Herein is the original two rants that formed the beginning of my Martial Law page, as well as the semiregular Lack-of-Sleep Litanies. The Egolf Chronicles have their own page now.
This page is no longer source of new entries - please see this page for the more recent items. Recent updates are also kept on their own page, called "Recent Updates". Original, huh? (Just like this text.)
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.
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.
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.:)
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.)
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.
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:
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?
(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 24, 2001 AD (Intra-season rantings)
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....
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.
(Update, March 21, 2002 AD: Seems that there's more to this that I knew. Click on the link for more.)
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 cancelled) 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).
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!"
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....:(
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, it's your own filthy little mind.
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 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.
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!
August 19, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 6.0)
More Lies About Sammo: Now that I'm an official crazy trivia-knowing Martial Law fan, I decided to take a second crack at TNN's Martial Law trivia quiz, which the mists of time remind me I did very poorly on first time around. This time, I'm not the one who did poorly. Feel free to look it over yourself. But I'm going to quote it word-for-word here and let you in on some secrets about the answers. My comments in italics.
Question 1: What is Sammo's favorite color?
Question 1 Answer: Sammo's favorite color is Green.
Actually, that's debatable. As far as I can remember, he only referred to it as being his favorite color at the start of "Lock-Up", when he was undercover and presumably trying to stall a crooked mortician by asking to purchase a jade green coffin. There might have been a reference I missed (say, when he picked the basic green cheques for his new bank account in "Takeout"), but I'd need to do an exhaustive search of my tape archives - I'm just pulling these from memory.
Question 2: Sammo calls Grace by her Chinese name. What is it?
Question 2 Answer: Grace's Chinese name is Pei Pei.
Yep, they got that one right.:)
Question 3: Sammo's birthday is during which month?
Question 3 Answer: Sammo's birthday is in the month of January.
As noted in "Extreme Measures", his first scene with Melanie George.
Question 4: What was the name of Sammo's very talkative love-interest?
Question 4 Answer: The name of Sammo's very talkative love-interest is Melanie George.
Question 5: As a boy, where did Sammo go to school?
Question 5 Answer: Sammo went to school at Peking Opera School as a boy.
First mentioned, I think, in one of the David Hasbro moments early in the series.
Question 6: Sammo has a scar above his upper lip. How did he get it?
Question 6 Answer: Sammo got the scar from fighting a Chinese drug lord.
Uhh.... "Captive Hearts", the scene where Terrell and Sammo compare scars. I'd forgotten the exact reason given, though. I wonder why Sammo Hung really has that scar....
(Update.... He has it because of some kiddie hijinks.)
Question 7: Arsenio Hall played the role of Terrell Parker. Who guest starred as his mother?
Question 7 Answer: Marla Gibbs guest starred as his mother.
"Wildlife" and "Big Trouble". I needed to check the full version of this page for the titles. Shame on me!
Question 8: Martial Law does something unusual at the end of each show. What is it?
Question 8 Answer: Martial Law shows bloopers from the filming of the episode.
For which I'm eternally grateful.
Question 9: Sammo has a strange affinity for old ________________.
Question 9 Answer: Sammo has a strange affinity for old cars.
No thanks to the continuity screwups in season two. Sammo's cars:
A very strange-looking right-hand-drive number at the start of "Shanghai Express";
The unkillable blue Cadillac from "Cop Out" through to "24 Hours", plus a continuity-busting cameo in "Ninety Million Reasons to Die";
The brown former police car from "24 Hours" to "Sammo Claus";
The yellow former taxi from "No Quarter" to the finale.
Question 10: On the show, Sammo has an estranged son named Lone Wei. Who starred in this role?
Question 10 Answer: Timmy Hung, Sammo's real-life son, starred in the role of Lone Wei.
What a way to end - on a falsehood! While that's indeed who Sammo tried to get for the role, the INS wasn't hip on the idea of keeping to the shooting schedule. My source is no less impeachable than a quote from Sammo Hung himself, from his official fan site.
August 31, 2001 AD (Disclaimer of the Month)
More Lies About Everyone: Just so you know, virtually everything on this page is conjecture. The Internet is one of my sources and it is a consummate liar. While I can filter out the obvious lies fairly well, I make no claims that what's survived my screening is truth. This applies to damnear everything on this site. Quotes from people are assumed to be theirs, but spoofing and forgery has happened before. I have never met any of the people in question, so remember that I'm getting everything second-hand.
My liar filter consists mostly of the questions "Is this consistent with what I know about the person?" and "Is it worth lying about this?" While some people do lie for the sake of lying, for most people it's too much effort unless there's some payback, even if the payback is starting trouble. If I can't see any point in lying, I assume that the item in question is "likely truth" and it's treated as such. A risky way to do things, but it's the only way to do things on the good ol' Internet.
September 7, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 7.0)
I don't want my children to be corrupted by such horrible beeping! I know I finished my rants proper, but I forgot this little tidbit. The blooper segment of "Thieves Among Thieves" had an item where Gretchen Egolf pretended to beat Kelly Hu over the head with a thick file-folder. The audio, at one point, is cut out with a double beep (sounds like it was censored) followed by someone off-camera saying something that sounds rather crass. Maybe I'm just hearing things, but I wonder what was beeped out if they let through what I think they did....
September 10, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 8.0)
For reasons I'm not entirely clear on, I was visiting TNN's Martial Law page, with this page in a window in the background. Nothing big, most people keep two browser windows open. Of course, it's not often that the two pages decide to trade HTML. Get a load of what showed up on my screen. "View source" and "Save as" turned up the real HTML, yet this was still in the browser window. On a lark, I clicked on the "Litanies, Chronicles, and Fanboy Obsessions" (I just realized that I should swap those first two!) link to see what happened. I got a 404 saying that http://www.tnnonline.com/tnn/program/egolf.htm didn't exist! That'll be a real headscratcher in the TNN server logs, considering that the referral was from one of their own pages!
September 12, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 8.1)
For reasons I'm much clearer on, I was roaming about Lee Goldberg's site. In my travels I found out several interesting things, including a couple of odd coinkydinks. Several of which would take so long to explain it's not funny. But there's one I hit that I can explain.
Something I've misappropriated from a news article on Goldberg's site: "The two shows ("Walker, Texas Ranger" and "Martial Law") make a natural marriage," says Goldberg. "There's lots of action, fighting and a few good laughs. Just the way we like it."
And just the way he believes average TV viewers like it, too. The energetic Goldberg is turned off by what he sees as his industry's overabundance of dark and gritty television dramas.
From my rant on "Heartless": 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.
An article refers to him as wanting to get away from "dark and gritty" and I, in a rant based on the show done three episodes later, use the exact same words* to describe the proceedings.
That's got to hurt.
(* Though as an adjective-noun instead of two adjectives, for the grammar nuts in the audience. All zero of you.)
Another thing I found was a message board poster who made reference to a Diagnosis Murder character called "Carter Sweeney". Well, now I know what draft of air Goldberg plucked the Amy Dylan prototype name "Caitlin Sweeney" from....
September 12, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 7.1)
Under-dressed: The dumb luck of the innocent "fast forward and play randomly to see if you see whatever it is you were looking for but forgot about while you were getting the tape" move. Not only did I find what I was looking for, but I also found Amy in a skirt, at the very end of "The Friendly Skies". I'm amazed; you'd think I'd be so focused on Gretchen's gams that I'd have spotted this! (My God, a guy treating a woman like something other than a piece of meat for about 30 seconds of one day. If this gets out, I'm ruined.)
September 15, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 7.2)
Smile for the camera: I can't watch an episode of Martial Law without seeing something else. And I can't see something else without ranting. TNN ever-so-kindly skipped almost half of the season two episodes (about "The Friendly Skies" to "Scorpio Rising") and dropped the "Dog Day Afternoon" rerun right into my lap a fortnight early. (Thank you TNN!)
But anyway.... Remember my discussion of Amy saying "Lassie's owner, little Timmy, would always fall into a well...."? Well, I noticed something. (Anyone who makes a wry observation about who I was obviously looking pretty hard at in the scene can shove it. Thank you.) My comments, of course, in (parenthetical italics).
Amy: "See, Lassie's owner, little Timmy, would always fall into a well (Gretchen's cute.) and then Lassie would run off and find some adults (She's cute, but she shouldn't wear lipstick that red or that heavy. Makes her mouth look too wide for the rest of her face.) and start barking." (Hmmm? Oh, say something RELEVANT? Okay. At this point she's looking rather depressed. Her voice trails off as she says "start barking." and she sounds tired of explaining.)
(Cute... er.... Cut from a shot of Amy-with-Sammo's-face-just-peeping-into-the-shot to a shot of Sammo-with-Amy's-face-just-peeping-into-the-shot. Remember this point!)
Sammo: "So they would know Timmy was in the well?"
(Cute... damn, if I do that again I'm going to kick myself.... Cut back to Amy.)
(Cut back to Sammo.)
Sammo: "He must have been a very clumsy child."
(Time to nix the italics....) See where that first cut is? Well, during the cut, between the end of Amy's line and the start of Sammo's - less than a second, it's normal conversation - she goes from looking somewhat depressed to smiling. She's cute when she smiles. Cute nose in profile, too.
Sorry, drifting again. Anyway, it's too fast an expression change, and makes it obvious they did all the lines from one angle, then all the lines from the other angle. On several of the angle changes that follow, she shifts from a smile to a neutral expression and back, until her expression moves to neutral during one shot so it's all neutral-to-neutral. But that first frown-to-grin is painfully obvious!
I'd like to offer my services as continuity person for anything Gretchen Egolf is in. Trust me, this'd never happen again. No hair mistakes, no incorrect facial expression shifts, no wardrobe problems. Of course, I'd probably annoy her into killing me within a week.
(Slight update, September 19, 2001 AD: And I'd even deign to serve the rest of the cast in a similar capacity. To wit: Homer (the dog) - in the same scene mentioned above - manages to bark while he has something in his mouth. Doesn't make it obvious it was dubbed in later or anything.:)
September 23, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 9.0)
Pic the real fanfic: Okay kiddies, guess which one of the following Martial Law parodies I actually wrote a draft of and which two are so sick even I couldn't do them.
Martial Yog. Sammo gets teamed up with a malevolent swirl of prismatic globes that recently gated itself in from Miskatonic University. Together, they must find a formless mass that Certain Beings really want stewing in a pit somewhere. Sammo eventually finds it waiting for a bus. Meanwhile, Terrell has to figure out why Amy and Grace have started dressing in identical pentagram-adorned blood-red robes, speaking in unison, calling everyone around them "pathetic humans!", and occasionally laughing insanely. Eventually, through long-term gazing at their breasts, he realizes that they're not breathing. He also realizes that he never thought of how appealing that could be in a woman, and tries to find out if they do... ahem... everything else in unison as well. He's never seen again. Everyone at the MCU suddenly gains a taste for human flesh, but only if it's been grown organically.
No, He's not a Marshal! Sammo and Terrell square off against a powerful and evil bad guy, but accidentally catch him in the first fight scene. Sammo spends the rest of the episode looking for a replacement plot. Richard Nixon and Lee Hei both come back from the dead, but don't do much damage for a change. Amy and Terrell spend assorted dream sequences and real-world sequences trying yet rarely succeeding to have sex with or kill each other, sometimes both at once. Grace, cursed with being the author's least favorite of the four regulars, doesn't do much of anything until she dresses as a witch and gets in a catfight with Amy. Scorpio's The One seems to think he's on a show entitled "Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad". Amy blocks out the events of the day with the help of the first addictive substance she finds in the MCU evidence room.
Re-nigma Variations. A regular Martial Law episode, except all the regulars have personalities of other characters their actors played. Sammo and Terrell roam all over the characterization map, while Amy - for once - stays put on said map as Vanessa (Roswell) Whitaker. No one notices until she starts sleeping with the FBI-agent-of-the-week in order to get information out of him, though that only leads to some salacious office gossip about which other FBI agents she's done that to. An impromptu pool puts odds heavily in favor of Agent Stockwell (Martial Law episode "The Friendly Skies") after Sammo mentions that Amy handcuffed Stockwell to a tree and went through his pockets for anything interesting she could find. Gossip stops when Amy starts killing people using nothing but force of will. All the actual police work gets done by Grace, who gets stuck as her Nash Bridges Michelle Chan character. Bad guy is played by one of those actors who's always in bit parts but never starring roles. You know the one, you've seen him in a dozen things. He was great in Newhart, and his Golden Girls episode wasn't bad either. You know the one, the one in that commercial there. Damn.
Answer in a future update....:)
October 5, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 10.0)
Sammo Yamo: I was playing the old Commodore 64 game Bruce Lee a few days back. Great game. Then, all of a sudden, something hit me. The main bad guy you fight is a green (don't ask) sumo wrestler named Yamo. I was hit by a few amusing coinkydinks. (Coincidence, or planned subtlety? You be the judge.)
A1) While this is probably just a concession due to the one-color fleshtone, Yamo wears gloves. Sumo wrestlers don't.
A2) On the other hand, when Sammo Hung was fighting Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon (I think), he was wearing black boxing-ish gloves. I have a picture, but seeing both Sammo Hung and Bruce Lee in tight shorts is downright traumatic and I'm unwilling to subject you to that.
B1) Yamo's repertoire is a kick, a punch, and a half-scream/half-moo that's useless for anything but cursing that Bruce's third move is a useful duck move. Sumo wrestlers don't kick or punch. I don't know if they scream. Some of them might moo, but I've never had the opportunity to witness this myself.
B2) Sammo, on the other hand, did (as far as I know) kick and punch Bruce in Enter the Dragon (or whatever). I don't think he mooed.
B3) You wouldn't believe how I had "useful duck move" typoed for a split second before realizing what I'd typed. Actually, you probably would.
Of course, there's differences. Yamo's hair is sumo-style, insofar as a dozen pixels can have a definable "style". And there's no evidence that the similarity of "Yamo" and "Sammo" isn't just a freak coincidence. (This game must have been made in the mid-1980's. Was Sammo Hung even going by that name by then?)
(Update, March 12, 2002 AD: After a quick skim of the documents included with the Remember crack of Bruce Lee, I've realized that there's no statement claiming Yamo's a sumo wrestler (Lord knows where I got that idea from, likely a video game fan site). He's just a big guy who punches and kicks things. Which makes the comparison to Sammo Hung even more relevant.:)
Even so, it makes an already fun game infinitely more entertaining if you imagine a seasick Sammo Hung is attempting to beat up a jaundiced Bruce Lee.
October 7, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 7.3)
Dasher and Dancer and.... Uh... Richard and Nixon...? Halley and Eros? Sturm und Drang? You know, I just remembered something. When Amy's naming the reindeer in "Sammo Claus", she gets to about "Comet" in the reindeer list and then stutters over a "d" sound. So she's stopped short before "Donner" and "Blitzen". Gretchen Egolf's name - and therefore at least part of her DNA* - is obviously of staunch German descent. All this ties together because of what "Donner" and "Blitzen" mean in German**. When the realization of this hit me, I found it rather funny. I'm obviously easily amused. (Here's a site for the even more easily amused.)
(* Unless she's adopted*** or a stepchild or something. To entertain the idea of her being a stepkid for a minute - which is really reaching**** - it doesn't explain that first name, which I figure isn't horribly common in the US no matter how you slice it.)
(** Not to say Gretchen's fluently German. If name meant anything, I'd be able to speak French. Of course, I can fluently cuss people out in French, though this ability is sadly unneeded in most social situations. Hmmm. I wonder if Gretchen knows how to cuss people out in German?:)
(*** Not like it matters; having plainly defined ancestry can sometimes be worse than not knowing. For instance, I pretend that the French half of my DNA isn't as knotted within itself as it is. Probably more than you needed to know, right?)
(**** Len's first rule of webpage work: If I denounce something as being unlikely, it's likely. If I promote something as being likely, it'll never happen. Anyone care to take odds?)
(***** Yeah, there's no five asterisk footnote. I just wanted to say "asterisk". It's cool. Asterisk.)
October 8, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 11.0)
(By "recent events", I'm talking about the terrorist attacks on the United States. Not like you hadn't figured it out.)
Hmmm. TNN's done some renovations. First off, they revamped their schedule. Martial Law is on again (at the sane hour of 3:00 PM local time, not 3:00 AM!). Today's, "My Man Sammo" had the following line from the undercover Terrell: "So I told him, I said, 'I'm not a terrorist, I'm a patriot, okay? The only reason I'm blowing up this country is because I love it!' Y'understand where I'm comin' from?" It also had a guy named Achmed (or some other Arab-ish appellation) who wanted to purchase some weapons.
I was mildly impressed; I was (until today) worried that TNN would be jumping at shadows and Middle Easterners. Seems not. But more to the point....
Their Martial Law site is much different, and they've (thank you!) reinstated the show-by-show schedule. I see they're running the Martial Laws they skipped a few weeks ago. Which means that, if not for someone informing me of the "Dog Day Afternoon" being early, I'd have missed it for two more months. (Thanks for that, BTW.)
There's something in that schedule that I find interesting. They're not skipping the "Final Conflict"s. Unless not-so-cool heads prevail, they'll be on in about two weeks time. On the other side of the cosmic coin, Lee Goldberg removed the "Final Conflict" scripts from his site, because the recent events are a classic case of life imitating art.
If you'd care to read my "Department of corrections, retractions... and other improvements on the truth." rant for my opinion, you might realize that my stance is about the exact opposite of Lee Goldberg's. Yet I don't fault him, since it's his site (and his alone) and therefore his prerogative*. A website like mine or even his is first and foremost a labor of love. We're not getting paid for our work, we're doing it because it's something we wish to do. Besides, the tone of his deletion message struck me as having a twinge of personal pain in it. Could've been just that sort of general mourning Americans have done recently, or something more. I don't know and have no intentions of finding out.
(* Not like the loss of two scripts is the end of the world anyway. Since I already have copies safely stowed on two different CDs, I don't particularly care from a personal standpoint.)
But back onto topic. To be honest, I didn't think TNN had the guts to show these episodes. That they'd give in to the pressure "not to offend" and quietly skip the last few Scorpio episodes. But, here's hoping, they won't. They have more at stake than some random bit bucket on the Internet: you don't just skip a season finale, no matter if you've shown it half a dozen times in the past. Especially if you've shown it half a dozen times in the past. It's a disservice to the people who watch the show. They deserve to see things through to the end.
But still, the fact that they seem willing to stand by a show, even if it's innocently controversial, really has me in a sort of awe. It's a feather in their cap.
Of course, they do seem to be skipping "The Friendly Skies", but I'm almost willing to let that pass since it was not part of any major plots. Besides, it still sucks, plane hijacking or no plane hijacking.
Update, October 15, 2001 AD: Well, well. I don't upload the damn thing and they've already made me a fool. Guess what? Today's "Honor Among Strangers" was replaced with "24 Hours". A better episode, granted, but that's not really relevant. And their schedule of about Thursday (when I downloaded it!) didn't mention "24 Hours". Hmmm. Are they going to pull a switcheroo with "Final Conflict"?
Update, October 18, 2001 AD: Well, well, well. I plan on uploading and they stab me in the back yet again. According to their current schedule, "Final Conflict" will be replaced with a couple of season one episodes. Nice to see you lack guts, TNN. Granted, I was expecting exactly this to happen; but that doesn't change the fact that I'm disappointed.
I suppose I could re-write or scrap this rant entirely now, since it's completely irrelevant. But no. They put something on their website, then I'm warranted in commenting on it on mine. You can't jump at shadows forever. Play that game, and your enemy has already won. (Ye gods, what depths of cliché I have been lowered to. I'd like to state that this page is older than most others and I invented this phrase, but then someone would probably have me killed.) But, until my next diatribe, a little moment from tomorrow's episode, unless they cancel that too....
Amy: "... troops and tanks outside the city, ready to move in."
Sammo: "Not how I see America."
Terrell: "Tell me about it. Scorpio's forcing us into becoming a police state."
- In the Dark
... the thought police are no better. Sleep well, children.
October 12, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 7.4)
Deathframe 3: TNN They showed Deathfist 5: MCU today. Guess what? That black screen thing happened again, for the third time that I remember. Took until the very end of the Sammo/Amy training fight scene for it to recover. This time, though, they didn't re-run it from the commercials, I don't think. (I didn't stick around for the whole episode. I was quoting some of the scenes verbatim while watching, so I'm a bit jaded.)
December 17, 2001 AD: And again. Recovered fairly fast, though. Still, they really need to fix that bad tape.
October 19, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 7.5)
When your teenage male cousin knows more about women's underwear than you do.... Twice in my "My Man Sammo" rant, I make a comment about a brassiere or the presumed lack thereof. Well, I've just found out that there is indeed some forms of support that look like they have no center connection. I'll be damned. I need to undress more women.
The person I learned this from was one of my mother's sister's sons, and I'm not going to describe precisely how the subject was brought up. I'll just say this: I didn't know about the little plastic flower thing either. Of course, I'm not stupid enough to trust a teenager on anything involving the opposite sex, so I used the lad's humiliation to cover for asking a few quick confirmatory questions of an actual woman type person who was present.
I'm such a pig, aren't I?:)
October 23, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 7.6)
Lost in Space: I watched part of the episode formerly known as "Wild Life" today, since TNN merrily dropped it in place of "Final Conflict, Part 2", the series finale. Ahem.
But I've beaten that dead horse enough; on to topic. I realized that the title of the episode was not "Wild Life" as my handy episode guide asserts, but "Wildlife", as shown onscreen. Unless the people doing the credits made a mistake, certainly not something completely unheard of in my universe.
No matter, might as well keep things as close to (un)reality as possible. Even if "Wild Life" looks better. It's fixed now.
October 27, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 7.7)
... or not: What do you know. There's two diet cola references "Dead Ringers", but I missed the first. (Louis Malone stares meaningfully at a soda can like he's debating the futility in drinking it.)
But both that and the other reference in the show are actually "Diet Cola" lookalike cans, a la "Call of the Wild". I stand/sit corrected.
October 27, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies: The MetaLitany)
I was just poking around this site and noticed some of the amusing errors that I've fixed/accidentally made worse. My favorite is that I can't seem to get nationalities right, even of white people. I'm consistently anywhere from one country to half a planet off.
Of course, during my school days, there was a kid whose offensive Jew parody accent sounded more like everyone else's offensive Arab parody accent. I figure if I can keep my head above that standard for failure, I'll be okay.
November 6, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 9.5)
Pic the real fanfic redux: Didja guess? Didja? Didja? Didja guess Martial Yog? Didja? Didja? If you did, you're completely wrong! Yay!
Didja guess Re-nigma Variations? Huh, huh? Guess what? Still wrong! Had I actually written it, I'd have called it Goldberg Variations (waits for all the classical music majors and majorettes to catch on to the joke).
So that leaves No, He's not a Marshal! Yep, that's it. Twisted dream-sequence unreality by the ton. I'm such a deviant, aren't I?:)
November 9, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 11.5)
I suppose I'm flogging a dead horse, and flogging it far too harshly, but I'm in a very bad mood.
I'd like to point out that TNN is apparently going to be skipping "Red Storm" which has such modern-day no-nos as terrorists who aren't Arabs, planes that aren't hijacked, and tall buildings that aren't targets.
Lordy, I'm glad this whole anthrax thing only popped up a week or so after "Blue Flu" - or, as TNN artfully named it, "Blue Flue" - aired.
Who wants to lay money on the odds that "Blue Flu" will be the next one to take a bullet?
Unless, of course, they first skip "Sammo Blammo" (non-Arab terrorists at the beginning), "This Shogun for Hire" (presumed - falsely - assassination attempt on the Attorney General, whose nonfictional counterpart is very much in the news now), "My Man Sammo" (terrorist + nukes = paranoia), "The Friendly Skies" (for the God-second-damned time), and "Call of the Wild" (it's completely and utterly escapist and presumably we're not allowed to enjoy TV anymore).
November 17, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies: The Non-Litany)
Just so you all know, I've added a new page to this site. It's a "recent updates" page, so you won't need to reload this page just to check for an update. Enjoy!
November 18, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 12.0)
If you got here from Egolf Chronicle V10.8OT, good for you. If you got here from Random Thoughts, then I'm downright impressed at your willingness to throw yourself into a confusing mess of links. Prepare to be perplexed.
If you didn't read it yet, you might do well to look over my V10.0 Chronicle, along with the correction at V10.01. (Yes, I know I don't put "V" in front of Litany version numbers, while I do in front of Chronicle numbers. It's now a tradition - in other words, a bad habit with a pedigree.)
Well, tonight (and last week) I was watching the current Nero Wolfe installment on A&E, the two-parter Prisoner's Base. I started watching five minutes into the show last week, so I missed the opening credits.
(Though this episode was, may I say, much more involving than the Wolfe series opener, The Doorbell Rang, which I wasn't incredibly amazed by. If Gretchen Egolf hadn't been in it, I doubt I'd have hung around through to the denouement, or even beyond my five-minute channel-surfing attention span. She wasn't in this one, yet I couldn't stop watching. A very good episode. Seemed better acted, even by the regulars. But that's just me.)
Anyway, on to the point. I didn't see the credits last week. This week I did. Imagine my amazement when Lee Goldberg's and William Rabkin's names popped up.
Now, I knew that Goldberg and Rabkin had written up a teleplay version of a Rex Stout Nero Wolfe novel, which I found an amusing coinkydink, what with all my whining about Gretchen Egolf's bit part in that other episode.
But there's a difference between reading a mention of it on Lee Goldberg's page and seeing his name on screen. The former lacks one key element that the latter provides - the visceral "oomph" of seeing a familiar name come up out of the blue. I wasn't really surprised when I saw Nero Wolfe mentioned on Lee Goldberg's site, since it seemed like nothing more than a smirk-worthy bit of televisory* happenstance.
It seems that seeing a name on a television show and hearing of a television show from a name are two completely different things.
(* I forget the real word meaning "of or relating to television". This works.)
November 27, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 13.0)
I just realized how few Asian-looking actors there are over here doing television. Last night's JAG (apparently titled "Innocence") featured both Mako (Master Reng(?), "Red Storm" and "Requiem") and Yuji Okumoto (Mr. Strick(?¿?!?), "Scorpio Rising").
I also realized that Mako is Japanese (so I'm told by the IMDb), not Chinese like he played in Martial Law. Hmmm. I suppose this is the point where someone - be it me or the CBS casting department - is expected to make a racist comment about everyone "over there" looking alike?
November 28, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 14.0)
Sammo Blammo is on TNN today. They seem to have altered things: The names in the opening credits (most notably Arsenio Hall's and Gretchen Egolf's) aren't obscured by the TNN logo anymore, and the post-opening credits at the bottom of the screen are perfectly readable. I don't think they bumped up the image so the top is missing instead of the bottom.... They might have compressed it, actually, to get more in. That strikes me as taking a lot of trouble and electronics to do constantly, but I know nothing about TV production.
Well, whatever. At least I can read subtitles again, now. If I didn't have 'em all on tape.:)
November 29, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 15.0)
For once, an item not about me, though I play a supporting role. I deserve an Oscar.
Around the 15th of this month, someone named Christopher got in contact with me regarding these pages. He asked if I knew the name of the song being played in the background at the end of Painted Faces. (If you played the MP3: Yes, she stole his fork. Formerly bigoted cop Portman had a thing about using a fork from America to eat Chinese food.)
I didn't know. I offered some theories and recorded the MP3 above so he'd at least have some of it in a computer-readable format. Turned out to be a great boon for him, since someone listened to the MP3 and told him both the name of the chanteuse and the title of the chanson. The signer is Teresa Teng and the song is called "Moon represents my Heart". It's a very nice song.
Christopher's almost in a Zen-like peace at this point, as all his detective work came to some good. I got a profusion of thanks for the MP3, so I'm feeling kind of happy too.
It helps get rid of the little cloud of depression that's dogged me of late to know I've done some good in this world.
December 1, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 16.0)
Rez doesn't watch Martial Law, but he (for some reason) thinks I can write decent humor. So, he sent along these replies to some of the nonhypothetical hypothetical questions I asked. Organized by episode, with the first half of each item being the entry that (I assume) is commented on.
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....
Rez's Reply: Pei Pei might not be a name per se. Chinese is kinda fuzzy in the realm between name and personal designation (for example, what you call your relatives such as your mother or inlaws).
Deathfist 5: Major Crimes Unit
Notpick: At first I was going to comment on Jake (Cord)'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.:)
Rez's Reply: When a character's name is "Cord" or "McCord", you know in advance he's gonna be really fake -- that's one of those He-Man names that came out of the spaghetti western tradition.
In the Dark
Maybepick: Does some brand of duct tape come perforated, like toilet paper, so you can rip it with no obvious effort like Sammo did?
Rez's Reply: Duct tape doesn't come perforated, but the genuine cloth-backed kind rips across its width fairly easily if you start it right. ie. military issue. It's also stronger overall and sticks more or less forever. (...) Gaffer's tape (what they probably really used) is another name for military grade duct tape.
Final Conflict, Part 1
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.
Rez's Reply: Price-free menus exist. The idea is that if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it, and if you can't afford it, you'll lose face, a fate worse than death in oriental culture. So you pay whatever they ding you for.
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.
(Rez sez: L.A. IS packed with morons :)
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?
Rez's Reply: Nope, construction sites in big cities mostly don't attract onlookers. They're already loud, messy, annoying, in your way, and liable to drop heavy objects on your head if you get too close, and common as dirt. Disasters at same only attract neck-craners after the media announce said disaster. And most people watch it on TV anyway!
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!
Rez's Reply: I also don't understand why female construction workers get decked out in skimpy tank tops and tight jeans, nor (why) they also wear that in real life[tm]. I've seen 'em. I still didn't believe it.
Final Conflict, Part 2
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?
Rez's Reply: Some 220v power switches really DO make a heavy THUD (or CLONK) when they turn on and off. You should hear the switch on my well pump. From a block away. Some fluorescent light transformers do that too, tho not as loud.
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.)
Rez's Reply: Who cleans up the bodies? Believe it or not there are janitorial companies that specialise in cleaning up gory crime scenes, houses where people die of natural causes and aren't found for weeks, etc. You couldn't get me to do that for any amount of money.
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.
Rez's Reply: Oh yes, blinky lights on the Enterprise computer console, just like they did it back in 1950!! Either that, or Windows' new interface finally REALLY got out of hand!
Feel the pain, little toy cars! They broke the model budget with the plane ripping through the rooftop parking garage.
Rez's Reply: Plane thru parking garage was probably stock footage, at a guess.
Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 8.0
For reasons I'm not entirely clear on, I was visiting TNN's Martial Law page, with this page in a window in the background. Nothing big, most people keep two browser windows open. Of course, it's not often that the two pages decide to trade HTML. Get a load of what showed up on my screen. "View source" and "Save as" turned up the real HTML, yet this was still in the browser window. On a lark, I clicked on the "Litanies, Chronicles, and Fanboy Obsessions" (I just realized that I should swap those first two!) link to see what happened. I got a 404 saying that http://www.tnnonline.com/tnn/program/egolf.htm didn't exist! That'll be a real headscratcher in the TNN server logs, considering that the referral was from one of their own pages!
Rez's Reply: Bad DHTML plus a resource leak, I think!
December 3, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 7.8)
Legs... legs... legs... legs.... You say a word enough and it starts to look stupid. For instance, "two". In the phrase "Two million, two hundred and two thousand, two hundred and two point two", the word "two" starts looking wrong. You know it's right, but still think it's wrong.
Anyway: "24 Hours" - there's another two! - is running right now. They just got to the scene where Temple's cooking the pheasant. (Up here on my VCR, they're already two - two! - scenes ahead of that. I love fast-forward.)
Anyway (again): Amy Dylan (Gretchen Egolf*) was decked out in a skirt. Skirt. Legs - of which she has two! Skirt. She spent the whole episode - save the final scene - in a skirt and I didn't even notice.
(* As if you need a reminder of the actress's name....)
She was in a skirt, but it was only obvious twice (two times!) - right at the beginning when she walks into the MCU, and later when she walks from her desk over to the chair which convict (and escape artist) Alastair Temple was previously handcuffed to.
My paranoid side is convinced that someone is somehow retroactively** screwing with my head. Clear out kiddies, this is gonna get ugly.
(**That means "to drive/work/act before". I mean "to drive/work/act after". Hmmm. Proactively? Or, for medical students in the audience, anteroactively?)
And if you think I'm going to fast-forward my way through 22 episodes looking for more of her gams, you're insane. I might just do it, but you're still insane.
December 3, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 11.6)
Speaking of the VCR, the taped version of "24 Hours" I used above is from the last time this episode ran. The scrollertext TNN ran several times during the episode dates it perfectly, even though I'd sooner wish it didn't: September 11th.
December 8, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 17.0)
I was poking through Northern Light's Special Collection of newspaper items. Anyway, I found two Martial Law articles that looked related. Here's the summaries, see if you can tell me why they sound familiar.
'Martial Law' undergoes overhaul
While they were busy turning around the Dick Van Dyck medical mystery series "Diagnosis: Murder," executive producers Lee Goldberg and Bill Rabkin would watch a show about a Hong Kong detective who came to America and solved crimes using his wits and his martial arts prowess. They liked what they saw. Parts of it, anyway.
- The Herald (Rock Hill, SC)
'Martial Law' undergoes renovation
While they were busy turning around the Dick Van Dyck medical mystery series "Diagnosis: Murder," executive producers Lee Goldberg and Bill Rabkin would watch a show about a Hong Kong detective who came to America and solved crimes using his wits and his martial arts prowess. They were not impressed.
- The Herald (Rock Hill, SC)
I guess they're archiving draft copies now, instead of the actual articles. Or the people in Rock Hill are really getting suckered out of their money.
December 9, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 17.1)
Ecksactly: You may know that I call Tammy Lauren's Martial Law character by the last name "Dixon".
Well, further poking through my image archives turned up a scan of a magazine article devoted to Her Short-Livedness. Or, to be perfectly accurate, a scan of a full-page picture with the text in a tiny white square near her ankles.
Dickson? Well, since it's presumably a quote of Lauren speaking, it could be wrong. You can't hear the difference between "Dixon" and "Dickson".
I'm holding my ground. Yeah. Dixon. Cool.
I'm also padding this item.
So the image won't creep over into the next one. That'd be a problem.
December 10, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 666)
I was writing up today's Random Thought, about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and something occurred to me.
The Four Horsepersons of the Martial Lawpocaylpse, season two.
(Okay, I'm going with the names Conquest, War, Famine and Death. You got problems with that, like you want horsemen named Christ or Pestilence or Bubba or something, take it up with God.)
Conquest: Amy Dylan, of course. Had her early ambitions carried through the whole season, she'd have been promoted to (false?) Messiah by about "Scorpio Rising". Besides, a crown and a bow and arrow would probably suit her. The white horse would be a bit weaker an image, though. For some reason I can't shake this image of her riding a jet-black unicorn.
War: I'm thinking these in a different order from how I'm writing them, so Grace gets the red horse and the sword by default. Besides, she wore red enough, might as well ride it too.
Famine: And on the black horse, Sammo. That's just too easy. Besides, knowing him, he'd turn this Horseman's non-weapon (scales) into a death-dealing piece of hardware.
Death: Pale/ashen/greenish-yellow/olive/depends-on-version-of-the-Bible horse, no obvious weapon. Eeegh. It was down to Grace or Terrell when I thought this, but I had to make a cheap shot about Arsenio Hall's career.
December 11, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 18.0)
Well, tonight's Pretender on TNT was amusing. Mainly because of Julia Campbell (Martial Law's Melanie George) playing a very evil lady.
The amazing thing is, I didn't recognize her at first. It looked like her, but she was playing such a vastly different character - and playing it well, I might add - that something in the corner of my mind was saying, "It can't be her."
But it was. I was incredibly impressed by her vocal range, because I hadn't seen her in one of these "evil seductress" kind of roles for a long time. She was speaking in a markedly lower register than her "kind of ditzy" range on Martial Law.
Of course, any suspicions that it wasn't her melted away in the scene where she showed up in a bikini. (Get your mind out of the gutter. She has a mole on her chest that's easy to spot if you're looking for it and her clothing is cut low enough. Such as in Martial Law episode "Extreme Measures". I notice these things on women. Makes 'em look cuter, IMHO.)
December 14, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 14.1)
Remember when I pointed out that TNN was either slicing the top from or compressing the image to fit the black bar in? Well, I finally have proof. During today's airing of Dog Day Afternoon, they made the black bar disappear just before the commercial, and I saw the image jump-expand to fill the whole screen. It was compressed.
Gave me quite a start, too, because I was sort of involved with looking at the... uh... scenery. Yeah, the scenery. Not a person, nope, just the scenery. I was enjoying the scenery.
But I'm digressing. As someone on rec.arts.tv (I think) pointed out.... When you think your audience is so stupid that they need a little black bar reminding them what show is on....
December 20, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 11.7)
The Walker, Texas Ranger crossover is again a casualty in TNN's episode-cutting bonanza. I wonder if it's because of the idea of a building being a missile target or because it's basically an ad for one of USA Network's programs?
(Looks at schedule.) Okay, will someone please explain to me why they're skipping Diamond Fever? What is wrong with that episode?! Did someone decide that after killing half the Scorpio story arc it would also be a bright idea to kill some of the Lee Hei story arc for the sake of balance?
December 21, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 7.9)
How quickly we forget. Remember this item from In the Dark?
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?
Okay, I'd forgotten that there's a possible logical connection in that Shian knew Strode. That might explain how Strode knew about Grace being Sammo's student - as pointed out in The Thrill is Gone (and quickly forgotten by your humble webmaster).
By extension, his surprise at learning Grace was a cop might have been an act for the benefit of the watching Scorpio agent.
But I still can't see any time when or any reason why Shian would let his life story and everything about Scorpio spill to Strode. He didn't seem the chatty type, even if he met with Strode after they were both part of Scorpio.
December 28, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 11.55)
I was looking at the HTML on TNN's schedule page today. Either the schedule stops at 1/1/2002 or Martial Law does. But get a load of what I found. You can see it many times on many pages, sometimes commented out (above circled area), sometimes not commented out (circled). The ultimate proof that TNN's tag line should be: "Nickelodeon for adults."
December 29, 2001 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep and Version Number Litanies 7.A)
Some scars never heal. Scriptwriters like that. Remember when I asked, in the rant for Captive Hearts, how Sammo got that lip scar? No? Good, because I didn't. I did, however ask that in Litany 6.0. Someone else was interested, too.
According to Sammo Hung, 'The scar on my lip was from a failed stunt attempt when I was 3.'
And aren't three-year-olds known for their stunts?:)
January 21, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 19.0)
Things get scarce with no reruns.:\ No matter, I will soldier on. If it gets truly bad, I'll punch up some of my banal fanfic and release that. Then you will know Hell, oh yes.
January 21, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 19.1)
Okay, you may laugh now. Why? Because I keep mentioning that Amy's white SUV thing looks too bulky for a young woman to choose as a vehicle for her own use. And indeed it is. In "Sammo Blammo" - as quoted in my progenitor rant - Grace mentions the "siren" button. It's a police car. Or Amy got sick of having to wait for a fire truck to provide some traffic-free backwash, so she decided to make her own. (Wouldn't entirely put it past her....:)
January 22, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 18.1)
Neal McDonough (Martial Law's Kyle Strode) was at the Golden Globes, acting very patriotic beforehand* and very very happy afterwards***.
(* Giving a plug** for the war pic Band of Brothers, that he was in - even if I watched some of it and never saw him.****)
(** Well, he was talking to HBO microphone-holder Cynthia Garrett, who was wearing what looked to me like an American flag. Not a stars-and-stripes pattern, but a genuine flag with shoulder straps sewed in. I suppose he had to act a bit patriotic else he'd be branded a Commie. Of course, I'm convinced that the least patriotic Americans are the ones who do something like this.)
(*** Band of Brothers won. And the "afterwards" part is relative. It was actually a trick of editing: show part of the interview, cut to the award-giving, show other part of the interview where he's acting happier and pretend it's after the award was won. Cute, if painfully cheap, trick.)
(**** Of course, I didn't see him at the original presentation, just on some HBO advertising. I never watch the actual Globes, since I find awards shows boring. And the women tend to dress horribly.)
February 1, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 11.8)
Half a world away, they aren't so touchy.
February 2, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 19.2)
I was browsing around and found the following site. There's some Martial Law multimedia stuff - which, given Yahoo's restrictive Briefcase rules, aren't as easy to get with a dedicated downloader program as I'd like - and that's where I noticed a funny thing. Unless my flu-laden body and mind are not letting me think straight, I don't remember seeing the episode with the twinkie blooper, or the "I want you to press..." one. And I've seen all the episodes. So, did TNN cut off some of the funnies for more commercials, and who in the Land of the Squishing Black Bar am I going to have to bleed out before finding out the truth?
February 5, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 18.2)
Well, tonight's Pretender on TNT was amusing. Less amusing than before, but still amusing. Tzi Ma (Lee Hei, Martial Law season one) was in it. I saw him, he said two words, then the phone rang and I couldn't get off the line until the closing credits. But he was there.
Of course, sometimes I watch this show just for Andrea Parker. Suit jacket with a skirt, mmmm. Legs, mmmm. Hormones, mmmm.
February 10, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 7.B)
Oh, wow. I'm still in shock. I just looked up Frank Welker (voice of the dog Homer, Dog Day Afternoon) on the IMDb. Ignoring a few obvious typos, I'm in shock. This guy is responsible for many of my childhood memories. And even a few minutes of adulthood memories before the nuisance control scheme made me wield my Wand of Uninstalling.
But look at this list.... Fred from Scooby Doo! A bunch of characters from The Smurfs, including the dog! A bunch of characters from Inspector Gadget, including the dog! A bunch of Transformers, including the dog-ish/wolfish/cassette-tapeish/vaguely-ratlike thing! Several other dogs in shows I've never heard of!
Funny how the show with the dog as the title character is the one where he plays 3rd banana. I mean, when Casey Casem is playing a hippie with a talking dog (pause for marijuana jokes) and you get caught as the prep guy....
(I suppose I should take pains to completely unnerve the audience and point out that Scooby Doo's Velma actually had an hourglass figure that trumped Daphne's under that bulky sweater of hers, as pointed out when she had to wear a leopard-spot one-piece bathing suit during one of Shaggy's silly (Tarzan and Jane) costume moments? Hey, being a non-conformist seven-year-old in a world of cartoon-redhead-lusting schoolkids makes you spot some pretty weird things.)
(Blinks.) They did a Q*Bert cartoon? What, half an hour of complete gibberish with an urban-legend-proportion rumor that somewhere in there some swear words are hidden?
February 19, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 18.3)
JAG. Good show at times, mostly when Catherine Bell gets out of that uniform and into something more befitting her hairstyle and figure.
But anyway... Neal McDonough (Martial Law's Kyle Strode) was in tonight's JAG rerun on USA. Very good episode. Twists, turns, Charles Hallahan guesting, obligatory happy ending with 15 minutes left to go (which makes you think it's not gonna be so happy or an ending). Loved every minute of it.
But it proved what I said long ago - men should never dye their hair. They almost always look awful. Adam Sessler is another example (though he has spiking problems as well).
McDonough looks great as a brunet. <macho paranoid mode>Not that I'm a good judge of that! Women. I like women. Women with big boobs. Yeah. Yeah. Boobs. Wanna see my big muscles? If you're a woman with big boobs, of course. Not if you're a guy, no no no. Catherine Bell is nice. She has boobs.</macho paranoid mode>
February 23, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 19.3)
Sammo Hung can't speak English well. He occasionally uses substandard grammatical forms (of course, so do most native English speakers...) and has a thick accent. That's a given. But here's a thought. Do other Chinese people with similarly thick accents and poor grasp on English watch Martial Law and understand Sammo better than I do?
To generalize: Do two native Chinese-speakers speaking English understand each other better than a Chinese-speaker speaking English to an English-speaker?
February 25, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 18.4)
Louis Mandylor was on USA's rerun of Nash Bridges today. Hmmmm. Carlton Cuse (exec producer of Martial Law season one and Nash) was definitely fishing out his old talent pools when he cast Kelly Hu and Louis Mandylor.
February 25, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 19.4)
In other news, TNN's been showing a lot of old reruns that are also being abused on Nick at Nite. The Viacom Empire is far-reaching and all-powerful, yes. You will bow to Bill Cosby and his army of reruns. Moog.
March 5, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 19.5)
Here's a relevant Egolf Chronicle, for those of you who don't worship Gretchen Egolf as I do. (Understandable if you're too busy venerating the god of facial expressions, Bill Cosby. Mooga-bah-kading-grawheeeeee.)
February 16, 2002 AD (The Egolf Chronicles, V16.06)
Gretchen Egolf joins the cast of Martial Law as police captain Amy Dylan, head of the major crimes unit. Her television credits include a guest starring role in Cosby, as well as a guest appearance on the one-hour drama Cracker. Her feature film credits include Quiz Show and Lancaster County 2020. She also appeared on Broadway in Ring Round the Moon and Jackie: An American Life.
This Lancaster County 2020 thing is rapidly convincing me there was a day when there was some really interesting, if completely and utterly wrong, Gretchen Egolf pages on the Internet. (Note to self: get TARDIS fixed, find old Internet cafe password from 1996.)
Oh, and is it just me, or are these the worst images of the four season two regulars you've ever seen? In order to get the backgrounds so subdued that they could slap their own skyline background in without the original showing, they had to jack the contrast through the roof. (Hint - TRY BITMAP EDITING! Jeez, some people take the lazy way out....)
If you can't get through to the site, don't worry. I've braved trauma and slapped all four images into one big (799x766) JPG. No, other than cut-and-paste and JPGizing, I have not altered these images in any way.
Sammo Hung just looks wrong. Sort of like he's got a bad head cold and was caught just before sneezing. Even his nose looks wrong, like he's about to sneeze.
Arsenio Hall looks like someone you do not want to meet in a dark alley. Or a bright one. Kind of like Mr. T. with a decent haircut instead of the mohawk.
Kelly Hu isn't there. Whatever woman that is in her place, it doesn't look like her! (When the editing is that bad....)
Gretchen Egolf.... I've never wondered what Gretchen would look like in kabuki makeup. Now I know why.
March 9, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 18.35)
Last night was fun. Gretchen Egolf in a bit of The Talented Mr. Ripley and Neal McDonough in far more of Murder Live!. Shame that I didn't like either movie.
Now, both actors can add to their resume: "Was sandwiched between softcore porn on Cinemax, censored hardcore porn on Playboy, and a rerun of Biography on A&E."
March 20, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 18.5)
How's this for obscure? Steve Valentine, the drummer-whose-van-was-stolen-by-a-bandmate in Martial Law episode "Funny Money" can cook. He was on Home Matters cooking Welsh rarebit.
But for real fun, read the IMDb entry for another flick he was in. Just the title and the lead actor should give you an idea of the massive quality. Hey, whatever pays the bills. (Though Steve Valentine isn't the top of the list of people who are probably incredibly ashamed of that one. That goes to the people at TBS, I believe, for actually running this on occasion.)
March 21, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 20.0)
I was hiking through Lee Goldberg's site (congrats on the Edgar nomination for the entertaining Nero Wolfe episode Prisoner's Base, guys!) and took a peek at the message board. Not only did I see a marked increase in spam (you know you're popular when your guestbook/message board gets spammed) but I saw a very interesting tidbit. Get a load of this item, which is a response to this one. It's in reply to a question asking why Louis Malone (Louis Mandylor) was dumped between seasons. Instead of giving the expected "Arsenio Hall and Louis Mandylor were essentially sharing one character, etc. etc." response, he said this:
Bill Rabkin and I, with the network's consent, decided to drop Louis, the Captain, and, at Sammo's request, his girlfriend.
At Sammo's request? Hmmm. Interesting and (as far as I can tell) hitherto unknown take on things. As much as some people dislike Lee Goldberg, I've never seen it be for being duplicitous, whereas Sammo Hung is called an "eccentric genius", which is often Hollyweird vernacular for something like "real bastard". And I can't see any reason for Lee Goldberg to lie over such a simple point on a low-traffic item as his own webpage (as opposed to a "high-traffic" newspaper item or even a newsgroup). Since his previous stance was more taking the blame himself (along the lines of "We did it, get used to it.") it seems that that was just damage control to keep things on set from exploding. (Sounds like Sammo didn't like the idea of Melanie George being made a semiregular/regular character in the final episode of season one! I don't know if Julia Campbell is all sweetness and light off-camera, but her character was cute as all get-out. Competition for the audience's heart, maybe?:)
Nice to see Goldberg's starting to get some emotional and business-related distance from it, too. (C'mon, he hired my pet obsession, I'm not going to wish him ill.:)
April 3, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 18.6)
James Hong, that Chinese guy who admitted to (I think) giving the once-embryonic Scorpio a leg up and otherwise furthering the plot in Final Conflict was in today's Hunter on TBS, showing off his ability to grow a bushier mustache than most Chinese actors.
April 3, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 18.61)
I suppose one of you is waiting for me to mention Kelly Hu's part in The Scorpion King. I've resisted, for several reasons:
1) I have no intentions of seeing it. I didn't see the first two, so this isn't exactly a magnet. See also reason 4.
2) I thought a Venezuelan(?) playing a scantily-clad Egyptian in the last film was a bit silly. I want to see how they're going to get away with dragging a scantily-clad Asian/Hawaiian/Caucasian halfway across Eurasia without falling into an altogether different kind of silly. I don't begrudge Hu her employment, but I presume there were no Middle Easterners around when this was filmed...?
3) The Godsmack music video sucked. Get a band with more talent than god complex, jeez. The trailer's background music has ten times the epic feel of anything I've heard in from the soundtrack.
4) I can not take wrestlers seriously. I can not take people with the word "Rock" in their stage name seriously. I can not take anyone named Dwayne seriously. See where I'm going with this?
5) And also, visit any German site that refers to "The Rock" without translating his name from English. Run it through Babelfish to convert German to English. "The Rock" becomes "The Skirt". Take him seriously now, I dare you.
April 12, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 18.62)
Speaking of all things Huvian, she'll be on Hollywood Squares next week (I believe), fulfilling her contractual obligations to pimp The Scorpion King.
On Monday's episode, feel free to look smart by disagreeing with Kelly regarding the odd requirement of a baseball ump's underwear. She says that it has to have a cup built-in when the correct answer is, of all things, that it needs to be black so split pants don't show.
Agree on the mummy thing, though. Also watch for assorted generic laugh moments throughout the show.
April 15, 2002 AD (Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies 18.63)
I just heard something (which is little better than rumor) that Kelly Hu would make an appearance in a Discovery Channel show called The Scorpion King Unveiled. No idea if it's true or not, but that's what you get for free.:)
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