Season Two, Part One:

"Sammo Blammo" to "No Quarter"

First half of season two. A white date denotes that that's the first half of the rant, written much earlier. A ghastly magentaish date heads a new item which also appears on its own as a Lack-of-Sleep Litany.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nitpicks: So many, so many, so many.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

* * *

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

(Some commentary from Terrell and Grace snipped out.)

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

* * *

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

F) The whole Feng Shui thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amy: "We should move in now."

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

Grace: "It happens."

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

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

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

* * *

Amy: "That wasn't their assignment!"

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

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

Grace: "Thirty-seven."

Amy: "That was a rhetorical question."

Grace: "That was a stupid question."

* * *

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

Grace: "I was inspired."

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

* * *

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

Amy: "Okay, say it."

Grace: "Say what?"

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

Grace: "Yep."

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

Grace: "Is that a rhetorical question?"

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

* * *

(After the botched raid.)

Grace: "They should have been here."

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

Grace: "We would have found their bodies."

Amy: "Then what's going on?"

Grace: "I don't know!"

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

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

Amy: "Welcome to my world."

Grace: "It sucks."

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

* * *

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

Terrell: "Did you expect anything less?"

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

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

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

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

Grace: "Every step of the way!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amy: "Mmm-hmm!"

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

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

September 7, 2001 AD (Episode Update: 'Thieves Among Thieves')
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....

July 6, 2001 AD (Episode: 'This Shogun for Hire')
Another reason why I like having everything on tape twice: TNN's new black-bar-indicating-the-program is interesting, but it really screws over subtitles and credits. If I need a name I need to check my tape archive.

Credit where it's due: Okay, so far in the season - if you leave out the fact that I want to smack Amy Dylan around the second she opens her mouth (which is currently doing battle with my Gretchen Egolf obsession and leaving a lot of dead neurons in its wake) - I've really liked the episodes. Sammo's still the old Sammo (he hasn't devolved into a supercop yet) and Terrell, while not as funny, isn't annoying. Grace is just Grace, and I still want to smack Amy around but am currently working it into some sadomasochist thing.

Bring me the bloated polychromatic head of the uninteresting bit-part ninja! Don't ask what vile corner of my skull that seeped out of, but I needed a ninja joke. The ninjas in this episode were quite nice, at least insofar as cowardly gun-toting assassins can be nice. And yes, this is the ninja episode mentioned below.

How much more use am I going to get out of my Amy Dylan doll? Voodoo doll, VOODOO DOLL! You're a bunch of perverts! Here's a comment I ripped bleeding from Usenet. It's another of Goldberg's, and is from about the mid-point in season two. I've put it in italics and added my own commentary in non-italics. (It was originally one whole paragraph.)

We did make Amy too rigid and antagonistic at first

Tell me about it. This episode was better (the best season two one so far, both in general and for how Amy was acting), but it still had the continuing problem of Amy having her authority undermined by either herself, the others, or the writers. She was still somewhat too biting in her choice of words, as well.

with the intention of having her soften up as she got to know our people and got past her own insecurities. The "arc" was too subtle and didn't come across the way we'd hoped.

It was far too subtle, since it felt like the character was being dragged into position just to keep her from being axed like (as one story goes) the similarly antagonistic Dana. I'd like to point out that this "arc" likely includes the major vulnerability episodes, "My Man Sammo" and "Blue Flu". This episode wasn't really vulnerability so much as the first sign that her more aggravating aspects were going to die off and get replaced with something more befitting someone with a usable brain, and that was a welcome change no matter how jarring it had to be.

The personal stuff that seemed to come out of nowhere in the ninja episode was entirely our fault... the show was running long so we had to cut some stuff in editing and, as a result, her "opening up" to Sammo seemed arbitrary and irrelevant.

I admit that I didn't notice it the first time I saw it. (And now I'd love to see it as it was meant to be seen.) It wasn't so much arbitrary as it felt like it was written end-of-scene first. (I suppose that's the writer in me - when a scene looks wrong, I look at the writing first.) It did sort of tie into the plot by the time it ended, but Amy would have had a hard time seeing the end from the start without suddenly gaining precognizance*.

(*I just coined a word. Ooh. Recognitive means "involving recognition", precognitive means "involving precognition". Recognizance means "having recognition", so precognizance means "having precognition".)

Here's a quick rundown of the setup: Basically, Amy shot off her mouth again about Grace's performance (she made a good point - in "Trifecta" Winship was considered to be in the right for having similar concerns - but she was sort of blunt in the articulation) and Sammo felt it reflected badly on him as Grace's teacher. After a couple scenes of Sammo moping a bit, Amy walks up to him and starts talking about her father for no apparent reason. But by the end of the scene it makes some sense - by invoking the memory of her own father/daughter relationship, she can call attention to Sammo's surrogate-father/daughter relationship with Grace. While not really that relevant, it at least looks like she's trying to work up the guts to apologize for accidentally belittling Sammo.

If I had "My Man Sammo" to do over again, I would probably change her attitude towards Sammo and the assignment... reveal more of her insecurity to him earlier on, and gratefulness for him being there, rather than show her hiding her fears behind arrogance.

That episode is only showing around next Thursday, so I'm sure I'll rant about this comment there. But since I've started, I might as well let him finish his paragraph....

Personally, I thought she was fabulous in "Blue Flu" and how any newsgroupie can still find her unappealing or unpleasant after that (in which she explained her behavior in the previous episodes), is beyond me.

This is a bit of an odd comment. Reading some of the threads at this point, and leaving out the trolls or obvious flames, I feel that some of them were complaining more about the actress than the character. (Or, they complained about both.)

The character, Amy Dylan: Yeah, she was better in "Blue Flu". Of course, by this point she'd already been through the character-altering "My Man Sammo" and five other episodes (starting with "This Shogun for Hire") during which she had mellowed out from her original stance. "Blue Flu" was more of a justification for why she was like she was and why she wouldn't be like that anymore.

The actress, Gretchen Egolf: I want the woman to bear my child.* So Goldberg's obviously not talking about me.:)

(* Well, in all honesty I don't want her to bear my child. I'd love to make several unsuccessful attempts at getting her into that state, though....)

What we don't want her to ever be is an "eager to please rookie" -- we aren't doing the karate kid here

Thank God they didn't.

nor do we want every character on the show looking to Sammo for approval and wisdom.

A very noble idea. Which I can't make jive well with the fact that she became his martial arts student**. Admittedly, it's not really approval and wisdom for everything, but it's still something. I also won't get into the debate about any similarities between respect and approval.

**Sammo's taught all three other season two regulars. Grace was his student for years (and that aspect was played up a bit more in season two), Amy became his student at the end of "My Man Sammo" (though her first lesson wasn't until the start of the next episode, "The Friendly Skies"). With Terrell it's an on-again off-again thing (as in, whenever it was convenient for the writers, like in "Captive Hearts") and not a proper teacher-student thing. While that was more of a season one device than a season two device (since by season two Terrell was a proper streetfighter type), I really don't think one should be allowed to claim broken continuity on this one since it's too easy to pay season one's canon lip service when it suits you and ignore it when it bolsters the opposition's argument.

She is typical of lots of major corporations these days (particularly network television)

So this is why I hated the character so much at first! She was a parody of network TV execs!

where young people are vaulted to positions of power far too early. She admits that herself in "Blue Flu," and explains most of the time she's acting out of fear that she doesn't know what she's doing.

And she plainly didn't know what she was doing in the early Season Two episodes, even though she occasionally hit on the right answers. However, I'd like to take issue with the next line:

She didn't get the job out of experience... but from political skills.

Of which I thought she was utterly destitute for the first few episodes. Like I said, if she wasn't so adversarial in the second episode, I would have thought her behavior in the first was just a bad mood that day. But it continued into the next two episodes and became an established trait, which justified her "storming into the deputy chief's office" - a political disaster - as being something she'd normally do.

She showed some good sense, both political and common sense, in "24 Hours" (next episode as I write this) but before that she really got played as a fool.

Oh, and because I've broken Goldberg's sentences up so badly, I need to explain the next pronoun. The first "it" he mentions in the next sentence is a reference to her current power and position.

And now that she has it, she's terrified she'll screw up. Grace tells her that she's earned their respect and can be honest with them. And, from that episode on, the relationship between Grace and Amy is noticeably different. They go from being adversaries to best friends.

And may I thank all I hold sacred that they did!

I'm poking Amy.... The voodoo doll, THE VOODOO DOLL! So what did I hate about Amy today? Let's see. This time around it's my commentary that's in (parenthetical italics). Unless I forget the italics, of course.

Terrell: "So, what's the world's premier assassin doing hanging out with LA's second biggest dealer?"

Sammo: "Grace will find out."

Amy: "I don't think so. I'm pulling her out as soon as she reports in."

Terrell: "You're doing what?"

Sammo: "Is her work not satisfactory?"

Terrell: (Laughs.) "Let me see. We put her in as a low-level soldier, and on her own she rises to head of security for the entire Ganza organization. I call that satisfactory."

Amy: "Yeah, well I call it hotdogging! I mean, she's in too deep for us to protect her, or offer her backup. It's too dangerous."

(Did she really need to call it hotdogging? It sounds like an insult. Or at least a dysphemism.)

Later in the scene Terrell screws with Amy's head in order to get his own way. In the wake of it, she plainly knows she's been railroaded by Terrell.

* * *

Amy (over radio to Terrell, who's been sent to get Grace back): "We don't have time for this. Grab Grace and get her the hell out of there!"

Grace: "I just need a little time!"

Terrell: "We know about Nakamura. We know about the Bolivian deal."

Grace: "But did you know that the target is a public official? I hope to get the name by tonight!"

Sammo: "This is very good work."

Amy: "Not good enough. Bring her in."

(Did she really need to say "Not good enough." when she knew Sammo was already depressed with things? Okay, he couldn't hear her because he didn't have a radio headset, but she's not exactly being delicate in her word choice!)

Terrell: "I'm sorry, I can't hear you Amy, say it again." (Fakes static by running his saliva between his teeth, then turns to Grace.) "Amy said twenty-four more hours for you."

(Between the railroading in the last scene and ignoring a direct command here, it's making Amy out as a complete figurehead. First two episodes she made a fool out of herself, now Terrell is doing it for her!)

Amy: "I say what? Let me talk to Sammo!"

Terrell: "Amy, we're breaking up, I'm sorry!" (Kills radio link.)

(Terrell and Winship had a similar debate about Terrell's dead pal in "Trifecta". Winship pulled the guy out, but he went back on his own and got killed. Here it's the same setup, yet with a different mood and a different idea of who's right. What if, after those "twenty-four more hours", Grace's corpse was dug up with a bullet through her heart? The only thing that saved her was that she wasn't a bit character.)

I'll stop poking now. More quotation fun, first is a Closeup-Intensive Deep Meaningful Speech. (Sadly. Sammo's reaction at some point before his line would have been appreciated.)

Amy: "My dad was furious when I wanted to be a cop. Said it would make me a 'tool of the entrenched power structure.' Might as well shave my head and tattoo a swastika on my arm. We didn't speak for years. It's funny, 'cause I think we both always realized that the real reason for his anger was he was terrified I'd get hurt."

Sammo: "It's hard to be a daughter."

Amy: "It's not much easier being a father."

(Terrell appears bearing gifts of plot buildup, and leaves.)

Sammo: "You should call your father."

Amy: "Guess you weren't reading the papers last year. Atticus Dylan, noted civil rights attorney, dead at 63."

(Never mind that the lawyer in "To Kill a Mockingbird" was named Atticus Finch.:)

(Say something cute about a 26-year-old having a father who would be 64 now. I dare you. There's a bigger difference between me and my parents, so feel free to say something cheap. I don't mind the sight of your blood.)

* * *

And a bit after the Big Finale where she admits that they wouldn't have saved the day if Grace hadn't been on the inside. It undermines her authority even further, but at least she can admit that she was wrong. (Even though she had every damn reason to do what she did!)

The pause that refreshes. Or, just one more poke: Here's the original version of that Deep Meaningful Quote above:

Amy: "My dad was furious when I wanted to be a cop. (2.5 second pause) Said it would make me a 'tool of the entrenched power structure.' (1.5 second pause) Might as well shave my head and tattoo a swastika on my arm. (2 second pause) We didn't speak for years. (3.5 second pause) It's funny, 'cause (1 second pause) I think we both always realized that the real reason (0.5 second pause) for his anger (2.5 second pause) was he was terrified I'd get hurt."

(2.5 second pause)

Sammo: "It's hard to be a daughter."

(3 second pause)

Amy: "It's not much easier being a father."

(Plot buildup, followed by something like a 4 second pause.)

Sammo: "You should call your father."

(2.5 second pause)

Amy: "Guess you weren't reading the papers last year. (1.5 second pause) Atticus Dylan, (1 second pause) noted civil rights attorney, (1.5 second pause, filled with a sigh) dead at 63."

(More pause.)

I need to start checking these Deep Meaningful Speeches for excessive pause length mid-sentence. (I'm not saying it had to be blurted out in one long run-on line, but maybe it could have been pulled up a bit at the start...?)

You know, I'm glad they cut out the character building. This is better. I absolutely loved the bloopers tonight. I just wish I knew what it was on that computer monitor (its back was to the camera) that caused Arsenio and Sammo to run off-camera laughing while Gretchen was laughing so hard she was on the verge of tears!

I actually got up the guts and temporary lack of sanity to ask Lee Goldberg if he could remember precisely what was on that monitor, or at least what sort of hardware it would be wired to. His reply, which was more than I expected, went like this: I don't remember what the footage on the monitor was, just that it was fairly silly and maybe slightly obscene.

Well, the "footage" bit implies that the monitor was hooked to either a VCR or something else that played video (as opposed to someone rigging it to a camera or a PC or nothing at all - even if "nothing at all" was plainly not an option judging by their reaction). The "slightly obscene" bit explains the reaction from Kelly Hu right before the end of the shot.:)

Are you still going to San Vicente? The MCU is still in the same building, that's a given. In this episode we again see the "San Vicente Division" sign and the season one mural in the background. Given the location, that implies that the MCU was built right where the season one offices were! It's the same damn office!

I'm a bad lawyer. The other kind of bad. The evil ninja's lawyer will show up again later in the season. If you see him, you know you're dealing with a villain. (Since the villain's already established, not like it ruins the plot.)

I'm a bad assassin. Not the other kind of bad. The evil assassin (Nakamura or some other spelling) is just a conman with a bit of luck (mostly with the rumor mill). He's a great character, especially how his attempted seductions of Grace just get more inept once she knows he's a fake.:)

He's dead. Shoot him again. Amy shoots her gun during the final fight scene. A ninja screams and falls. 56 seconds later, Terrell shoots his gun. It shows the same ninja falling the same way, from a different camera angle.

July 9, 2001 AD (Episode: '24 Hours')
Muddy Rorgan: Ruddy Morgan, whose logo appears at the end of every Martial Law also did some movie that was on TNT just following Martial Law's close on TNN. Who and what are they?

Vroom vroom boom: Sammo's formerly blown-up Cadillac dies a second, more ignominious death. First it's revealed to be on its last legs*, then it accidentally goes into gear and off a dock. The replacement is a former police car that's older than Sammo's late Caddy.:)

* Which is a bit of a stretch seeing how it wasn't that bad even in "Sammo Blammo" - while we didn't see it running, it plainly didn't backfire like it did in this episode, else the people Sammo and Terrell snuck up on might have noticed. Granted, that was months ago by Martial Law's timeline, but I still don't see how it could have collapsed quite so fast if not helped along by the scriptwriters.

Commander of Administrative Tactical Operation Services for the Los Angeles Police Department (GASP, GASP!) Hard to say in one go, and it doesn't even have a good acronym (unless one thinks CATOS or CATOSLAPD is a good acronym). But Amy almost got promoted to that, except she put the lives her charges and a kidnapped child above her upward mobility and stood up the LAPD chief at a dinner date. So much for the dinner date being mere formality. Of course, the LAPD was never one to promote people who put civilian safety before their own comfort, so she didn't get the job.

Father knows best 2.0: Political senseless. One LAPD brass type (and her late father's friend) basically tells Amy that she lost the promotion because of her dedication. The chief admired it but was still offended that she figured lives were more important than he was.

Apparently the lack of political sense she showed in doing that was something she always gave her father hell for. Again, father knew best.:)

Though I still think she showed dreadful lack of tact and brain cells in almost every episode before this, with this being the first time she showed both political sense and the good sense to ignore her political sense. This was the first episode where Amy was plainly altruistic and not bitchy, sarcastic, or out to use everyone in the known the universe as a stepping stone.

Does this mean I can put the voodoo doll away? Great episode. Now that Amy's lightened up, there's nothing really wrong. Best episode so far of season two, and it beats a slice of season one as well. Of course, it beats almost the whole second half of season two.

The Shadow Knows! Terrell was in one scene decked out in a dark suit, dark shirt, and dark tie. He looked more like a shadow that got loose of its owner than a proper person.

Here's a thought - the fad of wearing same-color ties and shirts, or (eeew!) same-color ties, shirts, jackets, and pants is really lame. Virtually no one looks good in a one-color outfit. That's why sensible people who wear jumpsuits often leave the top undone a bit so we can see the shirt underneath it.

We're evil, he's just naughty: Jewel (and everything else) thief Alastair Temple (played by a fellow with the appellation of Joe Bologna) was sprung from jail and convinced to perform a nigh-impossible heist - else his kidnapped granddaughter would meet a very ugly fate - by some guys who were only around for the break-out and the final fight scene. I'll tell you, these were the most amazing bad guys in that I think, out of all ten of them, only one had lines. And he was onscreen for about a minute. This was the first episode that had no real bad guy character, and it worked great.

His body is a Temple: Alastair Temple was a great character. Funny but not buffoonish, and the "old man" image he cultivated for the beginning scenes quickly evaporated when he whipped out some high-tech thieving tools. Had a lot of the real good lines, too.:)

Too lazy to quote tonight: Some great dialogue. And Amy didn't do anything I particularly hated. At least, nothing worth mentioning.:)

Still too lazy to quote tonight: Okay, there was a few precious points where she was a bit heavy on the sarcasm, but considering she was up for a promotion and under pressure, it was for once entirely justified.

Not that lazy: Some LAPD bigwig: "This isn't just about you, Amy. What you do reflects on me. If you offended the chief, so have I."

Amy: "But if I disappoint myself, I have to live with that alone."

So many people forget that these days.

Gratuitous ratings moment: Grace in the fancy tight outfit during the US Mint heist. Didn't serve a purpose, except a light joke or two from Temple.

Fundamental Forces of Rateure: While Grace was in the tight outfit, something meant to work up the suspense punched a hole in the logic. How did one magnetic (maybe suction-based, but it looked magnetic to me) thing Grace was using to walk along the ceiling hold after the other one gave? If two couldn't hold her weight well, surely when there was one left it would have given even faster.

Another thing.... Grace could remove them with one strong tug, implying that she can - one-handed! - exert more force than her own weight even when in an awkward position. By my math, that means she could lift me two-handed if she needed to. Strong girl.

Guns? They're not supposed to have guns! Terrell hasn't opened a can of streetfighter whoop-ass of late, mostly using his gun in harrowing situations. Who'da thunk it, a cop who uses his gun.:)

And I don't have a problem with the fewer fights in each episode, as long as the ones still there are good. (Today's weren't bad, still a bit funny.) At least it's not like season one's writer's-crutch "Plot grinds to a halt while Sammo rushes off to get in a fix so we can have a fight scene."

Deep Meaningful Moment: Sammo mentions that he knows what it's like to lose a son. This wasn't elaborated on until later in the season.

If I can't get any further in the LAPD, I'll move to New Mexico and become a congresswoman: In the last scene of this episode, Gretchen Egolf was looking faintly reminiscent of her Vanessa Whitaker character (in general look, not mannerism or planet of origin:). Had she worn a skirt instead of slacks and had a string of pearls on.... Oh, and of course, her hair would have to be a lot different. See below if so inclined.

December 3, 2001 AD (Episode Update: '24 Hours')
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 where 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.

July 10, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Ninety Million Reasons to Die')
The Sammo cannot hold.... Neither could the center. After getting off to a shaky start, season two reached a high point of excellence last episode, and now it's all downhill, at least for this episode.

My Cadillac comes with factory air and self-resurrection: Sammo's car was only in one scene. One scene. It didn't even really need to be there, since it was only in the start of the scene. It was a convertible. It was blue. It was the Cadillac that fell off a dock in the last episode! Can't believe I didn't notice it before, but this is the second amazing comeback for that rig. Even worse, this time it wasn't explained how it got revived. Nor was the fate of the old police car Sammo bought last episode to replace the Caddy.

This car must have been used in one of the Highlander programs, given its habit of coming back after being obliterated. Gimme a sword, I'll see if removing the carburetor with that does anything....

Remember the Evil Posse from last episode? We're their brothers! A new bunch of nameless evil business-suited henchmen. Okay, some of them had lines, but the fact that they kidnapped Sammo this episode just like they kidnapped Temple last episode isn't doing anything for differentiating them.

Hi, I'm S.U.V. Black's brother, Van Black. Of course, you can't cram an Evil Posse into a black SUV, so you get... a black van. (Okay, it's dark green in the sun. But I couldn't let that joke pass.)

I also can't let the following comment pass: The van (Minivan? Haven't got a decent look at it.) Amy drives - possibly only on police business, since I can't see a single woman like her driving something so bulky unless she had to - is white. Why not just give 'em cowboy hats and get it over with?

And I'm Mr. Underwhelmed: Some of the acting from the bit people was kind of bad. I mean, was the woman who was being chased by the bad guys (Allison something, I don't know the actress' name and maybe I shouldn't publish it anyway) supposed to stress sentences instead of words? She started off horrid, then started saying her lines properly around the middle, then fluctuated back and forth in the final scene. (In general, her funny lines were delivered okay and her dramatic ones weren't. Maybe someone could inform her that there's little difference in the delivery of a dramatic line and a comedic one?)

Sadly, the dialogue was generally unimpressive, even when delivered halfway right. Like when a henchman is told to get rid of Sammo. He grabs a gun and says "I'll need this!"

I felt like talking back: "Actually, I was hoping you'd MacGyver up a weapon out of some tree bark and mud."

First the MCU, now my own house! The San Vicente Division got a facelift between seasons. So did Sammo's apartment. It's no longer on the beach and it's become a split-level. Methinks he moved more than his unit did.

Ewwwww.... Stephen Garth was the first season two villain that really freaked me out. I mean really. To retrieve someone else's 90 million dollars, he:

A) Tries to torture Sammo by what looks to be slow evisceration;

B) Has some innocent schmuck punched out and dumps them out of a car when they turn out to be the wrong person;

Ca) Had a woman's house decked out with so many cameras and bugs it wasn't funny;

Cb) Knew presumably the price and location of purchase of every damn thing in the house.... I mean, this guy takes his female obsessions to a level which I never intend to attain, and he's just doing it for money.

Nitpicks: Why did bad-guy Garth want to know when Sammo was getting the rest of the stolen money when it was later established that Garth had already taken it himself? Okay, maybe this one could be written off to playing head games or something....

And how much cash did he burn to get that 90 mil back? Given that Martial Law had a multimillion dollar budget and they could barely afford to fake all the high-tech gizmos Garth had at his disposal.... (For instance, we never saw the shortwave transmitter truck Terrell said Garth probably had, did we?)

Speaking of which, the baddies bug the MCU and Allison's house to the rafters. They use the bugs to learn where Sammo's off to (since he's figured out where Allison is). When the baddies find her, they see her car and say "That's her car." They crammed her house with half the contents of a "Sharper Image" store and they didn't even put one tracer on her CAR?

I'll let this one go because it's a safety issue: Garth throws a woman out of a stationary van. She lands about two feet from the rear tires. Cut to a longshot of the van pulling out and she's gone. Okay, I see why they did this one. No extra is getting within two feet of the wheels of a car for what CBS is paying her.

That's a damn big nit.... Bigger nitpick time.

After finding the bugs (electronic bugs, not nits), Sammo and co. deliberately feed Garth the wrong information about where Allison is being hidden, so he sends some of his Evil Posse to kill her and they instead wind up in an ambush. (The line given to show Allison's exact location goes like this: "Take a shower. Get yourself cleaned up. You'll stay here tonight.") The Evil Posse disguise themselves as cops and try finding where she is in the MCU. They go into the MCU's locker room, which implies that not much time has elapsed and she'd still be in the shower. Okay, that's fine. (That's also where the ambush is.)

Meanwhile, Terrell, Amy, and Allison head into Garth's unwatched HQ and screw with his bank account to get the titular ninety million dollars back. Fine so far.

Here's the important thing, listen up. Both dialogue and setting in the pre-ambush scene make it obvious it's night. (The word "tonight" is used and there's a pronounced lack of sun in the outdoor shots - even the stock shots are night shots.) Okay so far.

The ambush takes place maybe 20 minutes later, since Allison is assumed to still be in the shower. Okay so far.

At the same time, Terrell and the effeminate A's* are inside the baddie HQ. When they're found out, the alarm is sounded and they make a break for it. They get caught in the parking lot.

(* Amy, Allison. Effeminate A's. Get it? Okay, so it's not that good a joke, or the proper use of the word "effeminate". Sue me.)

The parking lot is bathed in sunlight, and from the angle it's midmorning (or midafternoon) sunlight.

Therefore, between the time that they left Garth's office - which had to be at night - and the time they arrived in the parking lot, the sun had time to rise and position itself at what is, at the most charitable, 8:00 AM angle. So they were running around the building for at least four hours. Maybe ten.

I'd like to see the continuity person's head on a platter, please. Thank you.

Dylan Devolution Number One: In an effort to continue my alliterative entries on characters acting more like their opening episode personas than their current ones (see also my "Terrell Throwback" series above), I now present Dylan Devolution Numero Uno.

The character flaw I'm pointing out today is my three-word mantra: "She doesn't think." After sprouting a forebrain in "24 Hours", I was hoping Amy would stop doing rather moronic things. No such luck.

In "Sammo Blammo", she was (over the phone) threatening bombmaker Daniel Darius while standing next to the bomb he created. She was in no position (literally!) to make threats, yet she did. "Darius, this is Amy Dylan, head of the MCU. Look, I just want to let you know if anything happens to Sammo, there won't be a place on Earth you can hide from me." In response, Terrell makes a sarcastic comment about how scared Darius must be.

In this episode, she was threatening gun-toting Steven Garth. "In ten minutes you'll be a wanted man on every square inch of this planet!" Come on, paint a bullseye on your forehead and make it really obvious you'd be better to him dead! Terrell makes a sarcastic comment asking if Amy threatens gun-toting killers often. She replies, "It's the first time I've had the opportunity."

Steven Garth, commonly called Garth. Daniel Darius, commonly called Darius. Both times Amy delivered a threat with a metaphor involving the planet Earth. Both times Terrell said something about how moronic it was to do what she just did. Damn it, this wasn't a throwback, it was the same bloody scene!

Dylan Devolution Number Two: After breaking into Garth's office, Amy complains about having to break the law. Just like she did in "24 Hours" when she helped break into the US Mint, except this time she wasn't so much worried that it was illegal as she was worried about compromising her job security. Such bitching is unbecoming of her newer, more mellow persona. Especially since getting caught by Garth would be more likely a trip to the coroner than a trip to the unemployment line.

(As I proofread this I will be idly throttling my voodoo doll.)

What's that? Oh, comedy! I didn't recognize it. One funny scene when Sammo tries rescuing a woman and winds up rescuing a dog.:) The scene where Sammo shut Terrell up (Sammo found a bug and Terrell was talking a bit too freely) by throwing coffee on him was wonderful as well. Beyond that, there was only a few witty comments to liven up the mood. After all, with Garth as cuddly as a stalker, we don't need too much comedy. Might make people think one is actually doing a light, escapist show. (Yes, I'm being uncharitable.)

I'm hearing voices! AHH! Was it just me, or did the law firm secretary's voice sound dubbed in? She never spoke when her face was to the camera and didn't look quite right when she was facing away from the camera.

"Run Lola Run, huh? (...) I loved this movie. Story of my life." That's a quote from Vanessa Whitaker (Gretchen Egolf), Roswell.

Run Amy Run, huh? Story of my acting career. What it should have been. In "Sammo Blammo" and again here, Gretchen spent some time running for the edification of the camera. She was wearing the same style white t-shirt both times. I'm not going to paint the picture any further, except to say that she never runs anywhere when she's in a blouse, like the snappy vest and blouse she had on in the final scene.

TNN's still breaking in a new guy! Last episode, they lost a second or so of the show at every commercial break. This episode, someone ran the "Miami Vice coming up next!" voiceover during the blooper segment. Two copies of everything....

I'm out of clean shirts. Could I borrow your blouse? I'll tell you, between the white t-shirts, the occasional sweater, and the mostly-primary-color blouses that are cut disturbingly like a man's shirt, Amy's looking like she raided my closet for her wardrobe (save the skirts, slacks and heels, of course:) and just changed the buttons around. Let's see how long before someone in wardrobe catches on to the fact that "Amy" is a woman's name.

(I have nothing against suit jackets and blouses and slacks. It's just that there's so many more ways to tailor a woman's clothing than a man's that I think that relying on maleish defaults all the time is not a good idea.)

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

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

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

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

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

July 11, 2001 AD (Episode: 'My Man Sammo')
And again.... Another one that I ranted about before. I managed to keep awake all through this one, don't know why - could that I had someone playing Greek chorus (or is that MST3K theater row?) to my Gretchen Egolf obsession by commenting every time she was onscreen.:) Could be that I thought the episode was generally better, too. And not just because of the cleavage in one scene.:) How my Chorus kept from commenting on that scene, I'll never know.

Does name determine facial structure? This will make sense when you read the next item. The actress playing arms dealer Josephine Collette was named Kristen Eykel.

Ye gods, there's TWO of them? Well, one and a third.... How they even managed to find a woman who looked faintly like Gretchen Egolf to play the arms dealer Amy Dylan replaced was beyond me. Though I think makeup had a hand in that, since it looked like someone deliberately picked the lipstick color and applied it in an effort to widen Eykel's mouth a bit and to shrink Egolf's. Couldn't do anything about Egolf's differently-cut face and jawline, though. (I have fallen for a nonaerodynamic woman. Oh, the horror.)

They had similar noses, though. I was happy about that.

The tale of two dialogues: Some moments were absolutely wonderful (Terrell had some great lines this episode). Some weren't (Amy, Amy, Amy, you stupid bitch).

Get me the voodoo doll: Amy's line about "winging it" was okay - only because of the wisecrack from Terrell that followed - and some of her attitude copping had to do with the overall plot, but she was still a complete moron when she said....

Amy (After Sammo charges onto the scene and saves Amy from getting her pretty little white jacket covered with her not-so-pretty red blood by someone intent on killing her.): "What the hell are you doing here?"

(Saving your miserable ungrateful ass, maybe? I know that she didn't want help because she was trying to prove herself, but she had just had a gun pointed at her. She was reprimanding the person who saved... her... life!)

* * *

(Sammo - undercover as a butler - beats up the bad guys from the last quoting bit again after they get loose.)

Evil arms buyer: "You have a marvellous butler."

Amy (undercover as evil arms dealer): "There's room for improvement."

* * *

Amy: "Nuclear warheads?"

This line is memorable because she said it without moving her lips. You couldn't see her face for part of it (back to the camera, turning towards it slowly), but she at least got the last syllable out without any discernible vocal effort.

* * *

Her final scene was a bit more redemptive, but before that we had to traipse through...

Amy Dylan Vulnerability Watch 2.0: ...the obligatory Deep Meaningful Speech. It was (in part) a two-shot! A two-shot! Thank God, a two-shot! Though my cynical side wonders if it wasn't a vain attempt to widen the shot enough to get Gretchen's obvious lack of a brassiere into the frame (unless they're making 'em with invisible or bizarrely-placed center straps now).

Oh, and there's almost no excessive pauses! Wooooo!:) The pauses that were there were mostly spent doing things - Amy stopped talking and walked from one place to another, etc. They were both doing something other than just standing around and waiting for the other person to finish, and it was appreciated.

Amy: "Sammo?"

Sammo: "Yes, ma'am?"

Amy: "Please stop calling me 'ma'am'."

Sammo: "I'm your butler."

Amy: "Not now you're not."

Sammo: "While we're undercover, I am."

Amy: "That's what I wanted to talk to you about. Um... are you aware of how you're making me look?"

Sammo: "You look very beautiful." (And he manages to keep his eyes locked on her face as he says it. He deserves an Oscar for that one, 'cause her hair isn't doing her face any favors. Her own cleavage upstaged her even more than cleavage normally does.)

Amy (caught off-guard by the compliment): "Thank you, but uh, that's not what I meant. I'm about to walk into a very delicate and dangerous undercover situation. If I fail some terrorist is going to have nuclear weapons. Having you here... undermines my authority, it makes it look as if I'm not capable of pulling off this operation by myself."

Sammo: "You are."

Amy: "You think so?"

Sammo: "Yes."

Amy: "That's nice. Because the truth is... I have no idea if I am. I mean, I send you people out to do this every day as if I know what I'm doing, but I'm not certain I do. Which is why I had to do this. Have you just lost all respect for me?"

Sammo: "I only have more."

Amy: "Then you'll follow my orders today no matter what?"

(Snip some plot buildup, suffice to say that Sammo agrees.)

Amy: "One more thing."

Sammo: "Yes, ma'am?"

Amy: "Thanks for being worried about me."

(I find the line "undermines my authority" rather funny, since everyone BUT Sammo has been doing a fine job of undermining it before this episode. Sammo offering help when it's needed doesn't undermine her quite so much as Terrell ignoring a direct order does.)

Commentary remixes: To get the full version of this Lee Goldberg quote, with no nag screens, send me $10. Or, look at my rant for "This Shogun for Hire".

If I had "My Man Sammo" to do over again, I would probably change her attitude towards Sammo and the assignment... reveal more of her insecurity to him earlier on, and gratefulness for him being there, rather than show her hiding her fears behind arrogance.

And how. Her arrogance at the start when she claimed that she was going to go undercover was okay, if only because it was later made out to be a weak cover for her own insecurity. However, the "gratefulness for him being there" part would have done better moved back about 22 minutes (to replace that "What the hell are you doing here?" line).

Walk like an E-ditz-ian: Why do some women insist on holding their arms out (elbows at sides) when they run? They look like ditzes when they do it. Maybe if you're in a truly psychotic pair of high heels it's a slight balance issue, but some women do that when they wear sneakers.

You shouldn't have double-crossed me in Marrakech. Or was it London? Someone playing a Middle-Eastern type guy did a wonderful blooper-segment gag where he was speaking with a British accent. Nice way to try stave off typecasting.:)

enilkcen gnignulP: After Amy showed up in that low-cut number for her Meaningful Speech, her neckline (Why's it still called a neckline if it's at your breasts?) steadily crept its way back up her cleavage. I suppose showing up like that at the house of someone who's trying to have his own plunge at your neckline is just too much of an invitation.

Hacking for Dummies Homeboys: Terrell hacked into a hospital PC in what seemed to be seconds. Impressive how he takes over Amy's role as MCU head and also takes over her knack for PCs. As long has he doesn't raid her wardrobe.... Actually, he could probably put together something decent from her wardrobe that wouldn't look out of place on a man at all.

Someone finally figured out that all LAPD members get self-defense training.... And Amy finally got a fight scene. So what if it's just a not-so-artfully-delivered elbow to the face and knee or two to the stomach of a henchman?:)

I'm ambidextrous. Terrell calls down both the semi-automatic thunder and the kick-to-the-head thunder, in the same scene. I guess Amy Dylan is now officially the Good Guy/Gal Who Can't Fight Well.

Gracie get your gun: The forced-to-go-gunless Grace manifests one for one scene. Rather funny considering that Sammo points out earlier in the episode that he's not carrying one (because he's a Chinese national, like Grace).

Bad guys don't think. From Josephine Collette's attitude in the opening scene, she's a real sassy little number. Yet the bad guys (who hadn't met her in person before, just spoken via e-mail) never noticed when Amy-as-Josephine was cold and businesslike. Maybe it was because of the brevity of the meetings....

Bad guys don't think. With the right head. But the main bad guy should have noticed because he spent a good slice of time around her. I guess he was too busy trying to get his own "weapon" launched to notice that first change in demeanour. Or the second one when she became almost sexually teasing to (ironically) try keep him off her until the deal was closed and she could arrest him*.

*I actually resisted using the phrase "blow... her cover" and one of a dozen handcuff jokes, which puts me one level above Amy, who actually - while skirting around a bed, no less - said "Business is very exciting. Closing a deal is especially... climactic." to stave off the unwanted advance until she was home free.

Why she led him into a bedroom to close the sale of the nukes - unless she wanted him to try something - is beyond me. Lesson one of going undercover: memorize the floorplan of "your" home. If the bedrooms are all upstairs, you do not "retire upstairs" with a member of the opposite sex who's already coming on strong unless you intend to see precisely how strong he can indeed come on. 'Cause that's sure as hell what he's thinking you mean. (Where else would the bedrooms be but upstairs, anyway? That's just common sense.)

Mirror (l)im(o)ages: Someone claimed you could see the camera reflected in the limo in one scene. I looked, I didn't see, I was mad.

Rant... er, run for your life! Why did the crooked Interpol agent (played by a goateed Charles Shaughnessy, of The Nanny fame) stick around for the final fight scene? The cash was in his bank account, the nukes were delivered, why didn't he just leap into the Pacific and swim for it while the MCU was busy with the main bad guy?

Yeargh: Amy hair rant time! Okay, at the point where she changes from that low-cut black number to man's clothes (literally - after stripping her of her clothes, the bad guys must have stripped the gardener for her replacements) her hair doesn't change much. Yet she looks ironically 100% better in the old work clothes, because of the one thing that did change (and don't think I didn't have to switch between the tape of TNN's 8:00 episode and the live feed of the midnight rerun to notice!). Her hair was left to fall around her face, and not pushed back behind her ears. Improved her looks like you wouldn't believe.

October 19, 2001 AD (Episode Update: 'My Man Sammo')
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?:)

July 12, 2001 AD (Episode: 'The Friendly Skies')
The Unfriendly Script: Third time I saw this episode. Third time it sucked. The MCU scenes were fine, with some good acting from Gretchen Egolf, Sammo Hung, and Rick Springfield. The non-MCU scenes, on the other hand, were not half as enjoyable. Mostly because of Bret Michaels.

Now, that's very harsh of me to say. He could be a nice and loving person in Real Life and here I am saying nasty things about him. Like that's stopped me before. Let me explain why I didn't like him:

A) He's a heavy metal type rocker, and looks the part. (Though first viewing I thought he was a wrestler - laugh if you must, but he looks like that too.) Dirty bandana and dirtier hair under it. Ick.

Ab) I'm probably going to whine about his musical skills or lack thereof below. I can't hold that against him without being a hypocrite - I must admit to listening to just a tad of death metal (Mortum) every now and then. But I can safely hold against him the fact that what I've heard of his work is mostly unrefined noise. (The metal I partake in is refined noise. There's a difference.)

B) His character (something Darrow) was a Charles Manson wannabe. He had a "family", he went on a killing spree, etc. etc. etc.

O) Len's obligatory blood type joke.

C) Darrow's treatment of Grace was really disturbing. His henchmen were no better. This is not the light escapism Goldberg and Rabkin claimed they were going for.

D) It's presumably some of Michaels' tracks that are run during the fight scenes. There's a reason no one uses heavy metal tracks - or other tracks with loud vocals - in television shows. IT DROWNS OUT EVERYTHING ELSE!!!! Granted, it was just for the fight scenes. But Sammo's incomprehensible shouting is a hallmark of the fight scenes. If we need to strain to hear that....

Db) Michaels is playing the villain. So when Sammo's kicking bad guy ass, the villain's voice is screeching over the proceedings. I'm not saying it compromises the reality of the show - though it does slightly less than having "Coming to America" running on a TV set would - I'm just saying it's weird.

Dc) And what he's screeching doesn't having a thing to do with fighting. Or it wouldn't, if I could understand more than occasional syllables. Something's dead, or in your head, or under the bed, or lined with lead, or hasn't been read, or turned tail and fled, or forgot what you said, or has a cousin named Ned....

I'm not making a Grace Chen voodoo doll. I like my Amy Dylan doll: Grace had some very dramatic lines (and a Deep Meaningful Speech) this episode*. This wasn't one of them.

Grace (after hearing Terrell's comment about little league coaches telling kids to "walk injuries off"): "Explains a lot about American men".

Sort of an odd comment considering she's an American woman.... Oh, I forgot. She's Chinese-looking, so the fact that she acts and talks as American as east-coast white girl Amy Dylan is irrelevant, she's still Chinese. Were I nicer, I might write it off as a byproduct of spending her teen years (when she'd take an interest in the opposite sex) in China; but I'm not, so I won't.

*And if all her dramatic lines didn't revolve around the Darrow Family, they might have been worth listening to a second time. I think the acting was good. I don't want to check, to be honest.

I like my Amy Dylan doll, because I could just hug it now: She wasn't a bitch or a moron! YEEEEEHAAAAA!

(Well, okay. She wasn't perfect, but she was finally within good-guy-normal boundaries.)

Quotes of the moment, with a bonus Dylan Devolution Number Three:

FBI Agent (Rick Springfield) Stockwell (in reference to a possible chemical spill): "It's not going to kill anyone." (Under his breath.) "Not for forty or fifty years, anyway."

* * *

(Snip beginning of scene - ah, little Amy's first martial arts lesson. They grow up so fast. She's wearing one of those robe-like thingies martial artists wear, adorned in Chinese writing. Sammo comments on it and Amy says that she wants to do everything right, so she got the proper outfit. Don't ask me how to pronounce the Chinese name for it. Sounded like how a Frenchman says the name "Guy" - something like "Gi", but if you're not French or Chinese you're screwed when it comes to my descriptions.)

Amy (feeling weird): "Before we start I just want to... uh... make sure that, you know, you don't feel at all... weird about this."

Sammo: "Weird?"

Amy: "Yeah, b-because I'm your boss. But in this room I want you to treat me just like you'd treat any other student."

Sammo: "Okay."

Amy (feeling uncomfortable): "So if you... uh... y'know, feel uncomfortable at all you can just tell me."

Sammo: "Or you can tell me."

Amy (laughs nervously): "Right. Heh.... Okay, I guess, um, I guess I do feel just a little bit uncomfortable. I guess I'm just not sure how this whole master/student thing is supposed to work."

(If you've ever seen the sort of disturbing slavish idol worship some of these master/student relationships wind up as, you'd be nervous too.)

Sammo: "Out there, you are the boss. In here, I am the boss. Clear enough?"

Amy: "Yeah."

Sammo: "Let's begin."

(Amy exhales. No idea if it's just a quick preparatory thing she's doing or a sigh of mild dread.)

Sammo (steps back): "Hit me."

Amy: "What?"

Sammo: "Hit me."

(Amy moves as if to punch Sammo. Sammo tenses a bit - an appreciated bit of acting - but Amy just gives him a buddy-buddy nudge on the shoulder.)

Sammo: "No, really hit me. Use your waist."

Amy: "Okay, but I have to warn you, Sammo, I led the class in hand-to-hand combat at the academy."

(Ah, this has the makings of a more friendly version of season one's David Hasbro moments. If you noticed the similarity, you know what's about to happen.)

(Amy throws a punch. Sammo grabs her arm and uses her own momentum to force her down onto the ground with her arm bent behind her in a very uncomfortable-looking one-nudge-and-it-breaks kind of hold.)

Amy: "Well, I'm glad that whole boss thing isn't going to be an issue."

Sammo: "That is first lesson: You must feel the pain to understand the motion."

Amy: "Well, I asked you to teach me martial arts, not kick my butt."

(And what a fine butt it is.... Oh, sorry. I'm drifting.)

(At some point here Sammo helps Amy up. Not sure when, that drifting sort of had me going for a while.)

Sammo: "Second lesson: Never wear something you can't read."

Amy (looks suspiciously at the writing on her outfit): "Why? What's it say?"

Sammo: "(Reads the Chinese writing out loud, then translates.) 'Please kick my butt.'"

(Okay, assuming Sammo's not joking around, this was another classic Dylan Devolution "don't look before you leap" thing. But at least it was more on the Terrell scale of saying something wrong than the Amy scale of redecorating the whole MCU. If anyone fluent in Chinese other than Sammo - like the absent Grace - had seen the outfit, then I'd have given this its own entry.)

Sammo (steps back): "Now, grab me."

Amy (sounding like she doesn't trust him): "Grab you."

Sammo: "Grab me."

(Reluctantly Amy goes to do something that might be a throttle-grab. Before anything happens, Amy's saved by her beeper.)

* * *

Bret Michaels' character at one point uses the word "de-evolution". Hate to tell you this (No, I don't. If I really did hate to tell him this, I wouldn't say it.) but, as shown on this page, the proper word is "devolution", which moves a bit easier past the teeth. (February 10, 2002 AD: To steal from another reviewer speaking about another TV program on which Armin Shimerman guested: "De-evolving?" Yeesh. There's already a word for what was happening here (aside from implausible): "devolving". But, I suppose we needed the extra syllable, just so it would be Even More Obvious what was happening.)

Moment of the moment: The scene where Stockwell tries to kill Amy and Sammo... with an empty gun. Sammo shows him the bullets and says, "You need these."

You don't need a gun when you have Right on your side. And a spot in the opening credits. Okay, someone on Usenet pointed out that Amy not going back for the guns Stockwell threw away was a dumb move. I thought he had thrown 'em off a cliff, thus making them rather hard to retrieve. But no, you listen and hear them hit ground - soft ground, not even rock - a second after they're thrown.

Note to wardrobe: I'm a woman, a woman damn you! Gretchen either forgot how to button things or was trying to kill her butch-in-a-business-suit image, as she forgoed (I know "forwent" is the proper word, leave me be) buttoning her top blouse button (as normal) and also her second-from-top blouse button (as... uh... un-normal). Which perked me up when she reached for something in her back pocket, let me tell you. Next logical step is for her to shirk the whole damn blouse (which she will in "Blue Flu").

Other than "Thieves Among Thieves" and her undercover stint in "My Man Sammo", I'm hard-pressed to recall her wearing anything that was really feminine. I don't know why; from what I've seen from the Roswell screencaps, it's not like there's anything wrong with those legs of hers, up to the knee anyway. (Knees can't really be made to look that good.) If the (sadly) blocky stills of her wearing little more than a too-large red dress shirt from "More Lies About Jerzy" are any indication, the lack of problems continues right up to her hips.)

So, I've got a fanboy who wants my body, a boyfriend who wants someone else's body, and about three bad guys. Kill me now. Last episode the bad guy tried to get Amy, who was undercover as an arms dealer, into a whole different kind of under( the )cover(s) situation. Also, the crooked Interpol agent was rather complimentary about her looks.

This episode, crooked FBI agent (she's big on the corrupt cop circuit...) Stockwell's behavior just before he tries to kill her implies that he's sort of sorry she's not as crooked as he is. (Was he trying to sarcastically blow her a kiss at one point?)

Later in the season she gets a boyfriend, who becomes a future husband, who becomes an adulterer.

And then there's me.

Poor girl, she's already a five-time loser.

Damn, slam you! No, wait, that wasn't right: Rick Springfield slams a door dramatically. Being plexiglass and metal on hydraulics, it doesn't slam quite as dramatically as a good ol' wooden door.

How to use the two-shot. Well, three-shot. Sammo figures out that Agent Stockwell is crooked, because he knows a name he hasn't been told yet. When Sammo realizes it, he looks up from what he's doing and gives the guy a suspicious look. Audience members looking at the speaker (Stockwell) will miss it, fanboys who are looking at Amy Dylan (cough, cough) will miss it because she doesn't pick up on it. But Sammo fans realize that something is wrong.

Nitpick: A plane with a dozen psychos (and Grace and Terrell as guards) onboard disappears. Immediately upon hearing about it Sammo knows which one of the lunatics is responsible. FBI agent Stockwell was crooked and proved it by knowing something he shouldn't know. By that logic, Sammo's just as crooked!

A two-week vacation, how... nice. Terrell and Grace get two weeks off after their harrowing experiences. So nice that they didn't put Grace right back to work, not like having her arm in a sling will stop her from punching or shooting people, as she is wont to do.

Romancing the Malone coroner Parker? At the end of the episode, Terrell and Grace plan to go out on a dinner date. Damn, first he takes Louis Malone's place on a case, then he takes Louis Malone's place as a streetfighter, then he takes over Louis Malone's sort-of-kind-of relationship with Grace!

From hacker to slacker: Terrell admits to spending all day playing flight sims on his work PC. Alas, look at how his hacking skills have led him down the path to laziness.

September 12, 2001 AD (Episode Update: 'The Friendly Skies')
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.)

July 13, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Call of the Wild')
Escapism Escapades: Okay, this was more like the escapist plots Goldberg and Rabkin wanted. Consequently, I could watch the entire episode.

They aren't called fight scenes for nothing: Terrell's heavy gun use has vanished and he's back in streetfighter mode. For better or worse.

Even so, I really liked the fight scenes this episode. Some cool stunts and some light humor (when the older guy is beating on Terrell and winning).

Only problem is that one woman in one fight scene didn't look like she was trying to clobber Sammo with a bike so much as she looked like she was doing interpretive dance.

(Cough, cough.) Looks like G&R aren't the only ones in the Dust Hyperbole: Okay, my previous commentary on Grace's outfits was a bit off. Some of her outfits were gratuitously tight, and some were impractical for a cop unless she's undercover as a streetwalker, but many were much closer to normal. How the mighty have fallen....

(Update, July 20, 2001 AD: Okay, I'd like to re-reverse myself. These last few episodes have been getting really silly, and "Gratuitously Tight" is becoming more prominent again.)

SWATting bugs away: Amy calls in the SWAT team again. Again to raid an empty building. This time, no one seems to give a damn.

Mind? What mind? TNN's messing with my mind and their commercial block length again. Instead of 3:00/3:00/3:00/etc./3:30ish, it's 2:30/3:00 maybe 3:30/3:00 maybe 3:30/etc./3:30ish.

Don Turlington? Is he the guy that regrows my hair or the guy that enhances my portfolio? Don Turlington was the bad guy. He looked, sounded, and had a name like someone in an infomercial. He was a motivational speaker as a cover for his secret assassin-for-hire work. Inspired idea for a villain, and disturbingly believable.

I've already shot down the Cupid idea: Sammo actively tries to get Terrell back with his ex-fiancée. She's a nice girl, a bit controlling, but nice. Don't know why he wouldn't want to be around her. Nothing wrong at all. Oh, except...

Hello, my name is Nathan Timothy: ... she's convinced she's a werewolf.

And my name is Harkon Lukas. Prepare to die: She's not a werewolf, actually. Turns out she's just part of an old mind control experiment by the East German secret police (and since co-opted by Turlington) meant to turn normal people into hypnotized killing machines.

D&D moment, feel free to fall asleep: Explanation of the last two headings. If you've read this page religiously (a scary thought), you know Nathan Timothy is a werewolf and ex-lord of a land called Arkandale in the D&D game setting Ravenloft. Harkon Lukas is a wolfwere (a wolf who can turn into a man, the antithesis of a werewolf), lord of Kartakass, and part of the blood hatred that all werewolves have for all wolfweres (& vice versa).

You killed my baby! In order to get Terrell's attention, his ex-girlfriend breaks a light on his car. His reply? "I hope you still like handcuffs!" (They had some really nice scenes together, from comedy to light romance to one scene where she beat his face in. Really nice.)

Dietary flyer: More ads for Diet Coke, both here and in "My Man Sammo". The wonders of product placement.

(Looks closer.) Wait a second.... That's a generic "Cola" can that looks like a Diet Coke can! Has the love affair ended after the blooper segment in "My Man Sammo" where someone used (I think) the Pepsi One slogan "Just One Calorie" in reference to Sammo's Diet Coke?

(Update, October 8, 2001 AD: On even closer inspection, the machine Sammo buys his Diet Coke from in "My Man Sammo" also sells Pepsi, or a Pepsi lookalike. Around here, the Blood War between colas is bad enough that a vending machine selling both is a sin tantamount to beginning conjugal relations with a sheep.)

Fish out of water, by the bikini store: Another culture-shock fish out of water moment for Sammo after he needs to question two buxom blonde beach bimbos and hands the job off to Terrell.

For old times' sake: Gretchen had simply wonderful hair at the start of the episode. One of those rare moments when I wanted to run my fingers through it on General Principles and not in an effort to try make it look better.:)

Sex on the floor: Thought that would perk you up. Sorry, none of the human characters did anything of the type - on-camera, anyway - despite a short-list which centers almost entirely around Amy Dylan. Implying I'm not the only disturbed fanboy out there, just the only one who didn't work on the show.

Nope, I'm talking about something non-human - and presumably non-living - that might have had more fun than the humans during the shoot....

Turlington hands Amy two 10%-off vouchers for his next motivational speech type thing. As she leaves, she hands them to Grace, who rips them up and throws them on the floor. She makes what looks to be one rip, so there's four segments - that's what falls from her hand, anyway.

Next scene, they learn that Turlington is behind several killings and head back to arrest him, with a SWAT team in tow. They get there, and he's gone. He cleared out fast, because the torn vouchers are still on the floor. All eight pieces.

Either they were different vouchers ripped into quarters, or the four halves were mating while everyone was out....

Goodness gracious, great walls of fire: Amy Dylan mentions that someone hacked past the MCU's firewall and set about infecting them with a nasty data worm that's eating all their files. Which would be fine if not for:

A) The fact that a large bank of MCU mainframish hardware was shot up in the last scene (compromising the LAN infrastructure something nasty, especially since the lack of tower cases means the MCU PCs are dumb terminals);

B) The PCs were running "wormish" special effects right out of a Pac-Man arcade machine with a short;


Moment(s) of the moment: Terrell defends his old gang of friends during a fight with his ex-girl, who thought they were a bunch of losers. Yet when later describing them to Sammo, he lets his true feelings show and calls them a bunch of losers.:)

Quote of the moment: Terrell: "When I met Nicole, she said I was perfect. But then she always wanted to turn me into someone else."

Sammo: "Couldn't hurt."

* * *

Sammo's last line, where he parodies homeboyish slang - even down to his pose and that wonderful devilish grin, was absolutely hilarious. Why some people didn't like it, I'll never know. (What, Sammo can't have a funny line, he has to be the straight man for Terrell or the Ignorant Chinese Guy all the time?)

Sammo: "Wassup wit' the kids in the police station, man?"

Pick the nits, zap the nits: Terrell walks up to a door locked with a keycard. He zaps the card-reader with his stun gun, which is shown in closeup. Compare the shots before and after the closeup, and the light level in the hall he's in increases slightly. (Pale yellow light to pure white light.)

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

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

July 16, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Blue Flu')
Off-tint jaundice: Several big things this episode.

A) Amy has a Deep Meaningful Speech in which her character metamorphosis completes (though it was for all intents and purposes complete after "My Man Sammo").

B) She gets to lie around in her brassiere faking a coma, as noted before. (Well, Gretchen is faking a coma, being what's known in the business as "an actor". Amy's really out of it.)

Bb) I'm sure someone's made an attachment between the phrases "big things" and "brassiere". It was entirely accidental on my part, and you're a pervert. You're also nearsighted, since she certainly isn't overendowed. (Though I certainly don't think she's underendowed.... Hey, I've already admitted to being a pervert. I can say that with little remorse.:)

B#) If you think I'm going to comment further on that last note, you're wrong. For once.:)

Gratuitous ratings moment: I said I wasn't going to comment. This time I'm talking about Grace's tight leatherish jacket and pants. In Los Angeles? In the same day as Sammo and Terrell meet some bikini-clad college students? I hope the MCU's air conditioning held up while the cops were dropping like flies.

Gratuitous ratings moment 2.0: I love stringing you along like this. Nope, now I'm talking about the strippers.

The kick heard by the muffin saleslady: Terrell doesn't get his gun kicked away - he kicks someone else's. Doesn't seem to need his anymore.

I hate that song about going to San Vicente, change the station: The words "San Vicente Division" actually get used in a radio broadcast.

Assistant Quotes of the Moment: Amy's arm-wrestling comments or the Grace-and-Sammo two-shot(!) about guilt and anger, for instance. But they sort of require you to hear the delivery. Why's that? Well, everyone's acting. Feel free to determine if that's an insult or a compliment.

Oh, but there's one that Sammo's accent mangled rather badly. I needed a WAV file editor to figure it out:

Terrell: "You know what the worst part of working at the MCU is?"

Sammo: "No place comfortable to sit."

Amy Dylan Vulnerability Watch 3.0: Amy's sick... so her pauses... make sense....

Amy: "The reason I... I never talk about my personal life is... I'm afraid of losing authority."

(Viewer at home quietly smirks and thinks about all he's written on this page about her authority and how everyone else lost it for her.)

Grace: "You're the leader of the MCU."

Amy: "Yeah, well.... Because I know how to play the political game, not because I earned it from any experience." (Viewer at home quietly smirks again and thinks about all he's written on this page about her lack of political skills the first few episodes.) "The truth is... most of the time... I don't really know what I'm doing. Well, I'm just afraid that everyone's going to find that out."

(Cue quiet emotional piano piece.)

Grace: "Amy, you're good at what you do. That's why you got the job. Whether you believe it or not, we do."

Amy (Voice ratchets up an octave into that sort of "emotional revelation" verge-of-tears tone.): "You do?"

Grace: "You want to know why I gave you a hard time when you got here?" (This should be good.) "Because the first woman to command the MCU wasn't me. Funny thing is, I don't even want the job."

Amy: "We're a lot alike. We both hate being second at anything."

(Cue some more of Amy's dreadful coughing and blood loss... yeesh.)

I'm not a lesbian, if that's what you mean! This is the quote of the moment:

Amy: "(...) I don't want to upset my mother over nothing. But I might want to call and let my boyfriend know I'm going to be late tonight."

Grace (sounding like she didn't expect that last sentence): "Your boyfriend...?"

Amy: "Why do you sound so shocked?"

I'm sorry, but when Grace was taken by surprise by it, I couldn't help but think it was more because of how butch Amy dresses* than about how Amy "never mentioned him before."

(*And looks, really... sometimes it scares me how much I like her when I've known more feminine-looking guys. Of course, I knew a guy who was once mistaken for my girlfriend. Never mind that the mistaken person was likely on something at the time....)

Why I'm not an actor: Okay, for most of the episode Amy Dylan is dying. She's looking it, too. Makeup artfully drenched Gretchen's face to make it look like she was sweating. Of course, it all collected and ran down her nose, steadily accumulating in an ever-growing sweatdrop on the tip of her nose.

When I get one of those, all parts of my brain not dedicated to life support or removing the sweatdrop shut down. I hate those things.

If this doesn't work, plug her into the mains: Last time around, I ranted about Amy's meet-and-greet with a defibrillator when my limited medical knowledge deemed the whole scene impossible. Well, turns out I was wrong - a heart can fibrillate and stop beating in certain situations, like a heart attack, though I do think someone dying from internal bleeding is going to have massive brain problems before heart problems (wouldn't oxygen starvation from low blood pressure affect the oxygen-hungry brain first?). However, I think I'm right about something else. The defibrillator/EKG combo. I notice that the two massive shocks they sent through Amy didn't register on the EKG. Are defibrillators so smart that they shut down their sensors when delivering a shock?

Also, I do think that not setting Amy up on a proper EKG after her close call was a bit irresponsible. If, as Sammo said, she was "so much sicker than everyone else" - despite the fact that she wasn't the first in a coma by a long shot - wouldn't she be the most likely candidate to wire to an EKG?

And there was one plain no-no that I severely doubt can be written off. Her blouse was still on, just open, during the defibrillation scene. Next scene, some time later, her shoulders are bare. Even if they cut away the blouse, they must have moved her slightly to get it out from under her, as it's plainly not present (she might be covered with a sheet chest-down, but you can see behind her shoulders). Isn't moving a heart patient around when they're already lying on a hospital bed before the attack generally a bad idea?

Stage blood, stage actress, stage cough: When some people force a cough, they make that dreadful sort of choking exhaling of air (or, even worse, a strained whimper) just beforehand which I've always taken as an indicator of a faked cough (at least, when it happens for a good three seconds before the first cough). Gretchen Egolf was guilty of both the exhale and the whimper.

Maybe I'm being a bit heavy-handed here, it's just that I can fake a cough without making any pre-coughing sound. Hearing that lowered my opinion of the scenes where Amy was coughing like mad, more so than the stage blood she coughed up lowered my opinion of the taste level.

(Though, to cut Gretchen Egolf some slack - what, you think I'm going to make a harsh comment about her acting without balancing it with a counterargument? - she spent so much time forcing up a hacking cough for those scenes that her chest must* have been on fire with pain. I suppose one's authenticity can go out the window when you're left wondering if you're going to hack up a real gout of blood next take.)

(*Until my first proofreading run, the word "must" was typoed "bust". Freudians who read into that get kicked around.)

Chemological weapons: There's a difference between chemical weapons and biological weapons, though some of Grace's dialogue used the phrases interchangeably.

Funny Chinese stoics: Was Sammo always as (outwardly) stoic as this episode? I can't remember. For that matter, does he always talk about China quite this much? (Okay, so the question about doggie bags was funny, though Sammo's possibly-bad delivery, "They serve dog in here?" - dog in the singular - made it sound more like he was talking about what was on the plate and not, as I originally thought, what was eating off of it.)

He just seemed a little too fish-out-of-waterish this episode.

Nitpick time: Okay, so someone stole a virus from a university, along with the antidote. He got the virus out by injecting himself with it, since any vials he carried would have been confiscated.

So they just let people walk away with vials of antidotes...?

Candy glass of beer: Bad guy breaks two beer bottles against each other for use as weapons. Sort of less dramatic considering that they completely shattered and left him with two unexciting-looking sharpish bottle necks that didn't clear his fists, rather than two sharpish half-bottles.

Musical stings: During a suspenseful moment, the generic hip-hop music playing on a radio stopped so the Suspenseful Background Music could play unhindered. The nanosecond the suspense is over, the hip-hop cranks up again.

Avoiding the tense issues: Sammo hasn't been using his car(s) of late, just hitching a ride in Terrell's Porsche.

EVIL! Okay, the bad guy was a real psycho this time, killing cops for the fun of it. Though unlike Darrow in "The Friendly Skies", this bad guy (a rich college student) and his gang (a frat house of rich college students, natch) were tolerable because of the fact that they were only on about two minutes, not half the show.

Oh, and a note to people asking why the baddies didn't steal the evidence rooms blind via cat burglary instead of the whole start-a-biohazard-crisis-as-a-diversion thing like they did. A very simple bit of psychology: Many serial killers take some sort of "trophy item" from each of their kills. This was no different. He even said he didn't need the money because he was rich. (Listen to the dialogue in his last scene and he talks of playing God and all that, classic TV serial killer type.)

And if you've ever been to a college, you'd know that a frat house turning into a den of serial cop killers isn't really that far-fetched.

You can't be serious: Someone buys a bran muffin. The seller says, "Hope everything comes out all right." Someone tell me they didn't just say that.

Between this and the guy in "Thieves Among Thieves" who claimed he'd been to the toilet eight times that afternoon, I think the only thing that's been to the toilet is the scriptwriters.

We're in a rush, but take your time: Grace is kicking in a locker door. She politely waits until between lines of dialogue to make her next kick.

Note to wardrobe: Thanks. I'm going to steal one of my own quotes, for once. This is also the first time I remember where she (Amy) was wearing a blouse that didn't look uncomfortably like a man's shirt. Someone in wardrobe take the hint? Between this, the mention of a boyfriend, and the whole getting-the-blouse-ripped-open thing, I think they were trying to solidly drive home the point that she works off estrogen and not androgen.

Oh, and her black t-shirtish thing and pale blue jacket for the final scene was interesting (even if her hair looked better when it was sweat-soaked and disorganized), since she's never worn a black shirt before, just white ones. You need to be careful with that sort of thing because it can make you look too pale in contrast - a scarf or string of pearls can "break" that contrast, though.

One thing that Gretchen's Vanessa Whitaker incarnation had over her Amy Dylan character was that Whitaker always wore a string of pearls. As far as I remember, Amy only had a necklace on (so far) during her undercover gig.

I'm not saying that Amy always had to have a necklace, but never wearing anything around one's neck (or any jewelry, or even a dress that shows a bit of leg) can be a bit monotonous after 30-some wardrobe changes. I know that minimalist or utilitarian thinking sometimes works, but even I don't look bad wearing a simple gold chain. (Don't look bad showing a bit of leg, either.:)

With apologies to the Pet Shop Boys: I'm about to nick more of their song lyrics, and change the gender, no less.

New York City girl, you'll never have a bored day: Is it really obvious that Gretchen Egolf got her education and acting start in New York City? Read the quotes that follow.

May I say that this is the best damn use of a closeup I've ever scene. Er, I've ever seen.

Real scene: (Closeup intensive, with about three editing cuts.)

Amy (looking half-dead): (Picks up phone.) "Major Crimes Unit." (Pause, during which a look of dread passes over her face.) "Thanks for letting us know." (Hangs up phone, turns to Grace.) "Two more stations have been contaminated. Seventy-three more officers infected." (There's a cut to a different camera angle here - see below.) "Someone's trying to wipe out every cop in LA."

Blooper segment: (Grace & Amy two-shot, no editing cuts. This is likely why that closeup shot cut to a different angle.)

Amy/Gretchen: "Someone's trying to wipe out every cop in New York." (Pauses a second while her brain chews on what she just said.) "Oh my God, I'm so sorry." (Starts laughing.) "I am so sorry. It was the last word of the scene!"

July 17, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Sammo Claus')
'HeeeheeeeHEEEEEEEEEEE!' Oops, sorry. 'Ho ho ho.' Ah, yes, the Christmas episode. What scares me is that the episode of Newhart run before it was Christmassy as well. Did they rig up the Newhart rerun to coincide with Martial Law's Xmas Ep?

Flashback in the spring: May 15, 2001 AD, I did a one-item rant for this episode. Since cut-and-paste is easier than A NAME tags, I'll just use it as the next item. Besides, I love that item header....

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

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

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

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

So you get one that shows cleavage.

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

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

More elven commentary: I can't resist....

Amy: (Her first line decked out as an elf.) "I feel ridiculous!"

Sammo (decked out as Santa): "You look very cute."

Why is it that Amy's looks are invariably a topic when she's showing cleavage? Don't believe me? Read my "Amy Dylan Vulnerability Watch 2.0" in entry "July 11, 2001 AD (Episode: 'My Man Sammo')"!

(Update: December 10, 2001 AD.... Amy's last line before that scene is - to Sammo - "I can see you're gonna need some backup." Frontup is more like it!)

Gratuitous Wardrobe Moment: Final scene. Amy was wearing a turtleneckish white sweater under a largish unbuttoned woman's shirt (looked a bit too utilitarian to be a blouse). Grace was wearing a lower-cut red tank top. Why's Amy decked out so cozy when Grace isn't? I know Amy's supposed to be on a flight back east, but it's been cancelled and she knows she's staying in LA for the duration.

If you're deaf, can you hear a silent alarm? According to a security guard type, a bad guy tripped the silent alarm and then ran for the roof by getting into a ventilation shaft. How'd he know he tripped a silent alarm? I suppose if he spotted a guard coming after him he'd know, but the security guy's assertion that they found the vent tampered with (rather than seeing him get into the vent) and later caught him on the roof implies that he just made a mad break for it and that no one found him right away. Ergo, he heard the silent alarm.

Deep Meaningful... Something: Sammo's talk with the extreme fighter. Not only was it mostly a two-shot and more a dialogue than a monologue with an audience, it was also a single unbroken shot until a bit at the end. I like single unbroken shots.

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

Armando, Armando, Ah-Ah-Armando: (From the Pet Shop Boys' "Paninaro". The real line is "Armani, Armani, Ah-Ah-Armani".) The talking Armando doll had the best line of the episode. Since it could understand speech, it asked a child their name and then said "Hello (name). You are my best friend." So a crook is stealing them at gunpoint and says, "Everybody stay down!" The nearest Armando replies, "Hello Everybody Stay Down. You are my best friend."

Though why Grace and Terrell didn't look for the hidden computer chip - which was a completely different make from the Armando speech chip - by finding the Armando that didn't work is beyond me. Unless the scriptwriter liked watching 'em rip heads off stuffed animals....

What's the point? The place where the star goes! Sammo asks what cultural symbolism the Christmas tree has. Terrell's stuck for an answer beyond a place to stick decorations.

Being a lousy Catholic and a worse Druid, I know all about the supposed historical symbolism of the tree, mistletoe (I love that one, mostly 'cause I'm trying to secure a corner of the fertility god market myself) and holly. They should've asked me.

I'm dead. Damn. Amy claimed, in "This Shogun for Hire", that her father died "last year". This episode, she claimed this was her first Christmas since he died. Ergo, he died sometime between the 26th and the 31st of December. What a screw that would be to the New Year's party plans.

The Great Escapism: Wow! More light escapism! Except for....

Are you my Daddy? Now begins the umbrella subplot where Sammo is looking for his son, after hearing about an extreme fighter called "Lone Wei". The father-son bit wasn't IMHO amazing, but I really take issue with the extreme fighter part, since the violence was less light and a lot more bloody.

Deep Deep Meaningful Meaningful Speech Speech: Amy and Sammo swap closeup-intensive memories of their childhood Christmases (insofar as the Chinese New Year is Christmassy).

Dear Santa: For Kwizmas I wanna Amy Dylan doll, compweete wiff a set of mix-and-match partners. The other kind of partner, YOU PERVERT! Notice that I only see sexual innuendo in my words when speaking of Amy Dylan?

Okay, here's how to do ensemble casting. Amy spent some scenes with Terrell, some with Sammo, and has in other episodes spent some with Grace. See? Once the character is actually likeable, you can do more with her!

I'm a student of the death-dealing candy cane. Fear me. Wow. One short lesson in "The Friendly Skies" and Amy made a weapon out of something obvious: a fire extinguisher. Now, presumably several off-camera lessons later, she's graduated to less obvious weapons like a giant candy cane.

Blood... blood... blood... blood... blood... blood... blood.... Between Amy's leaking circulatory system last episode and the extreme fighters this episode, that's more bloodletting than I remember in the last 30ish episodes! Hell, even people who were shot never bled before.

The world laughs at you, then claim they're laughing with you. Ah, humor in the last fight scene, like when Sammo took a cellphone call near the tail end of the fight.

Chinamen are from Mars: Amy looks surprised that Sammo knows who Santa Claus is. Sammo's reply? "I'm from China, not Mars." Now if only he could recognize Gilligan's Island as a sitcom and baseball as a sport, I'd actually think he was from China and not Mars.

But they're moving China out to Deimos orbit: Sammo's later shown to be not up to speed on the fine details on various Santaisms, like the reindeer. I'd take issue with this, but Amy screwed up the reindeer too.

Santarama: Crooks dressed as Santa fighting Sammo dressed as Santa. Fortunately, someone had the bright idea to knock Sammo's Santa hat off so we knew who to root for.

Domino Dancing: Another PSB song, this time I didn't have to bastardize it. Terrell uses the same trick Sammo used in Terrell's first episode to stop a bad guy. Hitting something at the end of a row (in Sammo's case, a bunch of musical sheet stands; in Terrell's, a bunch of Christmas trees) and letting the domino effect take down the rest of the row and the escaping bad guys.

It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas: Well, it's Los Angeles. It doesn't.

Besides, I figured that I'd need to work the title of the one festive PSB song into the mix somewhere. Great song, even if the mix of light romance and cold cynicism doesn't make it a holiday favorite. The line "Families fighting around a plastic tree." might hit a little too close to home for some.

I'm still bad! The Evil Lawyer was back. Almost the same lines as last time, too.

I think it's finally dead. Hand me your gun. Sammo's back to driving the old police car. Seems the Caddy finally had its swan song.

He's quoting the IMDb, take cover! From the IMDb's trivia about Arsenio Hall. "He is obsessed with hugging white women." - Spike Lee.

I'll be honest: I can't find one source that has ever attributed anything even similar to Spike Lee (or anyone else) in regards to Arsenio Hall (or anyone else).

But I will say this. In the blooper segment, Arsenio looks off-camera at the director (Max) during a take and then apologizes, saying "You can't look at the director during a take!" After which he waves to the director and says "Hi, Max! I'm on TV! With Gretchen!"

As he says those last two words, he puts his arms on Gretchen Egolf's shoulders in a not-quite-a-hug motion. She's busy laughing her fool head off. Then, elsewhere in the shooting, she (in-character) gave him a kiss on the cheek.

Lucky bastard.

October 7, 2001 AD (Episode Update: 'Sammo Claus')
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.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 18, 2001 AD (Episode: 'No Quarter')
And None In Return: Well, well, well. This is the first episode I really dug in the vitriol for. We get closer to the end every day.

How to lower crime: Bring a gang lord in. He hates crime he doesn't control.

They wouldn't put so many doors in the room if they didn't want you to take one! Nice hotel. Sammo used a door he had kicked off its hinges to stop automatic gunfire. (I should have let this pass - it was a good fight scene overall - but I'm a real pig.:)

Hi, I'm Van Black's brother.... Someone finally caught on. The bad guys had two vans. One black (dark blue in the sun) and one dingy off-white. Next thing you know they'll take it to the car wash.

Non? What's "Non" mean? Oh, "No N"! You know, if you're too lazy to type something like "San Vicente" and just cut and paste, make sure you spell it right the first time.

Deep Meaningful Line: Sammo and Terrell have a Deep Meaningful Moment where Sammo claims he can't go home (Terrell tells him he should to get out from being busted down to meter maid) because of unfinished business. Yep, it's his son who is the business left unfinished.

And all the shadows follow after her.... Alphaville lyric.

Even in this episode, with its fairly light tone, you can feel the darkness at the edge, waiting to creep in and seize control.

The term "car bomb" wasn't invented because they're rare, you know: After Terrell and Sammo get busted down (to Officer Bigheart and meter maid, respectively) their replacements and a SWAT team head out with Amy to find the baddies. And one of the replacements just nonchalantly opens the door of a vacant car at the supposed hideout without looking inside to see if there's a lunatic with a gun or, say, a car bomb inside. There was a bomb, but the ten-second countdown let everyone save their respective asses.

You know, I thought the replacement guy did it deliberately, like he was in cahoots with the bad guys. No one could be that moronic, unless you're Amy Dylan in the early Season Two episodes. Maybe that's why Amy's demotion to meter maid left the path clear for the guy who triggered the car bomb to take over the MCU. They only promote MORONS!

Guest rant: Not quite. But someone I know asked why Amy's meter maid uniform was sporting tight pants while Sammo's were comfortably larger than he was.

Guest guest rant: Same person, when trying to come up with Michael Dorn's Star Trek character name, got some neurons crossed and said "Dork". I had a sophomoric giggle or two over that one.

It's not easy being blue: Sammo, his replacement, the evil councilman, and a gang lord all had a penchant for bright blue dress shirts at one point or another.

Official police department press release: "Ticket Quota? Youse says it don't exist or youse legs might get broke." Parking sarge whatshisface (oh, the ignominy) had some great lines. First he gives credence to the rumors of the dread ticket quota, then he says the following to Sammo in such a sarcastic way that I couldn't help but laugh: "You and your buddies hatched this up, didn't you? 'Hey! Let's go screw with parking!'"

That one line aced out every one of Terrell's funny lines, except for this comment to the councilman's secretary: "I'm sorry, I said 'mo' and you wrote 'mo', but write 'more' because Tynan won't understand 'mo'. He's hip but he don't know nothin' about Ebonics."

Ah, stop yer whinin'. Oh, you didn't whine. Amy breaks into the councilman's office and doesn't even complain about her job security. Of course, she's just a meter maid then.

Can we give a meter maid a parking ticket? When Amy and Sammo are meter maids and walking abreast with Officer (Terrell) Bigheart, they walk all the way down the block - away from their meter-maid car things - for no reason but to give the camera a reason to back away dramatically as they walk forward.

And even worse, Sammo's meter maid car/scooter thing is double-parked next to Amy's! He might be great at the MCU, but he's crap as a meter maid.

Hackin' the night away: In "24 Hours", MCU overlord Amy hacks into the US Mint's computers with the help of the MCU mainframe. This episode meter maid Amy hacks into the MCU's computer system with a laptop on a wireless connection.

Fifty bucks says she's got a deadman* (uh, deadwoman) buried in the MCU's mainframe, just because she can.

*AKA a "dead man's control", from similar failsafes (like a brake) meant to trigger if the operator dies or is otherwise incapacitated. The PC equivalent is a logic bomb that only triggers once, say, the person's payroll database entry is deleted (meaning they've been fired). Could do anything from wipe a hard drive to open a backdoor for an enterprising ex-employee to raise some real hell.

We've been on this case four months. Another week won't kill us. Season two was working on a freaky time scale. Amy Dylan, in her fourth appearance ("24 Hours") mentioned to a review board something that implied she'd been at the MCU for several months. Now, Sammo mentions working on a case for four months with Terrell - i.e., at least four months passed since the Christmas episode if these things are in chronological order.

And then, over the course of this one-hour episode, we were once again subjected to the rapid change of clothing that's the only hint that time is passing.

00:00 Episode starts.

04:32 Same day, but I had to mention Gretchen's nice white t-shirt and beige vest combo.:)

08:00 after a bit of rounding. Sammo's new assignment: Meter maid, with the uniform. Presumably some sizable slice of time has passed.

17:00 Same day as last, but guess who was wearing a nice pink t-shirt. Sort of makes it obvious she doesn't buy off the same t-shirt rack as I do.:)

19:17 Another day passes, but you can't tell until you see...

21:06 ... Amy's white blouse and kevlar body armor. (Here there be dragons and the SWAT team scene.)

24:22 The dialogue implies that yet another day hath passed.

25:05 Amy's new job as a meter maid sort of supports that one. Much like those pants of hers are supporting her hips.*

(*Doesn't that sort of tightness make one's underwear get a little too cozy - as in, wedgelike - with one's backside? And I know. Word to the wise: If your weight moves like a sine-wave across a 10 pound variance range, never ever buy pants on the lower weight curve that you expect to wear on the higher weight curve.)

42:03 Gretchen. Blue sweater. Pretty blue, pretty tight. I want to lick the TV screen.

Seven (bombs) for the dwarf lords in their halls of stone: Never mind the odds of taking down a whole stadium using only seven bombs with anything less than a kiloton* charge. The Poorly-Dressed Evil Posse Led By A Black Guy put six on the stadium supports and one on the dais where everyone will be.

(*Yes, I know what an actual seven-kiloton bomb would do to Los Angeles. Depending on exact placement, it could be an improvement.)

As the first one is placed, the section numbers for the other bombs are given. 7, 12, 17, 22, 27, so the first one is likely placed on section 2**. And they're supposed to be put on the tunnel walls. In the words of Amy meter-maid Dylan, "Memorize it!"

Got it memorized? Good. A bad guy - up in the bleachers, not down in a tunnel - places two bombs about ten feet apart on different supports.

The support thing makes sense, but it sort of jars with their meticulous section-by-section planning, unless some superstitious superparanoid didn't install a section 13. Or 14. Or 15. Or 16.

And another thing: Why did the bad guys then march up to the dais and give their automatic-weapon enhanced speech if they knew there was a bomb there already? Wouldn't that mean that if anything went wrong - like someone they shot at was armed and returned fire - and they were still in range when the dais went up, they'd get taken out too? It's okay to have a backup plan, but not if it's as likely to kill you as not....

(**Update, December 11, 2001 AD: Indeed, Terrell refers to section 2 later. I missed that first... and second... and third time around.)

Dylan's Inferno: Never mind that I'm writing something with that title. (No, really. Considering how I wanted Amy Dylan to burn in Hell during her first episodes, I decided to whip up a bit of fanfic wish-fulfillment. Besides, you can't have too many bent retellings of The Divine Comedy.)

You want a surreal experience? Put a music-free scene of any TV show on, run through your PC. While it's playing, crank up some utterly contrasting music on the PC so the TV audio and the song mix.

My choices....

Music: An uptempo Bach piece Fred Gray redid for the Commodore 64 game "Dante's Inferno", used in the first few Circles of Hell.

Scene: Amy Dylan doing some plot exposition.

And someone claimed you need LSD to go on a real wild sight-and-sound trip. My next experiment will be with a fight scene and "They're Coming to Take Me Away".

Straddling the center line: Hard to believe, but the end of this episode denotes the middle of season two, already. Seems like two weeks ago it started... oh, wait, it was two weeks ago. The wonders of reruns. (Dan Patanella's comment on this page is that I've seen the episodes more often than the directors did.:)

From here there's some wonderful high points ("Dog Day Afternoon", "Deathfist 5: Major Crimes Unit") some dreadful lows ("In the Dark", "Freefall") and some that defy such pigeonholing ("No Fare") by having aspects I hated and ones I loved.

Season One, Part One | Season One, Part Two | Midseries Metamorphosis | Season Two, Part One | Season Two, Part Two
The Index | The Annotated Index | The Progenitor Rant | The Original Page
Chronicles, Litanies, and Fanboy Obsessions: (Recent Updates)
The Egolf Chronicles: Current | May 2001 - February 2002 | February 2002 - July 2002
Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies | The (Previous) Litanies

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