Season One, Part One:

"Shanghai Express" to "Lock-Up"

First half of season one. A cyan date denotes that that's the second half of the rant, written much later. A ghastly magentaish date heads a new item which also appears on its own as a Lack-of-Sleep Litany. The only item with (currently) both is "Dead Ringers".

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 3, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Shanghai Express')
Trimming the fat: Obvious I ranted about this one before, as I couldn't find much to rant about.:) I suppose I could comment on the obvious things, like the funny The Price is Right scene (Sammo won a showcase with a jet ski and furniture - so much for the plot problem of an unfurnished apartment:), or that this was bigoted cop Portman's first (and second-last) appearance, or something like that, but let's go for the fun stuff.

How quickly I forget: In the first LAPD scene, it rather clearly has "San Vicente Division, Los Angeles Police Department" written along the bottom of the screen. Heh.

Come on down! No, not you. Okay, I won't comment on Bob Barker in general, but I've got to wonder why they gave him a "Special Guest Star" spot in the bottom-of-the-screen-credits-that-run-for-a-good-fifteen-minutes-into-the-show whereas Rod Roddy - who only had about 30 seconds less screen time than Bob Barker - got stuck with "Rod Roddy as Price is Right Announcer" on the first page of the closing credits, just above the completely dialogue-free Janice Pennington, Kathleen Bradley, and Chantel Dubay as "Price is Right Hostess"es!

I'll tell you, the wonders of being a game show host as opposed to an announcer.

Occam's Razor: Louis's theory on why Sammo won on The Price is Right: There's more counterfeit goods over in China, so a police officer needs to know the retail value of many different things.

Sammo's real reason: "We get the show on satellite."

Quotes of the Moment: Louis (after Winship tells Louis and Dana to pick up Sammo at the airport): "Happy to." (Turns to Dana.) "Right?" (Dana doesn't look happy. Louis turns back to Winship.) "She's happy."

* * *

The scene were Sammo tricks Louis into choosing heads or tails on a Chinese coin that has no "head". When asked where it is, Sammo taps himself on the temple and says "Right here."

Louis' reply: "That's funny. You know how to say 'smartass' in Chinese?"

(And that last line wasn't delivered with the cold edge that the text here gives it, either.)

* * *

Louis making a quick buck betting on Sammo in the Sammo vs. Portman fight. And I thought such things were illegal in California.:)

* * *

"This side intentionally left blank." on the back of the blackboard. First place I saw something similar was in the old Infocom Invisiclue books. Where'd it come from originally?

* * *

Landlady (cowering at the door): "Excuse me if I don't come in right away. I suffer from agoraphobia."

Sammo: "Agora-what?"

Louis: "Arager.... Don't worry about it."

* * *

Me: "I feel smart." After digging through my tape archives and writing down (in Notepad:) the names of all the female guest stars on this episode and "Red Storm" to figure out the actress playing Sammo's landlady, Mrs. Pimner(?). Her name is Suzanne Krull, and I'm damn proud for wasting five minutes to find that.

Nitpick: I've got to ask, why'd Dana punch a purse snatcher in the face after he fired his drawn gun into her stomach instead of before? Granted, it was empty, but if it wasn't she wouldn't have made it five episodes!

Interracial bad guys: The bad guys who rob Sammo were driving a black and white Crown Vic.

We might be evil, but we respect the sanctity of marriage: When Sammo's robbed at gunpoint, the bad guy takes his wallet and watch, but not the ring on his left hand. Why not? Mainly because he probably shouldn't be wearing one for the scene - it's plainly a wedding band! Later in the season Sammo Law was revealed to be a widower, but here it looks to me more like it was actor Sammo Hung's own ring.

Where's your cute little sailor's hat? Sammo's rank in the Shanghai PD was given as captain (by Dana in the first Portman scene). While in LA, his two main commanders (I'm not counting the three or four temporary ones mentioned in "Sammo Blammo") were Lieutenant Benjamin Winship (mentioned many times and on the sign outside his office) and Detective Amy Dylan (mentioned several times that I remember: Terrell's admonishment during Amy's first undercover scene in "My Man Sammo", Amy herself uses it when introducing herself to the governor in "Heartless", et cetera).

I'm not too enlightened about how Shanghai police rankings convert to Los Angeles ones, but as far as I know a captain outranks a lieutenant by at least one level and a detective by several. Talk about being polite to one's hosts.

Self-recognition: Someone comments about Sammo being like Bruce Lee. Want to know what actor was beat up by Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon?:)

He don't know Hawaiian, I don't know Ebonics: Is it just me, or was the comic-relief black bad guy who said he couldn't understand Sammo's "Hawaiian" accent the one guy in the entire episode (including Sammo) who was almost completely incomprehensible to mine white-boy ears?

Gratuitous Ratings Moment: Kelly Hu in a bikini. I suppose I should have mentioned this first time around, but it showed up in all 44 episodes (opening credits) so it's easy to forget.:)

Deep Meaningful Shoulder: Well, at least you could see the other person's shoulder in the Deep Meaningful Dialogue (not Speech) where Louis talks to Dana about her not liking Sammo.

Si. Oui. Hell, yeah. Sammo ends a Chinese phone conversation with "Okay!" I didn't know that (and "Huh!" in "Freefall") was Chinese!:)

:uH ylleK I just noticed that the credit scene of Grace pulling Dana's gun away is a mirrored shot of the real thing, or (not likely) vice versa. Cute way of making the shot fit into the credits, which needed (for balance) a shot of Kelly facing right instead of left.

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 7, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Diamond Fever')
Day-off, me say daaaay-off, daylight come and me wanna go home: Notice how I'm a day off on this one? Well, TNN's added some newTV shows to their schedule (the unimpressive RealTV and MadTV - that wasn't a typo before) and Martial Law's now on at the ungodly hour of 3:00 AM. Since it's just a week before I'm done with my collection (save "Dog Day Afternoon" and "24 Hours"), I'm taping it (with commercials, rare for me) using my handy-dandy VCR timer which I trust. But I don't trust TNN so I wind up not sleeping well until 3 AM when I drag myself out of bed and check the VCR. Oh well, at least it's not cancelled entirely.

Ma Ma! Christina Ma, playing Mei Ling, got upgraded from the closing credits of "Shanghai Express" (which isn't bad since I didn't even see her in the actual show) to running-along-the-bottom-of-the-screen credits of this episode. Of course, her character - Lee Hei's wife (Lee Hei being appropriately enough played by someone named Tzi Ma) - gets killed at the end.

Fancy a quickie? I don't know if Sammo was being helped by special effects, but when he scrambled up the wall (feet pushing on one wall, back against the other) he did it damn quick!

Gratuitous Ratings Moment: Lee Hei confronts Chen Pei Pei (Grace Chen) as she gets out of the shower. And some more bikiniage later in the show.

Dove show-p: The ceramic dove of Lee Hei's that the undercover Chen Pei Pei smuggles out to Sammo will later show up again in "Painted Faces" as a not-so-subtle hint that Lee Hei is back. Rather nice.

Hasbro toys: LAPD self-defense instructor David Hasbro's first showing, and it takes all of ten seconds to show he's a jerk. If these scenes are any indication, David Leitch is a good actor.

Very good accent! Louis busts out his Australian accent here, and Dana compliments him on it. Now that I know he is indeed a native speaker of 'Strine, I'm more impressed by the rest of his dialogue.:)

Don't I have them on some vinyl? A real estate agent mistakes Sammo's claim he's from "Shanghai District Two" as meaning he's member of a rock band, not a police department. I found that very funny, even if Sammo didn't get the joke.:)

Actually, Shanghai District Two is a pretty cool name for a band.

Falling down the cucumber: It's getting hard to think of SWAT team jokes, but I just had to point out that there was another calling-down-the-thunder-on-an-empty-house SWAT moment. Again (well, not again since this is technically the first time), no one cared.

Adversarial faults: Okay, Dana's lines about "Zenmaster flash" and "yoda moments" were funny, but they really make for a far too confrontational character. Then she was set up as being in the wrong several times. She told Louis to make the phone call that - unknowingly, but that doesn't change the audience's perception of events - got Sammo into hot water; she told Sammo that he was wrong about something when he was later proved right; she snuffed out that incense thing of Sammo's behind his back, admittedly not knowing it was his (not that I blamed her - incense, yiicch!). She does have a few redemptive moments, but even they had shadows of the rest of the episode in 'em.

Even if she's right in her assertions, it makes her out to be the problem. See also: Amy Dylan, early season two. Oh well, you live, you learn, you get new producers, you live again, you learn the same lesson over again, you get cancelled.

Body count time: Not a continuing series, don't worry. I'm just mentioning that last episode, Lee Hei has about three kills, four attempts, one point where the undercover Grace throttles a wiseass minion of Lee Hei's, and locking two cops in a shipping container could be seen as torture.

This episode.... Attempts: Sammo and Dana at the start, Grace/Pei Pei at the end. Kills: Lee Hei killed one of his distributors, his henchman (first one I remember who didn't get killed when going back to the bad guy after being caught) killed two cops, then Lee Hei killed his wife during their fight for a gun. Abuse: Lee Hei slapped Grace/Pei Pei (I'm not going to stop using both names:) around. Torture: none.

Kills: 3 + 4 = 7
Attempted Kills: 4 + 3 = 7
Abuse: 1 + 1 = 2
Torture: 2 + 0 = 2

Pretending that Lee Hei has four more episodes instead of three, and that he continues at that rate, gives an estimated tally of 21 kills, 21 attempted kills, 6 internal abuse moments, and 6 torture attempts.

Take that as you will.

Who's your tailor? Lee Hei should give Sammo a jacket. Not only would Sammo stand out like a neon light, but Lee Hei's henchmen have ruined one jacket an episode on Sammo so far.

Hot and cold: Fake diamonds made at high pressure in cold environs. Funny, I'd think heat would be a bigger thing. Oh well, it wouldn't have led to....

Real cold: Sammo freezing Lee Hei's face to a cold pipe was rather nice, if painful-looking as old hell. Though his face was looking nice and frostbite-free in the next scene....

Short-term memory: Commercial lengths....

Commercial 1.... 2:30
Commercial 2.... 2:30
Commercial 3.... 3:00
Commercial 4.... 3:00
Commercial 5.... 3:30
So, that explains how it started a few minutes after the hour and ended closer to the hour - there was a minute less of commercials.

Nitpick: Between Pei Pei/Grace's fateful (it got her caught by Lee Hei's henchmen) LAPD call and the playback of it for Sammo, it changed slightly to speed it up.

Actual lines:

(Grace, from a car phone, phones the operator and eventually gets the LAPD.)

LAPD operator: "LAPD. May I help you?"

Grace: "Yes, I'm looking for detective Sammo Law. He's working in one of your divisions." (Since Sammo is working in a detective capacity, I won't point out that she got his rank - which Lee Hei gives as captain at one point - wrong.:)

LAPD operator: (Pause.) "I'm sorry ma'am, I don't show a Sammo Law on file."

Grace: "Then connect me to whoever's in charge of detective operations."

(Cut to a scene of Sammo that's running concurrently. When we cut back to Grace no time has passed because the operator says....)

LAPD operator: "Ma'am, please hold while I transfer your call."

Bad guy (Knocks on the window of the car with a gun.): "(Something in Chinese.)"

Lines from the recording:

LAPD operator: "LAPD (*) May I help you?"

(See that (*)? It's where Grace starts saying her line in the recording. Must have been electronically mixed because the operator doesn't stop talking or even waver slightly when he's so rudely interrupted!)

Grace: "Yes, I'm looking for detective Sammo Law." (Hmmm. Something missing?)

LAPD operator: (NO pause.) "I'm sorry ma'am, I don't show a Sammo Law on file."

Grace: "Then connect me to whoever's in charge of detective operations."

LAPD operator: "Ma'am, please hold while I transfer your call."

Bad guy (Sound of someone knocking on the window of the car.): "(Something in Chinese.)"

You know what the really funny thing is? The bad guy is, in the real shot, being heard normally - the camera cuts to an angle outside the car when the bad guy says his line. In the recording he's just as clear, despite the fact that there's a closed car door and about five feet of air between his mouth and the car phone's mouthpiece!

Smile! Lee Hei, being the Evil Season-Spanning Villain, never really smiles. There was a few moments during tonight's bloopers (which were run just after the show ended and before a commercial block, not just before the closing credits as later became standard) where actor Tzi Ma laughed or smiled. I'll tell you something - it was so out-of-character it didn't look that much like him! Really changed his looks (for the better - frowning that much or grinning evilly doesn't do anything for a person's looks).

Gotta love that solo: Don't know who played the music at the end (Mike Post apparently wrote it) of the season one episodes, but they did a damn fine job on the electric guitar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not August 8, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Dead Ringers')
Oops, they did it again: Musical theme lately. Well, TNN didn't show "Dead Ringers", acting like they had played it when they just ran MadTV and a test pattern. Such attention to detail! Time to go back to the tape archives....

God, I hate <BLINK> tags. I'd never use them. Except for subliminal fanboy messages. Whenever I miss the good old days of impossible-to-read text, I visit Geocities. And similarly-blinking text on a monitor in Gabby Zane's control room (During the first fight scene.) was really annoying. It made the scene look worse, too, because it didn't blink in the wide shots, just the monitor closeups.

"Zenmaster flash" was an observation, not an insult: Okay, Sammo was a little heavy on freaky zen wisdom these first few episodes, averaging one each. I'm too lazy to double-check these, so beware slight misquotations.

Shanghai Express: "You can't break rocks with eggs.", which was good;
Funny Money: "A fisherman waits for the fish.", which was a bit hokey;
Dead Ringers: "You have to go into the cage to catch the tiger.", which almost begged for the prefix "Confucius always say:"!

It's a shape. Round. Bad guy: (Looks at Sammo.) "Little out of shape here, aren't we, chief?"

Sammo: "No, just fat."

At least it's not angst: Louis Malone blames himself for fatally beating an extreme fighter while undercover, despite evidence he died of a drug overdose. Well, I suppose a regular good guy is allowed a few moments of self-blame. At least Louis can still step back and sort of wryly look at his own behaviour, and he gave the blame up after about a day's time (until the dead man's wife found him, anyway). All was nice and sorted out by the end, though.

Some people never learn: Dana is rather offended because Winship wants Grace to tag along with her on a simple arrest. Season two, Grace is rather offended when Amy tags along with her. Today you're the new kid, tomorrow you're making fun of the new new kid.

Another Hasbro moment: Here, at least, he makes a fool of himself while trying to earn Sammo's respect. (Via overkill - he plays the hero, almost gets killed, then knocks out a subdued prisoner who Sammo had to subdue for him!)

Be a dear, Dana, and open the curtains: I'm sorry, but Dana's dead-flat hair that comes right up to the outside edges of her eyes looks like curtains. It should have a string you can pull to open/close it and reveal more or less of her face.

No deals. Unless you say "please". Season one, this part of it anyway, they were willing to make deals a lot more than season two, even to the point of letting petty crooks go.

Hey teach: I'd forgotten that Sammo also taught Louis Malone a bit. He was a boxer-turned-cop at the start, and by his third episode was more of a kickboxer.

Deep Meaningful Speech: Sorry, but there was a lot of closeups during one shot where Grace's motivations for following Lee Hei to LA were covered - at least you could see Sammo or Grace's shoulder as the other one spoke.

Ah, why not kill me: Evil scientist Gunther Mueller (pardon my typos, as they had some trouble getting over the Berlin Wall - Mueller's an ex-East German Olympian). I don't know why he took the performance-enhancing-and-mind-blowing drugs at gunpoint (as is implied). I'd take my chances with Gabby and her gun before taking the drug I had made and seen the slow death it caused. Oh well, they needed a fight scene.

Romancing the Malone, the prequel: Grace's first episode as a main character and not a Lee Hei henchwoman/undercover cop and you can already see Louis Malone making preemptive turning-on-the-charm moves.

Stun gun fun: Bad guys using stealth (or needing a prisoner) carry stun guns both here and in "Funny Money".

Oh, like yours is so much better. Gabriella Zane's website, as shown in one scene, is rather loud (including WAV-filewise, unless it was tape buzz). Animated GIFs, excessive fonts and colors, the works. But no BLINK tags. Of course, the browser was nonstandard (to conveniently avoid endorsing IE or Netscape:), not like you could have used a BLINK tag anyway. IE users are still trying to puzzle out my subliminal fanboy comment above.

Make a fist. A really good fist. Sammo does this weird move to break an extreme fighter's grip. It starts with making a fist real slowly for dramatic effect and then hitting them in the arm. Grace uses the same trick in a later season two episode, possibly "The Thrill is Gone" against an extreme fighter. (Was that episode a "Dead Ringers" remix or what?)

I'm not bleeding, I'm just dead. Extreme fighters here, just like late season two. I didn't see any blood at all, unlike season two.

I wonder if he has his own fangirls? Well, we all have to start somewhere, like with the role of "Student at Book Party" or something.

Nothing like an actor who has the following credit line: "Joseph Cassano as Coke Machine Fighter". Speaking of which, in his scene he was upstaged by....

Yet another Diet Coke reference. 'Nuff said.

October 27, 2001 AD (Episode Update: 'Dead Ringers')
... 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.

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

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

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

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

What, you were expecting something violent?:)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 9, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Funny Money')
Circular logic: Started with something that, through a light alcoholic buzz, could be mistaken for a rather Spanish version of "Twist and Shout". Ended on a Chinese version that gets one giddy enough to replace the alcohol.:)

And I find it amusing that during the first fight the band didn't stop playing. Provided interesting background music, even if it was a bit silly.:) It was also impressive that they reached their finale just a second before the opening credits cut in. Bright singers.

Hmmmm.... I know that waitress getup Dana was garbed in was a bit out there deliberately, but it proved something. Not only was it a nice green, but it showed there's nothing wrong with Tammy Lauren's legs.:)

Chanel No. 5, for men: Sammo and Louis find a woman's Chanel No. 5. Sammo tries it on. I forget, is that stuff unisex?

How to describe someone: So sayeth the British rocker, unless I'm just losing his accent: "The redhead with the blonde hair!"

Eeeew. While in a hospital, Sammo kicks a bag presumably leading from a catheter at someone attacking with a pair of scissors. He stabs it with the scissors and splat!:) I managed to laugh and say "Ewww!" at the same time.

Pre-Nitpick era redux, whatever that means: Remember my comment about the private jet vs. the redeye flight last time? Well, I figured it was time to quote the text.

Tony's sister: "Why is someone trying to kill me?"

Sammo: "They think you know something about your brother's business."

Tony's sister: "Well, how could I know anything? You know, I only got here a couple days ago. Tony takes care of me. My parents died a couple years ago and, well, Tony's spoiled me. He's the one putting me through UCLA and he even flew me out here on his private jet."

Bit more quoting: Sammo, impersonating a Secret Service agent from Dallas: "Howdy!"

Relationship-o-rama: Dana's got a date (with an ex-boyfriend, a Secret Service agent later proved to be crooked) this episode, and she'll be back in the sack with her ex-hubby next episode. Five shows and she's only about one boyfriend short of 44-episode Grace!

Bleak summonings: Is it just me, or did one henchman pop up spontaneously in the final fight for one quick shot and then vanish again? In fact, he looked - and dressed - like one of Lee Hei's hired killers from "Shanghai Express"!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dana: "Yeah, what the hell."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 10, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Cop Out')
How to grab an audience: Dead silence. Front of a restaurant. Nothing happening. Suddenly someone gets pitched through the restaurant window.

We're sinking, Captain Law.... A cop refers to Sammo as "Detective Law". Shame he got busted down so far in just a few episodes.:)

Stunt spiders: Sammo climbs up a chain-link guard that goes all the way up the side of the building. (While the long shots could have been a stunt double, Sammo's face was visible in the shots taken on the other side of the chain-link.) The man climbs like a spider on uppers! (Or a spider with a special effects department.) Someone should check to see if he's not a vampire.

More quoting:

Louis: "I've got to give your ex-hubby one thing: He definitely has flair."

Dana: "Yeah? You should see him take a punch!"

* * *

(After Winship admonishes Sammo for "improvising" at one point and throwing someone through a window.) Sammo: "The door was locked."

* * *

Sammo: "I can think pretty fast on my feet."

Louis: "And on his head, on his back, on his hands...."

* * *

Winship: "I like to think of them (Dana, Louis, Grace and Sammo) as my eclectic 'Dream Team'."

(Of course, it's about to turn into a bit of a nightmare as Dana's kaput....)

* * *

Lance: (Ducking bullets.) "Where's your gun?"

Dana: (Ducking bullets as well.) "It's in the bedroom."

Lance: "You have one taped to your back or in an ankle holster, right?"

Dana: "You only have one gun, Lance."

* * *

Bad guy: "I guess if you kiss enough brass, anything's possible."

Nah, Bruce Lee could probably kick his ass, if the script said so: Sammo's actions in a fight are again referred to as "Bruce Lee-ing" someone.

Romancing the Malone: During a lull in the action, Louis asks Sammo if Grace had a boyfriend in Shanghai.

Fanboy sweeps: This episode, Lance Carter (unemployed stuntman and Dana's ex-hubby) has a fan! Must have been a fanboy, too. Referring to any actor's performance on Xena: Warrior Princess as "epic" has to be the mark of a fanboy!

Research pays off. Maybe. Brian Van Holt. A simple name, possibly the name of the actor playing Lance Carter. Possibly not. Is the IMDb to be trusted? Ehhh.

Nitpick a number: Sammo needs to prove he's a corrupt cop to the bad guys. So he's got to kill a judge. Yet, in the "pass the hat" scene where the killer and his backup are chosen, Sammo tosses his badge in the hat with everyone else. Isn't he already chosen because he needs to be proven vigilante?

They could have a spy in your department. Like that guy over there, watching us. The judge, mentioning that there might be a spy in Winship's department, has a good point. Of course, if there was, she'd be in serious trouble. Seeing her sitting in Winship's office with Sammo - who's in the process of being recruited to kill her - might be a bit of a tip-off to said theoretical spy. I think that their meeting places should have been a little more discreet, since "hiding in plain sight" only works if the person or thing being hidden should be there. Judges don't often lounge about in police stations.

What a mess. Oh well, we won't need this place anymore anyway. Dana's digs get shot full of holes by the evil vigilante cops.

The slippers of death: Dana's final fight scene was very exciting. Her Snoopy slippers were a rather nice action highlight. Led to a very good blooper, too.

You're right. Twice this episode, someone told Sammo that he was right (about something he said). Of course he's right, he's the star.

Whap, pow! Winship's fight scene was rather good. It's obvious he's no master, basically resorting to fisticuffs with a few improvisations, but I still liked that part of the fight.

I think we're finally done. Well, it's Dana's last episode, and my last (for the time being) needed copy. So maybe it's time to finish. Besides, I've seen "Extreme Measures" three times now and I'm not entirely sure it would hold up to a fourth viewing. Oh well, looks like it's time for....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bank manager: "Yes."

Sammo: "Good!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things that worked....

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

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

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

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

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

Things that didn't work....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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