's not so much for the words but the delivery. Some of these lines could have been neutral had they been delivered differently or didn't have the spectre of the first half of the show hanging over them. Starting a character off so confrontational is just going to taint everything else that follows until the writers decide to tone the character down.

* * *

Or, for a non-bitchy line where she was just made into the horse's arse:

Amy (on the phone with the bad guy): "Darius, this is Amy Dylan, head of the MCU. Look, I just want to let you know if anything happens to Sammo (click), there won't be a place on Earth you can hide from me."

If case you didn't guess, the "click" was when the bad guy hung up and she didn't notice. Way to undermine the audience's opinion of the character right off.

* * *

The Feng Shui comments. It's already established early in the episode that Sammo thinks it's a load of junk. (He tells Terrell, "You don't actually believe that stuff, do you?") Yet Amy redecorates the MCU according to it.

Okay, it was a point for Sammo to lie to Amy about his opinion of Feng Shui and thus try nudge Terrell into acting civil towards Amy.

However, it came off a bit differently for me. Since Sammo is the Chinese person and hero of the show, when he discounts something stereotypically Chinese it's completely discounted. When Terrell mentions Feng Shui, he's being ignorant but is quickly corrected by Sammo. A simple mistake that won't happen again.

When Amy redecorates the whole MCU, this is not a simple mistake. Everyone is either surprised or (in Terrell's case) disgusted that they're being moved. Granted, Amy means well and one could almost see it as a proffered olive branch*. Of course, letting her go about it ignorantly was the only safe option for the characters, but I'm not blaming the characters. I'm blaming the writers. (Goldberg and Rabkin.)

(*Indeed, had this been the only episode where Amy was acting rotten I'd have written it off as a byproduct of the events of the episode and this rants page wouldn't exist.)

In writing Amy up like that, they were painting her as well-meaning but ignorant in a painfully blatant way. You get the impression that she's a woman who can't make small mistakes.

(Light goes on.) Okay, I just thought of it. Something happened while typing that paragraph and I realized that all her character flaws shown in this episode can be worked down into three words. She doesn't think. She charges off into things half-cocked and winds up making a fool of herself because she couldn't be bothered to run her plan by someone who might know something she didn't, or to even run it through her own disused brain cells.

A) She chewed out Grace and her entire unit despite the fact that they got the job done. (Except for the unstable explosive Sammo and Terrell were carefully balancing.) While the end doesn't justify the means, the middle of a bomb threat is not the place to start ragging on someone, especially not someone who is of similar rank and not under your command. Her mouth got ahead of her.

B) By her own admission, "storming into the deputy chief's office". That's her boss - actually, she gives her rank as detective so he's a good number of levels up - and she's trying to push him into doing something!

C) Telling her new charges (Terrell and Grace) that she had tried to have them disciplined. You're going to tell a "wild card" and a "risk junkie" who plainly hate authority that you tried to grind them up in the gearwork of Internal Affairs?

D) The speech she delivered over the phone. She started running off at the mouth without realizing again that she's not in any place to deliver threats.

E) The scene detailed at the top of this page. Okay, there she was at least calmer, but her demeanor was still very standoffish. (In one part of the scene I don't detail, she tosses a folder into Grace's lap carelessly, despite the fact that it was easily within Grace's reach - they're sitting in a car!)

F) The whole Feng Shui thing.

G) This one's debatable. At the beginning, when Terrell and Sammo showed up during her anti-terrorist plans, she - despite being on the other side of the complex - tried to handle it herself instead of leaving the guy who had spotted them to do it. It comes down to whether one thinks the commander should be spending his/her time focusing on the big picture or if they should put themselves at risk before their men.

But back on topic.... It's okay for a good guy/gal to have flaws, but you do not bring them out in the last two minutes of his or her first episode! If the audience is left with that scene, that's the impression they'll have going into the next episode.

Amy's first impression in the episode was that she was the villain, but that was plainly a misconception. In first proper scene after the misconception is cleared up, she was catfighting with Grace - a pattern that kept up for the next 25 minutes of the show. You do not introduce a new character by putting them in direct (and such petty) contention with one of the established characters, because the new character is always going to lose no matter how right he/she is. If he/she is right, then they've become a villain by beating down the good guy. If he/she is wrong, they're a fool to boot.

She lightened up at the end of the episode, but at the same time lost credibility. So you're thinking she's either bitchy and confrontational, or just ignorant with a flair for impatience.

Like I mentioned, after leaving it percolate I've worked it down into one thing. Either she's not thinking because she's too busy forwarding her own career no matter what the expense (i.e. she's a real bitch) or she's not thinking because she's a damned moron (no explanation needed).

Problem is, how does someone like that get to be so powerful? In her line of work, not thinking things through gets people killed. That implies that the moron theory isn't accurate (i.e. she can think if she needs to) and leaves you back at this page's original assertion. She's a bitch.

Blowing up the budget: They blew up a building, or at least the front of one, or at least the model of the front of one. No wonder there was only two fight scenes.

But a groin strap would be too kinky: Why Sammo didn't just take the bomb-laden jacket with the wired zipper off over his head is beyond me. (Or, short out the wire holding the zipper shut.) But since I liked the plot, I'll leave it pass with no further comment.

July 5, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Thieves Among Thieves')
Zzzzz. I just learned something. I can watch something three times and not be bothered as long as I haven't ranted about it before (i.e. most of season one). I ranted about this one, and I had a hard time keeping focused this time around. The ranting burned the episode into my brain to the point where I can recall fine details. Except for one....

God, I'm a moron. But I'm still right. In my last "Thieves Among Thieves" rant, I complain about how the female characters changed clothes three times despite the fact that it only was a one-day timespan. Well, I was wrong. The bad guy at one point mentions the opening fight scene as happening "yesterday." Ergo, it must be a three-day affair as implied by the clothing changes.

But that change punches holes in the plot. If the bad guys were not very trusting of Sammo and Terrell (for good reason!), did they have an armed guard watching them both nights when everyone was sleeping? They obviously didn't want them where they couldn't see 'em. Did they just let them bunk down somewhere? Does that explain why their clothes are the same all the time? How do you explain how Terrell's got rattier while Sammo's stayed pressed? If they didn't have someone watching them, why didn't Sammo or Terrell try get word out then? When I thought it was a one-day affair, then the only chance Sammo and Terrell had to sneak away and get help was the one they took.

And what about Amy Dylan and her comment about "15 minutes in front of a computer"? Does she mean 15 minutes that morning? Surely she must, else she'd have had this conversation at some point the day before. She's obviously agitated and worried that Sammo and Terrell are undercover God-knows-where. So she just clocked off every night at 5:00 and then got back to it at 9:00 the next morning? So much for concern.

Seems like everyone just shut down at sunset and waited for the next day's escapades like so many animatronic Disney exhibits.

It worked a lot better when I thought it was only one day.

Squeak: One of the evil henchmen looked like a rat. All his facial features were crammed together like on a rodent. Perfect henchman look. Talk about playing on one's strengths no matter what they are.

What a hateful old cuss: Sammo calls Amy, tells her where the bad guys are. Dumb luck on the part of the crooks - they vacate before the fuzz arrives. So the SWAT team head tells Amy to consider the strings she pulled to be cut.

So when one member of the LAPD tells another about where some crooks are and then vanishes along with the crooks, the one who called for the SWAT team takes the heat...? What a hateful old cuss.

Let's have a toast: The running gag (well, said twice) about Sammo's toaster was funny. I like the way Sammo says "toast", it sounds cool.

Amy Dylan Vulnerability Watch 1.0: Chinks in the armor....

After getting humiliated by calling down the SWAT team thunder on an empty loft, Amy sort of falls apart. Okay, maybe she was kind of vulnerable from day one.

Catfight! If anything this episode's Grace-Amy relations started off worse than the last but improved exponentially before the day was done. But to do it they had to do a short Deep Meaningful Speech (from Grace, after Amy has that nasty falling apart thing). I'll cut them slack. They kept it short and showed a two-shot for half of it.

I was going to bold the sarcastic comments, but I realized that most of it would be bolded if I did that. Suffice to say that if it can be said sarcastically, it is - especially in the first half. (Oh, and these are about eighty percent of all Grace's and Amy's lines this episode.)

Amy: "We should move in now."

Grace: "What, and arrest three jewel thieves?"

Amy: "That's what we do, Grace. We arrest people who steal things."

(Grace makes the valid point that they could get the buyer if they left the thieves - and the undercover Sammo and Terrell - go.)

Amy: "I'm having a real problem with your attitude."

Grace: "That's what makes it so much fun."

(Amy then ignores Grace's advice and tries to stop the thieves before they get to the buyer.)

* * *

Amy: "Why would he (Sammo) beat up the people he's supposed to be undercover with?"

Grace: "It happens."

Amy: "Oh, okay. So every once in a while you beat up the people you're supposed to arrest and then run off with the evidence you need to arrest them."

Grace: "If you have to, yes. (...) Sammo and Terrell will contact us when they get a chance. Until then, just take it easy, okay?"

Amy (Under her breath as Grace leaves.): "I'm feeling more relaxed already."

* * *

Amy: "That wasn't their assignment!"

Grace: "It's better. They're going to find out how this gang knows where and when these crimes are happening."

Amy: "And how many laws are they going to break doing it?"

Grace: "Thirty-seven."

Amy: "That was a rhetorical question."

Grace: "That was a stupid question."

* * *

Amy: "We have to (...) pull Sammo and Terrell out before they ruin their careers. And ours."

* * *

Amy: "Amazing, isn't it? Fifteen minutes at a computer and we found a connection between the robberies. And we didn't have to steal, crash or shoot anything."

Grace: "We also didn't get any closer to Sammo and Terrell."

Amy: "But maybe we got closer to the guy they're working for. You know, the one besides the city of LA?"

Grace: "We should be out there doing something!"

Amy: "Yeah. You know, I think I saw a patrolman on the corner. Maybe we should beat him up on the way out."

(That's in reference to Sammo, while undercover, punching out some uniformed cops.)

* * *

Amy (after watching Grace run someone's tie through a paper shredder to get information out of him): "Interesting interrogation technique."

Grace: "I was inspired."

The rest of the scene. I'm not going to bother to type it, because it's slightly less bitchy.

* * *

(After Sammo gets word to them and they round up a SWAT team.)

Amy: "Okay, say it."

Grace: "Say what?"

Amy: "You were right, I was wrong. Sammo and Terrell came through and I should have known they would all along."

Grace: "Yep."

Amy: "And you're never going to let me live it down, are you?"

Grace: "Is that a rhetorical question?"

Amy: "No, that's a stupid question."

* * *

(After the botched raid.)

Grace: "They should have been here."

Amy (clearly on the verge of some minor emotional collapse): "Maybe their cover was blown."

Grace: "We would have found their bodies."

Amy: "Then what's going on?"

Grace: "I don't know!"

Amy: "All right, we'll... uh... we'll get forensics down here. Uh... get some prints. That should give us a lead.... Uh.... Get some records on this place, and uh.... See who the owner is."

Grace: "When I'm undercover, I just do what I want. And I figure everybody on the outside'll follow. You know, my job is hard, your job is easy, that's what I used to think. I'm not used to being on the outside waiting for something to happen. Not knowing and then still being responsible for it all."

Amy: "Welcome to my world."

Grace: "It sucks."

Amy: "Let's make it suck for someone else."

* * *

Insurance company head guy: "If you don't mind me asking, what's going on here, anyway? What's this all about?"

(Grace realizes that the head of the insurance company is the mastermind. She grabs him and throws him to the floor.)

Amy: "Grace, the usual response is 'Sorry, we can't discuss ongoing investigations.'"

* * *

(Bad guy tries to buy immunity with the location of the next crime. Amy ignores him.)

Amy (to Grace): "You're going to question my decision?"

Grace: "Nope, not this one. So, what do we do now, boss?"

* * *

Grace: "How much money are we talking about?"

Amy: "How much can you fit in a fifty-foot train car?"

(No reason to include this except to ask, how much paper money can you fit in a fifty-foot train car?)

* * *

Amy (after the big finale): "The chief has officially declared this operation a success. So, despite your questionable methods...."

Grace (under her breath): "... she had to add that in there..."

Amy: "... you two are the heroes of the department."

Terrell: "Did you expect anything less?"

Sammo (to Amy): "We don't deserve all the credit. You and Pei Pei did half the work."

Terrell: "Yeah, I'm surprised you two law enforcement divas worked so well together."

Grace (sounding - unintentionally, I hope - like a valley girl!): "Oh, excuse me? We are professionals here!"

Amy: "Our relationship is based on mutual admiration and respect! We were in total sync on this!"

Grace: "Every step of the way!"

Amy: "Even during those long hours digging through insurance files."

Grace (sounding disgusted): "Yeah... even then."

Amy (to Terrell): "I mean, if anyone has any trouble working together, it's you and Sammo."

(That line suddenly takes on a whole new dimension when you think about the following quote from Lee Goldberg: "What ultimately caused ML's demise had little to do with the initial conceptual changes we made (...), and a lot more to do with Sammo, Arsenio, and their relationship with each other....")

Terrell: "Us? We make a terrific team! I mean, we're so tight we actually read each other's thoughts, don't we?"

Sammo: "Just what I was about to say."

Terrell: "You tell 'em, buddy! That's the way partners should be, right?" (Hugs Sammo in that sort of quick slap-his-shoulder-and-shake-him-a-bit way some guys do.)

Sammo: (Something in Chinese that sounds like "What da pahts da!")

Amy (Puts arm around Grace. Good thing Amy's in a skirt and blouse and not that masculine loose suit jacket I ranted about, else the false sexual innuendo might be enough to cause some paranoid prude to write a letter complaining about the number of lesbians on the show.): "Right."

Terrell (Camera zooms out, might be ad-lib from here.): (Turns to Amy and Grace, points at Sammo.) "You know what he said?"

Amy: "Mmm-hmm!"

Terrell: "Sound like he said about my mother." (Sound begins to fade out.) "You said 'mother something'!"

Still a moron: I've got a WAV of that last scene, and a tape of the scene so I could get the physical cues. So I didn't need to get up and attach the audio cable from VCR to PC (all of ten seconds), I synced the WAV audio to the tape video. And I did it. Only took two minutes.

September 7, 2001 AD Lack-of-Sleep Litany Update: I don't want my children to be corrupted by such horrible beeping!

July 6, 2001 AD (Episode: 'This Shogun for Hire')
Another reason why I like having everything on tape twice: TNN's new black-bar-indicating-the-program is interesting, but it really screws over subtitles and credits. If I need a name I need to check my tape archive.

Credit where it's due: Okay, so far in the season - if you leave out the fact that I want to smack Amy Dylan around the second she opens her mouth (which is currently doing battle with my Gretchen Egolf obsession and leaving a lot of dead neurons in its wake) - I've really liked the episodes. Sammo's still the old Sammo (he hasn't devolved into a supercop yet) and Terrell, while not as funny, isn't annoying. Grace is just Grace, and I still want to smack Amy around but am currently working it into some sadomasochist thing.

Bring me the bloated polychromatic head of the uninteresting bit-part ninja! Don't ask what vile corner of my skull that seeped out of, but I needed a ninja joke. The ninjas in this episode were quite nice, at least insofar as cowardly gun-toting assassins can be nice. And yes, this is the ninja episode mentioned below.

How much more use am I going to get out of my Amy Dylan doll? Voodoo doll, VOODOO DOLL! You're a bunch of perverts! Here's a comment I ripped bleeding from Usenet. It's another of Goldberg's, and is from about the mid-point in season two. I've put it in italics and added my own commentary in non-italics. (It was originally one whole paragraph.)

We did make Amy too rigid and antagonistic at first

Tell me about it. This episode was better (the best season two one so far, both in general and for how Amy was acting), but it still had the continuing problem of Amy having her authority undermined by either herself, the others, or the writers. She was still somewhat too biting in her choice of words, as well.

with the intention of having her soften up as she got to know our people and got past her own insecurities. The "arc" was too subtle and didn't come across the way we'd hoped.

It was far too subtle, since it felt like the character was being dragged into position just to keep her from being axed like (as one story goes) the similarly antagonistic Dana. I'd like to point out that this "arc" likely includes the major vulnerability episodes, "My Man Sammo" and "Blue Flu". This episode wasn't really vulnerability so much as the first sign that her more aggravating aspects were going to die off and get replaced with something more befitting someone with a usable brain, and that was a welcome change no matter how jarring it had to be.

The personal stuff that seemed to come out of nowhere in the ninja episode was entirely our fault... the show was running long so we had to cut some stuff in editing and, as a result, her "opening up" to Sammo seemed arbitrary and irrelevant.

I admit that I didn't notice it the first time I saw it. (And now I'd love to see it as it was meant to be seen.) It wasn't so much arbitrary as it felt like it was written end-of-scene first. (I suppose that's the writer in me - when a scene looks wrong, I look at the writing first.) It did sort of tie into the plot by the time it ended, but Amy would have had a hard time seeing the end from the start without suddenly gaining precognizance*.

(*I just coined a word. Ooh. Recognitive means "involving recognition", precognitive means "involving precognition". Recognizance means "having recognition", so precognizance means "having precognition".)

Here's a quick rundown of the setup: Basically, Amy shot off her mouth again about Grace's performance (she made a good point - in "Trifecta" Winship was considered to be in the right for having similar concerns - but she was sort of blunt in the articulation) and Sammo felt it reflected badly on him as Grace's teacher. After a couple scenes of Sammo moping a bit, Amy walks up to him and starts talking about her father for no apparent reason. But by the end of the scene it makes some sense - by invoking the memory of her own father/daughter relationship, she can call attention to Sammo's surrogate-father/daughter relationship with Grace. While not really that relevant, it at least looks like she's trying to work up the guts to apologize for accidentally belittling Sammo.

If I had "My Man Sammo" to do over again, I would probably change her attitude towards Sammo and the assignment... reveal more of her insecurity to him earlier on, and gratefulness for him being there, rather than show her hiding her fears behind arrogance.

That episode is only showing around next Thursday, so I'm sure I'll rant about this comment there. But since I've started, I might as well let him finish his paragraph....

Personally, I thought she was fabulous in "Blue Flu" and how any newsgroupie can still find her unappealing or unpleasant after that (in which she explained her behavior in the previous episodes), is beyond me.

This is a bit of an odd comment. Reading some of the threads at this point, and leaving out the trolls or obvious flames, I feel that some of them were complaining more about the actress than the character. (Or, they complained about both.)

The character, Amy Dylan: Yeah, she was better in "Blue Flu". Of course, by this point she'd already been through the character-altering "My Man Sammo" and five other episodes (starting with "This Shogun for Hire") during which she had mellowed out from her original stance. "Blue Flu" was more of a justification for why she was like she was and why she wouldn't be like that anymore.

The actress, Gretchen Egolf: I want the woman to bear my child.* So Goldberg's obviously not talking about me.:)

(* Well, in all honesty I don't want her to bear my child. I'd love to make several unsuccessful attempts at getting her into that state, though....)

What we don't want her to ever be is an "eager to please rookie" -- we aren't doing the karate kid here

Thank God they didn't.

nor do we want every character on the show looking to Sammo for approval and wisdom.

A very noble idea. Which I can't make jive well with the fact that she became his martial arts student**. Admittedly, it's not really approval and wisdom for everything, but it's still something. I also won't get into the debate about any similarities between respect and approval.

**Sammo's taught all three other season two regulars. Grace was his student for years (and that aspect was played up a bit more in season two), Amy became his student at the end of "My Man Sammo" (though her first lesson wasn't until the start of the next episode, "The Friendly Skies"). With Terrell it's an on-again off-again thing (as in, whenever it was convenient for the writers, like in "Captive Hearts") and not a proper teacher-student thing. While that was more of a season one device than a season two device (since by season two Terrell was a proper streetfighter type), I really don't think one should be allowed to claim broken continuity on this one since it's too easy to pay season one's canon lip service when it suits you and ignore it when it bolsters the opposition's argument.

She is typical of lots of major corporations these days (particularly network television)

So this is why I hated the character so much at first! She was a parody of network TV execs!

where young people are vaulted to positions of power far too early. She admits that herself in "Blue Flu," and explains most of the time she's acting out of fear that she doesn't know what she's doing.

And she plainly didn't know what she was doing in the early Season Two episodes, even though she occasionally hit on the right answers. However, I'd like to take issue with the next line:

She didn't get the job out of experience... but from political skills.

Of which I thought she was utterly destitute for the first few episodes. Like I said, if she wasn't so adversarial in the second episode, I would have thought her behavior in the first was just a bad mood that day. But it continued into the next two episodes and became an established trait, which justified her "storming into the deputy chief's office" - a political disaster - as being something she'd normally do.

She showed some good sense, both political and common sense, in "24 Hours" (next episode as I write this) but before that she really got played as a fool.

Oh, and because I've broken Goldberg's sentences up so badly, I need to explain the next pronoun. The first "it" he mentions in the next sentence is a reference to her current power and position.

And now that she has it, she's terrified she'll screw up. Grace tells her that she's earned their respect and can be honest with them. And, from that episode on, the relationship between Grace and Amy is noticeably different. They go from being adversaries to best friends.

And may I thank all I hold sacred that they did!

I'm poking Amy.... The voodoo doll, THE VOODOO DOLL! So what did I hate about Amy today? Let's see. This time around it's my commentary that's in (parenthetical italics). Unless I forget the italics, of course.

Terrell: "So, what's the world's premier assassin doing hanging out with LA's second biggest dealer?"

Sammo: "Grace will find out."

Amy: "I don't think so. I'm pulling her out as soon as she reports in."

Terrell: "You're doing what?"

Sammo: "Is her work not satisfactory?"

Terrell: (Laughs.) "Let me see. We put her in as a low-level soldier, and on her own she rises to head of security for the entire Ganza organization. I call that satisfactory."

Amy: "Yeah, well I call it hotdogging! I mean, she's in too deep for us to protect her, or offer her backup. It's too dangerous."

(Did she really need to call it hotdogging? It sounds like an insult. Or at least a dysphemism.)

Later in the scene Terrell screws with Amy's head in order to get his own way. In the wake of it, she plainly knows she's been railroaded by Terrell.

* * *

Amy (over radio to Terrell, who's been sent to get Grace back): "We don't have time for this. Grab Grace and get her the hell out of there!"

Grace: "I just need a little time!"

Terrell: "We know about Nakamura. We know about the Bolivian deal."

Grace: "But did you know that the target is a public official? I hope to get the name by tonight!"

Sammo: "This is very good work."

Amy: "Not good enough. Bring her in."

(Did she really need to say "Not good enough." when she knew Sammo was already depressed with things? Okay, he couldn't hear her because he didn't have a radio headset, but she's not exactly being delicate in her word choice!)

Terrell: "I'm sorry, I can't hear you Amy, say it again." (Fakes static by running his saliva between his teeth, then turns to Grace.) "Amy said twenty-four more hours for you."

(Between the railroading in the last scene and ignoring a direct command here, it's making Amy out as a complete figurehead. First two episodes she made a fool out of herself, now Terrell is doing it for her!)

Amy: "I say what? Let me talk to Sammo!"

Terrell: "Amy, we're breaking up, I'm sorry!" (Kills radio link.)

(Terrell and Winship had a similar debate about Terrell's dead pal in "Trifecta". Winship pulled the guy out, but he went back on his own and got killed. Here it's the same setup, yet with a different mood and a different idea of who's right. What if, after those "twenty-four more hours", Grace's corpse was dug up with a bullet through her heart? The only thing that saved her was that she wasn't a bit character.)

I'll stop poking now. More quotation fun, first is a Closeup-Intensive Deep Meaningful Speech. (Sadly. Sammo's reaction at some point before his line would have been appreciated.)

Amy: "My dad was furious when I wanted to be a cop. Said it would make me a 'tool of the entrenched power structure.' Might as well shave my head and tattoo a swastika on my arm. We didn't speak for years. It's funny, 'cause I think we both always realized that the real reason for his anger was he was terrified I'd get hurt."

Sammo: "It's hard to be a daughter."

Amy: "It's not much easier being a father."

(Terrell appears bearing gifts of plot buildup, and leaves.)

Sammo: "You should call your father."

Amy: "Guess you weren't reading the papers last year. Atticus Dylan, noted civil rights attorney, dead at 63."

(Never mind that the lawyer in "To Kill a Mockingbird" was named Atticus Finch.:)

(Say something cute about a 26-year-old having a father who would be 64 now. I dare you. There's a bigger difference between me and my parents, so feel free to say something cheap. I don't mind the sight of your blood.)

* * *

And a bit after the Big Finale where she admits that they wouldn't have saved the day if Grace hadn't been on the inside. It undermines her authority even further, but at least she can admit that she was wrong. (Even though she had every damn reason to do what she did!)

The pause that refreshes. Or, just one more poke: Here's the original version of that Deep Meaningful Quote above:

Amy: "My dad was furious when I wanted to be a cop. (2.5 second pause) Said it would make me a 'tool of the entrenched power structure.' (1.5 second pause) Might as well shave my head and tattoo a swastika on my arm. (2 second pause) We didn't speak for years. (3.5 second pause) It's funny, 'cause (1 second pause) I think we both always realized that the real reason (0.5 second pause) for his anger (2.5 second pause) was he was terrified I'd get hurt."

(2.5 second pause)

Sammo: "It's hard to be a daughter."

(3 second pause)

Amy: "It's not much easier being a father."

(Plot buildup, followed by something like a 4 second pause.)

Sammo: "You should call your father."

(2.5 second pause)

Amy: "Guess you weren't reading the papers last year. (1.5 second pause) Atticus Dylan, (1 second pause) noted civil rights attorney, (1.5 second pause, filled with a sigh) dead at 63."

(More pause.)

I need to start checking these Deep Meaningful Speeches for excessive pause length mid-sentence. (I'm not saying it had to be blurted out in one long run-on line, but maybe it could have been pulled up a bit at the start...?)

You know, I'm glad they cut out the character building. This is better. I absolutely loved the bloopers tonight. I just wish I knew what it was on that computer monitor (its back was to the camera) that caused Arsenio and Sammo to run off-camera laughing while Gretchen was laughing so hard she was on the verge of tears!

I actually got up the guts and temporary lack of sanity to ask Lee Goldberg if he could remember precisely what was on that monitor, or at least what sort of hardware it would be wired to. His reply, which was more than I expected, went like this: I don't remember what the footage on the monitor was, just that it was fairly silly and maybe slightly obscene.

Well, the "footage" bit implies that the monitor was hooked to either a VCR or something else that played video (as opposed to someone rigging it to a camera or a PC or nothing at all - even if "nothing at all" was plainly not an option judging by their reaction). The "slightly obscene" bit explains the reaction from Kelly Hu right before the end of the shot.:)

Are you still going to San Vicente? The MCU is still in the same building, that's a given. In this episode we again see the "San Vicente Division" sign and the season one mural in the background. Given the location, that implies that the MCU was built right where the season one offices were! It's the same damn office!

I'm a bad lawyer. The other kind of bad. The evil ninja's lawyer will show up again later in the season. If you see him, you know you're dealing with a villain. (Since the villain's already established, not like it ruins the plot.)

I'm a bad assassin. Not the other kind of bad. The evil assassin (Nakamura or some other spelling) is just a conman with a bit of luck (mostly with the rumor mill). He's a great character, especially how his attempted seductions of Grace just get more inept once she knows he's a fake.:)

He's dead. Shoot him again. Amy shoots her gun during the final fight scene. A ninja screams and falls. 56 seconds later, Terrell shoots his gun. It shows the same ninja falling the same way, from a different camera angle.

July 9, 2001 AD (Episode: '24 Hours')
Muddy Rorgan: Ruddy Morgan, whose logo appears at the end of every Martial Law also did some movie that was on TNT just following Martial Law's close on TNN. Who and what are they?

Vroom vroom boom: Sammo's formerly blown-up Cadillac dies a second, more ignominious death. First it's revealed to be on its last legs*, then it accidentally goes into gear and off a dock. The replacement is a former police car that's older than Sammo's late Caddy.:)

* Which is a bit of a stretch seeing how it wasn't that bad even in "Sammo Blammo" - while we didn't see it running, it plainly didn't backfire like it did in this episode, else the people Sammo and Terrell snuck up on might have noticed. Granted, that was months ago by Martial Law's timeline, but I still don't see how it could have collapsed quite so fast if not helped along by the scriptwriters.

Commander of Administrative Tactical Operation Services for the Los Angeles Police Department (GASP, GASP!) Hard to say in one go, and it doesn't even have a good acronym (unless one thinks CATOS or CATOSLAPD is a good acronym). But Amy almost got promoted to that, except she put the lives her charges and a kidnapped child above her upward mobility and stood up the LAPD chief at a dinner date. So much for the dinner date being mere formality. Of course, the LAPD was never one to promote people who put civilian safety before their own comfort, so she didn't get the job.

Father knows best 2.0: Political senseless. One LAPD brass type (and her late father's friend) basically tells Amy that she lost the promotion because of her dedication. The chief admired it but was still offended that she figured lives were more important than he was.

Apparently the lack of political sense she showed in doing that was something she always gave her father hell for. Again, father knew best.:)

Though I still think she showed dreadful lack of tact and brain cells in almost every episode before this, with this being the first time she showed both political sense and the good sense to ignore her political sense. This was the first episode where Amy was plainly altruistic and not bitchy, sarcastic, or out to use everyone in the known the universe as a stepping stone.

Does this mean I can put the voodoo doll away? Great episode. Now that Amy's lightened up, there's nothing really wrong. Best episode so far of season two, and it beats a slice of season one as well. Of course, it beats almost the whole second half of season two.

The Shadow Knows! Terrell was in one scene decked out in a dark suit, dark shirt, and dark tie. He looked more like a shadow that got loose of its owner than a proper person.

Here's a thought - the fad of wearing same-color ties and shirts, or (eeew!) same-color ties, shirts, jackets, and pants is really lame. Virtually no one looks good in a one-color outfit. That's why sensible people who wear jumpsuits often leave the top undone a bit so we can see the shirt underneath it.

We're evil, he's just naughty: Jewel (and everything else) thief Alastair Temple (played by a fellow with the appellation of Joe Bologna) was sprung from jail and convinced to perform a nigh-impossible heist - else his kidnapped granddaughter would meet a very ugly fate - by some guys who were only around for the break-out and the final fight scene. I'll tell you, these were the most amazing bad guys in that I think, out of all ten of them, only one had lines. And he was onscreen for about a minute. This was the first episode that had no real bad guy character, and it worked great.

His body is a Temple: Alastair Temple was a great character. Funny but not buffoonish, and the "old man" image he cultivated for the beginning scenes quickly evaporated when he whipped out some high-tech thieving tools. Had a lot of the real good lines, too.:)

Too lazy to quote tonight: Some great dialogue. And Amy didn't do anything I particularly hated. At least, nothing worth mentioning.:)

Still too lazy to quote tonight: Okay, there was a few precious points where she was a bit heavy on the sarcasm, but considering she was up for a promotion and under pressure, it was for once entirely justified.

Not that lazy: Some LAPD bigwig: "This isn't just about you, Amy. What you do reflects on me. If you offended the chief, so have I."

Amy: "But if I disappoint myself, I have to live with that alone."

So many people forget that these days.

Gratuitous ratings moment: Grace in the fancy tight outfit during the US Mint heist. Didn't serve a purpose, except a light joke or two from Temple.

Fundamental Forces of Rateure: While Grace was in the tight outfit, something meant to work up the suspense punched a hole in the logic. How did one magnetic (maybe suction-based, but it looked magnetic to me) thing Grace was using to walk along the ceiling hold after the other one gave? If two couldn't hold her weight well, surely when there was one left it would have given even faster.

Another thing.... Grace could remove them with one strong tug, implying that she can - one-handed! - exert more force than her own weight even when in an awkward position. By my math, that means she could lift me two-handed if she needed to. Strong girl.

Guns? They're not supposed to have guns! Terrell hasn't opened a can of streetfighter whoop-ass of late, mostly using his gun in harrowing situations. Who'da thunk it, a cop who uses his gun.:)

And I don't have a problem with the fewer fights in each episode, as long as the ones still there are good. (Today's weren't bad, still a bit funny.) At least it's not like season one's writer's-crutch "Plot grinds to a halt while Sammo rushes off to get in a fix so we can have a fight scene."

Deep Meaningful Moment: Sammo mentions that he knows what it's like to lose a son. This wasn't elaborated on until later in the season.

If I can't get any further in the LAPD, I'll move to New Mexico and become a congresswoman: In the last scene of this episode, Gretchen Egolf was looking faintly reminiscent of her Vanessa Whitaker character (in general look, not mannerism or planet of origin:). Had she worn a skirt instead of slacks and had a string of pearls on.... Oh, and of course, her hair would have to be a lot different. See below if so inclined.

December 3, 2001 AD Lack-of-Sleep Litany Update: Legs... legs... legs... legs....

July 10, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Ninety Million Reasons to Die')
The Sammo cannot hold.... Neither could the center. After getting off to a shaky start, season two reached a high point of excellence last episode, and now it's all downhill, at least for this episode.

My Cadillac comes with factory air and self-resurrection: Sammo's car was only in one scene. One scene. It didn't even really need to be there, since it was only in the start of the scene. It was a convertible. It was blue. It was the Cadillac that fell off a dock in the last episode! Can't believe I didn't notice it before, but this is the second amazing comeback for that rig. Even worse, this time it wasn't explained how it got revived. Nor was the fate of the old police car Sammo bought last episode to replace the Caddy.

This car must have been used in one of the Highlander programs, given its habit of coming back after being obliterated. Gimme a sword, I'll see if removing the carburetor with that does anything....

Remember the Evil Posse from last episode? We're their brothers! A new bunch of nameless evil business-suited henchmen. Okay, some of them had lines, but the fact that they kidnapped Sammo this episode just like they kidnapped Temple last episode isn't doing anything for differentiating them.

Hi, I'm S.U.V. Black's brother, Van Black. Of course, you can't cram an Evil Posse into a black SUV, so you get... a black van. (Okay, it's dark green in the sun. But I couldn't let that joke pass.)

I also can't let the following comment pass: The van (Minivan? Haven't got a decent look at it.) Amy drives - possibly only on police business, since I can't see a single woman like her driving something so bulky unless she had to - is white. Why not just give 'em cowboy hats and get it over with?

And I'm Mr. Underwhelmed: Some of the acting from the bit people was kind of bad. I mean, was the woman who was being chased by the bad guys (Allison something, I don't know the actress' name and maybe I shouldn't publish it anyway) supposed to stress sentences instead of words? She started off horrid, then started saying her lines properly around the middle, then fluctuated back and forth in the final scene. (In general, her funny lines were delivered okay and her dramatic ones weren't. Maybe someone could inform her that there's little difference in the delivery of a dramatic line and a comedic one?)

Sadly, the dialogue was generally unimpressive, even when delivered halfway right. Like when a henchman is told to get rid of Sammo. He grabs a gun and says "I'll need this!"

I felt like talking back: "Actually, I was hoping you'd MacGyver up a weapon out of some tree bark and mud."

First the MCU, now my own house! The San Vicente Division got a facelift between seasons. So did Sammo's apartment. It's no longer on the beach and it's become a split-level. Methinks he moved more than his unit did.

Ewwwww.... Stephen Garth was the first season two villain that really freaked me out. I mean really. To retrieve someone else's 90 million dollars, he:

A) Tries to torture Sammo by what looks to be slow evisceration;

B) Has some innocent schmuck punched out and dumps them out of a car when they turn out to be the wrong person;

Ca) Had a woman's house decked out with so many cameras and bugs it wasn't funny;

Cb) Knew presumably the price and location of purchase of every damn thing in the house.... I mean, this guy takes his female obsessions to a level which I never intend to attain, and he's just doing it for money.

Nitpicks: Why did bad-guy Garth want to know when Sammo was getting the rest of the stolen money when it was later established that Garth had already taken it himself? Okay, maybe this one could be written off to playing head games or something....

And how much cash did he burn to get that 90 mil back? Given that Martial Law had a multimillion dollar budget and they could barely afford to fake all the high-tech gizmos Garth had at his disposal.... (For instance, we never saw the shortwave transmitter truck Terrell said Garth probably had, did we?)

Speaking of which, the baddies bug the MCU and Allison's house to the rafters. They use the bugs to learn where Sammo's off to (since he's figured out where Allison is). When the baddies find her, they see her car and say "That's her car." They crammed her house with half the contents of a "Sharper Image" store and they didn't even put one tracer on her CAR?

I'll let this one go because it's a safety issue: Garth throws a woman out of a stationary van. She lands about two feet from the rear tires. Cut to a longshot of the van pulling out and she's gone. Okay, I see why they did this one. No extra is getting within two feet of the wheels of a car for what CBS is paying her.

That's a damn big nit.... Bigger nitpick time.

After finding the bugs (electronic bugs, not nits), Sammo and co. deliberately feed Garth the wrong information about where Allison is being hidden, so he sends some of his Evil Posse to kill her and they instead wind up in an ambush. (The line given to show Allison's exact location goes like this: "Take a shower. Get yourself cleaned up. You'll stay here tonight.") The Evil Posse disguise themselves as cops and try finding where she is in the MCU. They go into the MCU's locker room, which implies that not much time has elapsed and she'd still be in the shower. Okay, that's fine. (That's also where the ambush is.)

Meanwhile, Terrell, Amy, and Allison head into Garth's unwatched HQ and screw with his bank account to get the titular ninety million dollars back. Fine so far.

Here's the important thing, listen up. Both dialogue and setting in the pre-ambush scene make it obvious it's night. (The word "tonight" is used and there's a pronounced lack of sun in the outdoor shots - even the stock shots are night shots.) Okay so far.

The ambush takes place maybe 20 minutes later, since Allison is assumed to still be in the shower. Okay so far.

At the same time, Terrell and the effeminate A's* are inside the baddie HQ. When they're found out, the alarm is sounded and they make a break for it. They get caught in the parking lot.

(* Amy, Allison. Effeminate A's. Get it? Okay, so it's not that good a joke, or the proper use of the word "effeminate". Sue me.)

The parking lot is bathed in sunlight, and from the angle it's midmorning (or midafternoon) sunlight.

Therefore, between the time that they left Garth's office - which had to be at night - and the time they arrived in the parking lot, the sun had time to rise and position itself at what is, at the most charitable, 8:00 AM angle. So they were running around the building for at least four hours. Maybe ten.

I'd like to see the continuity person's head on a platter, please. Thank you.

Dylan Devolution Number One: In an effort to continue my alliterative entries on characters acting more like their opening episode personas than their current ones (see also my "Terrell Throwback" series above), I now present Dylan Devolution Numero Uno.

The character flaw I'm pointing out today is my three-word mantra: "She doesn't think." After sprouting a forebrain in "24 Hours", I was hoping Amy would stop doing rather moronic things. No such luck.

In "Sammo Blammo", she was (over the phone) threatening bombmaker Daniel Darius while standing next to the bomb he created. She was in no position (literally!) to make threats, yet she did. "Darius, this is Amy Dylan, head of the MCU. Look, I just want to let you know if anything happens to Sammo, there won't be a place on Earth you can hide from me." In response, Terrell makes a sarcastic comment about how scared Darius must be.

In this episode, she was threatening gun-toting Steven Garth. "In ten minutes you'll be a wanted man on every square inch of this planet!" Come on, paint a bullseye on your forehead and make it really obvious you'd be better to him dead! Terrell makes a sarcastic comment asking if Amy threatens gun-toting killers often. She replies, "It's the first time I've had the opportunity."

Steven Garth, commonly called Garth. Daniel Darius, commonly called Darius. Both times Amy delivered a threat with a metaphor involving the planet Earth. Both times Terrell said something about how moronic it was to do what she just did. Damn it, this wasn't a throwback, it was the same bloody scene!

Dylan Devolution Number Two: After breaking into Garth's office, Amy complains about having to break the law. Just like she did in "24 Hours" when she helped break into the US Mint, except this time she wasn't so much worried that it was illegal as she was worried about compromising her job security. Such bitching is unbecoming of her newer, more mellow persona. Especially since getting caught by Garth would be more likely a trip to the coroner than a trip to the unemployment line.

(As I proofread this I will be idly throttling my voodoo doll.)

What's that? Oh, comedy! I didn't recognize it. One funny scene when Sammo tries rescuing a woman and winds up rescuing a dog.:) The scene where Sammo shut Terrell up (Sammo found a bug and Terrell was talking a bit too freely) by throwing coffee on him was wonderful as well. Beyond that, there was only a few witty comments to liven up the mood. After all, with Garth as cuddly as a stalker, we don't need too much comedy. Might make people think one is actually doing a light, escapist show. (Yes, I'm being uncharitable.)

I'm hearing voices! AHH! Was it just me, or did the law firm secretary's voice sound dubbed in? She never spoke when her face was to the camera and didn't look quite right when she was facing away from the camera.

"Run Lola Run, huh? (...) I loved this movie. Story of my life." That's a quote from Vanessa Whitaker (Gretchen Egolf), Roswell.

Run Amy Run, huh? Story of my acting career. What it should have been. In "Sammo Blammo" and again here, Gretchen spent some time running for the edification of the camera. She was wearing the same style white t-shirt both times. I'm not going to paint the picture any further, except to say that she never runs anywhere when she's in a blouse, like the snappy vest and blouse she had on in the final scene.

TNN's still breaking in a new guy! Last episode, they lost a second or so of the show at every commercial break. This episode, someone ran the "Miami Vice coming up next!" voiceover during the blooper segment. Two copies of everything....

I'm out of clean shirts. Could I borrow your blouse? I'll tell you, between the white t-shirts, the occasional sweater, and the mostly-primary-color blouses that are cut disturbingly like a man's shirt, Amy's looking like she raided my closet for her wardrobe (save the skirts, slacks and heels, of course:) and just changed the buttons around. Let's see how long before someone in wardrobe catches on to the fact that "Amy" is a woman's name.

(I have nothing against suit jackets and blouses and slacks. It's just that there's so many more ways to tailor a woman's clothing than a man's that I think that relying on maleish defaults all the time is not a good idea.)

July 11, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 2.0)
It's morning and I just woke up. It's still a Lack-of-Sleep Litany, because I could really use another hour in oblivion.

I had a dream last night, in which I was eating in a restaurant. Suddenly Sammo Law (and it was the character, not the actor Sammo Hung) walks up to me and says that he can tell, from the way I'm eating, that I don't enjoy food. (I don't. If I could avoid eating, I would. I can't even fake looking like I enjoy eating, I hate it so much. I'm the bane of all cooks.)

Okay, let's see if I can train my subconscious to dredge up something where Amy Dylan arrests me and handcuffs me to something bulky, like a four-poster bed. And interrogates me. For several hours. Yeah.

July 11, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 2.1)
There was absolutely nothing sexual about that last entry. People in Martial Law are always getting handcuffed to bulky things or interrogated for hours. If you saw anything twisted in that, its your own filthy little mind.

July 11, 2001 AD (Episode: 'My Man Sammo')
And again.... Another one that I ranted about before. I managed to keep awake all through this one, don't know why - could that I had someone playing Greek chorus (or is that MST3K theater row?) to my Gretchen Egolf obsession by commenting every time she was onscreen.:) Could be that I thought the episode was generally better, too. And not just because of the cleavage in one scene.:) How my Chorus kept from commenting on that scene, I'll never know.

Does name determine facial structure? This will make sense when you read the next item. The actress playing arms dealer Josephine Collette was named Kristen Eykel.

Ye gods, there's TWO of them? Well, one and a third.... How they even managed to find a woman who looked faintly like Gretchen Egolf to play the arms dealer Amy Dylan replaced was beyond me. Though I think makeup had a hand in that, since it looked like someone deliberately picked the lipstick color and applied it in an effort to widen Eykel's mouth a bit and to shrink Egolf's. Couldn't do anything about Egolf's differently-cut face and jawline, though. (I have fallen for a nonaerodynamic woman. Oh, the horror.)

They had similar noses, though. I was happy about that.

The tale of two dialogues: Some moments were absolutely wonderful (Terrell had some great lines this episode). Some weren't (Amy, Amy, Amy, you stupid bitch).

Get me the voodoo doll: Amy's line about "winging it" was okay - only because of the wisecrack from Terrell that followed - and some of her attitude copping had to do with the overall plot, but she was still a complete moron when she said....

Amy (After Sammo charges onto the scene and saves Amy from getting her pretty little white jacket covered with her not-so-pretty red blood by someone intent on killing her.): "What the hell are you doing here?"

(Saving your miserable ungrateful ass, maybe? I know that she didn't want help because she was trying to prove herself, but she had just had a gun pointed at her. She was reprimanding the person who saved... her... life!)

* * *

(Sammo - undercover as a butler - beats up the bad guys from the last quoting bit again after they get loose.)

Evil arms buyer: "You have a marvellous butler."

Amy (undercover as evil arms dealer): "There's room for improvement."

* * *

Amy: "Nuclear warheads?"

This line is memorable because she said it without moving her lips. You couldn't see her face for part of it (back to the camera, turning towards it slowly), but she at least got the last syllable out without any discernible vocal effort.

* * *

Her final scene was a bit more redemptive, but before that we had to traipse through...

Amy Dylan Vulnerability Watch 2.0: ...the obligatory Deep Meaningful Speech. It was (in part) a two-shot! A two-shot! Thank God, a two-shot! Though my cynical side wonders if it wasn't a vain attempt to widen the shot enough to get Gretchen's obvious lack of a brassiere into the frame (unless they're making 'em with invisible or bizarrely-placed center straps now).

Oh, and there's almost no excessive pauses! Wooooo!:) The pauses that were there were mostly spent doing things - Amy stopped talking and walked from one place to another, etc. They were both doing something other than just standing around and waiting for the other person to finish, and it was appreciated.

Amy: "Sammo?"

Sammo: "Yes, ma'am?"

Amy: "Please stop calling me 'ma'am'."

Sammo: "I'm your butler."

Amy: "Not now you're not."

Sammo: "While we're undercover, I am."

Amy: "That's what I wanted to talk to you about. Um... are you aware of how you're making me look?"

Sammo: "You look very beautiful." (And he manages to keep his eyes locked on her face as he says it. He deserves an Oscar for that one, 'cause her hair isn't doing her face any favors. Her own cleavage upstaged her even more than cleavage normally does.)

Amy (caught off-guard by the compliment): "Thank you, but uh, that's not what I meant. I'm about to walk into a very delicate and dangerous undercover situation. If I fail some terrorist is going to have nuclear weapons. Having you here... undermines my authority, it makes it look as if I'm not capable of pulling off this operation by myself."

Sammo: "You are."

Amy: "You think so?"

Sammo: "Yes."

Amy: "That's nice. Because the truth is... I have no idea if I am. I mean, I send you people out to do this every day as if I know what I'm doing, but I'm not certain I do. Which is why I had to do this. Have you just lost all respect for me?"

Sammo: "I only have more."

Amy: "Then you'll follow my orders today no matter what?"

(Snip some plot buildup, suffice to say that Sammo agrees.)

Amy: "One more thing."

Sammo: "Yes, ma'am?"

Amy: "Thanks for being worried about me."

(I find the line "undermines my authority" rather funny, since everyone BUT Sammo has been doing a fine job of undermining it before this episode. Sammo offering help when it's needed doesn't undermine her quite so much as Terrell ignoring a direct order does.)

Commentary remixes: To get the full version of this Lee Goldberg quote, with no nag screens, send me $10. Or, look at my rant for "This Shogun for Hire".

If I had "My Man Sammo" to do over again, I would probably change her attitude towards Sammo and the assignment... reveal more of her insecurity to him earlier on, and gratefulness for him being there, rather than show her hiding her fears behind arrogance.

And how. Her arrogance at the start when she claimed that she was going to go undercover was okay, if only because it was later made out to be a weak cover for her own insecurity. However, the "gratefulness for him being there" part would have done better moved back about 22 minutes (to replace that "What the hell are you doing here?" line).

Walk like an E-ditz-ian: Why do some women insist on holding their arms out (elbows at sides) when they run? They look like ditzes when they do it. Maybe if you're in a truly psychotic pair of high heels it's a slight balance issue, but some women do that when they wear sneakers.

You shouldn't have double-crossed me in Marrakech. Or was it London? Someone playing a Middle-Eastern type guy did a wonderful blooper-segment gag where he was speaking in a British accent. Nice way to try stave off typecasting.:)

enilkcen gnignulP: After Amy showed up in that low-cut number for her Meaningful Speech, her neckline (Why's it still called a neckline if it's at your breasts?) steadily crept its way back up her cleavage. I suppose showing up like that at the house of someone who's trying to have his own plunge at your neckline is just too much of an invitation.

Hacking for Dummies Homeboys: Terrell hacked into a hospital PC in what seemed to be seconds. Impressive how he takes over Amy's role as MCU head and also takes over her knack for PCs. As long has he doesn't raid her wardrobe.... Actually, he could probably put together something decent from her wardrobe that wouldn't look out of place on a man at all.

Someone finally figured out that all LAPD members get self-defense training.... And Amy finally got a fight scene. So what if it's just a not-so-artfully-delivered elbow to the face and knee or two to the stomach of a henchman?:)

I'm ambidextrous. Terrell calls down both the semi-automatic thunder and the kick-to-the-head thunder, in the same scene. I guess Amy Dylan is now officially the Good Guy/Gal Who Can't Fight Well.

Gracie get your gun: The forced-to-go-gunless Grace manifests one for one scene. Rather funny considering that Sammo points out earlier in the episode that he's not carrying one (because he's a Chinese national, like Grace).

Bad guys don't think. From Josephine Collette's attitude in the opening scene, she's a real sassy little number. Yet the bad guys (who hadn't met her in person before, just spoken via e-mail) never noticed when Amy-as-Josephine was cold and businesslike. Maybe it was because of the brevity of the meetings....

Bad guys don't think. With the right head. But the main bad guy should have noticed because he spent a good slice of time around her. I guess he was too busy trying to get his own "weapon" launched to notice that first change in demeanour. Or the second one when she became almost sexually teasing to (ironically) try keep him off her until the deal was closed and she could arrest him*.

*I actually resisted using the phrase "blow... her cover" and one of a dozen handcuff jokes, which puts me one level above Amy, who actually - while skirting around a bed, no less - said "Business is very exciting. Closing a deal is especially... climactic." to stave off the unwanted advance until she was home free.

Why she led him into a bedroom to close the sale of the nukes - unless she wanted him to try something - is beyond me. Lesson one of going undercover: memorize the floorplan of "your" home. If the bedrooms are all upstairs, you do not "retire upstairs" with a member of the opposite sex who's already coming on strong unless you intend to see precisely how strong he can indeed come on. 'Cause that's sure as hell what he's thinking you mean. (Where else would the bedrooms be but upstairs, anyway? That's just common sense.)

Mirror (l)im(o)ages: Someone claimed you could see the camera reflected in the limo in one scene. I looked, I didn't see, I was mad.

Rant... er, run for your life! Why did the crooked Interpol agent (played by a goateed Charles Shaughnessy, of The Nanny fame) stick around for the final fight scene? The cash was in his bank account, the nukes were delivered, why didn't he just leap into the Pacific and swim for it while the MCU was busy with the main bad guy?

Yeargh: Amy hair rant time! Okay, at the point where she changes from that low-cut black number to man's clothes (literally - after stripping her of her clothes, the bad guys must have stripped the gardener for her replacements) her hair doesn't change much. Yet she looks ironically 100% better in the old work clothes, because of the one thing that did change (and don't think I didn't have to switch between the tape of TNN's 8:00 episode and the live feed of the midnight rerun to notice!). Her hair was left to fall around her face, and not pushed back behind her ears. Improved her looks like you wouldn't believe.

October 19, 2001 AD Lack-of-Sleep Litany Update: When your teenage male cousin knows more about women's underwear than you do....

July 12, 2001 AD (Episode: 'The Friendly Skies')
The Unfriendly Script: Third time I saw this episode. Third time it sucked. The MCU scenes were fine, with some good acting from Gretchen Egolf, Sammo Hung, and Rick Springfield. The non-MCU scenes, on the other hand, were not half as enjoyable. Mostly because of Bret Michaels.

Now, that's very harsh of me to say. He could be a nice and loving person in Real Life and here I am saying nasty things about him. Like that's stopped me before. Let me explain why I didn't like him:

A) He's a heavy metal type rocker, and looks the part. (Though first viewing I thought he was a wrestler - laugh if you must, but he looks like that too.) Dirty bandana and dirtier hair under it. Ick.

Ab) I'm probably going to whine about his musical skills or lack thereof below. I can't hold that against him without being a hypocrite - I must admit to listening to just a tad of death metal (Mortum) every now and then. But I can safely hold against him the fact that what I've heard of his work is mostly unrefined noise. (The metal I partake in is refined noise. There's a difference.)

B) His character (something Darrow) was a Charles Manson wannabe. He had a "family", he went on a killing spree, etc. etc. etc.

O) Len's obligatory blood type joke.

C) Darrow's treatment of Grace was really disturbing. His henchmen were no better. This is not the light escapism Goldberg and Rabkin claimed they were going for.

D) It's presumably some of Michaels' tracks that are run during the fight scenes. There's a reason no one uses heavy metal tracks - or other tracks with loud vocals - in television shows. IT DROWNS OUT EVERYTHING ELSE!!!! Granted, it was just for the fight scenes. But Sammo's incomprehensible shouting is a hallmark of the fight scenes. If we need to strain to hear that....

Db) Michaels is playing the villain. So when Sammo's kicking bad guy ass, the villain's voice is screeching over the proceedings. I'm not saying it compromises the reality of the show - though it does slightly less than having "Coming to America" running on a TV set would - I'm just saying it's weird.

Dc) And what he's screeching doesn't having a thing to do with fighting. Or it wouldn't, if I could understand more than occasional syllables. Something's dead, or in your head, or under the bed, or lined with lead, or hasn't been read, or turned tail and fled, or forgot what you said, or has a cousin named Ned....

I'm not making a Grace Chen voodoo doll. I like my Amy Dylan doll: Grace had some very dramatic lines (and a Deep Meaningful Speech) this episode*. This wasn't one of them.

Grace (after hearing Terrell's comment about little league coaches telling kids to "walk injuries off"): "Explains a lot about American men".

Sort of an odd comment considering she's an American woman.... Oh, I forgot. She's Chinese-looking, so the fact that she acts and talks as American as east-coast white girl Amy Dylan is irrelevant, she's still Chinese. Were I nicer, I might write it off as a byproduct of spending her teen years (when she'd take an interest in the opposite sex) in China; but I'm not, so I won't.

*And if all her dramatic lines didn't revolve around the Darrow Family, they might have been worth listening to a second time. I think the acting was good. I don't want to check, to be honest.

I like my Amy Dylan doll, because I could just hug it now: She wasn't a bitch or a moron! YEEEEEHAAAAA!

(Well, okay. She wasn't perfect, but she was finally within good-guy-normal boundaries.)

Quotes of the moment, with a bonus Dylan Devolution Number Three:

FBI Agent (Rick Springfield) Stockwell (in reference to a possible chemical spill): "It's not going to kill anyone." (Under his breath.) "Not for forty or fifty years, anyway."

* * *

(Snip beginning of scene - ah, little Amy's first martial arts lesson. They grow up so fast. She's wearing one of those robe-like thingies martial artists wear, adorned in Chinese writing. Sammo comments on it and Amy says that she wants to do everything right, so she got the proper outfit. Don't ask me how to pronounce the Chinese name for it. Sounded like how a Frenchman says the name "Guy" - something like "Gi", but if you're not French or Chinese you're screwed when it comes to my descriptions.)

Amy (feeling weird): "Before we start I just want to... uh... make sure that, you know, you don't feel at all... weird about this."

Sammo: "Weird?"

Amy: "Yeah, b-because I'm your boss. But in this room I want you to treat me just like you'd treat any other student."

Sammo: "Okay."

Amy (feeling uncomfortable): "So if you... uh... y'know, feel uncomfortable at all you can just tell me."

Sammo: "Or you can tell me."

Amy (laughs nervously): "Right. Heh.... Okay, I guess, um, I guess I do feel just a little bit uncomfortable. I guess I'm just not sure how this whole master/student thing is supposed to work."

(If you've ever seen the sort of disturbing slavish idol worship some of these master/student relationships wind up as, you'd be nervous too.)

Sammo: "Out there, you are the boss. In here, I am the boss. Clear enough?"

Amy: "Yeah."

Sammo: "Let's begin."

(Amy exhales. No idea if it's just a quick preparatory thing she's doing or a sigh of mild dread.)

Sammo (steps back): "Hit me."

Amy: "What?"

Sammo: "Hit me."

(Amy moves as if to punch Sammo. Sammo tenses a bit - an appreciated bit of acting - but Amy just gives him a buddy-buddy nudge on the shoulder.)

Sammo: "No, really hit me. Use your waist."

Amy: "Okay, but I have to warn you, Sammo, I led the class in hand-to-hand combat at the academy."

(Ah, this has the makings of a more friendly version of season one's David Hasbro moments. If you noticed the similarity, you know what's about to happen.)

(Amy throws a punch. Sammo grabs her arm and uses her own momentum to force her down onto the ground with her arm bent behind her in a very uncomfortable-looking one-nudge-and-it-breaks kind of hold.)

Amy: "Well, I'm glad that whole boss thing isn't going to be an issue."

Sammo: "That is first lesson: You must feel the pain to understand the motion."

Amy: "Well, I asked you to teach me martial arts, not kick my butt."

(And what a fine butt it is.... Oh, sorry. I'm drifting.)

(At some point here Sammo helps Amy up. Not sure when, that drifting sort of had me going for a while.)

Sammo: "Second lesson: Never wear something you can't read."

Amy (looks suspiciously at the writing on her outfit): "Why? What's it say?"

Sammo: "(Reads the Chinese writing out loud, then translates.) 'Please kick my butt.'"

(Okay, assuming Sammo's not joking around, this was another classic Dylan Devolution "don't look before you leap" thing. But at least it was more on the Terrell scale of saying something wrong than the Amy scale of redecorating the whole MCU. If anyone fluent in Chinese other than Sammo - like the absent Grace - had seen the outfit, then I'd have given this its own entry.)

Sammo (steps back): "Now, grab me."

Amy (sounding like she doesn't trust him): "Grab you."

Sammo: "Grab me."

(Reluctantly Amy goes to do something that might be a throttle-grab. Before anything happens, Amy's saved by her beeper.)

* * *

Bret Michaels' character at one point uses the word "de-evolution". Hate to tell you this (No, I don't. If I really did hate to tell him this, I wouldn't say it.) but, as shown on this page, the proper word is "devolution", which moves a bit easier past the teeth.

Moment of the moment: The scene where Stockwell tries to kill Amy and Sammo... with an empty gun. Sammo shows him the bullets and says, "You need these."

You don't need a gun when you have Right on your side. And a spot in the opening credits. Okay, someone on Usenet pointed out that Amy not going back for the guns Stockwell threw away was a dumb move. I thought he had thrown 'em off a cliff, thus making them rather hard to retrieve. But no, you listen and hear them hit ground - soft ground, not even rock - a second after they're thrown.

Note to wardrobe: I'm a woman, a woman damn you! Gretchen either forgot how to button things or was trying to kill her butch-in-a-business-suit image, as she forgoed (I know "forwent" is the proper word, leave me be) buttoning her top blouse button (as normal) and also her second-from-top blouse button (as... uh... un-normal). Which perked me up when she reached for something in her back pocket, let me tell you. Next logical step is for her to shirk the whole damn blouse (which she will in "Blue Flu").

Other than "Thieves Among Thieves" and her undercover stint in "My Man Sammo", I'm hard-pressed to recall her wearing anything that was really feminine. I don't know why; from what I've seen from the Roswell screencaps, it's not like there's anything wrong with those legs of hers, up to the knee anyway. (Knees can't really be made to look that good.) If the (sadly) blocky stills of her wearing little more than a too-large red dress shirt from "More Lies About Jerzy" are any indication, the lack of problems continues right up to her hips.)

So, I've got a fanboy who wants my body, a boyfriend who wants someone else's body, and about three bad guys. Kill me now. Last episode the bad guy tried to get Amy, who was undercover as an arms dealer, into a whole different kind of under( the )cover(s) situation. Also, the crooked Interpol agent was rather complimentary about her looks.

This episode, crooked FBI agent (she's big on the corrupt cop circuit...) Stockwell's behavior just before he tries to kill her implies that he's sort of sorry she's not as crooked as he is. (Was he trying to sarcastically blow her a kiss at one point?)

Later in the season she gets a boyfriend, who becomes a future husband, who becomes an adulterer.

And then there's me.

Poor girl, she's already a five-time loser.

Damn, slam you! No, wait, that wasn't right: Rick Springfield slams a door dramatically. Being plexiglass and metal on hydraulics, it doesn't slam quite as dramatically as a good ol' wooden door.

How to use the two-shot. Well, three-shot. Sammo figures out that Agent Stockwell is crooked. because he knows a name he hasn't been told yet. When Sammo realizes it, he looks up from what he's doing and gives the guy a suspicious look. Audience members looking at the speaker (Stockwell) will miss it, fanboys who are looking at Amy Dylan (cough, cough) will miss it because she doesn't pick up on it. But Sammo fans realize that something is wrong.

Nitpick: A plane with a dozen psychos (and Grace and Terrell as guards) onboard disappears. Immediately upon hearing about it Sammo knows which one of the lunatics is responsible. FBI agent Stockwell was crooked and proved it by knowing something he shouldn't know. By that logic, Sammo's just as crooked!

A two-week vacation, how... nice. Terrell and Grace get two weeks off after their harrowing experiences. So nice that they didn't put Grace right back to work, not like having her arm in a sling will stop her from punching or shooting people, as she is wont to do.

Romancing the Malone coroner Parker? At the end of the episode, Terrell and Grace plan to go out on a dinner date. Damn, first he takes Louis Malone's place on a case, then he takes Louis Malone's place as a streetfighter, then he takes over Louis Malone's sort-of-kind-of relationship with Grace!

From hacker to slacker: Terrell admits to spending all day playing flight sims on his work PC. Alas, look at how his hacking skills have led him down the path to laziness.

September 12, 2001 AD Lack-of-Sleep Litany Update: Under-dressed:

July 13, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Call of the Wild')
Escapism Escapades: Okay, this was more like the escapist plots Goldberg and Rabkin wanted. Consequently, I could watch the entire episode.

They aren't called fight scenes for nothing: Terrell's heavy gun use has vanished and he's back in streetfighter mode. For better or worse.

Even so, I really liked the fight scenes this episode. Some cool stunts and some light humor (when the older guy is beating on Terrell and winning).

Only problem is that one woman in one fight scene didn't look like she was trying to clobber Sammo with a bike so much as she looked like she was doing interpretive dance.

(Cough, cough.) Looks like G&R aren't the only ones in the Dust Hyperbole: Okay, my previous commentary on Grace's outfits was a bit off. Some of her outfits were gratuitously tight, and some were impractical for a cop unless she's undercover as a streetwalker, but many were much closer to normal. How the mighty have fallen....

(Update, July 20, 2001 AD: Okay, I'd like to re-reverse myself. These last few episodes have been getting really silly, and "Gratuitously Tight" is becoming more prominent again.)

SWATting bugs away: Amy calls in the SWAT team again. Again to raid an empty building. This time, no one seems to give a damn.

Mind? What mind? TNN's messing with my mind and their commercial block length again. Instead of 3:00/3:00/3:00/etc./3:30ish, it's 2:30/3:00 maybe 3:30/3:00 maybe 3:30/etc./3:30ish.

Don Turlington? Is he the guy that regrows my hair or the guy that enhances my portfolio? Don Turlington was the bad guy. He looked, sounded, and had a name like someone in an infomercial. He was a motivational speaker as a cover for his secret assassin-for-hire work. Inspired idea for a villain, and disturbingly believable.

I've already shot down the Cupid idea: Sammo actively tries to get Terrell back with his ex-fiancée. She's a nice girl, a bit controlling, but nice. Don't know why he wouldn't want to be around her. Nothing wrong at all. Oh, except...

Hello, my name is Nathan Timothy: ... she's convinced she's a werewolf.

And my name is Harkon Lukas. Prepare to die: She's not a werewolf, actually. Turns out she's just part of an old mind control experiment by the East German secret police (and since co-opted by Turlington) meant to turn normal people into hypnotized killing machines.

D&D moment, feel free to fall asleep: Explanation of the last two headings. If you've read this page religiously (a scary thought), you know Nathan Timothy is a werewolf and ex-lord of a land called Arkandale in the D&D game setting Ravenloft. Harkon Lukas is a wolfwere (a wolf who can turn into a man, the antithesis of a werewolf), lord of Kartakass, and part of the blood hatred that all werewolves have for all wolfweres (& vice versa).

You killed my baby! In order to get Terrell's attention, his ex-girlfriend breaks a light on his car. His reply? "I hope you still like handcuffs!" (They had some really nice scenes together, from comedy to light romance to one scene where she beat his face in. Really nice.)

Dietary flyer: More ads for Diet Coke, both here and in "My Man Sammo". The wonders of product placement.

(Looks closer.) Wait a second.... That's a generic "Cola" can that looks like a Diet Coke can! Has the love affair ended after the blooper segment in "My Man Sammo" where someone used (I think) the Pepsi One slogan "Just One Calorie" in reference to Sammo's Diet Coke?

(Update, October 8, 2001 AD: On even closer inspection, the machine Sammo buys his Diet Coke from in "My Man Sammo" also sells Pepsi, or a Pepsi lookalike. Around here, the Blood War between colas is bad enough that a vending machine selling both is a sin tantamount to beginning conjugal relations with a sheep.)

Fish out of water, by the bikini store: Another culture-shock fish out of water moment for Sammo after he needs to question two buxom blonde beach bimbos and hands the job off to Terrell.

For old times' sake: Gretchen had simply wonderful hair at the start of the episode. One of those rare moments when I wanted to run my fingers through it on General Principles and not in an effort to try make it look better.:)

Sex on the floor: Thought that would perk you up. Sorry, none of the human characters did anything of the type - on-camera, anyway - despite a short-list which centers almost entirely around Amy Dylan. Implying I'm not the only disturbed fanboy out there, just the only one who didn't work on the show.

Nope, I'm talking about something non-human - and presumably non-living - that might have had more fun than the humans during the shoot....

Turlington hands Amy two 10%-off vouchers for his next motivational speech type thing. As she leaves, she hands them to Grace, who rips them up and throws them on the floor. She makes what looks to be one rip, so there's four segments - that's what falls from her hand, anyway.

Next scene, they learn that Turlington is behind several killings and head back to arrest him, with a SWAT team in tow. They get there, and he's gone. He cleared out fast, because the torn vouchers are still on the floor. All eight pieces.

Either they were different vouchers ripped into quarters, or the four halves were mating while everyone was out....

Goodness gracious, great walls of fire: Amy Dylan mentions that someone hacked past the MCU's firewall and set about infecting them with a nasty data worm that's eating all their files. Which would be fine if not for:

A) The fact that a large bank of MCU mainframish hardware was shot up in the last scene (compromising the LAN infrastructure something nasty, especially since the lack of tower cases means the PCs are dumb terminals);

B) The PCs were running "wormish" special effects right out of a Pac-Man arcade machine with a short;


Moment(s) of the moment: Terrell defends his old gang of friends during a fight with his ex-girl, who thought they were a bunch of losers. Yet (when later describing them to Sammo) he lets his true feelings show and calls them a bunch of losers.:)

Quote of the moment: Terrell: "When I met Nicole, she said I was perfect. But then she always wanted to turn me into someone else."

Sammo: "Couldn't hurt."

* * *

Sammo's last line, where he parodies homeboyish slang - even down to his pose and that wonderful devilish grin, was absolutely hilarious. Why some people didn't like it, I'll never know. (What, Sammo can't have a funny line, he has to be the straight man for Terrell or the Ignorant Chinese Guy all the time?)

Sammo: "Wassup wit' the kids in the police station, man?"

Pick the nits, zap the nits: Terrell walks up to a door locked with a keycard. He zaps the card-reader with his stun gun, which is shown in closeup. Compare the shots before and after the closeup, and the light level in the hall he's in increases slightly. (Pale yellow light to pure white light.)

July 14, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 3.0)
Boy, do I feel like a twink. Get a load of the following, ripped from my "June 21, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Wildlife')" entry. Do you come from the land.... Louis Malone's had another chance to flex his faux Australian accent - first time was in "Diamond Fever". Of course, one wonders exactly why he needs to flex said accent this time, when he's talking to people who have no reason to think he's Australian.:)

I was just doing a bit of CD offloading and found a scan of a magazine article on the actor who played Louis Malone, Louis Mandylor. To quote: I originally came here from Australia to visit my brother (actor Costas Mandylor of Picket Fences) and to box professionally, but my life completely changed when I decided to take an acting class.

Heh. Well, from the character's point of view, it is technically a fake accent. I can't figure out of I've insulted actor Louis Mandylor's ancestry, or complimented his impeccable hiding of his accent. Since he could probably kick my ass, I'd really like to hope it's the compliment thing.

Well, at least I didn't mistake him for a Hispanic.... (Mandylor is a bit dark, admittedly. But I know someone who has a yearlong suntan, which is hard to do in Nova Scotia. He's as dark as an Indian unless he decides to moon someone - then you realize that he's white.:)

July 16, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Blue Flu')
Off-tint jaundice: Several big things this episode.

A) Amy has a Deep Meaningful Speech in which her character metamorphosis completes (though it was for all intents and purposes complete after "My Man Sammo").

B) She gets to lie around in her brassiere faking a coma, as noted before. (Well, Gretchen is faking a coma, being what's known in the business as "an actor". Amy's really out of it.)

Bb) I'm sure someone's made an attachment between the phrases "big things" and "brassiere". It was entirely accidental on my part, and you're a pervert. You're also nearsighted, since she certainly isn't overendowed. (Though I certainly don't think she's underendowed.... Hey, I've already admitted to being a pervert. I can say that with little remorse.:)

B#) If you think I'm going to comment further on that last note, you're wrong. For once.:)

Gratuitous ratings moment: I said I wasn't going to comment. This time I'm talking about Grace's tight leatherish jacket and pants. In Los Angeles? In the same day as Sammo and Terrell meet some bikini-clad college students? I hope the MCU's air conditioning held up while the cops were dropping like flies.

Gratuitous ratings moment 2.0: I love stringing you along like this. Nope, now I'm talking about the strippers.

The kick heard by the muffin saleslady: Terrell doesn't get his gun kicked away - he kicks someone else's. Doesn't seem to need his anymore.

I hate that song about going to San Vicente, change the station: The words "San Vicente Division" actually get used in a radio broadcast.

Assistant Quotes of the Moment: Amy's arm-wrestling comments or the Grace-and-Sammo two-shot(!) about guilt and anger, for instance. But they sort of require you to hear the delivery. Why's that? Well, everyone's acting. Feel free to determine if that's an insult or a compliment.

Oh, but there's one that Sammo's accent mangled rather badly. I needed a WAV file editor to figure it out:

Terrell: "You know what the worst part of working at the MCU is?"

Sammo: "No place comfortable to sit."

Amy Dylan Vulnerability Watch 3.0: Amy's sick... so her pauses... make sense....

Amy: "The reason I... I never talk about my personal life is... I'm afraid of losing authority."

(Viewer at home quietly smirks and thinks about all he's written on this page about her authority and how everyone else lost it for her.)

Grace: "You're the leader of the MCU."

Amy: "Yeah, well.... Because I know how to play the political game, not because I earned it from any experience." (Viewer at home quietly smirks again and thinks about all he's written on this page about her lack of political skills the first few episodes.) "The truth is... most of the time... I don't really know what I'm doing. Well, I'm just afraid that everyone's going to find that out."

(Cue quiet emotional piano piece.)

Grace: "Amy, you're good at what you do. That's why you got the job. Whether you believe it or not, we do."

Amy (Voice ratchets up an octave into that sort of "emotional revelation" verge-of-tears tone.): "You do?"

Grace: "You want to know why I gave you a hard time when you got here?" (This should be good.) "Because the first woman to command the MCU wasn't me. Funny thing is, I don't even want the job."

Amy: "We're a lot alike. We both hate being second at anything."

(Cue some more of Amy's dreadful coughing and blood loss... yeesh.)

I'm not a lesbian, if that's what you mean! This is the quote of the moment:

Amy: "(...) I don't want to upset my mother over nothing. But I might want to call and let my boyfriend know I'm going to be late tonight."

Grace (sounding like she didn't expect that last sentence): "Your boyfriend...?"

Amy: "Why do you sound so shocked?"

I'm sorry, but when Grace was taken by surprise by it, I couldn't help but think it was more because of how butch Amy dresses* than about how Amy "never mentioned him before."

(*And looks, really... sometimes it scares me how much I like her when I've known more feminine-looking guys. Of course, I knew a guy who was once mistaken for my girlfriend. Never mind that the mistaken person was likely on something at the time....)

Why I'm not an actor: Okay, for most of the episode Amy Dylan is dying. She's looking it, too. Makeup artfully drenched Gretchen's face to make it look like she was sweating. Of course, it all collected and ran down her nose, steadily accumulating in an ever-growing sweatdrop on the tip of her nose.

When I get one of those, all parts of my brain not dedicated to life support or removing the sweatdrop shut down. I hate those things.

If this doesn't work, plug her into the mains: Last time around, I ranted about Amy's meet-and-greet with a defibrillator when my limited medical knowledge deemed the whole scene impossible. Well, turns out I was wrong - a heart can fibrillate and stop beating in certain situations, like a heart attack, though I do think someone dying from internal bleeding is going to have massive brain problems before heart problems (wouldn't oxygen starvation from low blood pressure affect the oxygen-hungry brain first?). However, I think I'm right about something else. The defibrillator/EKG combo. I notice that the two massive shocks they sent through Amy didn't register on the EKG. Are defibrillators so smart that they shut down their sensors when delivering a shock?

Also, I do think that not setting Amy up on a proper EKG after her close call was a bit irresponsible. If, as Sammo said, she was "so much sicker than everyone else" - despite the fact that she wasn't the first in a coma by a long shot - wouldn't she be the most likely candidate to wire to an EKG?

And there was one plain no-no that I severely doubt can be written off. Her blouse was still on, just open, during the defibrillation scene. Next scene, some time later, her shoulders are bare. Even if they cut away the blouse, they must have moved her slightly to get it out from under her, as it's plainly not present (she might be covered with a sheet chest-down, but you can see behind her shoulders). Isn't moving a heart patient around when they're already lying on a hospital bed before the attack generally a bad idea?

Stage blood, stage actress, stage cough: When some people force a cough, they make that dreadful sort of choking exhaling of air (or, even worse, a strained whimper) just beforehand which I've always taken as an indicator of a faked cough (at least, when it happens for a good three seconds before the first cough). Gretchen Egolf was guilty of both the exhale and the whimper.

Maybe I'm being a bit heavy-handed here, it's just that I can fake a cough without making any pre-coughing sound. Hearing that lowered my opinion of the scenes where Amy was coughing like mad, more so than the stage blood she coughed up lowered my opinion of the taste level.

(Though, to cut Gretchen Egolf some slack - what, you think I'm going to make a harsh comment about her acting without balancing it with a counterargument? - she spent so much time forcing up a hacking cough for those scenes that her chest must* have been on fire with pain. I suppose one's authenticity can go out the window when you're left wondering if you're going to hack up a real gout of blood next take.)

(*Until my first proofreading run, the word "must" was typoed "bust". Freudians who read into that get kicked around.)

Chemological weapons: There's a difference between chemical weapons and biological weapons, though some of Grace's dialogue used the phrases interchangeably.

Funny Chinese stoics: Was Sammo always as (outwardly) stoic as this episode? I can't remember. For that matter, does he always talk about China quite this much? (Okay, so the question about doggie bags was funny, though Sammo's possibly-bad delivery, "They serve dog in here?" - dog in the singular - made it sound more like he was talking about what was on the plate and not, as I originally thought, what was eating off of it.)

He just seemed a little too fish-out-of-waterish this episode.

Nitpick time: Okay, so someone stole a virus from a university, along with the antidote. He got the virus out by injecting himself with it, since any vials he carried would have been confiscated.

So they just let people walk away with vials of antidotes...?

Candy glass of beer: Bad guy breaks two beer bottles against each other for use as weapons. Sort of less dramatic considering that they completely shattered and left him with two unexciting-looking sharpish bottle necks that didn't clear his fists, rather than two sharpish half-bottles.

Musical stings: During a suspenseful moment, the generic hip-hop music playing on a radio stopped so the Suspenseful Background Music could play unhindered. The nanosecond the suspense is over, the hip-hop cranks up again.

Avoiding the tense issues: Sammo hasn't been using his car(s) of late, just hitching a ride in Terrell's Porsche.

EVIL! Okay, the bad guy was a real psycho this time, killing cops for the fun of it. Though unlike Darrow in "The Friendly Skies", this bad guy (a rich college student) and his gang (a frat house of rich college students, natch) were tolerable because of the fact that they were only on about two minutes, not half the show.

Oh, and a note to people asking why the baddies didn't steal the evidence rooms blind via cat burglary instead of the whole start-a-biohazard-crisis-as-a-diversion thing like they did. A very simple bit of psychology: Many serial killers take some sort of "trophy item" from each of their kills. This was no different. He even said he didn't need the money because he was rich. (Listen to the dialogue in his last scene and he talks of playing God and all that, classic TV serial killer type.)

And if you've ever been to a college, you'd know that a frat house turning into a den of serial cop killers isn't really that far-fetched.

You can't be serious: Someone buys a bran muffin. The seller says, "Hope everything comes out all right." Someone tell me they didn't just say that.

Between this and the guy in "Thieves Among Thieves" who claimed he'd been to the toilet eight times that afternoon, I think the only thing that's been to the toilet is the scriptwriters.

We're in a rush, but take your time: Grace is kicking in a locker door. She politely waits until between lines of dialogue to make her next kick.

Note to wardrobe: Thanks. I'm going to steal one of my own quotes, for once. This is also the first time I remember where she (Amy) was wearing a blouse that didn't look uncomfortably like a man's shirt. Someone in wardrobe take the hint? Between this, the mention of a boyfriend, and the whole getting-the-blouse-ripped-open thing, I think they were trying to solidly drive home the point that she works off estrogen and not androgen.

Oh, and her black t-shirtish thing and pale blue jacket for the final scene was interesting (even if her hair looked better when it was sweat-soaked and disorganized), since she's never worn a black shirt before, just white ones. You need to be careful with that sort of thing because it can make you look too pale in contrast - a scarf or string of pearls can "break" that contrast, though.

One thing that Gretchen's Vanessa Whitaker incarnation had over her Amy Dylan character was that Whitaker always wore a string of pearls. As far as I remember, Amy only had a necklace on (so far) during her undercover gig.

I'm not saying that Amy always had to have a necklace, but never wearing anything around one's neck (or any jewelry, or even a dress that shows a bit of leg) can be a bit monotonous after 30-some wardrobe changes. I know that minimalist or utilitarian thinking sometimes works, but even I don't look bad wearing a simple gold chain. (Don't look bad showing a bit of leg, either.:)

With apologies to the Pet Shop Boys: I'm about to nick more of their song lyrics, and change the gender, no less.

New York City girl, you'll never have a bored day: Is it really obvious that Gretchen Egolf got her education and acting start in New York City? Read the quotes that follow.

May I say that this is the best damn use of a closeup I've ever scene. Er, I've ever seen.

Real scene: (Closeup intensive, with about three editing cuts.)

Amy (looking half-dead): (Picks up phone.) "Major Crimes Unit." (Pause, during which a look of dread passes over her face.) "Thanks for letting us know." (Hangs up phone, turns to Grace.) "Two more stations have been contaminated. Seventy-three more officers infected." (There's a cut to a different camera angle here - see below.) "Someone's trying to wipe out every cop in LA."

Blooper segment: (Grace & Amy two-shot, no editing cuts. This is likely why that closeup shot cut to a different angle.)

Amy/Gretchen: "Someone's trying to wipe out every cop in New York." (Pauses a second while her brain chews on what she just said.) "Oh my God, I'm so sorry." (Starts laughing.) "I am so sorry. It was the last word of the scene!"

July 17, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Sammo Claus')
'HeeeheeeeHEEEEEEEEEEE!' Oops, sorry. 'Ho ho ho.' Ah, yes, the Christmas episode. What scares me is that the episode of Newhart run before it was Christmassy as well. Did they rig up the Newhart rerun to coincide with Martial Law's Xmas Ep?

Flashback in the spring: May 15, 2001 AD, I did a one-item rant for this episode. Since copy-and-paste is easier than A NAME tags, I'll just repeat it as the next item. Besides, I love that item header....

While my daughter's talking to Santa, why don't you sit on my lap and tell me what a naughty little elf you were this year.... Okay, for once never mind the excessive costume changes over the short term. Try to riddle this one out....

You're a woman. (Named Amy Dylan.)

You need to dress as one of Santa's elves.

You, ergo, need a green dress. Okay so far.

So you get one that shows cleavage.

An elf. Helping a department store Santa. Showing cleavage. Only green dress she had, maybe? Now, I'm not saying that Gretchen Egolf showing cleavage is a problem, mind you - I'm one sick puppy and enjoy that sort of thing. I'm just saying that only showing it in conjunction with playing an elf is kind of disturbing.

Who did wardrobe on these things and what sort of pervert are they? And how can I get into this rather entertaining field?

More elven commentary: I can't resist....

Amy: (Her first line decked out as an elf.) "I feel ridiculous!"

Sammo (decked out as Santa): "You look very cute."

Why is it that Amy's looks are invariably a topic when she's showing cleavage? Don't believe me? Read my "Amy Dylan Vulnerability Watch 2.0" in entry "July 11, 2001 AD (Episode: 'My Man Sammo')"!

(Update: December 10, 2001 AD.... Amy's last line before that scene is - to Sammo - "I can see you're gonna need some backup." Frontup is more like it!)

Gratuitous Wardrobe Moment: Final scene. Amy was wearing a turtleneckish white sweater under a largish unbuttoned woman's shirt (looked a bit too utilitarian to be a blouse). Grace was wearing a lower-cut red tank top. Why's Amy decked out so cozy when Grace isn't? I know Amy's supposed to be on a flight back east, but it's been cancelled and she knows she's staying in LA for the duration.

If you're deaf, can you hear a silent alarm? According to a security guard type, a bad guy tripped the silent alarm and then ran for the roof by getting into a ventilation shaft. How'd he know he tripped a silent alarm? I suppose if he spotted a guard coming after him he'd know, but the security guy's assertion that they found the vent tampered with (rather than seeing him get into the vent) and later caught him on the roof implies that he just made a mad break for it and that no one found him right away. Ergo, he heard the silent alarm.

Deep Meaningful... Something: Sammo's talk with the extreme fighter. Not only was it mostly a two-shot and more a dialogue than a monologue with an audience, it was also a single unbroken shot until a bit at the end. I like single unbroken shots.

Cuddlebug continuity continuation: From my rant about "How Sammo Got His Groove Back".... Cuddlebug continuity: Season two episode "Sammo Claus" has the MCU trying to find out who's stealing fad toy "Armando the talking armadillo". It also had a marvellous moment where a kid throws a tantrum to try get an Armando. The toy that she currently has (and throws to the ground, saying that it's not her favorite anymore) is a Rainbow Sally. Trenchant social commentary and wonderful unbroken continuity moment, all in one!

Armando, Armando, Ah-Ah-Armando: (From the Pet Shop Boys' "Paninaro". The real line is "Armani, Armani, Ah-Ah-Armani".) The talking Armando doll had the best line of the episode. Since it could understand speech, it asked a child their name and then said "Hello (name). You are my best friend." So a crook is stealing them at gunpoint and says, "Everybody stay down!" The nearest Armando replies, "Hello Everybody Stay Down. You are my best friend."

Though why Grace and Terrell didn't look for the hidden computer chip - which was a completely different make from the Armando speech chip - by finding the Armando that didn't work is beyond me. Unless the scriptwriter liked watching 'em rip heads off stuffed animals....

What's the point? The place where the star goes! Sammo asks what cultural symbolism the Christmas tree has. Terrell's stuck for an answer beyond a place to stick decorations.

Being a lousy Catholic and a worse Druid, I know all about the supposed historical symbolism of the tree, mistletoe (I love that one, mostly 'cause I'm trying to secure a corner of the fertility god market myself) and holly. They should've asked me.

I'm dead. Damn. Amy claimed, in "This Shogun for Hire", that her father died "last year". This episode, she claimed this was her first Christmas since he died. Ergo, he died sometime between the 26th and the 31st of December. What a screw that would be to the New Year's party plans.

The Great Escapism: Wow! More light escapism! Except for....

Are you my Daddy? Now begins the umbrella subplot where Sammo is looking for his son, after hearing about an extreme fighter called "Lone Wei". The father-son bit wasn't IMHO amazing, but I really take issue with the extreme fighter part, since the violence was less light and a lot more bloody.

Deep Deep Meaningful Meaningful Speech Speech: Amy and Sammo swap closeup-intensive memories of their childhood Christmases (insofar as the Chinese New Year is Christmassy).

Dear Santa: For Kwizmas I wanna Amy Dylan doll, compweete wiff a set of mix-and-match partners. The other kind of partner, YOU PERVERT! Notice that I only see sexual innuendo in my words when speaking of Amy Dylan?

Okay, here's how to do ensemble casting. Amy spent some scenes with Terrell, some with Sammo, and has in other episodes spent some with Grace. See? Once the character is actually likeable, you can do more with her!

I'm a student of the death-dealing candy cane. Fear me. Wow. One short lesson in "The Friendly Skies" and Amy made a weapon out of something obvious: a fire extinguisher. Now, presumably several off-camera lessons later, she's graduated to less obvious weapons like a giant candy cane.

Blood... blood... blood... blood... blood... blood... blood.... Between Amy's leaking circulatory system last episode and the extreme fighters this episode, that's more bloodletting than I remember in the last 30ish episodes! Hell, even people who were shot never bled before.

The world laughs at you, then claim they're laughing with you. Ah, humor in the last fight scene, like when Sammo took a cellphone call near the tail end of the fight.

Chinamen are from Mars: Amy looks surprised that Sammo knows who Santa Claus is. Sammo's reply? "I'm from China, not Mars." Now if only he could recognize Gilligan's Island as a sitcom and baseball as a sport, I'd actually think he was from China and not Mars.

But they're moving China out to Deimos orbit: Sammo's later shown to be not up to speed on the fine details on various Santaisms, like the reindeer. I'd take issue with this, but Amy screwed up the reindeer too.

Santarama: Crooks dressed as Santa fighting Sammo dressed as Santa. Fortunately, someone had the bright idea to knock Sammo's Santa hat off so we knew who to root for.

Domino Dancing: Another PSB song, this time I didn't have to bastardize it. Terrell uses the same trick Sammo used in Terrell's first episode to stop a bad guy. Hitting something at the end of a row (in Sammo's case, a bunch of musical sheet stands; in Terrell's, a bunch of Christmas trees) and letting the domino effect take down the rest of the row and the escaping bad guys.

It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas: Well, it's Los Angeles. It doesn't.

Besides, I figured that I'd need to work the title of the one festive PSB song into the mix somewhere. Great song, even if the mix of light romance and cold cynicism doesn't make it a holiday favorite. The line "Families fighting around a plastic tree." might hit a little too close to home for some.

I'm still bad! The Evil Lawyer was back. Almost the same lines as last time, too.

I think it's finally dead. Hand me your gun. Sammo's back to driving the old police car. Seems the Caddy finally had its swan song.

He's quoting the IMDb, take cover! From the IMDb's trivia about Arsenio Hall. "He is obsessed with hugging white women." - Spike Lee.

I'll be honest: I can't find one source that has ever attributed anything even similar to Spike Lee (or anyone else) in regards to Arsenio Hall (or anyone else).

But I will say this. In the blooper segment, Arsenio looks off-camera at the director (Max) during a take and then apologizes, saying "You can't look at the director during a take!" After which he waves to the director and says "Hi, Max! I'm on TV! With Gretchen!"

As he says those last two words, he puts his arms on Gretchen Egolf's shoulders in a not-quite-a-hug motion. She's busy laughing her fool head off. Then, elsewhere in the shooting, she (in-character) gave him a kiss on the cheek.

Lucky bastard.

October 7, 2001 AD Lack-of-Sleep Litany Update: Dasher and Dancer and.... Uh... Richard and Nixon...? Halley and Eros? Sturm und Drang?

July 18, 2001 AD (Episode: 'No Quarter')
And None In Return: Well, well, well. This is the first episode I really dug in the vitriol for. We get closer to the end every day.

How to lower crime: Bring a gang lord in. He hates crime he doesn't control.

They wouldn't put so many doors in the room if they didn't want you to take one! Nice hotel. Sammo used a door he had kicked off its hinges to stop automatic gunfire. (I should have let this pass - it was a good fight scene overall - but I'm a real pig.:)

Hi, I'm Van Black's brother.... Someone finally caught on. The bad guys had two vans. One black (dark blue in the sun) and one dingy off-white. Next thing you know they'll take it to the car wash.

Non? What's "Non" mean? Oh, "No N"! You know, if you're too lazy to type something like "San Vicente" and just cut and paste, make sure you spell it right the first time.

Deep Meaningful Line: Sammo and Terrell have a Deep Meaningful Moment where Sammo claims he can't go home (Terrell tells him he should to get out from being busted down to meter maid) because of unfinished business. Yep, it's his son who is the business left unfinished.

And all the shadows follow after her.... Alphaville lyric.

Even in this episode, with its fairly light tone, you can feel the darkness at the edge, waiting to creep in and seize control.

The term "car bomb" wasn't invented because they're rare, you know: After Terrell and Sammo get busted down (to Officer Bigheart and meter maid, respectively) their replacements and a SWAT team head out with Amy to find the baddies. And one of the replacements just nonchalantly opens the door of a vacant car at the supposed hideout without looking inside to see if there's a lunatic with a gun or, say, a car bomb inside. There was a bomb, but the ten-second countdown let everyone save their respective asses.

You know, I thought the replacement guy did it deliberately, like he was in cahoots with the bad guys. No one could be that moronic, unless you're Amy Dylan in the early Season Two episodes. Maybe that's why Amy's demotion to meter maid left the path clear for the guy who triggered the car bomb to take over the MCU. They only promote MORONS!

Guest rant: Not quite. But someone I know asked why Amy's meter maid uniform was sporting tight pants while Sammo's were comfortably larger than he was.

Guest guest rant: Same person, when trying to come up with Michael Dorn's Star Trek character name, got some neurons crossed and said "Dork". I had a sophomoric giggle or two over that one.

It's not easy being blue: Sammo, his replacement, the evil councilman, and a gang lord all had a penchant for bright blue dress shirts at one point or another.

Official police department press release: "Ticket Quota? Youse says it don't exist or youse legs might get broke." Parking sarge whatshisface (oh, the ignominy) had some great lines. First he gives credence to the rumors of the dread ticket quota, then he says the following to Sammo in such a sarcastic way that I couldn't help but laugh: "You and your buddies hatched this up, didn't you? 'Hey! Let's go screw with parking!'"

That one line aced out every one of Terrell's funny lines, except for this comment to the councilman's secretary: "I'm sorry, I said 'mo' and you wrote 'mo'. but write 'more' because Tynan won't understand 'mo'. He's hip but he don't know nothin' about Ebonics."

Ah, stop yer whinin'. Oh, you didn't whine. Amy breaks into the councilman's office and doesn't even complain about her job security. Of course, she's just a meter maid then.

Can we give a meter maid a parking ticket? When Amy and Sammo are meter maids and walking abreast with Officer (Terrell) Bigheart, they walk all the way down the block - away from their meter-maid car things - for no reason but to give the camera a reason to back away dramatically as they walk forward.

And even worse, Sammo's meter maid car/scooter thing is double-parked next to Amy's! He might be great at the MCU, but he's crap as a meter maid.

Hackin' the night away: In "24 Hours", MCU overlord Amy hacks into the US Mint's computers with the help of the MCU mainframe. This episode meter maid Amy hacks into the MCU's computer system with a laptop on a wireless connection.

Fifty bucks says she's got a deadman* (uh, deadwoman) buried in the MCU's mainframe, just because she can.

*AKA a "dead man's control", from similar failsafes (like a brake) meant to trigger if the operator dies or is otherwise incapacitated. The PC equivalent is a logic bomb that only triggers once, say, the person's payroll database entry is deleted (meaning they've been fired). Could do anything from wipe a hard drive to open a backdoor for an enterprising ex-employee to raise some real hell.

We've been on this case four months. Another week won't kill us. Season two was working on a freaky time scale. Amy Dylan, in her fourth appearance ("24 Hours") mentioned to a review board something that implied she'd been at the MCU for several months. Now, Sammo mentions working on a case for four months with Terrell - i.e., at least four months passed since the Christmas episode if these things are in chronological order.

And then, over the course of this one-hour episode, we were once again subjected to the rapid change of clothing that's the only hint that time is passing.

00:00 Episode starts.

04:32 Same day, but I had to mention Gretchen's nice white t-shirt and beige vest combo.:)

08:00 after a bit of rounding. Sammo's new assignment: Meter maid, with the uniform. Presumably some sizable slice of time has passed.

17:00 Same day as last, but guess who was wearing a nice pink t-shirt. Sort of makes it obvious she doesn't buy off the same t-shirt rack as I do.:)

19:17 Another day passes, but you can't tell until you see...

21:06 ... Amy's white blouse and kevlar body armor. (Here there be dragons and the SWAT team scene.)

24:22 The dialogue implies that yet another day hath passed.

25:05 Amy's new job as a meter maid sort of supports that one. Much like those pants of hers are supporting her hips.*

(*Doesn't that sort of tightness make one's underwear get a little too cozy - as in, wedgelike - with one's backside? And I know. Word to the wise: If your weight moves like a sine-wave across a 10 pound variance range, never ever buy pants on the lower weight curve that you expect to wear on the higher weight curve.)

42:03 Gretchen. Blue sweater. Pretty blue, pretty tight. I want to lick the TV screen.

Seven (bombs) for the dwarf lords in their halls of stone: Never mind the odds of taking down a whole stadium using only seven bombs with anything less than a kiloton* charge. The Poorly-Dressed Evil Posse Led By A Black Guy put six on the stadium supports and one on the dais where everyone will be.

(*Yes, I know what an actual seven-kiloton bomb would do to Los Angeles. Depending on exact placement, it could be an improvement.)

As the first one is placed, the section numbers for the other bombs are given. 7, 12, 17, 22, 27, so the first one is likely placed on section 2**. And they're supposed to be put on the tunnel walls. In the words of Amy meter-maid Dylan, "Memorize it!"

Got it memorized? Good. A bad guy - up in the bleachers, not down in a tunnel - places two bombs about ten feet apart on different supports.

The support thing makes sense, but it sort of jars with their meticulous section-by-section planning, unless some superstitious superparanoid didn't install a section 13. Or 14. Or 15. Or 16.

And another thing: Why did the bad guys then march up to the dais and give their automatic-weapon enhanced speech if they knew there was a bomb there already? Wouldn't that mean that if anything went wrong - like someone they shot at was armed and returned fire - and they were still in range when the dais went up, they'd get taken out too? It's okay to have a backup plan, but not if it's as likely to kill you as not....

(**Update, December 11, 2001 AD: Indeed, Terrell refers to section 2 later. I missed that first... and second... and third time around.)

Dylan's Inferno: Never mind that I'm writing something with that title. (No, really. Considering how I wanted Amy Dylan to burn in Hell during her first episodes, I decided to whip up a bit of fanfic wish-fulfillment. Besides, you can't have too many bent retellings of The Divine Comedy.)

You want a surreal experience? Put a music-free scene of any TV show on, run through your PC. While it's playing, crank up some utterly contrasting music on the PC so the TV audio and the song mix.

My choices....

Music: An uptempo Bach piece Fred Gray redid for the Commodore 64 game "Dante's Inferno", used in the first few Circles of Hell.

Scene: Amy Dylan doing some plot exposition.

And someone claimed you need LSD to go on a real wild sight-and-sound trip. My next experiment will be with a fight scene and "They're Coming to Take Me Away".

Straddling the center line: Hard to believe, but the end of this episode denotes the middle of season two, already. Seems like two weeks ago it started... oh, wait, it was two weeks ago. The wonders of reruns. (Dan Patanella's comment on this page is that I've seen the episodes more often than the directors did.:)

From here there's some wonderful high points ("Dog Day Afternoon", "Deathfist 5: Major Crimes Unit") some dreadful lows ("In the Dark", "Freefall") and some that defy such pigeonholing ("No Fare") by having aspects I hated and ones I loved.

July 19, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Scorpio Rising')
Scorpio Yeast, guaranteed to rise: The first Scorpio episode. To put this in perspective, this episode number in season one - no. 12, "Painted Faces" - was Lee Hei's third of five episodes. The value of pacing.

This episode wouldn't have been bad - even Tim Curry wasn't bad this first outing - if not for the fact that it was so dark and hinted at so much more violent stuff.

A bit more to follow in my not-so-final diagnosis. Patience, simple one.

This isn't my lucky day: Scorpio agent Strick (or however it's spelled) wasn't having a good day. First a hit goes wrong, then he almost gets throttled, then he loses an important minidisc, then he fails on a second hit and kills himself.

Does not compute, you freaking moron: I love how they portray PCs on TV. Martial Law was fairly good in this regard (season one mostly skirted the issue, season two didn't lean too heavily on stereotypes) but I was left wondering at the data worm in "Call of the Wild" (that had a nice little screen animation to let you know it was wiping out your data) and this episode.

Amy's trying to decrypt some minidisc. Bunch of gibberish goes across the screen. That's okay. Changes at one point to the Wingding font. That's okay too, since it's still gibberish.

Until it rotates 45 degrees so everything onscreen is off-kilter and scrolling lower-left to upper-right and not bottom to top. I can see displaying the raw data in the hopes that the human operator will be bright enough to notice when it starts looking like something readable. But rotating it? Come on.

Scorpio Body Count 1.0: Another in my continuing series of continuing series. This one will denote how much torture, intra-Scorpio abuse, kills, and attempted kills there are.

Kills: One. The public defender who's choked to death so a Scorpio assassin can take his place.

Attempted kills: Four. Two botched assassinations, and then Sammo and bit character Mary Helms.

Intra-Scorpio abuse: One. Scorpio agent Miss Fontaine throttles fellow agent Mr. Strick at The One's command.

Torture: None, sort of. See below.

Special: Not shown, but Sammo claims he was one of fifty Shanghai police officers buried alive years ago. They spent weeks underground with only a small air pipe and a constant radio-transmitted vocal barrage from The One. Most died, Sammo and a few others dug their way out after some period of time. Locked in a tiny underground space. No light. No food, except bugs. Little air. Am I the only queasy one here?

      Episode Name | Kills | Attempts | Abuse | Torture |
    Scorpio Rising |   1   |     4    |   1   |    0    |
             Total |   1   |     4    |   1   |    0    |

I sued the zoo: Amy's SUVish/minivanish (what's the difference?!) vehicle - I still don't see why she's driving something like that, except to carry the MCU posse - is an Isuzu. Just thought I'd let you know.

We only have six floors. The rest are fake. Same hotel as last episode, "No Quarter". Same stock shot of it leading off the episode, too. Looks to be a ten-story building.

Early in this episode, Amy demands to know where a business exec is staying. He's in the Presidential Suite, top floor. Top floor. Okay? Top.

After Sammo and Terrell stop an assassination attempt, the would-be killer bungee jumps to freedom. Looks like the top floor. But there's only about six stories. Later, when Terrell and Grace stake out the elevator outside the exec's room Terrell even mentions the phrase "sixth floor". And the exec didn't change rooms, because Terrell and Grace walk right from the room to the elevators in an unbroken shot. When Terrell mentions the floor number later, he's still sitting in the same spot next to the elevators.

It's like football or basketball. Only different. Season one, Sammo (or his stunt double:) was an excellent basketballer. But this is season two, I shouldn't make comparisons.

Fine. Last episode, Sammo makes a comment about how he'd never play football because it's too dangerous. After kicking a bomb-laden football away. So he knows what the game of football entails.

This episode, he's seemingly completely ignorant about baseball. He can't even identify a baseball that's thrown at him.

I don't mind the fish-out-of-water thing, but isn't being unable to identify a baseball a bit much?

If you had teleported before, this wouldn't be a problem: Nitpick time.

Terrell and Grace are watching the only elevators and stairs. A business exec is presumably in the Presidential Suite on that floor. He pays a ransom to Scorpio. A Scorpio agent manages to sneak it out past Grace and Terrell on the underside of a room service trolley. Presumably the exec is still in his room, else I don't see why the money would have been brought to and handed off there.

They figure it out and follow the agent (who's in the elevator) by taking the stairs. They get downstairs just as the money's put in a dark (Black, maybe dark blue in the nonexistent sun.) van and sent away. Terrell and Grace pull their guns to fire - and an SUVish thing pulls into the line of fire. The exec is driving, and he says he doesn't want them stopping the transaction.

How the hell did he second-guess that they'd figure out the way the money was smuggled out, beat them downstairs in the one not-in-use elevator (couldn't have been using the stairs or the Scorpio agent's elevator), and get a vehicle started and in place in that short a time?

Oh, and Gracie had a gun all episode, despite Sammo's continuing lack.

She's just like one of the guys. What do you mean, she's got a boyfriend? She doesn't dress that butch because... hand me my pants! Amy was talking to Sammo in the MCU locker room. Locker room. Woman. Man. Locker room. Sammo was even about to take a shower and nonchalantly unbuttons his shirt just as Amy leaves.

Is this a horrible abuse of power or sexual harassment on Amy's part, or have the LAPD officers not noticed that the pitch of Amy's voice (and - pardon the tortuous euphemism - a certain pair of chest-based fat storage devices) denotes that she's a woman? She can look a bit masculine at times (and has a sizable enough vocal range that she could speak in at least a boyish pitch) but never so much that you can't tell the difference!

(Looks again.) Okay, despite the male tone of the background voices, what looks to be a female extra (too fast to tell for sure, but he/she has a small face and long hair) walks by. They're progressive and they have coed locker rooms, maybe?

Maybe it's not a locker room, just an exercise room, or the ante-exercise room. But that doesn't explain why Sammo's opening his shirt in front of an open locker (which looks to have some personal items in it).... Surely he's not going to change just his shirt before going to a second locker where he could finish preparing for his shower?

It's a big locker: There is another locker room, I think. At least, the room shown in the penultimate fight scene has more lockers in it.

Bit o' trivia: You can fit an unconscious person into the MCU's lockers. Keep that in mind if you ever need a place to hide a corpse in a police station.

Can you be such a fanboy that even you can't stand yourself? This was plainly a one-day affair, since Amy's outfit and hair never changed. Neither the outfit (dark blue t-shirt, brown unbuttoned shirt) or the hair was that bad, though.:)

She ran a bit this episode. She never runs while wearing a blouse....

And she's never wearing a skirt when something exciting is happening. Only dark slacks. Actually, I only remember her wearing one dress or skirt, period. At the end of "Thieves Among Thieves". (The dress in "My Man Sammo" doesn't really count, she was undercover at the time.)

(Update: You may wish to read one of my Lack-of-Sleep Litanies....)

(Update: Two! Two, you may wish to read two Lack-of-Sleep Litanies. Two.)

But she never runs while wearing a blouse....

So who's the cop who can't fight now? It used to be Terrell, in the middle of season one. It was Amy, early season two.

This episode she puts her training from Sammo to good use and beats a female Scorpio agent senseless, even while she's recovering from a sucker punch to the stomach. She's obviously learning from Sammo and ditching the cop-who-can't-fight-without-a-gun mantle.

Who's in charge here? Of the two main bad guys, Mr. Strick and Mr.... uh... Whatshisface, seem to alternate as to who the leader is. Whatshisface's early comments "You're lucky The One was in a good mood." and "We need the minidisc." implied he was Strick's boss. Near the end, though, Strick gives Whatshisface an order.

Daddy Scorpio? I know that Goldberg and Rabkin did two Scorpio episodes ("Freefall" and "Final Conflict, Part 2"), I know that Paul Bernbaum did "Final Conflict, Part 1". But now I know that Michael Gleason did both "The Thrill is Gone" and tonight's scorpionic sojourn, "Scorpio Rising", leaving me in the dark about the scriptwriter for the one other Scorpio episode, er... "In the Dark". Since I've already whined about Michael Gleason's scriptwriting, maybe I should just blame him for being progenitor of the whole damn arc. (Though my gut instinct says it was a group idea, meaning I can't even load one set of blanks for the firing squad.)

Quote of the nanosecond: There's several, but Grace referring to bunch of gun-happy bodyguards as "Yanking out (their) manhoods." wins it.

Not-so-final diagnosis: It wasn't really that bad an episode if you ignore the bits that were umbrella plot buildup for later episodes (like Sammo's talk about how he was buried alive).

But taken all together, knowing that it's going to end with torture, burial of living people, etc. etc.? It isn't helping improve my opinion. If this got any worse they might as well have made Tim Curry's character into one of Lovecraft's Outer Gods and then taken a real plunge into the depths of insanity.

What do you mean, the woman I'm lusting after is a Great Old One? She's only in her twenties! Len grabs a list of various Lovecraftian monsters.

Len looks at Gretchen Egolf's name.

Len looks back at the list.

Len notes a few oblique similarities between Gretchen's name and Frank Belknap Long's Lovecraft-inspired Great Old One "Chaugnar Faugn", while at the same time ignoring several closer matches for his own name.

Len temporarily descends into (deeper) madness (than normal).

Len considers making a joke about "Gretchen Egolf" that ends in a badly-slurred rhyme of "Yog Sothoth".

Len leaves it pass.

But if she is a Great Old One, I wouldn't mind her giving me a quick going-over with her natural form's mouth tentacles.... But I couldn't leave that one pass. I might not be a poet, I might not like Lovecraft that much, but I'm still a pervert.

Slight update, December 1, 2001 AD: Yes, I know that Cthulhu is the only(?) Great Old One with mouth tentacles. Chaugnar Faugn's better described as "proboscidian". Of course, that's also a slightly better description of Gretchen Egolf as well.

July 20, 2001 AD (Episode: 'No Fare')
True love is loving someone so much you have 'em shot. There was a line something like that on "Whose Line is it Anyway?" (Brit version) where Steve Frost was making fun of Eastenders (or was it Brookside?). What does it have to do with this? Not much, but considering how much I ranted about this episode before....

Wanted to Buy: Car Continuity.... Sammo buys a new car (well, it's older than the hills, but it's new for him) at the end of the episode. Not only is it a vehicle (pardon the pun) for a rather good joke, but it finally kills the problems of which car he's going to be using from now on. My apologies to Paul Bernbaum for blaming him for breaking the continuity when he was just patching it back together as best he could. I still take issue with his characterization, but it was something endemic to the whole season. In which I'm sure he had a hand....

The light that glows so dark in the night: After the last episode, some of the comedy here was much appreciated. Sure, it was balanced against Sammo's character taking a major hit in credibility by becoming a supercop, but when you know the darkness that's coming up....

Just 'cause I hang around with Chinese people doesn't mean I'm not a bigot: That was low, but it had to be said. Everyone (characters and audience) was expecting the Tough-Looking Black Guy and his Tattooed White Pal to be the ones knocking over a jewelry store. Turns out that they were just looking for an obscure watch battery.:)

It moved! Was it just me, or did the harpoon/spear/long-pointy-thing found in the side of the first murder victim become not-quite-as-deeply-embedded when the shot angle changed?

I'd better get a bonus for this: The second victim's harpoon/spear/pointy-long-thing didn't change depth, but his pose - stuck to a wall with his neck craned upwards and his knees half-bent - looked rather painful to hold for more than a second. Poor extra, he didn't even get to show his face to the camera.

Is my sweater too tight? No? I guess I'll need to see if I can shrink it a bit more in the wash: I can't resist.... Fer God's sake, the outfits on both female leads this episode were tight! What anorexic teenager did Amy pull that pink sweater off of? How could Grace walk in those two different is-that-tight-or-just-painted-on pairs of pants? And that purple top of Grace's... Good thing she's not large-breasted, else it would have ripped!

And Amy's blouse in a later scene was back to two buttons open. Her estrogen count has been tallied and acknowledged, thank you, she can start wearing suit jackets again. (The outdoor shots where she was wearing a jacket over the blouse weren't bad.)

Would I be happier if you just wore nothing? Hell, yeah. I'm never happy with Amy's outfits. She's dressed too butch the first episodes, and I whine. She's dressed in tight getups this episode, I whine (which is hard to do through the light hormonal buzz). I'm never happy.

But I'd just like, for once, a female television character who occasionally dresses like a female human being.

Dylan's theory of relativity: A quick rundown of the family members, including spouses and fiancé(e)s, the characters mention or actually met onscreen (as in, were actual characters themselves) and why this is called "Dylan's theory of relativity".

Terrell, season one: Mentioned siblings, late father. Many more showed up (mother, stepfather, sister, nephew, cousin).

Terrell, season two: Mentioned misc. nieces and nephews, and his family in general (in reference to the Christmas get-together). Met his ex-fiancée.

Grace, season one: Mentioned parents.

Grace, season two: She didn't even seem to have parents this time round! Though that doesn't explain how she knew what herbs her grandmother took for cold hands. (Mentioned this episode.)

Sammo, season one: Mentioned parents, a wife.

Sammo, season two: Mentioned a clearly different set of parents. Met his son.

Amy: Mentioned her late father, her mother and sister, her aunt Connie, her nephew that likely doesn't exist (if he does, my money says he's not named "Amy" like she claimed:). Met her fiancé.

So, here's the season two tally, mentioned vs. met:
Grace: 1 - wait, there's that whole parent thing. Hmm... 1 minus 2....
Grace: -1, 0
Sammo: 2, 1
Terrell: Some indeterminate number X, 1
Amy: 4+, 1

Amy talks about her family a lot more than the others, including speaking of members that might not exist. I'm sure there's a joke in here somewhere that would elevate this above a pointless observation, but damned if I know it.

Quote of the moment: I did this before, so I won't do it again. But I liked the various aphrodisiac jokes.:) And the New Age surfer-dudeish jewel thief.

Me Terrellzan, you Jane: Both in "My Man Sammo" (I think) and here, Terrell made use of a dockyard crane chain to swing around and kick some baddie booty.

I've reached my limit: Is a "few miles out" the limit of international waters? I seem to remember the US and Canada getting in a bit of a catfight over things after they extended the limit arbitrarily and then started fishing each other dry.

Bang, bang: Did Grace actually have proto-bangs (a wisp or two of hair) as early as this episode? I'm so damn busy whining over Amy's hair that I didn't even notice 'til "The Thrill is Gone".

July 20, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 4.0)
Tonight's Walker, Texas Ranger ("A Father's Image" is apparently the episode title) on USA looked like it fished out of the same talent pool as Martial Law. Tammy Lauren was playing, of all things, a cop. (If the IMDb is to be believed, Ranger Roberta "Bobbie" Hunt.)

Even funnier, Joseph Ashton, who played a boy who was taken from his mother by his estranged drug lord father in Martial Law episode "Substitutes" was here (about three years younger)...

... playing a boy who was taken from his mother by his estranged drug lord father.

July 23, 2001 AD (Episode: None, there's another marathon on.)
Feels like a US holiday today. All the American TV stations are acting a bit weird. (That's how I notice holidays - lousy TV.)

Not July 23, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Dog Day Afternoon')
Damn you! See above. No Martial Law last night. Fine, no biggie. I expected "Dog Day Afternoon" to be on tonight, July 24, 2001 AD. It wasn't. Instead, they ran "Deathfist 5: Major Crimes Unit", like they had run the previous episode last night. So, of course, which is the last (as far as I can tell) episode in my tape archive that I really want a second copy of because the first was a bit mangled? "Dog Day Afternoon"! ARGH!

Well, at least the first copy is still pristine enough that I can watch it the 25th and give my thoughts.

Hi, I'm Evil. Who are you? Some goateed type shows up pre-credits and kills someone. When he appears later as a corporate head, you know who the bad guy is.:)

Sing it, Sammo: Dunno what Chinese song Sammo was singing to Homer (the dog), but it was catchy.

Inter-Apartmental Co-operation: First Sammo's apartment gets wrecked by pseudoninjas in "90 Million Reasons to Die", and now Homer wrecks it. No wonder I never recognize the furniture between episodes.

Car nerd: The Porsche-owning Terrell calls a person a "nerd" if they have a killer computer. Grace burns him by saying that some nerds have entertainment systems... or cars.:)

Evil jacket mini-posse: A posse (3 people, so they only had a green car - though when their boss tags along they upgrade to a green van) with corporate windbreakers. Trendy.

Sorry, man, it's 1999 - you're 15 years off: Amy (after years of experience with her sister's demonic Pomeranians) uses a gizmo to find a numbered ID chip under Homer's skin. Terrell mentions that "Next they'll be doing this to people." Amy replies jokingly that with some people that's not a bad thing. Hmmm. Is Amy her sibling's Big Sister...?

Fight! Hey, you try coming up with that many funny one-liners involving fighting. Love the choreography in the botched dognapping fight segment. Who'da thunk that a forked tree is useful for more than strange sexual innuendo!

Doggie diagnosis: Three of the regulars weigh in on a dog's internal turmoil after Grace points out that "He's eating the wall!"

Sammo: "He's upset."

Terrell: "He's crazy."

Amy: "He's a dog!"

Swim, human, swim! BWAHAAAAHAAAHAA! Homer is a strong dog. He pulls the rug (bathmat) out from under Sammo, making Sammo fall into the bathtub of water meant for a quick doggie dip. Though I'm mildly worried that Sammo would use his bathtub to wash a dog and his towels to dry it.

Which is more disturbing? The implied fact that Amy took her gun (holstered discreetly under her jacket) with her to the pet supply store, or that Sammo leaves his front door unlocked while he's in the bath (fully dressed, admittedly) with his dog.

Quote of the nanosecond. Sammo, reprimanding Homer*: "Even bionic dogs don't sleep on people's beds!"

(*Who was revealed to have a cybernetic spinal cord repair thanks to his inventive - and late - owner. That's the reason the baddies want the dog.)

Evil quote of the nanosecond. The bad guy: "I need dreamers, or I have nothing to sell." No, he wasn't Bill Gates.

We can't leave him there. It'll poison the water. Amy makes reference to Lassie and Timmy. She uses the phrase "Lassie's owner, little Timmy, would always fall into a well...." I know it's a vehicle for a joke from Sammo about Timmy being clumsy, but the "always" is a leeeetle hyperbolic. (Half the time she explains an Americanism to Sammo she misses something, gets some detail wrong, or distorts the correct answer by figure of speech. With tutelage like this, it's no wonder the baseball in "Scorpio Rising" was an enigma.)

While I'm thinking of it, on any of the assorted Lassie shows, did the kid ever fall into a well?

What the hell was that??? First half of the show, Amy was decked out in her archetypical black slacks, blue blouse, and spiffy brown jacket.

Second half, presumably someone of great import came along and whacked wardrobe in the side of the head. Gray suit jacket, off-white blouse cut nothing like a man's shirt, and a gray skirt cut just above the knee. And heels, heels, my God, black high heels. Waheeeeeey. (Very much like her third appearance on Roswell, which might explain why many of the pictures on this page come from that episode.)

(Even made the return to a suit jacket, slacks, and a cut-like-a-man's-shirt blouse for the finale more like a normal change than the status quo.:)

Next thing you know they'll be bantering: Grace actually quotes Amy when talking to Sammo.

Do that voopoodle that you do so well: When someone needs a female dog, why do they always use a poodle?

I just spent 250 million dollars on research and development. Makes me think I should have spent the extra two hundred bucks so the walls went up to the roof. You'd think the multimillionaire vulture capitalist bad guy would realize that human-sized crawl spaces between the wall and the roof of the security system-housing building could be seen as a bad idea.

Gratuitous Ratings Moment: Sammo and Terrell's darkly-colored break-and-enter getups were rather loose. Grace's, on the other hand, was kind of form-fitting. As in, leaving nothing (not even, pardon the phrase, the crack of her ass) to the imagination.

I want to make you scream! The difference between Sammo's fight-scene shouting and Terrell's: Sammo sounds like he's vocalizing his physical effort (as does Grace). Terrell sounds like he hurt his fist with that last punch.

You're such a tease! I'm sorry, but Grace going from that supertight (albeit functional) hair bun to that hyperstyled multidimensional hair configuration was a bit too sharp a contrast.

So that dog that sounded like a guy sounding like a dog was actually a guy sounding like a dog? First credit after the executive producer roll (Goldberg, Rabkin, Stanley Tong and Andre Morgan - maybe half of that Ruddy Morgan logo?) was "Special Vocal Talents By: Frank Welker".

Aroooooooo! Too bad, for a minute at the end of this episode it looked like he might be getting back a bit of the homelife he lost between seasons.

Sammo got a dog (Homer) through tragedy, after its owner was killed. Season one he got a girlfriend (Melanie George) through tragedy, after her boss was killed.

After this episode, the dog will never be seen again (even if he'd showed up once to let us know he was still around...). After season one, his girlfriend was never seen again (even if she'd showed up once to let us know she was still around...).

For all the similarities, I much prefer the girlfriend. I might prefer her even more if she had the dog's propensity for not taking a bath unless someone else shared it.

September 15, 2001 AD Lack-of-Sleep Litany Update: Smile for the camera:

February 10, 2002 AD Lack-of-Sleep Litany Update: Oh, wow.

July 24, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Deathfist 5: Major Crimes Unit')
A note to self.... Jake (Mario Van Peebles) Cord's occasional theft of Sammo's comments ("It's not an image. It's just me.", "My job is helping people.") for his movie character (The Deathfist) was wonderful. He'd speak it into a tape recorder, presumably for later incorporation into the script. He'd even fake Sammo's Chinese accent!

A self to note: Of course, the idea of having a fight film actor on a fight-related TV show allows for a few subtle bits of self-aware comedy. Kelly Hu's character being mistaken for an actress, for instance. Or, more than one person's sigh of frustration, "Actors!" Or, Jake's "We'll get these guys!" speech that sounded to me like a melodramatic parody of Martial Law's own Deep Meaningful Speeches. The incidental music even swelled dramatically as he spoke.:)

Gaaaaaaakk. I almost choked on my oxygen this time. Amy, running. In a blouse! An amazing and wonderful red blouse tailored for someone of her age and size! Amazing, wonderful, I just think I had a religious moment, or at least whatever qualifies as a religious moment for a bad Catholic. Maybe it was just the emotional equivalent of an orgasm, I don't know for sure.

I want to cry tears of happiness. Granted, it makes it obvious why they preferred her running in tight sweaters or t-shirts.:) But I'm happy, who cares about them.:)

Grace's tight outfits, on the other hand....

Breaking out an old film rant: Part of one of my May 22, 2001 AD Random Thoughts is quoted below. It's about this episode.

Tonight, though, I thought I was really getting stiffed; technical difficulties killed the video on Martial Law. While this was fine for a minute or so, a fight soon followed ('Hai! Oof! Pow!') and I was feeling gypped. But they cut to commercial for no good reason (in mid-scene) and when they came back, they ran the show from the start of the scene that went bad. They also skipped the next commercial block, having run it early. (Thankfully, I was slow on the VCR's stop button, so I didn't miss anything.) The show ended 7 minutes late, but that's okay. I still saw it all. (And all the Miami Vice fans who tuned in at exactly 9:00 local time must have been ticked off!:)

Rather nice of them to play it all.

Now, three hours later, I went downstairs and turned on TNN's west coast feed. A question was on my mind and I was close to an answer. I waited for that same scene. And it messed up the same way. As I type this, they should be running the scene over again, just around the start of the fight. Let's check....

(An hour later....)

I checked, and I was almost right - it was at the end of the fight. And I got involved doing something else for the next hour.:)

But I've finally learned one tidbit of info I wanted: the west coast feeds of networks are just the east coast ones regurgitated, without any editing. I am at peace.

Breaking in a new film reel: Guess what? Did it again tonight! Picture died, sound kept going. Same spot, too, though recovery time was only about 5 seconds.

Random thought: To steal a quote from someone I don't know: "A man with one watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure."

Evil Posse Redux: I had to bust out the Anagram Engine for that next one.

Exude, sop silver: Bunch of flamethrower toting, silver-clad arsonists this time. Didn't show up until the finale, except for a few wordless scenes of mayhem.

Banter? BANTER? Amy and Grace. Witty banter. I think I just had another religious experience, though this one definitely wasn't an emotional climax. It still felt good, though....

Compare and contrast these first two scenes (second is a cut-and-paste from elsewhere on this page). Had anything even similar happened earlier in the season, there would have been that dark catty edge on it. Now, it seems perfectly natural. The wonders of having likable characters.

Amy: "(Dialogue about a plot point upon which Amy is banging her interestingly-shaped head.)" (Sighs.) "I don't know."

Grace: "It's been a long day, maybe we should just get a fresh start on these files in the morning."

Amy: "Nah, it's okay. I'll perk up with some more coffee."

Grace: "Uh, Amy? Y-We're both tired. You know, we might overlook something. What's the point?"

Amy: "Is there any particular reason why you're so anxious to get outta here tonight?"

Grace: "You know, I do have a life."

Amy: "Since when?"

(A few episodes ago, she couldn't have said that without making it sound like an insult. Here, it's more of a light jibe with only the faintest edge.)

Grace: "It just so happens that I have been invited to a big Hollywood party."

Amy (sounding a bit schoolgirlish): "So you're going on a date with Jake!"

Grace: "Well, not with Jake! We're... just gonna happen to... show up at the same time."

Amy: "Uh-huh. Like you go to a lot of big Hollywood parties."

Grace: "You know, " (She's been starting a lot of sentences with that, you know?) "Jake's producer, Marty Duvall's throwing it. Jake says he's a big art collector. Maybe I could ask him about the paintings that were destroyed, see if there was anything special about them."

Amy: "So you really are going to do some investigating at this party."

Grace: "Right!"

Amy: "Huh! So, in fact, you don't have a life."

Grace: "Oh, you are evil!"

Amy: (Laughs.) "No, I'm just jealous. Get out of here."

* * *

Jake (fishes around inside an envelope, pulls out a photo, gives it to Amy): "As promised."

Amy (realization quickly hits her; she grabs the photo, puts it behind her back and laughs nervously): "Oh, right! Thank you!"

(Jake leaves.)

Terrell: "You didn't ask for an autographed picture."

Amy: "It's for my nephew."

Grace (grabs photo from behind Amy's back and reads the signature): "'To Amy!'"

Amy: "It's my nephew who was... um... named after me."

Grace: "'To Amy, who knows all the right moves. Love, Jake.'" (Laughs.)

Amy (grabs for photo): "Give me that!" (Grace moves photo out of Amy's reach, Amy keeps grabbing for it.) "Grace! Don't make me hurt you!"

Grace: "I think the whole squad's gonna want to see this!"

* * *

Elsewhere in the show, inspiration hits Grace and she blurts out a phrase exactly as Jake had said it to her.

Grace (sees copy of a portrait Jake had told her about): "The babe with the big knockers!"

Amy (sounding surprised and mildly amused): "Excuse me?"

Bug-eye reflections of season one: The bad guy's posh hideout - and the strange multifaceted window thing - this episode looked like a bad guy's posh hideout from season one. Time to dig out the tapes....

(Checks "Painted Faces", sees the window in a flashback to "Shanghai Express".)

(Checks "Shanghai Express".) Well, Lee Hei's home away from heroin in "Shanghai Express" had a window just like that, though it had shelves in front of it. Hmmm.

Notpick: At first I was going to comment on Jake's jeep/truck thing going from purple(!) to green, but a longshot showed it was purple on the left side, green on the right - either that or psychotically reflective of the environs. Either way, fit with his character just fine.:)

Nitpick: Terrell and Sammo dodge in opposite directions to avoid a flamethrower blast. Cut to the next shot, they're standing right beside each other.

Fire! No, not the flamethrower kind. Season one, Terrell got his gun kicked away a lot. Now, sometimes he doesn't even bother pulling it out. Which seems more realistic?

I'm here to kick ass and chew bub... actually, I'm just here to kick ass: Amy's next martial arts lesson, and she's developing into a nice little hand-to-hand death machine. Realtime, it was about nine weeks. TV time, it was anywhere from five months to this side of a millennium.

Fall from grace, fall for Grace: Another good use of a cut between angles. Grace and Amy are chasing after an escaping suspect. He pushes a table in their way. Cut to another angle and Grace artfully somersaults over the table, while Amy makes a more utilitarian move sort of like a roll over the table but without her legs tucked in. Cut to another angle where they're still chasing the suspect.

Blooper segment, same table in their way, same shot, no cut. They leap, but Grace/Kelly and Amy/Gretchen have all the... er, grace... of a gazelle with a tranquilizer dart addiction. Gretchen clears the table (looks like) but trips on the landing, possibly on the tablecloth - which starts a cascade of items from the table. Kelly's no better - she botches the somersault and winds up taking half the table's contents (i.e. the stuff Gretchen missed) to the ground with her!

October 12, 2001 AD Lack-of-Sleep Litany Update: Deathframe 3: TNN

July 25, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Honor Among Strangers', pre-rant floor show)
Here's a Random Thought from May 8, 2001 AD, regarding this show slightly. If you've read it, just skip down to the last paragraph.

Here's a freaky thing....

I finish watching Martial Law (with Sammo Hung), on TNN.
Miami Vice (with Don Johnson) comes on.
I change the channel to USA (east coast feed). Nash Bridges (with Don Johnson) is on, Cheech Marin is also on this show.
I change it again, to TNT. A movie is on, starring Whoopi Goldberg as a cop. However, Cheech Marin is cameoing as a bartender.
I channel surf for about 15 or 20 minutes, and hit USA (west coast feed). Walker, Texas Ranger is on. And it's the second half of a crossover with Martial Law, so Sammo Hung is on here!

So that's twice in one night that I saw: Sammo Hung, Don Johnson, and Cheech Marin. And all on cop-based programs, at least two of which (Nash Bridges and Martial Law) were created by Carlton Cuse!

I didn't even know that the Walker, Texas Ranger/Martial Law crossover was two-part, either. (There was an episode of Martial Law that Chuck Norris - as Walker - showed up in.) And now I learn that Sammo took a trip out to Texas for an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. To fight the same bad guy again, no less!

Even though I didn't see the whole of the Walker, Texas Ranger episode, I noticed some odd similarities (at least, as the shows were during the crossover)....

Both shows have a black sidekick. But that's where the similarity between them ends: Martial Law's Terrell Parker (played by Arsenio Hall) looks as urban as Walker, Texas Ranger's James Trivette (played by Clarence Gilyard) looks suburban (except for Trivette's hat, which looks like it rode in from the panhandle and found itself stuck on the wrong head). While I can't make an accurate assessment off of one episode, I think I'm right.

Both shows have a female authority-type person. Which is a bit of a stretch on my part, since Martial Law has commander Amy Dylan (played by the oft-spoken-of Gretchen Egolf), while Walker, Texas Ranger has district attorney Alex Cahill (played by Sheree Wilson). How much control does the DA have over the Texas Rangers? No matter, they had something much greater in common: both were completely minimized by the need to give the guest star more to do.

Both shows have the shapely female undercover officer. To give you an idea of how similar these two are, when the Walker, Texas Ranger shapely female undercover officer (Sydney Cooke, played by Nia Peeples) is rescued from an ugly death by Walker and Sammo, you can't see her face - it's obscured by her hair. At this point, someone walked into the room, looked at the TV, and asked, 'Oh, is she guest starring on this too?' (meaning Martial Law's shapely female undercover officer Grace Chen, played by Kelly Hu). That's how much they look alike - they even dress similar! As long as you don't see their faces or hear them speak, forget it - you could easily mistake one for the other unless you're quick enough to notice the difference in skin color (and even that isn't an incredibly large difference).

Of course, there was major difference: The writers of Walker, Texas Ranger couldn't write a decent line of dialog for Sammo Hung if their lives depended on it. Sort of hard to cope with continuity when he went from speaking perfect, if heavily accented, English on Martial Law to sounding - at points - like a poorly translated instruction manual ('Yes. I remember it very much.') on Walker, Texas Ranger. Funny, when Chuck Norris showed up on Martial Law, he didn't say 'Y'all come down to Texas sometime, y'hear?' or any other stereotypical Texasisms....

July 25, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Honor Among Strangers')
Deepartment fo Corecctions: Read the last paragraph of that pre-rant floor show? Well, I'd like to amend it sightly. Whoever wrote the Walker episode of Martial Law (J. Larry Carroll and David Bennett Carre?? - TNN logo's in the way of the last letters) couldn't do decent dialogue either. A couple of bonehead moments from the characters, a Mary Sue guest star, and some lines that made me want to bust out my Necronomicon and send them something ugly and recently reanimated in the mail.

Go, go, Texas Rangers.... Sorry, but I couldn't resist. I've also ranted about this one on this page before. Triple threat.:)

Pocket (pool?) review: I don't suppose there's any getting around the fact that I didn't like this episode?

I'm a confused little rocket.... Not only did they use film stock for the one missile that fired, but the stock was of a spot loaded with contrails from previous firings. Since Martial Law-wise there was only one missile fired, it must have made all the contrails itself. So it covered the same airspace at least three times. It was flying in circles, maybe?

If they're white supremacists, why do they drive a BLACK van? 'Nuff said.

Where does the time go? This episode (both from my timing of the commercials AND the VCR count of the taping) was about two minutes shorter than all the others.... Maybe the ad for the Walker half of the crossover took it. If so, I can see why they nixed it. It'd be a commercial for TNN's rival network USA.

How you do spell it? I spell the bad guy's name "Egilton", even though sounding it out makes it sound more like "Eagleton". Why do I spell it such? Because I knew an Egilton. I think. Something like that, anyway. Besides, my only other source is the IMDb, and they've been wrong before. And after*.

*After: Miss Bock in "The Thrill is Gone" and several other Scorpio episodes. The script plainly spells it "Bock". The IMDb uses slightly more sensible soundalike "Bach".

Dylan's Dearth of Dialogue: Not that Terrell or Grace got much in either. I know Amy was minimized to give Walker a bit of room, but it just seems a bit excessive to make her little more than a Girl Friday for everyone else. I mean, with lines like this.... (Never mind the P.J. character. You'll learn a lot more about her later in tonight's rant.)

Amy: "Meanwhile, where do we start?"

P.J.: "Well, check out the Brigade's local sympathizers, get a line on Egilton."

Terrell: "Consider it gotten. What else?"

P.J.: "Who else. If somebody at Denby is supplying Egilton with stolen weapons, we need to find that contact."

Sammo: "So we can find Egilton."

I'm sorry, but P.J.'s here two minutes and already the MCU's best of the best is asking her such no-brainer questions about basic investigation.

* * *

Walker telling Amy to run a license plate. It made sense plotwise, but she didn't seem to have much point in the scene except to be there to get the license plate request and otherwise act as Walker's motivation sounding board.

* * *

In one scene she's there as little more than an information source for P.J. P.J. doesn't know something, Amy dutifully marches off to find it out, hey ho, even if it's a military matter that an army officer would have an easier time getting info on than a police detective.

Yet another evil guy: Not only is Egilton a white supremacist, but there's the story of how he kills someone's family one-by-one to screw with the poor sod's head. Why not just make him Hitler and get it over with?

Slight character redemption: An overbearing pig of a military guy who becomes a bit less overbearing and piggish and saved Grace's and Terrell's lives.

Slight scripting redemption: How much fun Terrell was having playing the military officer. (He gets to go undercover in a silly role! Wooooo!) Hell, even through the acting, it seemed to me that Arsenio Hall was enjoying it.:)

High-wanking officaw: I don't know his rank when he was undercover, but I think it was a colonel. Colonel T. Parker...?

Run for it, he's talking about Amy's hair! Oh, and there's a reason why flat hair with the part down the middle looks flat. It's flat. Flat. Okay, it's a change. It's a flat change, but it's a change nonetheless....

And then there was that pink sweater again.... That wasn't flat.

Jump for it, he's talking about nitpicks! First, how did Egilton find out that Walker and co. know about his hideaway cabin just one scene after they learn about it? They plainly didn't go out there and look around, since the homing device Egilton got in that same scene was the one he placed in the cabin before they arrived there. Did the girlfriend of Egilton's lackey (who told Walker and co. about the cabin) tell her boyfriend that she'd ratted him out? Not likely, since she was scared to death of Egilton!

Then there's a painful jumping baton. Grace is holding a baton-type "pugil-stick" in two hands. Cut to another angle and she has it in one hand by her side.

Then, there's the scene in the cabin. Sammo, P.J., and Walker stare at the homing device for at least five seconds before running for their lives. You think, since the bad guy had conveniently cleared out and left a ringing cell phone for them to answer, that maybe he was luring them into a TRAP? No, Sammo and P.J. just gaze at the homing device until Walker shouts "Run!"

Gimme a hug: Terrell gets a hug from Amy. Lucky... oh, wait, did that joke already.

If I should die before I get my payment.... If I'm ever a Martial Lawish arms dealer, I'm leaving a detailed itinerary somewhere safe, with a note on the cover saying "In the event of my death, check my Thursday 9:00 AM appointment. He did it, I hope you nail the bastard to the wall." Offhand, I can remember the arms dealer in "Red Storm" and the one here both getting killed by their last client.

Archetype Plaza: Talk about a bunch of archetypes. It's like they figured Walker was so well characterized that they could coast on the others. You have:

Walker, natch.
The arms dealer from the last entry.
The evil ex-military type who's a white supremacist.
The overbearing military type who's a white supremacist.
The overbearing military type who's a white supremacist.
The overbearing military type who's NOT a white supremacist.
The good non-overbearing military type who's got her own entry....

Sammo, Walker, and Mar-uh, P.J. Penelope Jane? I'm sorry, I thought you were Mary Sue: This is being obscenely uncharitable, but the character of P.J. seemed to me to be a dread fanfic regular, the Mary Sue. She was young, sort of idealistic, vulnerable in an endearing kind of way (she was fresh out of officer training), she gets her own Deep Meaningful Speech about being a rookie that sounds like Amy Dylan (circa "Blue Flu") wrote it for her...

(Gasp, gasp, run-on-sentence, gasp!)

... she has more and longer lines than most of the regular cast, she's far too hard on herself for making mistakes, she gets to pal around with Sammo and Walker (Even in a press release shot which I've stolen from Lee Goldberg's site.), and dies saving their lives.

Speaking of which... after she died, Sammo was just sooooo out for the killer's blood that Walker had to talk him down from throttling the guy to death! The guy wanted to kill hundreds of people gathered in the Asian-owned Tanaka Plaza, but Sammo's not really mad over that: he's out to avenge P.J.!

If Grace, Amy, or Terrell got killed, I could see him getting mad. But even then, look at "Blue Flu". Amy and about a dozen other LAPD members were due to die within the hour, with about two hundred more to follow before sunset. Sammo was obviously not happy, but after spending half the episode trying to keep his stoic shell from cracking, he doesn't even rough the bad guy up! Okay, he was sort of busy trying to stop a vial of a bacterial killer from being shattered, but he didn't even seem that mad during the dialogue-heavy final confrontation! Hell, later in the season, he won't even seem that ticked off at The One, who has tortured him and killed about 50 of his coworkers, tried to turn his son from a street thug to a hired gun, put Terrell in the hospital, buried Amy and her fiancé alive, and beat Grace to near-death!

For the sane people who don't read much fanfic. Mary Sue: A fanfic (or even Real TV Show) character who's obviously a nigh-paragon* avatar of the author. Wish-fulfillment by the metric ton.

(* "Paragon", not "paragonic" or "paragonal" or even "paragontic"** or "paragonite", is the adjective form of "paragon".)

(** I say "paragontic" because the adjective form of Certain Other Word is "archontic".)

Even back as far as my high school days, my humorous fiction (fanfic and even original stuff) was notorious for always containing a parody of a Mary Sue character, even though I didn't know the term (or its notoriety) at the time. This poor fellow who was often referred to in the first person (even though I hate first-person writing) and wound up being the most badly-abused character in the entire story. Occasionally he gets one small bit of wish-fulfillment (hey, it is a Mary Sue), but he winds up getting run out of town in the process. (I never kill my Mary Sues. Too many of 'em sacrifice their lives, the only way to kill 'em properly is having a series regular go insane and beat them to death.)

July 26, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Freefall')
Dear God, here it comes.... Six episodes left. Five Scorpio episodes left, and one not-very-good non-Scorpio episode. Remember my comments on Goldberg and Rabkin wanting to stick to light escapism? Forget it. From here the bad guys are either Scorpio or a serial killer.

Granted, the plots are generally escapist, but when slammed up against the disturbing bad guys it's a rather painful clash.

A quick discussion on my idea of escapism: Something light. The plot can have a few holes, as long as they don't insult my intelligence I'm not worried. The bad guy is suitably bad without being unnerving, and any scriptwriter who brings up the phrase "Ripped from today's headlines!" when pitching their plot ideas is punched out.

If the bad guy is evil torturer kind of evil, then it's not escapism, because I see enough of that on the news. At near-best you're going to pull off cheap melodrama, near-worst it's just not going to work.

This episode was even worse. Only (some of!) the regulars and Kyle Strode were likeable.

To the extreme: More extreme fighters. Yay. Beat to death in more ways than one.

Evil Posse, Scorpio Style: They didn't show up 'til the finale, except for the obligatory one scene where Tim "The One" Curry gave them their orders. Good thing they weren't there more, their leader (not Curry, but the local lieutenant type, Mr. Lark) wasn't the most impressive actor and he only had eight lines.

Scorpio Body Count 2.0:

Kills: Several. The homeless guy and a whole street gang. I'm assuming 6 gang members but I feel that's low. I'm not counting the one gang member killed in self-defense or gang-member Primo, who was never officially "killed", not like Scorpio got the information they wanted out of him by asking him politely then letting him go.

Attempted kills: One threat of Primo's sister, though no attempt was actually made, so it's not counted. Neither is the normal fight-scene carnage.

Intra-Scorpio abuse: None.

Torture: Implied that Primo was kidnapped and tortured (to death, likely) for information.

      Episode Name | Kills | Attempts | Abuse | Torture |
    Scorpio Rising |   1   |     4    |   1   |    0    |
          Freefall |   7   |     0    |   0   |    1    |
             Total |   8   |     4    |   1   |    1    |

Lone Wei-nger: At least Sammo's talk about his son (Shian, AKA Lone Wei - "Wei" pronounced almost like "Way") was mostly in two-shot form. Kelly Hu was at least interesting to look at for my third run through this slice of plot exposition.

Make me hurt, baby. Oooh. Wait, no, NOT WITH THAT! AAAAHHHH! Amy, with Terrell's help, gets information out of someone by threatening some anesthetic-free dental work. (At least, I assume that's the general idea of Amy's favorite scene of "Marathon Man", given the drill she was holding to someone's mouth.)

The rather disturbing thing was that she really looked like she was having fun. How does this make her better than Scorpio, who she's trying to take down? (If Amy was just acting like she was having fun, she was doing a vastly better job than when she was acting like she had been shot, earlier in the same scene.)

Hmmm. Hold on. Early in season one, Louis Malone threatened to use the bamboo-under-the-fingernails trick on a suspect to get information out of him. Here, Amy threatens to torture a suspect to get information out of him. In "Sammo Blammo", Amy refered to the recently-transferred Louis by his first name alone.

I know! They were both in the same "Using torture to extract information from suspects 101" class at the LAPD academy!

I read palms on the weekend: Amy's precognizant, or a necromancer* on the side. (I can see it now. "Dad? It's me, Amy. Am I going to get into a fight today? Great, thanks. Love ya, hope the afterlife is still treating you okay.") She never gets caught in fight scenes while wearing high heels or a skirt. Just a blouse/sweater/shirt, slacks, and sensible shoes. Of course, that's about all she wears, period.

* Necromancy: (From Greek "Nekrós manteía", literally "Corpse divination".) No, by "necromancer" I don't mean the D&D practitioner of the black art** who can raise undead and do other things, but the original Real Life version, which was basically a diviner of the future who used the dead as the source of his/her information.

** According to my dictionary, that's what it was actually called at one point, as the first syllable was taken (no thanks to the alteration of the "c" to a "g" sound in Medieval days) to be the Latin "niger", meaning "black". Back a few centuries - or in your average D&D novel - "the art" was apparently a term for magic in general.

Self-fulfilling sophistry: As a corollary to that last entry, Amy did do that whole Feng Shui thing in "Sammo Blammo". Some people think that Feng Shui is an outgrowth of Chinese geomancy. Hmmm. Not much of a jump from being an earth mage to being a mage concerned with what's been stuck six feet down in the earth.:)

You know, I could rant about that Feng Shui thing all day. Since Amy was clearly not a New Age pseudomystic quack - hell, while they never broached the subject, she struck me as being closer to agnostic or Christian-by-habit in matters incorporeal - you could hear her brain grinding out the logic in using Feng Shui on the MCU. (Sammo and Grace are Chinese, Feng Shui is Chinese, so they would appreciate a Feng-Shuied office. I'm glad a Mandarin coat is evening wear, else she'd have shown up at the MCU kitted out in one of those.)

My personal decorating choice is the "Does it get in the way?" school. "Does it get in the way or look ugly there?" for any place I might entertain guests.

Gratuitous Ratings Moment: Just once before the series dies the death of a rerun phoenix again at the end of "Final Conflict, Part 2", I'd like to see Grace wear slacks. Or something she can sit in comfortably. Once. Please?

I have a deep respect for you, you two-faced sonuvabitch: Grace has a moment where she realizes that Shian is Sammo's major motivation, not herself. It's only going to get worse before it gets bet- no, it's not going to get better. Life sucks, then you get cancelled.

If it's so funny, why am I so sad? Amid the Gehennan pits of flaming torment, there was some nice comedy, from the wonderful way the homeless guy said "He's building the first starship in the defensive fleet. We're leaving on Tuesday." to Sammo's prediction of how his fight with Kyle Strode's bodyguards would end to Amy almost decking Terrell in the middle of a fight.

Is "Huh?" Chinese? Sounded like Sammo said it while talking to someone in Chinese.:)

Nice breas-sweate-hair! Said it before, say it again. When Amy was wearing that tight blue sweater, her hair was so lovely (this was when it was IMHO at her absolute Martial Law best) I wasn't paying attention to the sweater or what was inside it. (Not like you could see much with the gray jackety thing over it.:)

Nice breas-blouse! Was Amy's second-from-top blouse button variously open and closed in different scenes, or was it just overlapping so as to look buttoned sometimes?

Nice blous-blood? Why didn't the dentist/cut-rate surgeon notice that Amy didn't have a hole in her blouse? (Unless I just can't see it.) She had the fake blood (unless she bled someone for it, which I wouldn't put past her after the torture scene) staining her nice blouse in a pattern indicative of a bullet or even a stiletto wound, but no hole.

Dylan non-Devolution: I'm disturbingly happy with the self-deprecating humor Amy shows in the next series of lines. (After Amy and Terrell bust Sammo out of his deportation cell.)

Sammo: "Why are you doing this? You are jeopardizing your careers."

Amy: "Ah, that's okay. You know, I was never really all that ambitious anyway."

I think I broke my can(n)on: You know, if you took a sledgehammer to the plot, you could almost make it work with season one.

Season one fact: Grace is 27 or 28, assuming dialogue from "Shanghai Express" is still valid.

Season one fact: She had parents.

Season one fact: She had a boyfriend at some point while her father was around.

Season two fact: She knew her grandmother at some point.

Season two fact: Ten years ago, she was living on the streets, presumably of Shanghai. (Though I do apologize for a previous point on this page which mistook it for growing up on the streets. Now fixed.)

Wow. Maybe her father spontaneously became evil and threw her out when she was seventeen? Making Sammo's imprisoned-father childhood and not-imprisoned-father childhood work might be a bit harder.

Oh, the real-world irony. Hateful FBI agent Wicke* said that he didn't want Sammo or Grace - as Chinese nationals - working on a case of national security. Given the FBI's recent foibles, a Chinese national might be the only person to trust with a case of national security!

(*I wanted Wicke to die painfully at the end of the episode, or at least get kicked around. Rick Springfield's FBI agent in "The Friendly Skies" was genuinely evil and I still liked him more.)

Oh, the fake-world irony. Kyle Strode: "People don't watch Mike Tyson for his towering intellect or kung fu movies for their plots."

Nice bit of self-aware commentary there. If only this episode's plot wasn't dragged down by these characters.... (If scriptwriters Goldberg and Rabkin - they've worked together on so much stuff that I think of 'em as a single unit - ever find this page they are not going to be thrilled. Not that I could ever lambaste them with half the bile of Usenet.)

He Strode onto the scene: Kyle Strode was the closest season two ever got to a "delightfully unethical" bad guy, even if they had throw in making his "badguyness" doubtful. Neal McDonough is a good actor, and it struck me that the scriptwriters seemed to like Strode more than anyone else in this episode!

Turn on a light, it's too dark in here: I'm used to episodes ending with a nice finale where everyone changes clothes (to denote a day's advance in time) and stands around the MCU. These last two episodes ended on very dark notes.

July 27, 2001 AD (Episode: 'The Thrill is Gone')
Scorpio Body Count 3.0: Let's get it over with.

Kills: Tons. (I'm not counting the four or five "Thrill Kills" since they were a byproduct of the Scorpio drug Thrill and not direct Scorpio malignance. I'm also not counting the people killed by people on Thrill, even the ones that were killing at The One's behest.) At least four in an office building, if Terrell's estimate of the number of employees (before Amy finds the corpses off-camera) was right. The evil scientist at the end, and Strode's drug dealer contact, Waldo. Then there was the terrorists that The One himself offed. I might be willing to let that pass, but he was doing it to save his own ass and not for any noble reasons. Despite my count coming up higher, The One says at one point there's a dozen terrorists, and I'll take his word for it. Twelve, four, one and one. That's 18 total.

Attempted kills: One assassination that was botched by Sammo.

Intra-Scorpio abuse: None.

Torture: None. They were in straightforward kill mode tonight.

      Episode Name | Kills | Attempts | Abuse | Torture |
    Scorpio Rising |   1   |     4    |   1   |    0    |
          Freefall |   7   |     0    |   0   |    1    |
The Thrill is Gone |  18   |     1    |   0   |    0    |
             Total |  26   |     5    |   1   |    1    |

This was my favorite Scorpio episode. Which isn't saying much....
"Scorpio Rising" was okay.
"Freefall" was populated with too many hateable characters. Even my beloved (that's why I've called her a stupid bitch...) Amy weirded me out in that dentist scene. The final ten minutes were great, though.
"The Thrill is Gone" wasn't bad if I leave off the Scorpio baggage from my viewing of the "Final Conflict"s.
"In the Dark" wasn't only too dark, it felt more like it should have been "Final Conflict, Part 0" than its own episode.
"Final Conflict, Part 1" was just too infused with evil and hopelessness for me. Maybe if Kyle Strode had been around he could have played the "(dim) light in the dark" he played in some of the other Scorpio episodes.
"Final Conflict, Part 2" wasn't bad, its major sin was that it was bogged down with tying up all the subplots: Amy's wedding doubts, Sammo rescuing his son from the Dark Side, Scorpio in general, the whole damn series....

Quote of the... zzzz. Sammo (after the extremely bothered Terrell asks Sammo why LA traffic doesn't bother him): "In Shanghai, there are more cars, more people, and thousands of bicycles in your path. I learned a great lesson about life. (...) Get someone else to do the driving and you can sleep."

Zzzz... nanosecond. Kyle Strode: "Nice, but in my experience you either sell drugs or you use them. You do both and you end up dead."

Owww. Sammo breaks his leg and Terrell bleeds during the first fight scene. Terrell also puts his fist through a car window, which should have done a bigger number on his fist than it did! Am I complaining about the realistic violence to the unrealistic violence? I don't know. All I know is that I don't like this middle ground.

Hi, we're Scorpio! I'm sorry, but Scorpio recruited morons. The first two (the corpse thieves) killed themselves when they were captured. Yeah, I know, death before capture, etc. But there was absolutely no reason to assume Scorpio was involved. Suiciding using the poison cartridges built into their little fingers made it obvious Scorpio was in the thick of it. Had they been captured and suicided using more general means once left alone (like hanging) they would have thrown everyone off - after all, who's going to check the small fingers of every nut who suicides in jail? (I know it's to speed up the plot, but come on!)

Amy, are you pondering what I'm pondering? Amy didn't seem thrilled (no pun intended) when she learned Scorpio was involved. That makes two of us.

I think so, but Terrell could never say "Sweeney!" like he says "Dylan!" I wish they would've got Gretchen Egolf to do the obligatory Scorpio background dialogue. Arsenio Hall says the word "pinkie" (in the line about Scorpio agents having poison cartridges in their pinkies*) kind of weirdly.

(* Which sounds mildly amusing to me since my maternal grandmother used that as a euphemism for a certain part of the female body.)

Nice ass. The picture, not you. Was it just me, or was the "fine art" on the restaurant wall blurred (likely not electronically - on the canvas) so the model's backside wasn't quite so clearly defined? So, it's okay to show a real woman in pants so tight you know where the crack of her ass is, but an old-master style painting of a woman showing her actual ass isn't. Talk about a blurred line of taste. (Pardon this pun, too.)

My good friend E.: The body bag Terrell was hiding in at one point (so the corpse robbers would cart him right to their hideout) had the following on the toe tag: "E. Murphy".

Nitpick: How do the corpse crooks know the exact number of dead Thrill users and which hospital morgue they were stored in? They didn't look through all the toe tags, just until they found the one Thrill victim.

Bock? Wasn't that a sound effect on the old Batman show? And here's the introduction of Miss Bock. Not a bad character, even if she was consummately evil. Her introduction was a nice two-shot where the evil doctor guy backstabs her (figuratively) when she's talking to The One, though she was IMHO too reserved in her reacting when she heard the evil doctor tell The One that she was "a fool or a liar". (It's called a two-shot for a reason....) The end scene where she backstabs the evil doctor type (literally) is rather nice as well.

The Nitpick is Gone: In Bock's final scene of the show, The One tells her to wipe out all traces of the Thrill operation. She grabs her little finger like she's ready to break it (and the poison capsule inside) and says "And myself?". How could she wipe out all traces of the Thrill operation if she killed herself right there? If she idly rubbed her finger or something, it would have worked better.

It's a trick I picked up from Amy: So nice that Grace wore sensible shoes (I think they were sensible, they moved too fast to tell for sure!) out to dinner with Strode. She wound up in a fight.

Where's Waldo? Getting roughed up by Miss Bock (see below). Before that, Kyle Strode roughs him up (and offers to introduce him to Misters Smith and Wesson) after he slips Grace a Thrill mickey. I'll tell you, I don't know if Strode was being made out to be a nice guy with no ethics or if the scriptwriters just liked him.

Miss Bock? Not Mister Bock? Waldo, in the scene where he's being roughed up by Strode, refers to his supplier using male pronouns (unless his whiny voice was seriously distorting things). When he meets Bock and the evil doctor, he tells Miss Bock that he was looking for her. So she's his supplier. I know her hair's a bit short for a woman, but she's not that bad!

Think different. Really different. As in Kill Thy Neighbor different. Scorpio has a lot of those laptops for The One's communications scattered around.

It's a secret lab. Shhh, it's a secret. When Miss Bock used the phrase "our secret lab" and the word "Scorpio" in front of drug dealer Waldo, don't you think that made it a bit obvious to him that this wasn't a normal office? I know he wasn't supposed to be there, but her line is a bit of a tip-off as to why. (Oh well, she was mad when she said it. And the way she kept shoving the hateable Waldo into the walls and furniture was funny.)

On the bright side (pun again not intended), that office was the sunniest Scorpio stomping grounds yet. They usually skulk and sulk in dark rooms, like the lab at the start of this episode.

Maybe machines run on magic in the MCU: The comment about the PC hard drives being removed by Scorpio to cover their tracks was nice. Amy recognizing a PC as an "old 386" was nice. How it worked without being plugged in wasn't nice. Maybe it was a very freaky proto-laptop - that'd explain why Terrell was looking on the side of it instead of into a monitor like I'd expect - but that doesn't explain that thing that looked like a power cord that was hanging out the back of it. Unless Terrell had an extension cord leading off-camera, from where he carried the PC in at the start of the scene.

I'm having that flashback again.... Sammo mentions Gilligan's Island here. Taken out of context, it's rather funny. Taken in context....

Another flashback! Is it just me, or is Thrill and its effects (including death of the user) about the same as the drug in "Dead Ringers", early season one? What, did this guy find the late "Dead Ringers" scientist's notes?

Why I'm not an actor redux: Miss Bock (Natalie Raitano) actually, at the end of the show, delivered the line "The Thrill is gone." Not only is this the title of the episode (which isn't that bad, since Terrell did it in "Sammo Blammo") but it's an awful pun, one so bad even I wouldn't make a go of it. And she delivered it completely deadpan. I wince just thinking about it.

You sexist Limey pig: (No offense meant to any Brits in the audience.) When The One greets the terrorists, it's with the line "Welcome to Budapest, gentlemen." There's one woman in the crowd, unless The One knows something about her that I don't know. Or, the terrorists were invited to take girlfriends, which (given the almost exclusively male group) means that there's something about Middle East terrorists that I don't know and don't want to know.

Just because the assassination failed doesn't mean I can't entertain you with some shadow puppets. Look, a bunny! I've got to side with Usenet on this one. The One, silhouetted behind red glass, didn't look like he had Tim Curry's build. It looked even less like the man later associated with The One - Christopher Neame - since it had hair! In fact, someone who was watching with me commented that it had as much in common with Arsenio Hall as anyone. I disagree: my personal bet is on Ronald Reagan, since he had short hair with a bit of a tuft up front that you could only see when he was in half-profile. Yep, I think this was ol' Ronnie's triumphant acting comeback.

Disclaimer: I'm not making fun of the ex-president of the US. It's a joke, get over it.

I'm out of here! The more lines Tim Curry had, the less I liked him since it gave him more chances to ham it up. He got a lot this episode, and took several opportunities to sound like he was trying to get them all out on one lungful of air. At least Neame's taking over next Scorpio ep.

I'm not racist, the casting director is: Looked like there was a lot of English-speaking whites amongst the Middle East terrorists and their henchmen. Do the various factions outsource their terror needs?

The One, and The Two and The One Two Three Four: Sammo mentions that his battle with The One is only beginning. Actually, it's half over.

July 28, 2001 AD (The Egolf Chronicles, V3.25)
(I know I should be on V6.0 now, but this one ties in with V3.2: July 1, 2001 AD.)

I watched The Talented Mr. Ripley last night (well, this morning - 1 AM) for the third time. Sound, this time. Adds a whole new dimension, let me tell you; much more than I expected. But more on that later.

Were I a good Catholic, I'd assume the Big Guy Himself had a hand in this. But I'm a horrid bastion of false faith, so either it was just serendipity or God has a real good sense of humor.

Remember how I tried stealing (is there a statute of limitations on these things?) a movie channel and couldn't get the sound? Well, someone I know in passing - but have done favors for - finally had their cable fixed. In celebration for the months of downtime, they pulled a few strings I didn't know they had to pull and got the technique to properly rip off a few premium channels. As a favor, they (not knowing about any of this) gave it to me, three days before the channel's final showing of The Talented Mr. Ripley for the month. So I committed the dire acts needed to invoke the sound, and it worked. At least, for a few seconds at a time. A bit of my own trickery, and I had the sound all the time, crystalline flawless.

I had a VCR set up - on SP, a rare setting for one as cheap as me - and a mass of wires rigged to an audio tape deck. The living room floor looked like a Radio Shack blew up. I was not missing this. Fate had seen fit to deliver it to me, chance would not take it away. About the worst thing (adding insult to injury or affront to a fatality, as it were) would have been to die right there. Found slumped over my cabalistic electronics setup, what a way to go.

The opening song fired up. Just the background music, not Gretchen - a good thing, since the singer's voice was rather unimpressive. Started out fine but was taken too far out of its range at the end and fell flat.

I waited for Ripley to go into his brief lamentation that makes it obvious the whole thing is a flashback. Then we got to the singing bit. Hey ho, here we go. Crank up the headphone volume (it was 1 AM) and sit back.

I got one hell of a surprise.

I know that Matt Damon likely wasn't the one really playing the piano. Fine. It's a bit more jarring that Gretchen Egolf likely wasn't the one really singing. Physically, it was her. Sure, yep, know that face almost anywhere, including from a few vivid hallucinations. Looked like her, just didn't sound like her. Unless she's the illegitimate child of Jim "talks in one voice and sings in another" Nabors. Which would make for an interesting National Enquirer article. But I digress.

Gretchen sounds like she has a good vocal range, but the singer's pitch and undercurrent of power seemed to be well beyond Gretchen, like a voice that rich wouldn't "fit" into her frame. When her voice was hers, it was higher and - this is the clincher - weaker. It hadn't sounded like her (even a person who just heard her lines of dialogue later in the scene could make that diagnosis if they were listening for it) and it hadn't looked like it sounded like her.

On the off-off-off-chance it was indeed her, I'd like to know where the hell she hides her secondary larynx and third lung. Oh, and her accent. A person's accent is somewhat muted (to me, anyway) when they're singing, but in the singer I picked up something with a distinctly European flavor.

The thing that completely throws me is why they needed two people for the one bit character. You don't need a Juilliard education and four years of New York stage experience to say all of about five* lines. What was is about the actual singer that made her incapable of appearing on camera?

(* "You're so kind." and "Thank you." in the background just after she finishes, er, singing. "Oh, we've really enjoyed meeting you." and "Oh, well thank you! That's very kind." when speaking to Dickie Greenleaf's parents, and finally she switches interjections and says "Ah, you were great!" to Ripley just before she leaves.)

Update August 17, 2001 AD: From Rez, who knows more about this than I do. Five lines is a cheap gig that cost the producer very little; singing on camera AND acting gets into another can of worms with regard to union rates and suchlike, plus MOST professional singers couldn't deliver 5 lines convincingly. OTOH, studio work singing is also cheap. So dubbed may not sound perfect but it probably saved $100k in production costs.

July 30, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Heartless')
'Ullo Gov: Sammo and Governor Marx (Marks?) have an interesting take on who owes whom a debt of gratitude. The governor tells of how Sammo saved his life (when he was visiting Shanghai) one night after he was robbed and stabbed. (Sammo carried him ten blocks to a hospital.) In the very next scene, Sammo tells about how the governor greased the political gearwork that got him onto the LAPD. A very nice pair of scenes, since each ignores what he did for the other while playing up what the other did for him.

Get me a wedge: Two throwaway comments about Sammo's son that make it obvious that this episode was kind of shoehorned in the middle of the five Scorpio ones without any connection to the umbrella plots.

Doctor SUV Black: That crazy doctor has a black SUV at his disposal.

Is black leather the new LAPD standard? For Grace, anyway. Oh, and black tights. (Tight tights.) For spring/summer in LA, Grace is dressed to kill (via heat exhaustion).

Monochromaticon: I just coined a word.:) "A picture in one color" is a good description of Amy and her wardrobe. Last episode, she was garbed in a blue-gray suit jacket and slacks with a faintly more bluish sweater, collar rather high but not quite a turtleneck. This episode, she was wearing a reddish-brown/burgundy version of that same blue-gray/bluer-gray outfit.

And while I'm thinking about it, why does Amy never wear a necklace yet not have a problem with earrings (I saw some at least once) and vivid nail polish (bright red in "Deathfist 5: Major Crimes Unit" and reflective-looking silver in this episode)? Either you're minimalist or you're not. Not like she minds things around her neck, what with how high the collar on her sweater was today.

Temporal remembrance: Short one-day timeframe. So everyone ended dressed as they started, and with the same hair. In Amy's case, that's really not a good thing. (Mildly amusing is Gretchen's hair color shift between episodes. Sometimes she has a blonde streak, most of the time it's all brownish, but these last couple of episodes it's been done up in such a way that it looks like she has black roots.)

We need both the dark and the light. In total darkness, without the light, there are no shadows for us to move in. A rather odd bit of text I once wrote for a fantasy-esque uber-powerful and stereotypically evil character (well, pantheon of demigods treated as a single being) who wasn't quite as evil as he was made out to be. But it brings up an interesting point. Even in a darker environment, there needs to be light, there needs to be hope. Too much joy makes for a dull and unwatchable show; too much vileness makes for a depressing and unwatchable show.

In tonight's episode there wasn't a moment of respite. It was steeped in evil almost from the first second. Only at the end (and in some of the fight scenes, though they were obviously done by someone not really concerned with the overall plot) was there the faintest glimmer, but that was the obligatory happy ending and felt like a jarring token attempt. If this were two different television shows, it might have worked. See the next two entries. Read 'em and then tell me that you think these elements were in the same show.

You can never lose hope. Terrell quote, when he was speaking to Sammo at the end of the show. Here's the light....

The plot was somewhat escapist (a heart for the governor's sick daughter being held hostage).

The fight scenes had some wonderfully funny moments (Sammo using a plunger as a weapon in the first one, Sammo's part of the bowling alley fight, the mail truck fight).

There were a dozen silly little plot holes that weren't worth mentioning.

The scene where the girl's father (the governor) says that ruining his career to save his daughter was a bargain.

The governor was a somewhat interesting character. He was a fool, granted, but such was part of the plot. At least he loved his daughter.

There's nothing pleasant about this. Grace quote from when she was talking to the serial killer. Here's the dark....

The plot was disturbing (three serial killers get busted out from jail to be used in illegal surgical experiments - one kills the other two and the doctor who busted him out and takes over the doctor's heart-hostage racket).

The fight scenes had some dark moments (the implication that Sammo broke someone's arm).

There were a dozen silly little plot holes that compromised the reality of the show.

The scene when Grace was interviewing the serial killer. The same scene, acted the same way, in another show could (maybe) have been a good dramatic moment. Not here. We did not need to hear someone gloat about how he made 25 women beg for their lives before cutting off their heads with a hacksaw. Mother of God, I thought that was sickening.

None of the lesser characters were likeable. A kindergarten teacher who loves a serial killer and attacks a cop with a pair of scissors. Three serial killers who, thanks to one rather off-putting bit of plot exposition from Amy Dylan, have 51 confirmed kills (54 by the end of the episode) to their names.

Skritch.... Sammo's obviously the right bodyguard for that heart. Based off of that popping sound effect usually used to denote bones breaking, Sammo breaks the arms of two bad guys in the first fight scene!

Sammo's Effective Questioning Technique of the Season: He hasn't questioned that many people this season. Today however, he wasn't playing the bad cop - he WAS the bad cop! Terrell played it up a bit, but you get the feeling he wasn't exaggerating that much.... Between this show, Sammo being ready to kill in "Honor Among Strangers", and Amy's unorthodox torture questioning methods in "Freefall", it's no wonder baddish-guy Kyle Strode was one of the more likeable characters of the end of the season - he had half of the regular cast beat!

Kill ratios: Someone almost beat Scorpio. 54 kills. The slit throats on the three most recent victims of the serial killer was a nice touch. Hell, why not have someone drink the blood and really get things going?

Take me to a hospital that these guys never go to: "The Thrill is Gone" had a hospital as one of its main locations. So did this episode. So will both "Final Conflict"s, though to a lesser extent.

Knotted-up cut strings: Again Amy calls in the SWAT team to raid an empty building. (See also: "Thieves Among Thieves", "Call of the Wild") Again no one seems bothered. (See also: "Call of the Wild")

Nitpick 1: Just because we don't know anything doesn't mean we're not organized. For people who apparently didn't know anything about what was going on, those three killers certainly followed along with the crazy doctor's breakout plan like they knew what they were doing! (How'd they know to stay together in the confusion and run for the rear exit?)

Nitpick 2: I thought something rubbing up against me was supposed to feel good! Sammo gets dragged behind a van for a good stretch. Not only does he survive (unlike everyone else who's been dragged behind a moving vehicle), he doesn't even look roughed up.

Nitpick 3: Drei ice. (All Germans in the audience may now groan.) They've got a heart for transplant. In once scene, the killer holding it hostage opens the container and threatens to spill it. As he opens it, nothing (solid or vaporous) comes out.

Next scene, (after it's used as a weapon in a fight scene!) the heart container is rescued. Sammo opens it to check on it, and ta-da! Mist indicative of dry ice billows out.

Nitpick 4: Serial Posse. Serial killer and head bad guy tells his Evil Posse (who just showed up in the scene previous) to "Split up." They don't, instead running single-file away.

Nitpick 5: Nice Shirt! Sammo grabs the back of a suspect's shirt and pulls it over his head and face. Sammo spins the guy around and pushes him against an iron grating. Cut to a shot from behind the iron grating (same instant, as he's just hitting it from both angles) and it's not over his face, just his forehead, so he can deliver his lines.

Nitpick 6: Pardon me! Could a governor really pardon three serial killers who are on Death Row, AND keep it under wraps for the better part of a day?

Nitpick 7: Fuzz remover. Crazy doctor holding heart hostage demands release of serial killers. (That sounded like a newspaper headline!) He wants them released in the atrium of a certain hotel (same outdoor shot as "No Quarter" and "Scorpio Rising"). He says that he'd better not see any cops or the deal's off. Watch the scene and the place was crawling with cops! Just because they were undercover didn't mean anything. Do normal people talk into their lapels with that kind of frequency?

Nitpick 8: ZAP! Another defibrillation thing, this time of the governor's daughter, with an EKG and separate defibrillator. Was it just me, or did the heartbeat sound wrong after the defibrillation? Too regular, like it was something rigged to an on/off switch and not a proper muscle. If her heart was damaged as well, as the doctor said, wouldn't her heartbeat be more irregular? And why don't the EKGs ever register the electrical current used to shock the heart?

Nitpick 9: Must be an everyday occurrence. When the kindergarten teacher attacks Grace, and again a minute later when she's being handcuffed, she screams. There's no kids in her classroom, but the door to the hall is open. You mean to say that no one in the hallway noticed a woman screaming...?

Nitpick 10: Connecting the dots. Amy lists the connections the three killers had. "Hat size, preference for chocolate, blood type, come from broken homes, victims of abuse, bedwetters." Later on, Sammo figures out that three different psychosurgeons who visited the three killers were (via makeup and assorted aliases) the same person. Then, Amy just punches the three killers' names into her PC and all of a sudden she knows the institute that funded the research. It didn't come up on her first search that the three of them were being researched by one institute?

Nitpick 11: Connecting the bullets. So this one doctor hired about a dozen men to impersonate the killers and confuse the cops, someone to steal a mail truck, half a dozen guys to steal a heart at the start of the episode, at least one person who owned and could use an automatic weapon.... In addition he impersonated three different men from three different universities, and yet the "institute" this guy is head of looks to be a five-room office with no other employees?

Nitpick 12: Heart-rending. When the killer is holding the heart-container thing open and threatening to drop it, Terrell says they (as in, the cops) can't risk taking a shot and hitting the heart. Who cares about hitting the heart, if the guy gets shot he'll drop it onto the pavement!

Nitpick 13: Ranter's dozen. I suppose I could comment on the shoddy reality of the fight scenes (the heart container being used as a weapon and the heart not suffering for it, Sammo running up onto and over a moving vehicle, Amy and Grace both exerting one-handed enough force to push a 200-plus pound man into something hard enough to knock the wind out of him, etc.), but I won't since that's a hallmark of the show. Most of these nitpicks are things I'd let go in an lighter episode (say, something around "My Man Sammo" which was semi-serious yet escapist and light) but here they're striving for a dark grittiness in which these things just don't work anymore. The scriptwriter (David Ehrman, if my guess at the TNN-black-bar-obscured letters is right) doesn't seem to know what show he's writing for!

It's over, thank God. The bloopers were funny. This is the one where Gretchen is cute as hell yet makes my cynical side scream "What an airhead!" Oh well, they're still funny....

First one of the three she's in - there's about eight, the others are fight scene mess-ups - she's supposed to open a door, and (with Kelly Hu) charge in for the fight scene. Only she can't open the door properly, and Kelly Hu cracks up, doubling over in a fit of laughter loud enough to be heard on the other side of the door. Gretchen finally gets the door open, charges towards the actor playing the serial killer, and tells him (doing perfectly cute and entirely moronic arm-shaking gestures as she does) "We're very dangerous!" in a somewhat child-sounding fashion. Okay, she's just a bit embarrassed.

Second, someone's stomach (sounded like a small dog, to be honest) growled mid-scene loud enough to be heard and Gretchen says "Is my stomach growling?" She laughs, looks into the camera with this perfectly cute and entirely moronic look on her face, and says "Sorry!" in a higher-pitched voice. Okay, she's just a bit, er, a bit more embarrassed. Yeah.

Third is Arsenio Hall's fault (he botches a line). Of course, that doesn't explain why Gretchen's voice ramps up an octave as she plays along with the joke. I mean, does she actually talk like that with any sort of regularity?

And, yes, she has that hairdo that she had all episode. That one I dislike so very much, (which even non-fans think makes her look less intelligent) except longer in the back. Which is an improvement. Not much of one, mind you, but it's an improvement....

Rant retrospection: When I started writing these episodic rants, it was just when something bugged me.

Then as "Shanghai Express", the season one opener, drew near, I decided to expand the format a bit. I started using these bolded headings, including adding ones (usually just the original first sentence) to the early bold-free rants; most headings weren't humorous. I started looking for things to write about. Just general observations and such.

Then I quickly started making the headings into light bits of humor. ("Do you really think this episode was cowritten by Carlton Cuse?", "Yet another euphemism for sex:", "Sexy Sadie Sammo:", etc.) before long a surrealistic twist took hold ("I'm having a season two flashback. Flashforward. Whatever.", "Run-run-run-run-runaway:", "The kick heard across the high-rent district:", "I tawt I taw a desert cobra!")

Now, (starting with "The Friendly Skies", I think - I originally intended to have a doodle pad so I could ignore the Darrow scenes) I use a makeshift notepad to keep track of things so I don't need to remember them all. (There got to be too many of them!)

As the season progressed, I found myself going from using half a page to a full page. These last couple of episodes, I've had to ramp down my writing to half-size and write in the margins as I neared the end of the episode. These rants have been getting longer. Either I've been getting keener or there's been more to complain about.

Now it's coming to an end. I won't be doing another "Shanghai Express" review, I don't think, even with my notepad. Except to see how much more I can extract from the episode, as an experiment. In any case, I'll have all but "24 Hours" and "Dog Day Afternoon" on tape twice each around the end of next week ("Cop Out" being the last one I need). Then I stop watching Martial Law, except for episodes I missed, the occasional trip back into the archives for a bit of nostalgia, or for one of Gretchen Egolf's better episodes. (Of course, first I'll need to figure out precisely which ones are better than the others....)

It feels kind of weird, actually. This page will be about a half a meg of text by then, and represent countless hours of work.

I'll spend a day splitting it into quarters or less. Don't know if I'll sort it in such a way as to merge the two or three different rants on some season two episodes. I don't think so, just link 'em with A NAME tags, maybe put them next to each other but still separate. After that, only one smaller page (containing The Egolf Chronicles, Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies, and a random rant or two) will be updated with any frequency. cathink3.htm will be renamed to cathinkt.htm (Update: Now called catfight.htm) and cathink3.htm with be a small page containing a link to the split version and the original.

Wow. I feel like I have a kid who's going off to college. It's so weird.... I'll miss this. I'll love the extra time to burn reading e-mails and stuff, though.:)

July 31, 2001 AD (Episode: 'In the Dark')
Scorpio Body Count 4.0: Another David Ehrman episode. Why am I not surprised? Eugh. For the first time I'm actually hating writing these rants.

Kills: Presumably the fighter who received the failing grade from Scorpio won't be given a glass of milk and sent on her way. The heavily-armed guys roaming around the jail might have killed someone, but I'm not counting it since it's not proven. That's one semiconfirmed kill. (It'd be zero if I was feeling charitable.)

Attempted kills: One Scorpio agent tries to kill Grace with a gun, then The One intends to torture her to death. I'm also counting the Scorpio spider team's attempt to rescue Trembel by killing Terrell and Sammo.

Intra-Scorpio abuse: Kyle's part of Scorpio now, so his sins count. Including when he killed a Scorpio agent. Had he been doing it just to save Grace's life I'd have left it pass, but I felt he was mostly doing it because he wouldn't like to have sex with her corpse. (Picky, picky, picky....)

Torture: Kyle slowly drowning someone as payback for a debt of cash. He let the guy go in exchange for the info that Grace was a cop. In addition, I'm counting Trembel's mind games regarding Sammo's son - mental abuse is hell. I'm not counting the vile attempt on Grace, but I do admit that I'd have overlooked the other two if not for this one.

      Episode Name | Kills | Attempts | Abuse | Torture |
    Scorpio Rising |   1   |     4    |   1   |    0    |
          Freefall |   7   |     0    |   0   |    1    |
The Thrill is Gone |  18   |     1    |   0   |    0    |
       In the Dark |   1   |     4    |   1   |    2    |
             Total |  27   |     9    |   2   |    3    |

Call the Fashional Guard! The Scorpio-agents-as-guards had shoes that Sammo noticed as being wrong for the uniform. In "Scorpio Rising", Sammo noticed that the guns the Scorpio-agents-as-cops had weren't police issue. They really should be a bit more fashion conscious.

I'm The One. The Other One. Introducing a new method of communication for The One at the same instant as they introduced a new actor for The One wasn't a good idea. Thankfully they amended it by going back to the old laptop trick for the next scene*. Albeit, using the MCU's PCs as a laptop replacement - which makes one wonder why they made the laptop explode at the end of "Scorpio Rising" if they'll hack all the MCU PCs and send them the sound-wave program, which might make a bit of a paper-trail back to Scorpio's home turf. No matter, The One's a nutball, so it's not like this can't be part and parcel of that.

(*Of course, Amy recognizing The One's voice when no one in the audience did was amusing. Talk about having it made transparent that you're acting!:)

And that shadow at the end still didn't look like Neame.

I'd like to apologize to Tim Curry - Neame wasn't much better here. (Did the script read "The One talks like he's only inhaling after every other paragraph."?)

You little EMP: Thankfully, the EMP device wasn't kept a big enigma 'til the end of the episode, since anyone in the audience with a bit of TV watching experience or knowledge of electromagnetic pulses who noticed the power, phones, and cars all dying at the same instant knew that it was going to be a good ol' EMP weapon that did it.

I could gaze into her blue sweater all day. Eyes. Blue eyes. I could gaze into her blue EYES all day! Amy was wearing that tight blue sweater that always seems to make her breasts look bigger, though not quite as big as the pink one does (don't ask how I know that). But let's not talk about that. Let's talk about her eyes. I could get lost in her blue eyes, since getting lost in my own brown ones has lost its appeal. Besides, replacing the cracked mirrors isn't cheap.

And let me tell you, did I have the chance today to get lost. As one Amy/Grace dialogue scene went on, they made the closeups even tighter - their shoulders weren't even in the shot, just their faces and a bit of their necks. Any closer and it would have been a pair of left eyes acting instead of two women. In another scene, Amy and an FBI agent stood face-to-face, both in profile. Yet they cut between closeups instead of doing at least a bit of it in two-shot form. Oh well, I can't fault them that badly for it; they cut to Amy for a reaction shot during the FBI person's lines about her "people not being a priority". Another long (several minutes, or it felt like it) Sammo/Trembel dialogue was done exclusively in closeups. I know Sammo's not the master of good line delivery, but couldn't he be given more than five-second stretches on camera?

Chop chop: Was the female FBI agent's line "There's a chopper leaving at dawn, but you'll have to hurry." used in an earlier episode as well? Rick Springfield in "The Friendly Skies" mentioned a chopper on the roof but that's not it. It sounded like it....

Don't hurry too much: Even if that line wasn't used elsewhere, Amy obviously didn't hurry. Between leaving for the chopper and her scene at the jail, her hair went from sort of like the style I love (a la the end of "Freefall") back to flat with the excess frontage pushed behind her ear (which I haven't seen in a while). I could see it being windswept by the chopper blades, but it lost the wave and other styling it had!

Someone light a match, we're in the dark here. Remember how in the old Infocom games you could be eaten by a grue if you wandered around in the dark? Well, if the grue is poor taste incarnate, then Martial Law definitely got eaten by a grue while In the Dark!

Taste Nitpick 1: Running scarred. Scorpio implants these poison cartridges without any scarring. The good guys remove one from a Scorpio agent (a high ranking one named Trembel or something) and he's got the worst-looking scar ever. I might not have much experience with surgery, but I don't think even a recent operation (as implied by the stitches, I think that's what they are) looks quite so much like it's about to bleed with one wrong move.

Taste Nitpick 2: SKRITCH! Trembel breaking his own finger (sans poison capsule) to show that torture wasn't a great concern of his.

Taste Nitpick 3: Put the duct tape back over his mouth, please. Trembel's description of assorted tortures to Sammo was tasteful. The bit about skinning someone was nice. Trembel had all of one good line: Sammo said he could make use of a moose-antler trophy (as part of a trap). Trembel sarcastically says, "For what, comic relief?"

General Nitpick 1: Guarded Missals. Or not. But why'd Scorpio send both a black-garbed "spider team" and the guys dressed as guards into the jail? One was backing up the other? Why not have the spider team guarding the exits instead of waiting in the woods for the fake guards to fail? Were I in a better mood - i.e. this were a better episode - I'd let this pass.

General Nitpick 2: Someone break Amy's fingers to see if she's part of Scorpio, please. Amy mentions in one scene that Kyle Strode is now part of Scorpio. How does she know? Grace and Kyle's first conversation after that scene (when Kyle still thinks she's just an upwardly-mobile street fighter) makes it clear that she's not supposed to let it spill to him that she knows who Scorpio is, so it's obvious Kyle didn't tell her. What, is Amy on the subscription list for Scorpio's monthly newsletter, or something? Do they have Strode's place under surveillance? Well, that'd explain....

General Nitpick 3: But by the Grace of God.... How did Grace just waltz into the meeting between Strode and his main Scorpio contact? No one guarding the door? For that matter, how'd she know when it was?

General Nitpick 4: We've been planning this for ten years. But we want to raise a little hell first. This episode, The One wanted a billion dollars per month (is that all?) to not trigger the EMP. Yet his plan (Operation Skydive) that was/will be revealed in "Final Conflict" was plainly (at the end of part two) said to have been put in motion ten years ago. Where would he spend the billion dollars if he plunged the world into anarchy the next week? It wouldn't be worth its weight in kindling paper! Even gold and platinum wouldn't be terribly useful, given the quirk of there being nothing left to spend it on....

General Nitpick 5: It even kicks mechanical ass! The One's prediction of the EMP device's effects: "Patients on life support dying. Elevators plummeting. Thousands trapped in subways!" First one I see. Third I see. But elevators have mechanical brakes that are meant to work even if the cable snaps when the electronics are dead (for instance, during a power outage).

General Nitpick 6: Bionic Sammo. When Sammo leapt over someone, did my ears collapse or was a sound effect that sounds more befitting of The Six Million Dollar Man buried in the soundtrack?

General Nitpick 7: Maybe the spider team pulled a Scorpio and broke one of its own appendages. A spider team of eight men is coming for Trembel, a tidbit he accidentally lets spill. (And we see all eight of them in an early scene.) I counted seven being taken out by Sammo and Terrell. The one standing behind the head spider man (God, what a sad pun) in the fight scene disappears.

General Nitpick 7b: Spidey Posse. Maybe not. Terrell might have taken out the eighth at one point, but since they're mostly dark-haired white men and they're all in black commando outfits, I can't tell if the one he ties up at the end of the fight is the same one he punched out and started to tie up in the scene before.

General Nitpick 8: Go ahead and kill them! We'll make more! Grace puts a bullet hole in a Scorpio agent and Kyle Strode finishes him off. Yet Strode is still in Scorpio's good graces a few scenes later. I guess killing their own is fairly typical.

General Nitpick 9: I've got water on the knee, and Shian on the mind. How the hell does everyone know Sammo's son? He keeps it a secret for two years plus TV time and now EVERYONE knows! Okay, I can sort of see Trembel knowing, as he's a fairly high-ranking Scorpio member and The One would want to exploit any possible weakness to get the much-hated Sammo Law. But Kyle Strode? He's been with Scorpio three weeks or so and already he knows that The One's major obsession is Sammo and that Grace is Sammo's student?

General Nitpick 10: I should let this one pass, but I'm in a worse mood than when I started listing these. How'd Trembel know about the planned use of the EMP device when he was in jail? I suppose he could have guessed what was going on, though. You'd think The One would hold off on his plans a week or so just so any information extracted from Trembel was useless or at least off-date.

General Nitpick 11: Vertigo it ain't. I'm sorry, but that scene where Trembel falls to his death was just bad. From the fakest effect to make him "fall"* to Amy's shout of "No." - that's not a typo, it didn't really deserve an exclamation point. I don't know what was wrong with it, it just didn't sound right. Granted, an ear-piercing shriek would have been worse, but as-is it didn't have much oomph behind it. Maybe because it was plainly dubbed in later; Amy's mouth didn't actually move! It was held open in a more wordless scream. (Or something with a long "Ah" sound. Daaaaaaamn? Naaaaaah?)

(* Lying against a green screen as the camera zooms out, you know the type - come on, use a longshot and a stuntman, we don't really need to see his face as he falls! Or - since this was likely all done on a ground-floor sound stage, though it's not like a two-story concrete facade would be that hard to find in LA - don't show it at all and just play that dull "thud", since it didn't look that fake when he was just hanging over the edge.)

General Nitpick 12: We've taken over the building. Except the stairwells. And the exits. Sammo says The One's building has been "taken over" by the cops and that his EMP device has been confiscated. Yet Kyle Strode, The One and Shian, and a decoy car all get out of the building somehow without one cop stopping them, despite The One, Shian, and Strode needing to get from a high floor to the parking basement. And Strode likely took a different route from the other two.

General Nitpick 13: Fun in the woods. Why'd Sammo and Terrell drag Trembel into the woods in the first place? Yeah, to avoid Scorpio, but the woods were very large. (200,000 acres according to a guard Amy talks to later.) Wouldn't it have made more sense to go into the woods, then do a wide arc back out to the main road? No, they just charge blindly forward until they find a shack.

Notpick: Well, for once Terrell had a good reason to be gunless - surrendered it at the jail gates.

Notpick again: Thankfully - for the scriptwriter - they used Terrell's car to go to the jail. Being a newer Porsche, it has a computer inside it to be conveniently disabled by the EMP. I'm not up to speed regarding fine details on what an EMP bomb can and can't take out, but assuming the in-show assertion that it only knocks out electronics is valid.... Sammo's car is older than the hills. So old that there's a good chance it doesn't have a computer in it - it's completely mechanical and electrical! Had they taken it out to the jail, they'd have been able to hop in and drive off instead of hiding in the forest.

Maybepick: Does some brand of duct tape come perforated, like toilet paper, so you can rip it with no obvious effort like Sammo did?

I like making death devices In the Dark. Sammo and Terrell build a ton of MacGyverish traps. I don't think they built them at night (which would be suicide, as the bad guys would see their torchlight a mile off). I think they built them the next morning (which would be worse suicide, as it gives the bad guys all night to close in).

Great. I learn there is a God, but He's Greek Orthodox: In contrast to religious types, Amy was being a bit defiant and unorthodox this episode. Rather a departure from her original stance.

Romancing the last on a damn long list. The last Martial Law regular to have sex (well, an in-bed afterglow scene) on-camera was Dana Dixon, waaaaay back in season one's early episode "Cop Out". Now, Grace gets to nuzzle in Kyle's chest hair, which made me notice something. Actor Neal McDonough has interesting nipples. Mine are positively two-dimensional in comparison to his. Being a useless evolutionary extra, I didn't think men would have that much variance in nipple types. What the hell that has to do with anything, I'll never know.

I'm a bit inexperienced regarding this: If you're an official "good guy" or have sex with an official "good guy", does the after-sex pillow talk always get laden down with Deep Meaningful Speeches and one bad cliche?

On the other hand, Amy being ignorant of the fact that Grace was currently in said afterglow when they were on the phone led to one cute joke (Amy asks if Grace is making progress with Kyle) and one line that I'm still debating the innuendo level of.

Bock must have been a sound effect in the old Batman series! Miss Bock has a cameo. For a while I didn't think that anyone would beat Terrell in looking bad while fighting, but Bock beats him all to hell at looking bad while beating someone... uh... all to hell.

Strode's not a good sound effect. On the other hand, Strode's one kick was funny for being even more pathetic, and that was good. He wasn't supposed to be a fighter.

He don't know Shi... That's a Terrell quote. (Shian being the name of Sammo's son.) But the way Arsenio says that line, he drags it out so you really think he's going to say something else. I was duly impressed, since I think that's exactly why he did it.:)

One, two, three, FIRE! Sammo uses a gun in the final scene while trying to break the glass between him and The One. Dramatic, and a high point of the episode.

Turn on a dark, it's too light in here: Remember (during my "Freefall" rant) when I said "I'm used to episodes ending with a nice finale where everyone changes clothes (to denote a day's advance in time) and stands around the MCU." Well, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. And boy, did I get it. Just the ending I wanted. Except that it was full of closeups, had God-knows-what going on with Amy's hair (the closeups of her are too tight and from only one angle, but it looks like it's been pulled as tight to her skull as it's ever going to get) and ended on an even darker note!

December 21, 2001 AD Lack-of-Sleep Litany Update: How quickly we forget.

August 1, 2001 AD (The Egolf Chronicles, V7.0)
Care to read this? Or, just the excerpt below.

LEAP OF FAITH - From the writer/producer of "Sex and the City" comes this comedy about spirited Faith Wardwell (...), who rethinks her life's direction and marital commitment right before her wedding - then decides to chuck it all to continue her search for Mr. Right. After Faith's fling with a hunky stranger (Brad Rowe, "The '70s") prompts her to cancel her nuptials, she relies on her outspoken circle of friends, who include the free-spirited Patty (Lisa Edelstein, NBC's "The West Wing"), her co-worker in an ad agency; Faith's married neighbor Cynthia (Regina King, "Jerry Maguire"); and clueless Andy (Brian A. Green, "Beverly Hills, 90210"), who has abandoned dating. Faith also gets advice from her snooty socialite mother Cricket (Oscar winner Jill Clayburgh, "An Unmarried Woman"). "Leap of Faith" is a production of NBC Studios. Jenny Bicks ("Sex and the City") is the executive producer and writer. Alex Graves (NBC's "The West Wing") directs the pilot.

I'll be honest. Given that sort of description, I'd never watch it. I mean never. It's shows like this that are the reason I haven't watched a sitcom since Wings really started to suck. I'd sooner make a bid at performing a vasectomy on myself using a steak knife and a bottle of Captain Morgan instead of a scalpel and anesthetic. But there's a wrinkle. There's always a wrinkle. A wrinkle that's going to at least force me to watch the opening episode. It's in the part I cut out with (...). Most of you know it already, if you bothered to read the heading for this entry. But some of you might not be awake yet, and you need a bit of a nudge. It originally read ...Faith Wardwell (Gretchen Egolf, "The Talented Mr. Ripley"), who rethinks....

I must admit to finding the Ripley reference amusing, since damnear everything else she's ever done had more lines in it than that. (Okay, not Quiz Show, though at least there she was the one speaking her own lines.)

Let's go through the reasons why I hate this idea already.... These are, of course, all conjecture at this point. Maybe the show will turn out to be the funniest thing on this side of Monty Python. But I'm really not expecting it.

It's a midseason replacement: And we all know how great those are.

From the writer/producer of "Sex and the City": I tried watching that show once. I couldn't. I really didn't like it. Five minutes of it revealed only two sophomoric gags that I smirked at and two truly wince-inducing moments (including a disturbingly close shot of an animal's hindquarters). Most other shows on TV offer a better level of joke-to-wince ratio for me. If the gags had been witty, I could tolerate it. But their only humorous value was as off-color humor. Hell, I got the impression that I could write a decent "Sex and the City" episode after that. Have the four regulars in a public place discussing Mr. Wrong 1 and Mr. Wrong 2, after which they agonize over their own emotional baggage for a bit or go about setting up the plot which is going to lead to more emotional baggage. Mousy looking one lowers her voice when talking about sex, cleavage-showing one goes out of her way to sound trampy, etc.

I'm sure there's more to it than what I got in five minutes, but I got the feeling that there really wasn't that much more to it. Just general hatred of humanity masquerading as paper-thin male characters and female characters who act cheap enough that they deserve the paper-thin males.

"Spirited" Faith Wardwell: I like the name, enough to forgive the weak pun in the title, since "Wardwell" sounds cool. My problem is that I'm not entirely sure I like the use of "spirited". Presuming they don't mean perpetually drunk or haunted (though that would make for an interesting sitcom...), I hope that they don't mistake "spirited" for "perky" and by extension "perky" for "ditzy". I want to survive the opening show.

... to continue her search for Mr. Right... So at least part of the time each episode is going to be spent meeting Mr. Wrongs. There's a new idea....

Faith's fling with a hunky stranger... There's a good character. Pre-wedding and she hops into the sack with someone else, then cancels the wedding. There is a way to do this well, I know this can be done well. People make such mistakes, it can be very dramatic to see a resolution. But this is a sitcom, there's no drama. Unless it's going to be one of those "dramedies" I've heard of, which in my experience are mostly called that because of how similar it is to the word "Dramamine". And we all know what ailment you take Dramamine for, don't we?

And if the ex-fiancé stays past the first episode (as in, after he gets dumped by Faith) there's a male character who's a complete moron. No man with any brains is going to attempt to win back a woman who cheated on him and then dumped him. If he shows up once to get his ring (and maybe break the finger it's on), then disappears forever, I'll be fine with that.

All in all, the cynic in me is setting off the ditz alarm so far. A "spirited" character having a fling, leaving someone just short of the altar and plunging right back into the dating scene? There's someone who's obviously running on all one cylinder. Main characters are usually meant to be identified with (and no one is going to identify with an idiot). It's a rare main character (like Archie Bunker) that can be successfully wrong.

... she relies on her outspoken circle of friends... Oh, God. If sitcom lore has taught me one thing, it's that an outspoken circle of friends has few friends in it. Either that, or it's a bunch of people with a penchant for giving Deep Meaningful Tirades on the plot of the day.

The free-spirited Patty, Faith's married neighbor Cynthia, clueless Andy who has abandoned dating, Faith's snooty socialite mother Cricket. I've just got to say it. These had better be the worst aspects of each character, or I'm going to need a bigger dartboard.

Also, notice that the one male on the list is "clueless". I get the feeling this is going to give me another case of estrogen poisoning. I'm all for pro-woman programming (Not that anything even vaguely like "Sex and the City" is my idea of pro-woman anyway!) but if the male characters get dumbed down as badly as that sounds, the line between "pro-woman" and "misandristic" comes dangerously close, in the same way that "pro-man" and "misogynistic" often get confused. Which is why I don't watch any of those shows. Misandry and misogyny are just general misanthropy that had to choose a gender to use the public toilet.

Jenny Bicks ("Sex and the City") is the executive producer and writer. She's also the only human being who could get away with ripping off "Sex and the City" this badly without getting sued by the series creator! It seems like "Sex and the City" redone for the slightly more family-oriented (as in, you can only use the word "dick" as part of a sexual innuendo, not as an overt reference to the male anatomy) NBC.

August 1, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Final Conflict, Part 1')
September 30, 2001 AD Update: Probably should've done this before, but better late than never. If you're going to read this rant (or the rant for the other half of "Final Conflict") visit my Department of corrections, retractions, alterations, modifications, mutations, and other improvements on the truth.

Scorpio Body Count 5.0:

Kills: Holy Hell, they did a quick spot of business this episode. The limo driver and a Scorpio agent that I'm not counting except as intra-Scorpio abuse. Oh, and a plane carrying 234 people!

Attempted kills: Amy and Dennis, buried alive in their limo.

Intra-Scorpio abuse: Killed one of their own after he was blamed for letting Terrell and Grace onto their building sites.

Torture: Yet another attempt on Grace, but I'm not counting it. I am counting The One making Sammo choose between letting his son die or letting Grace die. I'm also counting Amy and Dennis being buried alive.

      Episode Name | Kills | Attempts | Abuse | Torture |
    Scorpio Rising |    1  |     4    |   1   |    0    |
          Freefall |    7  |     0    |   0   |    1    |
The Thrill is Gone |   18  |     1    |   0   |    0    |
       In the Dark |    1  |     4    |   1   |    2    |
 Final Conflict P1 |  235  |     2    |   1   |    3    |
             Total |  262  |    11    |   3   |    6    |

"Previously on Martial Law": They got Kelly Hu to say that for the start-of-show flashback last episode. This episode, they got Sammo Hung to do it. For some reason, I found his poor pronunciation - which I should be used to - really funny. I guess I wasn't expecting it.

Not previously on Martial Law: Tim Curry's old lines were redone by Christopher Neame for the flashback. Rather amazingly, he got Curry's good - if slightly melodramatic - lines, and he managed to cock every one of them up.

Marital Law. Or, is this really acting? Amy got engaged. Must not have been a hard bit for Gretchen to pull off, she was either engaged or (my guess) newlywed when that was taped. That's a long way to go for character research.

(Update, March 13, 2002 AD: I just tripped across something that mentioned when filming was for some of the episodes. If my math's right, she was probably married before she even started on the show.)

I just lost the fanboy sweepstakes: I'm sorry, but the best moment of this episode was my memory of the following message board quote every time Dennis was around. Google's poor translation only makes it funnier. It's part of a rundown of the next episode, though it fits better here.

While Amy IS GOING AWAY TO MARRY with a certain Dennis, a procurer all ugly and nothing that to see and that they put not more so that yes, net that Amy deserves something better like I.

I suppose it must have looked awful. Two actors doing their best to act their way out of a tin can (literally) and me sitting there with the giggles.

Fanboy serious time: I suppose I shouldn't giggle at another Gretchen fanboy. At least - like another (appropriately enough) non-English-speaking person whose possibly-mistranslated overtones weird me out - I don't get ranting fits when my idée fixe of choice gets kissed on camera. (Though I will admit to a raised eyebrow even on a second viewing. Eyebrow!) Kissing isn't that much when you consider what she's done on stage. Which, in turn, isn't that much compared to what I'm sure she's done with her husband. (Oh, come on, don't tell me that with all my sexual commentary you didn't think of that at least once!)

It's the fanboys like that that cause me to keep most of my fanboyish crushes under wraps. I admire a woman who happens to turn my head, which makes a hell of a lot more sense than admiring modern art. I rant a bit when she does something to annoy me, which is usually something that annoys me no matter who the person is. I make a lot of self-deprecating jokes, since I know I'm being silly yet have no desire to change. But, in the end, I know that she's not the person onscreen (they call it acting for a reason) and that she goes home at night and behaves just like every other borderline normal (an actor can't be that normal:) human being out there. I am sure she's had her fair share of indigestion, for instance.

I'm also entirely aware that she's a woman, not in the sense of "ooh, boobs" but in the sense that she's got the same truckload of passions, habits (good and bad), psychological quirks, and faults that every one of the three billion plus females currently not acting have. (The three billion males have their own attendant passions, etc. but I have a somewhat better handle on that problem, being part of said group.)

Final Cupid, Part 2: This next item first appeared in my "End Game" rant.

He's an overworked Cupid. This episode, part two of the season one finale, Sammo is getting overworked until Melanie (literally) drags him out to lunch. During lunch he says how happy he is to know her, and they kiss. After which Melanie vanishes from the Martial Law canon.

In "Final Conflict, Part One", part one of the season two finale, Sammo is again overworked. Amy Dylan (figuratively) drags him out to lunch. During lunch she says she's getting married to boyfriend Dennis and she wants Sammo to give her away at the ceremony (her father is dead, so he's not gonna mind). Dennis shows up at the lunch, and Dennis and Amy kiss - though one of Sammo's comments implies that he thinks they've been doing a good bit more than kissing behind closed doors.:) A few hours later Amy learns that Dennis has had a liaison with an old flame. Then the whole damn series ended.

Two disturbingly similar situations. I don't know if it means that Sammo is a Cupid when he's overworked or if he's the bane of all true love.

They don't call it "Shanghai" for nothing: Apparently getting a price-free menu (what Amy calls a guest menu) is a fraud trick in Shanghai. The bigger a sucker you look, the bigger the bill. This was a very good and decent fish out of water moment, I'd just like to know if it's real or if scriptwriter Paul Bernbaum is playing with his prosaic license.

Buried Alive, Buried Alive, already did this joke.... No matter. So here's where Amy gets buried alive with Dennis, in the limo he rented. Do I need to reiterate how dark this is?

The One's an effing nutball: It's been established, but I just wanted to drive the point home. And warn you to close your eyes, as the next entry has a cuss word in it. Real bitch, ain't it?

Can you actually say this at 7 PM? A Scorpio agent's unknowing wife: "Day and night he's on call, you know? Like he's a friggin' doctor!"

She lacks polish. Except for her nails. Amy: nice earrings, okay silver nail polish, a wonderful black jacket, black slacks and white turtleneck sweater, dreadful zigzag hair part. Oh well, can't have it all.

I bwoke my widdle nose: Sammo breaks a Scorpio agent's nose during a fight scene. The agent's wife is told it was an accident at the construction site he works at. Funnily enough, I know someone who got his nose broken in a fight (that he started, IIRC) and tried to pass it off as a "construction" accident!

If I'm ever a terrorist leader, I'm getting a sunny windowed office. The One's introduction (physical, not vocal) was nice. Hell of an office, though. Windowless, diamond-shaped, with yellow, red, and blue neon lights in the corners and on his desk! This guy's got freaky tastes.

Glimmers of the living past, shadows of the dying future: Terrell gets to go undercover! Never mind the scene as the pushy Indian-affairs historian type, I'm talking about his scene as a food seller. That was great, the best part being an apparent ad-lib not in the script on Goldberg's site - telling someone his food makes lawyers rhyme like Johnny Cochran! (You know, that OJ Simpson "If it doesn't fit you must acquit!" crap.) Wonderfully funny.

Quote of the moment, and a moment I don't want to quote: Just before the Amy/Dennis kidnapping.

Dennis: "Well, there I was this morning (sighs) brushing my teeth, all excited knowing that I was gonna ask you to marry me, when all of a sudden I had this crazy idea."

(White limo pulls up.)

Amy: "I don't get it."

Dennis: "I booked us a suite at the Fairmont."

Amy: "In San Francisco? Huh! Pretty sure of yourself there, huh, cowboy!"

(That's the line I found funny. And the two "huh"s sound completely different when spoken. But now, I'll skip past where Sammo and Dennis convince Amy - who doesn't want to abandon her post - to go.)

Amy: "But I don't want to be left out of the loop, Sammo. Promise me."

Sammo: "I promise. Go have fun. Separate rooms!"

That last bit would have been a lovely bit of humor if not for Sammo's rather harsh delivery. I could see it if this was Grace, as he's her father-figure and might be a bit of the stern parent type involving her sex life. (Too late....) But Amy? He's not half as close to her. Even if he had smiled after he said it, but no. Too jarring a mood change as well, since he just spent half a minute convincing her to go! Surely he's not dense enough to assume that a man and a woman are going to go on a romantic little rendezvous without actually rendezvousing.

Nitpick 1: 50 lives, give or take. Sammo was one of 50 Shanghai police officers buried alive 20 years ago, that's covered here several times. The One says it was payback for his brother (an arms dealer Sammo busted in Shanghai 22 years ago) and 50 other men dying after being buried alive when the mining tunnel they were doing hard labor in collapsed. Pardon my math, but Sammo was one of fifty. The One's brother was one with fifty others; one of fifty-one. The One sets up a superpowerful terrorist cult, and yet he can't COUNT?

Nitpick 2: LA's full of morons. Maybe it really is - hey, it has Hollywood, that pulls the average IQ down 30 points right there - but the fictional one is packed with idiots for sure.

The limo Amy and Dennis are in is buried behind this Scorpio agent's house while his non-Scorpio wife is out. It had to happen in the middle of the day, given the one day (I think - see below) time scale of the episode. The neighbors didn't notice the hole, which was at least twice as deep as the limo is tall and just as long? Even if there was some other excuse for the hole, no one wondered why a car was being lowered into it? Or was it done while all the neighbors (of which he has some - there's a row of houses shown when Sammo drives up) were out, too?

Nor did anyone notice when Terrell's truck was crushed, him inside it, at one construction site, or when Grace was beaten up by four or five guys and dragged off at another site? Don't construction sites usually attract onlookers?

Nitpick 2.4a: The Amazing Shrinking Limo. Or, Home is Where the Car is. How'd they get that stretch limo into the backyard of that house anyway? There looked to be barely enough width clearance between the fence and the house to drive it in, and even then they couldn't turn it so it'd fit onto the back lawn....

Nitpick 2.4a subparagraph D: The One is a Time Lord from Doctor Who! No, really! There was The Doctor, The Master, The Valeyard, The Rani.... Besides, it'd help explain the dialogue that was messed-up timewise in one scene on this episode. The One says that Amy and Dennis might have a day's air. Let's assume that's valid. It's a big limo, even after Dennis opened the front sunroof, filling the driver's area with dirt. No one changes clothes this episode, implying a one-day timeframe.

The rear lawn is covered in new sod, green with grass. The Scorpio agent's unknowing wife says it was laid down "The other day." They couldn't have laid it before today, unless it was pulled up and the lawn was dug out to put the car under. Which makes the work hiding the car even more unlikely.

Nitpick 3: It's mine and always has been, never mind that it's attached to your body. I should let this (and a similar event later in the scene) pass since Amy was not in a good mood at the time, what with the cold hand of death on her windpipe, but when Dennis confesses to bonking his previous girlfriend, Amy seems to be not-very-thrilled with that little tidbit of information (okay so far) yet then asks, "When? You mean since we've been dating." So she was starting to get offended before it occurred to her it was an affair and not a previous sexual relationship? She was expecting him to save himself for his wedding night, or something? Even if she had just asked "When?" instead of adding that "You mean since we've been dating." which made it sound like she had a literacy problem for writing on the wall.

Cosmic TV karma: Gretchen's two lead-character roles in TV (assuming this next one isn't stillborn*, though I doubt it) were Amy Dylan in Martial Law, and Faith Wardwell in the upcoming Leap of Faith. Martial Law ends with Amy's current wedding plans in doubt because her would-be husband had a one-night-stand (apparently one!:) while they were dating. Leap of Faith starts with Faith having a one-night-stand then calling off her own wedding. There's some sort of TV character karmic resonance in there somewhere....:)

(*Update, December 30, 2001 AD: Why is it that every time I think something is a sure thing, the odds fall against me?)

Nitpick 4: Hardware Hacking for Homeboys. Terrell turns a bomb-finding thermal scanner gizmo into a Scorpio finger-cartridge finder. If the cartridge was a replacement for part of a bone, why would it show up on a thermal scanner? If it's inside a human body, it's going to be almost the same temperature as the flesh around it!

Nitpick 5: LA isn't full of morons, they just employ them. Terrell is amazed that Scorpio knew he was a friend of Sammo's. Why? They had already hijacked the limo that Dennis rented for himself and Amy, and delivered a message to Sammo, Terrell and Grace saying they had, so they MUST know who Sammo's friends and coworkers are and who their family/fiancés are! (The limo was obviously rented in Dennis Taggert's name, given the dialogue in one scene.)

Nitpick 6: Unconsciousness is a function of the person who knocked you out. No, really. Sammo knocks out all five or so guys who kidnap Grace, but they all magically revive about 20 seconds after Shian shows up and starts to beat up on Sammo. I guess they were only out while Sammo was paying attention to them.

Nitpick 7: Final Gratuitous Ratings Moment. I think. How'd Grace ever think she'd sneak onto an all-male construction site as a worker? In that skimpy undershirt and tight jeans? Considering the attention she drew, it would only take minutes for someone to notice they didn't add her to the payroll!

Nitpick 8: Tie-tongued. I suppose, after getting all dirty digging Amy and Dennis up, Sammo was warranted in stopping to change his tie....

Cough, cough, hack! Gretchen did a much better job of coughing up a thespianite lung here than in "Blue Flu". Told ya I'd never comment on poor acting from her without counterbalancing (and overbalancing) it!:)

The men on the show: I wrote that in my notes and later spent five minutes figuring out what the hell I was thinking when I wrote it. Notice that in the past two episodes, the male bit characters (semi-regular Kyle Strode and one-episode Dennis Taggert) who are in relationships with the female regulars are both betraying two-faced pigs? FINALLY, SOME ACCURATE MALE CHARACTERIZATION!!!!!!!

All hail Macbeth, Thane of Auric! Another fanfic line I'm sharing with you.:) So, The One's real name is Auric Thane. You see, it's only the people with really stupid names that take titles for their names.

The One: Auric Thane, Martial Law
The Master: Koschei, Doctor Who, The Missing Adventures: The Dark Path
The Archon: No comment.

August 2, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Final Conflict, Part 2')
September 30, 2001 AD Update: Probably should've done this before, but better late than never. If you're going to read this rant (or the rant for the other half of "Final Conflict") visit my Department of corrections, retractions, alterations, modifications, mutations, and other improvements on the truth.

Scorpio Body Count 6.0: AKA Final Tally, Part 2. Given the HTML twisting I did for these charts, is it obvious I took an accounting class?:)

Kills: Two more planes. Death tally unknown, so I'm being kind and leaving it pass. (Were it a poor episode, I'd have levied a 500 kill count. Were it really bad, 750.)

Attempted kills: Sammo, by Miss Bock and that other Scorpio guy, Mr. Gant. Then there's Grace Chen by Shian. I'm not counting four more planes of people, and whoever they hit on the ground, not like Manhattan would have many people in it in the late afternoon. Hell, I'm not even counting Dennis (who's on one of those planes), since there's no proof the plane he was on was picked out of spite like Amy said. If so inclined, add 2000 or so to the final Attempted Kills number.

Intra-Scorpio abuse: Miss Bock killing a guard - since he was Scorpio as well, I'm only counting it as abuse. And then there was when The One ordered Miss Bock be "agonized" (looked more demeaning than agonizing or painful - Gant just pushed her down onto her knees).

Torture: Not really. More preparation, but no one actually got around to it. (I guess you can't show it on CBS....)

      Episode Name | Kills | Attempts | Abuse | Torture |
    Scorpio Rising |    1  |     4    |   1   |    0    |
          Freefall |    7  |     0    |   0   |    1    |
The Thrill is Gone |   18  |     1    |   0   |    0    |
       In the Dark |    1  |     4    |   1   |    2    |
 Final Conflict P1 |  235  |     2    |   1   |    3    |
 Final Conflict P2 |    0? |     2    |   2   |    0    |
       Final Total |  262  |    13    |   5   |    6    |
 Adj. Final Total* | 1012  |  2013    |   5   |    6    |

(* If you thought this episode sucked.)

Final Funny: Terrell had some real funny moments at the start of the episode, after he saved Sammo. Just his line about being "ready to kick some butt" when he looked to be in danger of falling on his own was wonderful.

The two ambulances he stole (the second one off-camera, but with the later justification that they shouldn't leave the keys in them, so stealing them is a public service) were a nice running gag too.

Quotes of the moments:

The One: "What's the problem, Shian? Food not good enough? People not friendly?"

Shian: "The problem is that you put a gun to my head."

Lesson one: Before you start any cunning plan, make sure that the main participant understands that pointing a gun at him and saying you'll kill him is part of the act. Oh well, file under "The One is a nutball."

* * *

How the following line was scripted....

Amy: (In reference to Dennis.) "He'll be on a plane to New York tomorrow...I want him as far away from this as possible."

How the following line was said....

Amy: (In reference to Dennis.) "(Clears throat.) He'll be on a plane tomorrow for New York. I want to keep him as far away from... from this as possible."

I don't know who changed the line between Rabkin/Goldberg's writing and Gretchen's delivery, but they definitely improved it with the implied "as far away from me".

* * *

It's the final episode, I'll let pass the Deep Meaningful Moments where Grace was making herself sick over how she wanted Sammo to choose her life over his son's life.

* * *

The One: "Sammo Law. I offer you a rare opportunity. Look out your window and behold the beginning of the end of civilization. Right about... now."

I just can't believe they used the phrase "beginning of the end" for a series finale. Or that I used it on this page without even remembering they used it.

* * *

Exactly what you never want to hear your pilot say as he comes in for a landing:

Pilot: "We are now beginning our descent into Los Angeles International Airport. We hope you enjoy your stay in the sunny southland. And it's been our pleasure serving... what the hell?"

I'll leave pass why the plane was so low over the city even before Scorpio took control, since they didn't put it into a sharp dive or even bank it much to get it to buzz the skyscraper across from the MCU.

* * *

Amy: "(I) Just got off the phone with the FBI. Scorpio has taken credit for the plane crash as well as one in Athens that happened at the exact same moment as the one here. (Sammo asks what Scorpio wants.) For all air traffic worldwide to stop immediately. And if it doesn't, they'll crash four planes tomorrow, eight the next day, sixteen the next; and continue doubling the carnage until their demand is met."

As someone who converts hex to decimal on an almost daily basis, I can carry that on for a good long time. 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16384, 32768, 65... hang on, I always forget if it's a double 5 or double 3... 65536.... I know full well it'd make for a dull as dishwater scene, but since it's Amy talking I personally could kill five minutes just watching her read a phone book out loud.:)

Oh, and I don't know if Dennis is already on the plane out to New York, but if not, this would have been a damn good time to tell him to take the bus.

* * *

What I was saying to myself (in MST3K fashion) as Amy was lamenting that her cheating sonuvabitch boyfriend was going to die on one of four planes about to crash into NYC: "Nothing like a bit of death to improve one's opinion of someone. Hey, if that plane crashes New York will be a disaster area. They might even need to declare martial law or something. I had tickets to see Jackie: An American Life, and now what am I gonna do with them?"

* * *

Shian: "I've been doing a lot of thinking, father. About what you said. Choosing which path to follow."

Sammo: "I hoped you would."

Shian: "And I want you to know I appreciate you treating me with such respect. It meant a great deal."

Sammo: "I'm only sorry I was unable to be that way when you were young."

Shian: "That isn't important anymore. What matters is that you trusted me enough to make my own choice... (...) and now I have." (Shian shoots Sammo.)

Yeah, it's just with a tranquilizer dart. Still funny, though.

* * *

Sammo: "You knew I was going to escape?"

Shian: "Of course. I set it up that way. I'm your son! I know your moves!"

Final Flashback: Remember when I wrote, "Just once before the series dies the death of a rerun phoenix again at the end of 'Final Conflict, Part 2', I'd like to see Grace wear slacks. Or something she can sit in comfortably. Once. Please?" So much for asking politely - it didn't work. Well, maybe in the final scene, but the purple shiny halter-toppish thing wasn't doing much for my opinion of the slacks.

Final F(lashl)ight: Why do the spotlights in Scorpio's ante-torture chamber (as in, the place everyone was taken to be tortured but never actually were) make such a loud "Thud!", like a heavy-duty circuit breaker being flipped, when they turn on? Is each light attached to its own breaker?

Spectre. Remember, he's got a British accent. The One has described both Sammo and Scorpio as rising like a spectre. He needs a new word. Like "eidolon" or "revenant".

Oooh. Fancy camera work: The closeup-free fight/conversation Shian and Sammo had where Shian has the big revelation about Sammo's reasons for doing what he did was nice. The camera spinning around them would have been a little more appreciated if Shian (actor Sung Kang) wasn't moving at the exact same speed as the camera, to keep himself in the frame.:)

It's not like we'll need it anymore: Scorpio HQ really gets demolished by Sammo and Shian in the final fight. Their fault for leaving so much free-standing frosted glass around.

Brrrrzzzzt! Good thing Shian ripped that electrical cable out of the wall with his right hand. As all electricians who work for good guys say, never rip electrical cables out of the wall with your left hand, else the current cuts through your heart on its way to ground and you either die or get nitpicked on Len's rant page. Speaking of which....

Nitpick 1: Who cleans up the bodies? I've got to wonder how Scorpio expects to go anywhere if they don't mind killing their own so much. (Kyle Strode killing a fellow Scorpio agent to save Grace in "In the Dark", Miss Bock killing a guard because he was in the way here.)

Nitpick 2: Who's maintaining the firewall? Sorry, but the way The One is hacking into the MCU PCs, they really should just take 'em off the Internet. Yeah, the script had a semijustification (Grace: "So much for Amy's new electronic security protocols....") but the show didn't.

Nitpick 3: I move like the wind. I look and sound like it too. The way Shian attacked Grace from behind made it obvious that Kelly Hu was deliberately acting oblivious, as I don't think he could have covered the space from cover (which he had to be in, considering that the way the walkway behind Grace turned meant she'd have been looking right at him at one point) to Grace's back without making some noise.

Nitpick 4: Amy must be a contractor in her spare time. Since she clearly says that if she's right there's two feet of space between the offices at the Scorpio-run law office. The secret room Grace finds looks closer to five feet.

Nitpick 5: Badda BOOM! Okay, Grace using a stun gun to pop the secret door's electronics was a nice nod to Terrell doing the same thing in "Call of the Wild", but sort of clashes with her later comment that if the wrong person tried to use Scorpio's retinal scanner, she'd expect the whole building to explode. Unless she likes playing with fire....

Nitpick 6: Terrell is strong. Got great ears, too. And clairvoyance. I won't complain that Terrell heard, one room away, what Amy was saying and managed to pick up the conversational thread as he walked in. That's nothing compared to the powerful Scorpio agent he had in tow. If Amy and Grace just discovered the retinal scanner, what reason did anyone (least among them Terrell, who's supposed to be in the hospital) have to pick up this guy from jail? Just to show him the sights and maybe have him provide a retina to scan if the opportunity should present itself? (Then there was that Terrell's lips didn't move right on one line of dialogue, the same one that's not in Goldberg's script....)

Nitpick 7: Sins of the fathers. And every other TV show on the face of the earth. Banks of blinkey lights on the Big Powerful Computers. Remind me to "agonize" the set designer.

Nitpick 8: Sins of the father's scriptwriter. Sammo tells the newly-redeemed Shian that they have to stop those planes from crashing. The way he says it implies he knows precisely which planes are going to crash and when. Yeah, I know Shian could have told him, but I couldn't let that heading go.:)

Nitpick 9: Pick a pinkie. Early in the episode, Miss Bock kills a fellow Scorpio agent by breaking the little finger on his right hand. In the final fight scene, Shian breaks an ex-fellow Scorpio agent's left little finger to do the same. I could write off variance when someone does it to themselves, which I'm sure there was, on the assumption that the poison cartridge would be placed in the off hand so the dominant one could be used to break it. But it's a bit much that everyone else can guess which hand the cartridge is in.

Nitpick 10: Black comedy. For God's sake, this is California! Why do bad guys like Shian and The One insist on dressing in all black? From Shian's uncomfortable-looking black (leather!) jacket, shirt and pants to The One's black suit, dress slacks, shirt and tie! At least The One spent the episode in an air-conditioned Evil HQ. Unlike Shian....

Final Nitpick: Someone gets thrown off a catwalk, falls to the ground. As they do, they hit a ceiling-hung light and something falls from it. Cut to the shot of them hitting ground and whatever object it was doesn't hit ground at all. (I should leave this one pass too, but I just can't.:)

Notpick: I wonder why The One was looking at that glass map of the world from the back. Not really a complaint, just looked like it was set up so the audience could see him through the map with the map oriented right.

Feel the pain, little toy cars! They broke the model budget with the plane ripping through the rooftop parking garage.

Final Rant: I can see leaving Amy's wedding plans in a bit of doubt. Nothing wrong with that. But Amy saying that one Scorpio agent (after they hacked into Scorpio's system and figured out where all their bases were, leading to an international task force wiping them all out, supposedly simultaneously) said "The scorpion has two claws!" was just pushing it. They knew the series was ending, can't they just let the good guys have one final, total, and absolute victory? Believe me kids, if they revive the series (highly unlikely) over here or Sammo Hung manages to start a Martial Lawesque father-and-son-kick-ass series over in Hong Kong like he's been trying to (more likely, but I'm not holding my breath), the last thing they're going to do is base the plot around Scorpio!!

Could I take you to the PROM? The thingy causing all the planes to crash was one computer chip installed in all planes for the past ten years. Looking at it, it plainly had a circle on the top for light to get through. Which is used in EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory) chips, since they're erased by ultra-violet radiation. Isn't using something that can be wiped clean by subjecting it to ultra-violet light or even strong sunlight a bad idea for something A) in a plane, B) that you want working ten years from now, and C) is a lot more expensive than a plain non-erasable PROM or a mass-produced ROM chip? The voice-recognition and spy-plane chips in "Sammo Claus" had, if I remember, similar quirks.

(Update, December 10, 2001 AD.... I don't remember, because it turns out - from a quick viewing of that one "Sammo Claus" scene - that they didn't.)

Final... er... Finale: I suppose I should cut into the final scene as being hackneyed and oversentimental, heavy on Deep Meaningful Speeches and closeups, etc. etc. But Sammo and Shian discussing their motivations was done so nicely it almost made me cry, even the third time around. Almost.

This is where I came in: Gretchen's hair, that made me cry like a baby. What a way to go out. It was poor-but-necessary when she was in the hospital, better in the rest of the episode, but the finale? Yeesh. Back to the style at the top of this page but longer in the back. Oh, you might as well stop reading here if you're not interested in my hormones. I mean, just look at what that next heading implies....

If I do this too much I'll go blind. Squinting at the TV screen, I mean.

I'm at an impasse. It's either go blind or go mad or both, so I'm not really looking forward to my fate here. Maybe I can get it out of my system with this.

This is why closeups can be a bad idea - they give me way too much neural fodder. During one closeup, it looked to me like Amy (or, more to the point, Gretchen) had some sort of three-dimensional lump on her face. It was about the size of a pimple, and flesh tone. By that logic it could have been a zit hidden under makeup, but something didn't let me accept that. A light gnawing that didn't let go until it compelled me to dig through my obsessive fanboy image archive, where I found enlightenment. The same thing is rather prominent in one of her headshots.

I kept looking through the image archives and a couple of convenient Martial Law episodes and I realized that it's always been there. It's well-hidden, since it's right at the tail end of the mouth crease whatsit along her left cheek, so it doesn't show a lot of the time. I suppose the tender attentions of makeup and lighting minimize it in some situations, then there's times when it's lost due to her current facial expression, or JPEG compression, or something else that ends in "pression".

Gretchen has texture. Oooh. Then again, maybe I've really lost it and am imagining the whole damn thing. Either way I expect the boys in white coats to come for me.

Gretchen Obsession: Hey, that almost rhymes. I've used both words a hundred times and just now realized they've got a beat when stuck next to each other.

The matching nail polish and outfit in the middle of the episode was seemingly unintentional yet interesting. (I thought her nails were red when watching it, but this other TV and VCR combo makes 'em look almost black. Well, either way it's matching something she's wearing, be it her red blouse or black jacket. Silver polish - which Grace/Kelly had taken to wearing this episode - would have matched her blouse buttons.) Her hair wasn't bad either. Not amazing, but not bad....

Her blouse in the final scene (that off-white cut-like-a-proper-blouse one, sort of like the one she wore in "Dog Day Afternoon" or didn't wear in "Blue Flu") was nice. Which offset the hair a bit. If only she'd worn a skirt instead of slacks....:)

August 3, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Shanghai Express')
Trimming the fat: Obvious I ranted about this one before, as I couldn't find much to rant about.:) I suppose I could comment on the obvious things, like the funny The Price is Right scene (Sammo won a showcase with a jet ski and furniture - so much for the plot problem of an unfurnished apartment:), or that this was bigoted cop Portman's first (and second-last) appearance, or something like that, but let's go for the fun stuff.

How quickly I forget: In the first LAPD scene, it rather clearly has "San Vicente Division, Los Angeles Police Department" written along the bottom of the screen. Heh.

Come on down! No, not you. Okay, I won't comment on Bob Barker in general, but I've got to wonder why they gave him a "Special Guest Star" spot in the bottom-of-the-screen-credits-that-run-for-a-good-fifteen-minutes-into-the-show whereas Rod Roddy - who only had about 30 seconds less screen time than Bob Barker - got stuck with "Rod Roddy as Price is Right Announcer" on the first page of the closing credits, just above the completely dialogue-free Janice Pennington, Kathleen Bradley, and Chantel Dubay as "Price is Right Hostess"es!

I'll tell you, the wonders of being a game show host as opposed to an announcer.

Occam's Razor: Louis's theory on why Sammo won on The Price is Right: There's more counterfeit goods over in China, so a police officer needs to know the retail value of many different things.

Sammo's real reason: "We get the show on satellite."

Quotes of the Moment: Louis (after Winship tells Louis and Dana to pick up Sammo at the airport): "Happy to." (Turns to Dana.) "Right?" (Dana doesn't look happy. Louis turns back to Winship.) "She's happy."

* * *

The scene were Sammo tricks Louis into choosing heads or tails on a Chinese coin that has no "head". When asked where it is, Sammo taps himself on the temple and says "Right here."

Louis' reply: "That's funny. You know how to say 'smartass' in Chinese?"

(And that last line wasn't delivered with the cold edge that the text here gives it, either.)

* * *

Louis making a quick buck betting on Sammo in the Sammo vs. Portman fight. And I thought such things were illegal in California.:)

* * *

"This side intentionally left blank." on the back of the blackboard. First place I saw something similar was in the old Infocom Invisiclue books. Where'd it come from originally?

* * *

Landlady (cowering at the door): "Excuse me if I don't come in right away. I suffer from agoraphobia."

Sammo: "Agora-what?"

Louis: "Arager.... Don't worry about it."

* * *

Me: "I feel smart." After digging through my tape archives and writing down (in Notepad:) the names of all the female guest stars on this episode and "Red Storm" to figure out the actress playing Sammo's landlady, Mrs. Pimner(?). Her name is Suzanne Krull, and I'm damn proud for wasting five minutes to find that.

Nitpick: I've got to ask, why'd Dana punch a purse snatcher in the face after he fired his drawn gun into her stomach instead of before? Granted, it was empty, but if it wasn't she wouldn't have made it five episodes!

Interracial bad guys: The bad guys who rob Sammo were driving a black and white Crown Vic.

We might be evil, but we respect the sanctity of marriage: When Sammo's robbed at gunpoint, the bad guy takes his wallet and watch, but not the ring on his left hand. Why not? Mainly because he probably shouldn't be wearing one for the scene - it's plainly a wedding band! Later in the season Sammo Law was revealed to be a widower, but here it looks to me more like it was actor Sammo Hung's own ring.

Where's your cute little sailor's hat? Sammo's rank in the Shanghai PD was given as captain (by Dana in the first Portman scene). While in LA, his two main commanders (I'm not counting the three or four temporary ones mentioned in "Sammo Blammo") were Lieutenant Benjamin Winship (mentioned many times and on the sign outside his office) and Detective Amy Dylan (mentioned several times that I remember: Terrell's admonishment during Amy's first undercover scene in "My Man Sammo", Amy herself uses it when introducing herself to the governor in "Heartless", et cetera).

I'm not too enlightened about how Shanghai police rankings convert to Los Angeles ones, but as far as I know a captain outranks a lieutenant by at least one level and a detective by several. Talk about being polite to one's hosts.

Self-recognition: Someone comments about Sammo being like Bruce Lee. Want to know what actor was beat up by Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon?:)

He don't know Hawaiian, I don't know Ebonics: Is it just me, or was the comic-relief black bad guy who said he couldn't understand Sammo's "Hawaiian" accent the one guy in the entire episode (including Sammo) who was almost completely incomprehensible to mine white-boy ears?

Gratuitous Ratings Moment: Kelly Hu in a bikini. I suppose I should have mentioned this first time around, but it showed up in all 44 episodes (opening credits) so it's easy to forget.:)

Deep Meaningful Shoulder: Well, at least you could see the other person's shoulder in the Deep Meaningful Dialogue (not Speech) where Louis talks to Dana about her not liking Sammo.

Si. Oui. Hell, yeah. Sammo ends a Chinese phone conversation with "Okay!" I didn't know that (and "Huh!" in "Freefall") was Chinese!:)

:uH ylleK I just noticed that the credit scene of Grace pulling Dana's gun away is a mirrored shot of the real thing, or (not likely) vice versa. Cute way of making the shot fit into the credits, which needed (for balance) a shot of Kelly facing right instead of left.

August 7, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Diamond Fever')
Day-off, me say daaaay-off, daylight come and me wanna go home: Notice how I'm a day off on this one? Well, TNN's added some newTV shows to their schedule (the unimpressive RealTV and MadTV - that wasn't a typo before) and Martial Law's now on at the ungodly hour of 3:00 AM. Since it's just a week before I'm done with my collection (save "Dog Day Afternoon" and "24 Hours"), I'm taping it (with commercials, rare for me) using my handy-dandy VCR timer which I trust. But I don't trust TNN so I wind up not sleeping well until 3 AM when I drag myself out of bed and check the VCR. Oh well, at least it's not cancelled entirely.

Ma Ma! Christina Ma, playing Mei Ling, got upgraded from the closing credits of "Shanghai Express" (which isn't bad since I didn't even see her in the actual show) to running-along-the-bottom-of-the-screen credits of this episode. Of course, her character - Lee Hei's wife (Lee Hei being appropriately enough played by someone named Tzi Ma) - gets killed at the end.

Fancy a quickie? I don't know if Sammo was being helped by special effects, but when he scrambled up the wall (feet pushing on one wall, back against the other) he did it damn quick!

Gratuitous Ratings Moment: Lee Hei confronts Chen Pei Pei (Grace Chen) as she gets out of the shower. And some more bikiniage later in the show.

Dove show-p: The ceramic dove of Lee Hei's that the undercover Chen Pei Pei smuggles out to Sammo will later show up again in "Painted Faces" as a not-so-subtle hint that Lee Hei is back. Rather nice.

Hasbro toys: LAPD self-defense instructor David Hasbro's first showing, and it takes all of ten seconds to show he's a jerk. If these scenes are any indication, David Leitch is a good actor.

Very good accent! Louis busts out his Australian accent here, and Dana compliments him on it. Now that I know he is indeed a native speaker of 'Strine, I'm more impressed by the rest of his dialogue.:)

Don't I have them on some vinyl? A real estate agent mistakes Sammo's claim he's from "Shanghai District Two" as meaning he's member of a rock band, not a police department. I found that very funny, even if Sammo didn't get the joke.:)

Actually, Shanghai District Two is a pretty cool name for a band.

Falling down the cucumber: It's getting hard to think of SWAT team jokes, but I just had to point out that there was another calling-down-the-thunder-on-an-empty-house SWAT moment. Again (well, not again since this is technically the first time), no one cared.

Adversarial faults: Okay, Dana's lines about "Zenmaster flash" and "yoda moments" were funny, but they really make for a far too confrontational character. Then she was set up as being in the wrong several times. She told Louis to make the phone call that - unknowingly, but that doesn't change the audience's perception of events - got Sammo into hot water; she told Sammo that he was wrong about something when he was later proved right; she snuffed out that incense thing of Sammo's behind his back, admittedly not knowing it was his (not that I blamed her - incense, yiicch!). She does have a few redemptive moments, but even they had shadows of the rest of the episode in 'em.

Even if she's right in her assertions, it makes her out to be the problem. See also: Amy Dylan, early season two. Oh well, you live, you learn, you get new producers, you live again, you learn the same lesson over again, you get cancelled.

Body count time: Not a continuing series, don't worry. I'm just mentioning that last episode, Lee Hei has about three kills, four attempts, one point where the undercover Grace throttles a wiseass minion of Lee Hei's, and locking two cops in a shipping container could be seen as torture.

This episode.... Attempts: Sammo and Dana at the start, Grace/Pei Pei at the end. Kills: Lee Hei killed one of his distributors, his henchman (first one I remember who didn't get killed when going back to the bad guy after being caught) killed two cops, then Lee Hei killed his wife during their fight for a gun. Abuse: Lee Hei slapped Grace/Pei Pei (I'm not going to stop using both names:) around. Torture: none.

Kills: 3 + 4 = 7
Attempted Kills: 4 + 3 = 7
Abuse: 1 + 1 = 2
Torture: 2 + 0 = 2

Pretending that Lee Hei has four more episodes instead of three, and that he continues at that rate, gives an estimated tally of 21 kills, 21 attempted kills, 6 internal abuse moments, and 6 torture attempts.

Take that as you will.

Who's your tailor? Lee Hei should give Sammo a jacket. Not only would Sammo stand out like a neon light, but Lee Hei's henchmen have ruined one jacket an episode on Sammo so far.

Hot and cold: Fake diamonds made at high pressure in cold environs. Funny, I'd think heat would be a bigger thing. Oh well, it wouldn't have led to....

Real cold: Sammo freezing Lee Hei's face to a cold pipe was rather nice, if painful-looking as old hell. Though his face was looking nice and frostbite-free in the next scene....

Short-term memory: Commercial lengths....

Commercial 1.... 2:30
Commercial 2.... 2:30
Commercial 3.... 3:00
Commercial 4.... 3:00
Commercial 5.... 3:30
So, that explains how it started a few minutes after the hour and ended closer to the hour - there was a minute less of commercials.

Nitpick: Between Pei Pei/Grace's fateful (it got her caught by Lee Hei's henchmen) LAPD call and the playback of it for Sammo, it changed slightly to speed it up.

Actual lines:

(Grace, from a car phone, phones the operator and eventually gets the LAPD.)

LAPD operator: "LAPD. May I help you?"

Grace: "Yes, I'm looking for detective Sammo Law. He's working in one of your divisions." (Since Sammo is working in a detective capacity, I won't point out that she got his rank - which Lee Hei gives as captain at one point - wrong.:)

LAPD operator: (Pause.) "I'm sorry ma'am, I don't show a Sammo Law on file."

Grace: "Then connect me to whoever's in charge of detective operations."

(Cut to a scene of Sammo that's running concurrently. When we cut back to Grace no time has passed because the operator says....)

LAPD operator: "Ma'am, please hold while I transfer your call."

Bad guy (Knocks on the window of the car with a gun.): "(Something in Chinese.)"

Lines from the recording:

LAPD operator: "LAPD (*) May I help you?"

(See that (*)? It's where Grace starts saying her line in the recording. Must have been electronically mixed because the operator doesn't stop talking or even waver slightly when he's so rudely interrupted!)

Grace: "Yes, I'm looking for detective Sammo Law." (Hmmm. Something missing?)

LAPD operator: (NO pause.) "I'm sorry ma'am, I don't show a Sammo Law on file."

Grace: "Then connect me to whoever's in charge of detective operations."

LAPD operator: "Ma'am, please hold while I transfer your call."

Bad guy (Sound of someone knocking on the window of the car.): "(Something in Chinese.)"

You know what the really funny thing is? The bad guy is, in the real shot, being heard normally - the camera cuts to an angle outside the car when the bad guy says his line. In the recording he's just as clear, despite the fact that there's a closed car door and about five feet of air between his mouth and the car phone's mouthpiece!

Smile! Lee Hei, being the Evil Season-Spanning Villain, never really smiles. There was a few moments during tonight's bloopers (which were run just after the show ended and before a commercial block, not just before the closing credits as later became standard) where actor Tzi Ma laughed or smiled. I'll tell you something - it was so out-of-character it didn't look that much like him! Really changed his looks (for the better - frowning that much or grinning evilly doesn't do anything for a person's looks).

Gotta love that solo: Don't know who played the music at the end (Mike Post apparently wrote it) of the season one episodes, but they did a damn fine job on the electric guitar.

August 8, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 5.0)
Not tonight, honey. I have a test pattern. No 3 AM show. Just an episode of MadTV and a test pattern, as my VCR revealed. I watched a bit of MadTV and barely noticed when the test pattern came on. I was not impressed. I was vastly more impressed by....

Role Reversal. Or, your grandmother liked to... box! Remember my reference to Tony Plana, Martial Law bad guy Chava Rocha, being star of a boxing-related show called Resurrection Boulevard? Well, guess who - though I do admit to not getting a good enough look to confirm this - was playing a really bad (as in, someone who gets kicks out of hurting his enemies' families) guy when I channel-surfed through Resurrection Boulevard? Louis Mandylor, Martial Law's good guy Louis Malone!

Not August 8, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Dead Ringers')
Oops, they did it again: Musical theme lately. Well, TNN didn't show "Dead Ringers", acting like they had played it when they just ran MadTV and a test pattern. Such attention to detail! Time to go back to the tape archives....

God, I hate <BLINK> tags. I'd never use them. Except for subliminal fanboy messages. Whenever I miss the good old days of impossible-to-read text, I visit Geocities. And similarly-blinking text on a monitor in Gabby Zane's control room (During the first fight scene.) was really annoying. It made the scene look worse, too, because it didn't blink in the wide shots, just the monitor closeups.

"Zenmaster flash" was an observation, not an insult: Okay, Sammo was a little heavy on freaky zen wisdom these first few episodes, averaging one each. I'm too lazy to double-check these, so beware slight misquotations.

Shanghai Express: "You can't break rocks with eggs.", which was good;
Funny Money: "A fisherman waits for the fish.", which was a bit hokey;
Dead Ringers: "You have to go into the cage to catch the tiger.", which almost begged for the prefix "Confucius always say:"!

It's a shape. Round. Bad guy: (Looks at Sammo.) "Little out of shape here, aren't we, chief?"

Sammo: "No, just fat."

At least it's not angst: Louis Malone blames himself for fatally beating an extreme fighter while undercover, despite evidence he died of a drug overdose. Well, I suppose a regular good guy is allowed a few moments of self-blame. At least Louis can still step back and sort of wryly look at his own behaviour, and he gave the blame up after about a day's time (until the dead man's wife found him, anyway). All was nice and sorted out by the end, though.

Some people never learn: Dana is rather offended because Winship wants Grace to tag along with her on a simple arrest. Season two, Grace is rather offended when Amy tags along with her. Today you're the new kid, tomorrow you're making fun of the new new kid.

Another Hasbro moment: Here, at least, he makes a fool of himself while trying to earn Sammo's respect. (Via overkill - he plays the hero, almost gets killed, then knocks out a subdued prisoner who Sammo had to subdue for him!)

Be a dear, Dana, and open the curtains: I'm sorry, but Dana's dead-flat hair that comes right up to the outside edges of her eyes looks like curtains. It should have a string you can pull to open/close it and reveal more or less of her face.

No deals. Unless you say "please". Season one, this part of it anyway, they were willing to make deals a lot more than season two, even to the point of letting petty crooks go.

Hey teach: I'd forgotten that Sammo also taught Louis Malone a bit. He was a boxer-turned-cop at the start, and by his third episode was more of a kickboxer.

Deep Meaningful Speech: Sorry, but there was a lot of closeups during one shot where Grace's motivations for following Lee Hei to LA were covered - at least you could see Sammo or Grace's shoulder as the other one spoke.

Ah, why not kill me: Evil scientist Gunther Mueller (pardon my typos, as they had some trouble getting over the Berlin Wall - Mueller's an ex-East German Olympian). I don't know why he took the performance-enhancing-and-mind-blowing drugs at gunpoint (as is implied). I'd take my chances with Gabby and her gun before taking the drug I had made and seen the slow death it caused. Oh well, they needed a fight scene.

Romancing the Malone, the prequel: Grace's first episode as a main character and not a Lee Hei henchwoman/undercover cop and you can already see Louis Malone making preemptive turning-on-the-charm moves.

Stun gun fun: Bad guys using stealth (or needing a prisoner) carry stun guns both here and in "Funny Money".

Oh, like yours is so much better. Gabriella Zane's website, as shown in one scene, is rather loud (including WAV-filewise, unless it was tape buzz). Animated GIFs, excessive fonts and colors, the works. But no BLINK tags. Of course, the browser was nonstandard (to conveniently avoid endorsing IE or Netscape:), not like you could have used a BLINK tag anyway. IE users are still trying to puzzle out my subliminal fanboy comment above.

Make a fist. A really good fist. Sammo does this weird move to break an extreme fighter's grip. It starts with making a fist real slowly for dramatic effect and then hitting them in the arm. Grace uses the same trick in a later season two episode, possibly "The Thrill is Gone" against an extreme fighter. (Was that episode a "Dead Ringers" remix or what?)

I'm not bleeding, I'm just dead. Extreme fighters here, just like late season two. I didn't see any blood at all, unlike season two.

I wonder if he has his own fangirls? Well, we all have to start somewhere, like with the role of "Student at Book Party" or something.

Nothing like an actor who has the following credit line: "Joseph Cassano as Coke Machine Fighter". Speaking of which, in his scene he was upstaged by....

Yet another Diet Coke reference. 'Nuff said.

October 27, 2001 AD Lack-of-Sleep Litany Update: ... or not:

August 9, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Funny Money')
Circular logic: Started with something that, through a light alcoholic buzz, could be mistaken for a rather Spanish version of "Twist and Shout". Ended on a Chinese version that gets one giddy enough to replace the alcohol.:)

And I find it amusing that during the first fight the band didn't stop playing. Provided interesting background music, even if it was a bit silly.:) It was also impressive that they reached their finale just a second before the opening credits cut in. Bright singers.

Hmmmm.... I know that waitress getup Dana was garbed in was a bit out there deliberately, but it proved something. Not only was it a nice green, but it showed there's nothing wrong with Tammy Lauren's legs.:)

Chanel No. 5, for men: Sammo and Louis find a woman's Chanel No. 5. Sammo tries it on. I forget, is that stuff unisex?

How to describe someone: So sayeth the British rocker, unless I'm just losing his accent: "The redhead with the blonde hair!"

Eeeew. While in a hospital, Sammo kicks a bag presumably leading from a catheter at someone attacking with a pair of scissors. He stabs it with the scissors and splat!:) I managed to laugh and say "Ewww!" at the same time.

Pre-Nitpick era redux, whatever that means: Remember my comment about the private jet vs. the redeye flight last time? Well, I figured it was time to quote the text.

Tony's sister: "Why is someone trying to kill me?"

Sammo: "They think you know something about your brother's business."

Tony's sister: "Well, how could I know anything? You know, I only got here a couple days ago. Tony takes care of me. My parents died a couple years ago and, well, Tony's spoiled me. He's the one putting me through UCLA and he even flew me out here on his private jet."

Bit more quoting: Sammo, impersonating a Secret Service agent from Dallas: "Howdy!"

Relationship-o-rama: Dana's got a date (with an ex-boyfriend, a Secret Service agent later proved to be crooked) this episode, and she'll be back in the sack with her ex-hubby next episode. Five shows and she's only about one boyfriend short of 44-episode Grace!

Bleak summonings: Is it just me, or did one henchman pop up spontaneously in the final fight for one quick shot and then vanish again? In fact, he looked - and dressed - like one of Lee Hei's hired killers from "Shanghai Express"!

August 10, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Cop Out')
How to grab an audience: Dead silence. Front of a restaurant. Nothing happening. Suddenly someone gets pitched through the restaurant window.

We're sinking, Captain Law.... A cop refers to Sammo as "Detective Law". Shame he got busted down so far in just a few episodes.:)

Stunt spiders: Sammo climbs up a chain-link guard that goes all the way up the side of the building. (While the long shots could have been a stunt double, Sammo's face was visible in the shots taken on the other side of the chain-link.) The man climbs like a spider on uppers! (Or a spider with a special effects department.) Someone should check to see if he's not a vampire.

More quoting:

Louis: "I've got to give your ex-hubby one thing: He definitely has flair."

Dana: "Yeah? You should see him take a punch!"

* * *

(After Winship admonishes Sammo for "improvising" at one point and throwing someone through a window.) Sammo: "The door was locked."

* * *

Sammo: "I can think pretty fast on my feet."

Louis: "And on his head, on his back, on his hands...."

* * *

Winship: "I like to think of them (Dana, Louis, Grace and Sammo) as my eclectic 'Dream Team'"

(Of course, it's about to turn into a bit of a nightmare as Dana's kaput....)

* * *

Lance: (Ducking bullets.) "Where's your gun?"

Dana: (Ducking bullets as well.) "It's in the bedroom."

Lance: "You have one taped to your back or in an ankle holster, right?"

Dana: "You only have one gun, Lance."

* * *

Bad guy: "I guess if you kiss enough brass, anything's possible."

Nah, Bruce Lee could probably kick his ass, if the script said so: Sammo's actions in a fight are again referred to as "Bruce Lee-ing" someone.

Romancing the Malone: During a lull in the action, Louis asks Sammo if Grace had a boyfriend in Shanghai.

Fanboy sweeps: This episode, Lance Carter (unemployed stuntman and Dana's ex-hubby) has a fan! Must have been a fanboy, too. Referring to any actor's performance on Xena: Warrior Princess as "epic" has to be the mark of a fanboy!

Research pays off. Maybe. Brian Van Holt. A simple name, possibly the name of the actor playing Lance Carter. Possibly not. Is the IMDb to be trusted? Ehhh.

Nitpick a number: Sammo needs to prove he's a corrupt cop to the bad guys. So he's got to kill a judge. Yet, in the "pass the hat" scene where the killer and his backup are chosen, Sammo tosses his badge in the hat with everyone else. Isn't he already chosen because he needs to be proven vigilante?

They could have a spy in your department. Like that guy over there, watching us. The judge, mentioning that there might be a spy in Winship's department, has a good point. Of course, if there was, she'd be in serious trouble. Seeing her sitting in Winship's office with Sammo - who's in the process of being recruited to kill her - might be a bit of a tip-off to said theoretical spy. I think that their meeting places should have been a little more discreet, since "hiding in plain sight" only works if the person or thing being hidden should be there. Judges don't often lounge about in police stations.

What a mess. Oh well, we won't need this place anymore anyway. Dana's digs get shot full of holes by the evil vigilante cops.

The slippers of death: Dana's final fight scene was very exciting. Her Snoopy slippers were a rather nice action highlight. Led to a very good blooper, too.

You're right. Twice this episode, someone told Sammo that he was right (about something he said). Of course he's right, he's the star.

Whap, pow! Winship's fight scene was rather good. It's obvious he's no master, basically resorting to fisticuffs with a few improvisations, but I still liked that part of the fight.

I think we're finally done. Well, it's Dana's last episode, and my last (for the time being) needed copy. So maybe it's time to finish. Besides, I've seen "Extreme Measures" three times now and I'm not entirely sure it would hold up to a fourth viewing. Oh well, looks like it's time for....

August 3, 2001 AD (Episode: None. These are my final thoughts.)
I was going to attach this to my "Final Conflict, Part 2" rant, but it stands better on its own at the very end of this page. I think this is a good place to end things, don't you?

The end of the circle.... Well, I might do a few more early Martial Law rants, but I get the feeling they'll be much shorter. Either way, this is the spiritual conclusion of my almost 500K Martial Law rantfest. 44 episodes, and...'s been fun...
    My Quotes/Moments of the Nanosecond/Moment,
    Gretchen/Amy's better scenes and outfits and hair styles,
    Arsenio/Terrell's wisecracks or silly undercover stints,
    Tammy/Dana's sharp wit,
    Kelly/Grace's ability to both act and fight well,
    Wright/Winship's character building episodes and excessive use of his last name,
    Louis/Louis' sort-of crush on Grace and the fact that I know a lady who thinks he's cute,
    Sammo/Sammo's insanely choreographed fight scenes and endearingly poor English,
    The bloopers;'s been maddening...
    My Nitpicks and continuity rants,
    Gretchen/Amy's more wince-worthy scenes and outfits and hair styles and schizophrenic characterization,
    Arsenio/Terrell's buffoonish early episodes and too-good-a-fighter or too-lousy-a-fighter fight scenes,
    Tammy/Dana's too sharp wit and general nonexistence,
    Kelly/Grace's infuriatingly tight outfits,
    Wright/Winship's episodes where he wasn't so much an actor/character as a cardboard cutout,
    Louis/Louis' steady minimization and eventual redundancy,
    Sammo/Sammo's gratuitous it's-time-for-a-fight-scene fight scenes and occasionally poor acting,
    Watching the bloopers after losing the innocent and idealistic notion that nothing bad was happening off-camera (certainly not saying that nothing good was happening - but it's a cloud over the whole affair nonetheless);

...but at its best...
    Season one's "nicer" bad guys,
    Season one's generally lighter mood,
    The fish-out-of-water moments that make me laugh,
    Season two's light escapist plots,
    The use of an ensemble cast to its best effect in both seasons,
    My razor-sharp commentary,
    Lee Hei's really great moments;

...and at its worst...
    Season one's pro-Chinese yet anti-world stance,
    Season one's writing so formulaic you could set your watch by the fight scenes and bad guy intro scenes,
    The fish-out-of-water moments that make me wonder,
    Season two's darker environs and surreal TV logic/real-world logic mix prevalent in the second half,
    Occasional fifth-wheel problems (both seasons) and the Amy/Grace catfighting that's the source of this whole damn page,
    My not-so-sharp commentary and massive spelling errors,
    Scorpio's not-really great moments;

...and even at its most mediocre, it was still - to me, anyway - worth watching at least twice, and worth ranting about at least once, and that's all I can ask for from a TV program.

The Archon

Image links....

    Rating: Argh! (Martial Law, 1999ish)
    Rating: An Improvement - but that's not hard. (Martial Law, 1999ish)
    Rating: Now We're Getting Somewhere. (Nicolas, mid/late 2000ish)
    Rating: Hey, Not Bad! - unless she gets blindsided. (Roswell episode "Ask Not", 2000ish)
    Rating: Kind Of Plain, but considering the environment.... (Roswell episode "Harvest", apparently Los Angeles, September 22, 2000)

    The biggest sparkler you'd ever hope to find. (Roswell episode "Surprise", 2000ish)
    The biggest firework you'd ever hope to find. (Roswell episode "Surprise", 2000ish)
    I know what they've been doing together (almost daily) for over a year now....* (Helman Gallery Party, NYC, September 6, 2000)

* Sharing living expenses, like all married couples. What did you think I meant?

    It's a framing piece. What do you want for free? (Roswell episode "Surprise", 2000ish)

    Hey, how'd this Gretchen-free shot sneak in? (Martial Law, 1999ish)

Run along home.
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