Season Two, Part Two:

"Scorpio Rising" to "Final Conflict, Part 2"

Second 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 19, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Scorpio Rising')
Scorpio Yeast, guaranteed to rise: The first Scorpio episode. To put this in perspective, this episode number in season one - no. 12, "Painted Faces" - was Lee Hei's third of five episodes. The value of pacing.

This episode wouldn't have been bad - even Tim Curry wasn't bad this first outing - if not for the fact that it was so dark and hinted at so much more violent stuff.

A bit more to follow in my not-so-final diagnosis. Patience, simple one.

This isn't my lucky day: Scorpio agent Strick (or however it's spelled) wasn't having a good day. First a hit goes wrong, then he almost gets throttled, then he loses an important minidisc, then he fails on a second hit and kills himself.

Does not compute, you freaking moron: I love how they portray PCs on TV. Martial Law was fairly good in this regard (season one mostly skirted the issue, season two didn't lean too heavily on stereotypes) but I was left wondering at the data worm in "Call of the Wild" (that had a nice little screen animation to let you know it was wiping out your data) and this episode.

Amy's trying to decrypt some minidisc. Bunch of gibberish goes across the screen. That's okay. Changes at one point to the Wingding font. That's okay too, since it's still gibberish.

Until it rotates 45 degrees so everything onscreen is off-kilter and scrolling lower-left to upper-right and not bottom to top. I can see displaying the raw data in the hopes that the human operator will be bright enough to notice when it starts looking like something readable. But rotating it? Come on.

Scorpio Body Count 1.0: Another in my continuing series of continuing series. This one will denote how much torture, intra-Scorpio abuse, kills, and attempted kills there are.

Kills: One. The public defender who's choked to death so a Scorpio assassin can take his place.

Attempted kills: Four. Two botched assassinations, and then Sammo and bit character Mary Helms.

Intra-Scorpio abuse: One. Scorpio agent Miss Fontaine throttles fellow agent Mr. Strick at The One's command.

Torture: None, sort of. See below.

Special: Not shown, but Sammo claims he was one of fifty Shanghai police officers buried alive years ago. They spent weeks underground with only a small air pipe and a constant radio-transmitted vocal barrage from The One. Most died, Sammo and a few others dug their way out after some period of time. Locked in a tiny underground space. No light. No food, except bugs. Little air. Am I the only queasy one here?

      Episode Name | Kills | Attempts | Abuse | Torture |
    Scorpio Rising |   1   |     4    |   1   |    0    |
             Total |   1   |     4    |   1   |    0    |

I sued the zoo: Amy's SUVish/minivanish (what's the difference?!) vehicle - I still don't see why she's driving something like that, except to carry the MCU posse - is an Isuzu. Just thought I'd let you know.

We only have six floors. The rest are fake. Same hotel as last episode, "No Quarter". Same stock shot of it leading off the episode, too. Looks to be a ten-story building.

Early in this episode, Amy demands to know where a business exec is staying. He's in the Presidential Suite, top floor. Top floor. Okay? Top.

After Sammo and Terrell stop an assassination attempt, the would-be killer bungee jumps to freedom. Looks like the top floor. But there's only about six stories. Later, when Terrell and Grace stake out the elevator outside the exec's room Terrell even mentions the phrase "sixth floor". And the exec didn't change rooms, because Terrell and Grace walk right from the room to the elevators in an unbroken shot. When Terrell mentions the floor number later, he's still sitting in the same spot next to the elevators.

It's like football or basketball. Only different. Season one, Sammo (or his stunt double:) was an excellent basketballer. But this is season two, I shouldn't make comparisons.

Fine. Last episode, Sammo makes a comment about how he'd never play football because it's too dangerous. After kicking a bomb-laden football away. So he knows what the game of football entails.

This episode, he's seemingly completely ignorant about baseball. He can't even identify a baseball that's thrown at him.

I don't mind the fish-out-of-water thing, but isn't being unable to identify a baseball a bit much?

If you had teleported before, this wouldn't be a problem: Nitpick time.

Terrell and Grace are watching the only elevators and stairs. A business exec is presumably in the Presidential Suite on that floor. He pays a ransom to Scorpio. A Scorpio agent manages to sneak it out past Grace and Terrell on the underside of a room service trolley. Presumably the exec is still in his room, else I don't see why the money would have been brought to and handed off there.

They figure it out and follow the agent (who's in the elevator) by taking the stairs. They get downstairs just as the money's put in a dark (Black, maybe dark blue in the nonexistent sun.) van and sent away. Terrell and Grace pull their guns to fire - and an SUVish thing pulls into the line of fire. The exec is driving, and he says he doesn't want them stopping the transaction.

How the hell did he second-guess that they'd figure out the way the money was smuggled out, beat them downstairs in the one not-in-use elevator (couldn't have been using the stairs or the Scorpio agent's elevator), and get a vehicle started and in place in that short a time?

Oh, and Gracie had a gun all episode, despite Sammo's continuing lack.

She's just like one of the guys. What do you mean, she's got a boyfriend? She doesn't dress that butch because... hand me my pants! Amy was talking to Sammo in the MCU locker room. Locker room. Woman. Man. Locker room. Sammo was even about to take a shower and nonchalantly unbuttons his shirt just as Amy leaves.

Is this a horrible abuse of power or sexual harassment on Amy's part, or have the LAPD officers not noticed that the pitch of Amy's voice (and - pardon the tortuous euphemism - a certain pair of chest-based fat storage devices) denotes that she's a woman? She can look a bit masculine at times (and has a sizable enough vocal range that she could speak in at least a boyish pitch) but never so much that you can't tell the difference!

(Looks again.) Okay, despite the male tone of the background voices, what looks to be a female extra (too fast to tell for sure, but he/she has a small face and long hair) walks by. They're progressive and they have coed locker rooms, maybe?

Maybe it's not a locker room, just an exercise room, or the ante-exercise room. But that doesn't explain why Sammo's opening his shirt in front of an open locker (which looks to have some personal items in it).... Surely he's not going to change just his shirt before going to a second locker where he could finish preparing for his shower?

It's a big locker: There is another locker room, I think. At least, the room shown in the penultimate fight scene has more lockers in it.

Bit o' trivia: You can fit an unconscious person into the MCU's lockers. Keep that in mind if you ever need a place to hide a corpse in a police station.

Can you be such a fanboy that even you can't stand yourself? This was plainly a one-day affair, since Amy's outfit and hair never changed. Neither the outfit (dark blue t-shirt, brown unbuttoned shirt) or the hair was that bad, though.:)

She ran a bit this episode. She never runs while wearing a blouse....

And she's never wearing a skirt when something exciting is happening. Only dark slacks. Actually, I only remember her wearing one dress or skirt, period. At the end of "Thieves Among Thieves". (The dress in "My Man Sammo" doesn't really count, she was undercover at the time.)

(Update: You may wish to read one of my Lack-of-Sleep Litanies....)

(Update: Two! Two, you may wish to read two Lack-of-Sleep Litanies. Two.)

But she never runs while wearing a blouse....

So who's the cop who can't fight now? It used to be Terrell, in the middle of season one. It was Amy, early season two.

This episode she puts her training from Sammo to good use and beats a female Scorpio agent senseless, even while she's recovering from a sucker punch to the stomach. She's obviously learning from Sammo and ditching the cop-who-can't-fight-without-a-gun mantle.

Who's in charge here? Of the two main bad guys, Mr. Strick and Mr.... uh... Whatshisface, seem to alternate as to who the leader is. Whatshisface's early comments "You're lucky The One was in a good mood." and "We need the minidisc." implied he was Strick's boss. Near the end, though, Strick gives Whatshisface an order.

Daddy Scorpio? I know that Goldberg and Rabkin did two Scorpio episodes ("Freefall" and "Final Conflict, Part 2"), I know that Paul Bernbaum did "Final Conflict, Part 1". But now I know that Michael Gleason did both "The Thrill is Gone" and tonight's scorpionic sojourn, "Scorpio Rising", leaving me in the dark about the scriptwriter for the one other Scorpio episode, er... "In the Dark". Since I've already whined about Michael Gleason's scriptwriting, maybe I should just blame him for being progenitor of the whole damn arc. (Though my gut instinct says it was a group idea, meaning I can't even load one set of blanks for the firing squad.)

Quote of the nanosecond: There's several, but Grace referring to bunch of gun-happy bodyguards as "Yanking out (their) manhoods." wins it.

Not-so-final diagnosis: It wasn't really that bad an episode if you ignore the bits that were umbrella plot buildup for later episodes (like Sammo's talk about how he was buried alive).

But taken all together, knowing that it's going to end with torture, burial of living people, etc. etc.? It isn't helping improve my opinion. If this got any worse they might as well have made Tim Curry's character into one of Lovecraft's Outer Gods and then taken a real plunge into the depths of insanity.

What do you mean, the woman I'm lusting after is a Great Old One? She's only in her twenties! Len grabs a list of various Lovecraftian monsters.

Len looks at Gretchen Egolf's name.

Len looks back at the list.

Len notes a few oblique similarities between Gretchen's name and Frank Belknap Long's Lovecraft-inspired Great Old One "Chaugnar Faugn", while at the same time ignoring several closer matches for his own name.

Len temporarily descends into (deeper) madness (than normal).

Len considers making a joke about "Gretchen Egolf" that ends in a badly-slurred rhyme of "Yog Sothoth".

Len leaves it pass.

But if she is a Great Old One, I wouldn't mind her giving me a quick going-over with her natural form's mouth tentacles.... But I couldn't leave that one pass. I might not be a poet, I might not like Lovecraft that much, but I'm still a pervert.

Slight update, December 1, 2001 AD: Yes, I know that Cthulhu is the only(?) Great Old One with mouth tentacles. Chaugnar Faugn's better described as "proboscidian". Of course, that's also a slightly better description of Gretchen Egolf as well.

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

* * *

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

* * *

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

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

Grace: "Men?"

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

* * *

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

Sammo: "What 'thang' going?"

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, mocking George Lucas is one of my hobbies.

July 20, 2001 AD (Episode: 'No Fare')
True love is loving someone so much you have 'em shot. There was a line something like that on "Whose Line is it Anyway?" (Brit version) where Steve Frost was making fun of Eastenders (or was it Brookside?). What does it have to do with this? Not much, but considering how much I ranted about this episode before....

Wanted to Buy: Car Continuity.... Sammo buys a new car (well, it's older than the hills, but it's new for him) at the end of the episode. Not only is it a vehicle (pardon the pun) for a rather good joke, but it finally kills the problems of which car he's going to be using from now on. My apologies to Paul Bernbaum for blaming him for breaking the continuity when he was just patching it back together as best he could. I still take issue with his characterization, but it was something endemic to the whole season. In which I'm sure he had a hand....

The light that glows so dark in the night: After the last episode, some of the comedy here was much appreciated. Sure, it was balanced against Sammo's character taking a major hit in credibility by becoming a supercop, but when you know the darkness that's coming up....

Just 'cause I hang around with Chinese people doesn't mean I'm not a bigot: That was low, but it had to be said. Everyone (characters and audience) was expecting the Tough-Looking Black Guy and his Tattooed White Pal to be the ones knocking over a jewelry store. Turns out that they were just looking for an obscure watch battery.:)

It moved! Was it just me, or did the harpoon/spear/long-pointy-thing found in the side of the first murder victim become not-quite-as-deeply-embedded when the shot angle changed?

I'd better get a bonus for this: The second victim's harpoon/spear/pointy-long-thing didn't change depth, but his pose - stuck to a wall with his neck craned upwards and his knees half-bent - looked rather painful to hold for more than a second. Poor extra, he didn't even get to show his face to the camera.

Is my sweater too tight? No? I guess I'll need to see if I can shrink it a bit more in the wash: I can't resist.... Fer God's sake, the outfits on both female leads this episode were tight! What anorexic teenager did Amy pull that pink sweater off of? How could Grace walk in those two different is-that-tight-or-just-painted-on pairs of pants? And that purple top of Grace's... Good thing she's not large-breasted, else it would have ripped!

And Amy's blouse in a later scene was back to two buttons open. Her estrogen count has been tallied and acknowledged, thank you, she can start wearing suit jackets again. (The outdoor shots where she was wearing a jacket over the blouse weren't bad.)

Would I be happier if you just wore nothing? Hell, yeah. I'm never happy with Amy's outfits. She's dressed too butch the first episodes, and I whine. She's dressed in tight getups this episode, I whine (which is hard to do through the light hormonal buzz). I'm never happy.

But I'd just like, for once, a female television character who occasionally dresses like a female human being.

Dylan's theory of relativity: A quick rundown of the family members, including spouses and fiancé(e)s, the characters mention or actually met onscreen (as in, were actual characters themselves) and why this is called "Dylan's theory of relativity".

Terrell, season one: Mentioned siblings, late father. Many more showed up (mother, stepfather, sister, nephew, cousin).

Terrell, season two: Mentioned misc. nieces and nephews, and his family in general (in reference to the Christmas get-together). Met his ex-fiancée.

Grace, season one: Mentioned parents.

Grace, season two: She didn't even seem to have parents this time round! Though that doesn't explain how she knew what herbs her grandmother took for cold hands. (Mentioned this episode.)

Sammo, season one: Mentioned parents, a wife.

Sammo, season two: Mentioned a clearly different set of parents. Met his son.

Amy: Mentioned her late father, her mother and sister, her aunt Connie, her nephew that likely doesn't exist (if he does, my money says he's not named "Amy" like she claimed:). Met her fiancé.

So, here's the season two tally, mentioned vs. met:
Grace: 1 - wait, there's that whole parent thing. Hmm... 1 minus 2....
Grace: -1, 0
Sammo: 2, 1
Terrell: Some indeterminate number X, 1
Amy: 4+, 1

Amy talks about her family a lot more than the others, including speaking of members that might not exist. I'm sure there's a joke in here somewhere that would elevate this above a pointless observation, but damned if I know it.

Quote of the moment: I did this before, so I won't do it again. But I liked the various aphrodisiac jokes.:) And the New Age surfer-dudeish jewel thief.

Me Terrellzan, you Jane: Both in "My Man Sammo" (I think) and here, Terrell made use of a dockyard crane chain to swing around and kick some baddie booty.

I've reached my limit: Is a "few miles out" the limit of international waters? I seem to remember the US and Canada getting in a bit of a catfight over things after they extended the limit arbitrarily and then started fishing each other dry.

Bang, bang: Did Grace actually have proto-bangs (a wisp or two of hair) as early as this episode? I'm so damn busy whining over Amy's hair that I didn't even notice 'til "The Thrill is Gone".

July 23, 2001 AD (Episode: None, there's another marathon on.)
Feels like a US holiday today. All the American TV stations are acting a bit weird. (That's how I notice holidays - lousy TV.)

Not July 23, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Dog Day Afternoon')
Damn you! See above. No Martial Law last night. Fine, no biggie. I expected "Dog Day Afternoon" to be on tonight, July 24, 2001 AD. It wasn't. Instead, they ran "Deathfist 5: Major Crimes Unit", like they had run the previous episode last night. So, of course, which is the last (as far as I can tell) episode in my tape archive that I really want a second copy of because the first was a bit mangled? "Dog Day Afternoon"! ARGH!

Well, at least the first copy is still pristine enough that I can watch it the 25th and give my thoughts.

Hi, I'm Evil. Who are you? Some goateed type shows up pre-credits and kills someone. When he appears later as a corporate head, you know who the bad guy is.:)

Sing it, Sammo: Dunno what Chinese song Sammo was singing to Homer (the dog), but it was catchy.

Inter-Apartmental Co-operation: First Sammo's apartment gets wrecked by pseudoninjas in "90 Million Reasons to Die", and now Homer wrecks it. No wonder I never recognize the furniture between episodes.

Car nerd: The Porsche-owning Terrell calls a person a "nerd" if they have a killer computer. Grace burns him by saying that some nerds have entertainment systems... or cars.:)

Evil jacket mini-posse: A posse (3 people, so they only had a green car - though when their boss tags along they upgrade to a green van) with corporate windbreakers. Trendy.

Sorry, man, it's 1999 - you're 15 years off: Amy (after years of experience with her sister's demonic Pomeranians) uses a gizmo to find a numbered ID chip under Homer's skin. Terrell mentions that "Next they'll be doing this to people." Amy replies jokingly that with some people that's not a bad thing. Hmmm. Is Amy her sibling's Big Sister...?

Fight! Hey, you try coming up with that many funny one-liners involving fighting. Love the choreography in the botched dognapping fight segment. Who'da thunk that a forked tree is useful for more than strange sexual innuendo!

Doggie diagnosis: Three of the regulars weigh in on a dog's internal turmoil after Grace points out that "He's eating the wall!"

Sammo: "He's upset."

Terrell: "He's crazy."

Amy: "He's a dog!"

Swim, human, swim! BWAHAAAAHAAAHAA! Homer is a strong dog. He pulls the rug (bathmat) out from under Sammo, making Sammo fall into the bathtub of water meant for a quick doggie dip. Though I'm mildly worried that Sammo would use his bathtub to wash a dog and his towels to dry it.

Which is more disturbing? The implied fact that Amy took her gun (holstered discreetly under her jacket) with her to the pet supply store, or that Sammo leaves his front door unlocked while he's in the bath (fully dressed, admittedly) with his dog.

Quote of the nanosecond. Sammo, reprimanding Homer*: "Even bionic dogs don't sleep on people's beds!"

(*Who was revealed to have a cybernetic spinal cord repair thanks to his inventive - and late - owner. That's the reason the baddies want the dog.)

Evil quote of the nanosecond. The bad guy: "I need dreamers, or I have nothing to sell." No, he wasn't Bill Gates.

We can't leave him there. It'll poison the water. Amy makes reference to Lassie and Timmy. She uses the phrase "Lassie's owner, little Timmy, would always fall into a well...." I know it's a vehicle for a joke from Sammo about Timmy being clumsy, but the "always" is a leeeetle hyperbolic. (Half the time she explains an Americanism to Sammo she misses something, gets some detail wrong, or distorts the correct answer by figure of speech. With tutelage like this, it's no wonder the baseball in "Scorpio Rising" was an enigma.)

While I'm thinking of it, on any of the assorted Lassie shows, did the kid ever fall into a well?

What the hell was that??? First half of the show, Amy was decked out in her archetypical black slacks, blue blouse, and spiffy brown jacket.

Second half, presumably someone of great import came along and whacked wardrobe in the side of the head. Gray suit jacket, off-white blouse cut nothing like a man's shirt, and a gray skirt cut just above the knee. And heels, heels, my God, black high heels. Waheeeeeey. (Very much like her third appearance on Roswell, which might explain why many of the pictures on this page come from that episode.)

(Even made the return to a suit jacket, slacks, and a cut-like-a-man's-shirt blouse for the finale more like a normal change than the status quo.:)

Next thing you know they'll be bantering: Grace actually quotes Amy when talking to Sammo.

Do that voopoodle that you do so well: When someone needs a female dog, why do they always use a poodle?

I just spent 250 million dollars on research and development. Makes me think I should have spent the extra two hundred bucks so the walls went up to the roof. You'd think the multimillionaire vulture capitalist bad guy would realize that human-sized crawl spaces between the wall and the roof of the security-system-housing building could be seen as a bad idea.

Gratuitous Ratings Moment: Sammo and Terrell's darkly-colored break-and-enter getups were rather loose. Grace's, on the other hand, was kind of form-fitting. As in, leaving nothing (not even, pardon the phrase, the crack of her ass) to the imagination.

I want to make you scream! The difference between Sammo's fight-scene shouting and Terrell's: Sammo sounds like he's vocalizing his physical effort (as does Grace). Terrell sounds like he hurt his fist with that last punch.

You're such a tease! I'm sorry, but Grace going from that supertight (albeit functional) hair bun to that hyperstyled multidimensional hair configuration was a bit too sharp a contrast.

So that dog that sounded like a guy sounding like a dog was actually a guy sounding like a dog? First credit after the executive producer roll (Goldberg, Rabkin, Stanley Tong and Andre Morgan - maybe half of that Ruddy Morgan logo?) was "Special Vocal Talents By: Frank Welker".

Aroooooooo! Too bad, for a minute at the end of this episode it looked like he might be getting back a bit of the homelife he lost between seasons.

Sammo got a dog (Homer) through tragedy, after its owner was killed. Season one he got a girlfriend (Melanie George) through tragedy, after her boss was killed.

After this episode, the dog will never be seen again (even if he'd showed up once to let us know he was still around...). After season one, his girlfriend was never seen again (even if she'd showed up once to let us know she was still around...).

For all the similarities, I much prefer the girlfriend. I might prefer her even more if she had the dog's propensity for not taking a bath unless someone else shared it.

September 15, 2001 AD (Episode Update: 'Dog Day Afternoon')
Smile for the camera: I can't watch an episode of Martial Law without seeing something else. And I can't see something else without ranting. TNN ever-so-kindly skipped almost half of the season two episodes (about "The Friendly Skies" to "Scorpio Rising") and dropped the "Dog Day Afternoon" rerun right into my lap a fortnight early. (Thank you TNN!)

But anyway.... Remember my discussion of Amy saying "Lassie's owner, little Timmy, would always fall into a well...."? Well, I noticed something. (Anyone who makes a wry observation about who I was obviously looking pretty hard at in the scene can shove it. Thank you.) My comments, of course, in (parenthetical italics).

Amy: "See, Lassie's owner, little Timmy, would always fall into a well (Gretchen's cute.) and then Lassie would run off and find some adults (She's cute, but she shouldn't wear lipstick that red or that heavy. Makes her mouth look too wide for the rest of her face.) and start barking." (Hmmm? Oh, say something RELEVANT? Okay. At this point she's looking rather depressed. Her voice trails off as she says "start barking." and she sounds tired of explaining.)

(Cute... er.... Cut from a shot of Amy-with-Sammo's-face-just-peeping-into-the-shot to a shot of Sammo-with-Amy's-face-just-peeping-into-the-shot. Remember this point!)

Sammo: "So they would know Timmy was in the well?"

(Cute... damn, if I do that again I'm going to kick myself.... Cut back to Amy.)

Amy: "Right."

(Cut back to Sammo.)

Sammo: "He must have been a very clumsy child."

(Time to nix the italics....) See where that first cut is? Well, during the cut, between the end of Amy's line and the start of Sammo's - less than a second, it's normal conversation - she goes from looking somewhat depressed to smiling. She's cute when she smiles. Cute nose in profile, too.

Sorry, drifting again. Anyway, it's too fast an expression change, and makes it obvious they did all the lines from one angle, then all the lines from the other angle. On several of the angle changes that follow, she shifts from a smile to a neutral expression and back, until her expression moves to neutral during one shot so it's all neutral-to-neutral. But that first frown-to-grin is painfully obvious!

I'd like to offer my services as continuity person for anything Gretchen Egolf is in. Trust me, this'd never happen again. No hair mistakes, no incorrect facial expression shifts, no wardrobe problems. Of course, I'd probably annoy her into killing me within a week.

(Slight update, September 19, 2001 AD: And I'd even deign to serve the rest of the cast in a similar capacity. To wit: Homer (the dog) - in the same scene mentioned above - manages to bark while he has something in his mouth. Doesn't make it obvious it was dubbed in later or anything.:)

February 10, 2002 AD (Episode Update: 'Dog Day Afternoon')
Oh, wow. I'm still in shock. I just looked up Frank Welker (voice of the dog Homer, Dog Day Afternoon) on the IMDb. Ignoring a few obvious typos, I'm in shock. This guy is responsible for many of my childhood memories. And even a few minutes of adulthood memories before the nuisance control scheme made me wield my Wand of Uninstalling.

But look at this list.... Fred from Scooby Doo! A bunch of characters from The Smurfs, including the dog! A bunch of characters from Inspector Gadget, including the dog! A bunch of Transformers, including the dog-ish/wolfish/casette-tapeish/vaguely-ratlike thing! Several other dogs in shows I've never heard of!

Funny how the show with the dog as the title character is the one where he plays 3rd banana. I mean, when Casey Casem is playing a hippie with a talking dog (pause for marijuana jokes) and you get caught as the prep guy....

(I suppose I should take pains to completely unnerve the audience and point out that Scooby Doo's Velma actually had a figure that trumped Daphne's under that bulky sweater of hers, as pointed out when she had to wear a leopard-spot one-piece bathing suit during one of Shaggy's silly (Tarzan and Jane) costume moments? Hey, being a non-conformist seven-year-old in a world of cartoon-redhead-lusting schoolkids makes you spot some pretty weird things.)

(Blinks.) They did a Q*Bert cartoon? What, half an hour of complete gibberish with an urban-legend-proportion rumor that somewhere in there some swear words are hidden?

July 24, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Deathfist 5: Major Crimes Unit')
A note to self.... Jake (Mario Van Peebles) Cord's occasional theft of Sammo's comments ("It's not an image. It's just me.", "My job is helping people.") for his movie character (The Deathfist) was wonderful. He'd speak it into a tape recorder, presumably for later incorporation into the script. He'd even fake Sammo's Chinese accent!

A self to note: Of course, the idea of having a fight film actor on a fight-related TV show allows for a few subtle bits of self-aware comedy. Kelly Hu's character being mistaken for an actress, for instance. Or, more than one person's sigh of frustration, "Actors!" Or, Jake's "We'll get these guys!" speech that sounded to me like a melodramatic parody of Martial Law's own Deep Meaningful Speeches. The incidental music even swelled dramatically as he spoke.:)

Gaaaaaaakk. I almost choked on my oxygen this time. Amy, running. In a blouse! An amazing and wonderful red blouse tailored for someone of her age and size! Amazing, wonderful, I just think I had a religious moment, or at least whatever qualifies as a religious moment for a bad Catholic. Maybe it was just the emotional equivalent of an orgasm, I don't know for sure.

I want to cry tears of happiness. Granted, it makes it obvious why they preferred her running in tight sweaters or t-shirts.:) But I'm happy, who cares about them.:)

Grace's tight outfits, on the other hand....

Breaking out an old film rant: Part of one of my May 22, 2001 AD Random Thoughts is quoted below. It's about this episode.

Tonight, though, I thought I was really getting stiffed; technical difficulties killed the video on Martial Law. While this was fine for a minute or so, a fight soon followed ('Hai! Oof! Pow!') and I was feeling gypped. But they cut to commercial for no good reason (in mid-scene) and when they came back, they ran the show from the start of the scene that went bad. They also skipped the next commercial block, having run it early. (Thankfully, I was slow on the VCR's stop button, so I didn't miss anything.) The show ended 7 minutes late, but that's okay. I still saw it all. (And all the Miami Vice fans who tuned in at exactly 9:00 local time must have been ticked off!:)

Rather nice of them to play it all.

Now, three hours later, I went downstairs and turned on TNN's west coast feed. A question was on my mind and I was close to an answer. I waited for that same scene. And it messed up the same way. As I type this, they should be running the scene over again, just around the start of the fight. Let's check....

(An hour later....)

I checked, and I was almost right - it was at the end of the fight. And I got involved doing something else for the next hour.:)

But I've finally learned one tidbit of info I wanted: the west coast feeds of networks are just the east coast ones regurgitated, without any editing. I am at peace.

Breaking in a new film reel: Guess what? Did it again tonight! Picture died, sound kept going. Same spot, too, though recovery time was only about 5 seconds.

Random thought: To steal a quote from someone I don't know: "A man with one watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure."

Evil Posse Redux: I had to bust out the Anagram Engine for that next one.

Exude, sop silver: Bunch of flamethrower toting, silver-clad arsonists this time. Didn't show up until the finale, except for a few wordless scenes of mayhem.

Banter? BANTER? Amy and Grace. Witty banter. I think I just had another religious experience, though this one definitely wasn't an emotional climax. It still felt good, though....

Compare and contrast these first two scenes (second is a cut-and-paste from elsewhere on this page). Had anything even similar happened earlier in the season, there would have been that dark catty edge on it. Now, it seems perfectly natural. The wonders of having likable characters.

Amy: "(Dialogue about a plot point upon which Amy is banging her interestingly-shaped head.)" (Sighs.) "I don't know."

Grace: "It's been a long day, maybe we should just get a fresh start on these files in the morning."

Amy: "Nah, it's okay. I'll perk up with some more coffee."

Grace: "Uh, Amy? Y-We're both tired. You know, we might overlook something. What's the point?"

Amy: "Is there any particular reason why you're so anxious to get outta here tonight?"

Grace: "You know, I do have a life."

Amy: "Since when?"

(A few episodes ago, she couldn't have said that without making it sound like an insult. Here, it's more of a light jibe with only the faintest edge.)

Grace: "It just so happens that I have been invited to a big Hollywood party."

Amy (sounding a bit schoolgirlish): "So you're going on a date with Jake!"

Grace: "Well, not with Jake! We're... just gonna happen to... show up at the same time."

Amy: "Uh-huh. Like you go to a lot of big Hollywood parties."

Grace: "You know, " (She's been starting a lot of sentences with that, you know?) "Jake's producer, Marty Duvall's throwing it. Jake says he's a big art collector. Maybe I could ask him about the paintings that were destroyed, see if there was anything special about them."

Amy: "So you really are going to do some investigating at this party."

Grace: "Right!"

Amy: "Huh! So, in fact, you don't have a life."

Grace: "Oh, you are evil!"

Amy: (Laughs.) "No, I'm just jealous. Get out of here."

* * *

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

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

(Jake leaves.)

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

Amy: "It's for my nephew."

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

Elsewhere in the show, inspiration hits Grace and she blurts out a phrase exactly as Jake had said it to her.

Grace (sees copy of a portrait Jake had told her about): "The babe with the big knockers!"

Amy (sounding surprised and mildly amused): "Excuse me?"

Bug-eye reflections of season one: The bad guy's posh hideout - and the strange multifaceted window thing - this episode looked like a bad guy's posh hideout from season one. Time to dig out the tapes....

(Checks "Painted Faces", sees the window in a flashback to "Shanghai Express".)

(Checks "Shanghai Express".) Well, Lee Hei's home away from heroin in "Shanghai Express" had a window just like that, though it had shelves in front of it. Hmmm.

Notpick: At first I was going to comment on Jake's jeep/truck thing going from purple(!) to green, but a longshot showed it was purple on the left side, green on the right - either that or psychotically reflective of the environs. Either way, fit with his character just fine.:)

Nitpick: Terrell and Sammo dodge in opposite directions to avoid a flamethrower blast. Cut to the next shot, they're standing right beside each other.

Fire! No, not the flamethrower kind. Season one, Terrell got his gun kicked away a lot. Now, sometimes he doesn't even bother pulling it out. Which seems more realistic?

I'm here to kick ass and chew bub... actually, I'm just here to kick ass: Amy's next martial arts lesson, and she's developing into a nice little hand-to-hand death machine. Realtime, it was about nine weeks. TV time, it was anywhere from five months to this side of a millennium.

Fall from grace, fall for Grace: Another good use of a cut between angles. Grace and Amy are chasing after an escaping suspect. He pushes a table in their way. Cut to another angle and Grace artfully somersaults over the table, while Amy makes a more utilitarian move sort of like a roll over the table but without her legs tucked in. Cut to another angle where they're still chasing the suspect.

Blooper segment, same table in their way, same shot, no cut. They leap, but Grace/Kelly and Amy/Gretchen have all the... er, grace... of a gazelle with a tranquilizer dart addiction. Gretchen clears the table (looks like) but trips on the landing, possibly on the tablecloth - which starts a cascade of items from the table. Kelly's no better - she botches the somersault and winds up taking half the table's contents (i.e. the stuff Gretchen missed) to the ground with her!

October 12, 2001 AD (Episode Update: 'Deathfist 5: Major Crimes Unit')
Deathframe 3: TNN They showed Deathfist 5: MCU today. Guess what? That black screen thing happened again, for the third time that I remember. Took until the very end of the Sammo/Amy training fight scene for it to recover. This time, though, they didn't re-run it from the commercials, I don't think. (I didn't stick around for the whole episode. I was quoting some of the scenes verbatim while watching, so I'm a bit jaded.)

December 17, 2001 AD: And again. Recovered fairly fast, though. Still, they really need to fix that bad tape.

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

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

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

July 25, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Honor Among Strangers', pre-rant floor show)
Here's a Random Thought from May 8, 2001 AD, regarding this show slightly. If you've read it, just skip down to the last paragraph.

Here's a freaky thing....

I finish watching Martial Law (with Sammo Hung), on TNN.
Miami Vice (with Don Johnson) comes on.
I change the channel to USA (east coast feed). Nash Bridges (with Don Johnson) is on, Cheech Marin is also on this show.
I change it again, to TNT. A movie is on, starring Whoopi Goldberg as a cop. However, Cheech Marin is cameoing as a bartender.
I channel surf for about 15 or 20 minutes, and hit USA (west coast feed). Walker, Texas Ranger is on. And it's the second half of a crossover with Martial Law, so Sammo Hung is on here!

So that's twice in one night that I saw: Sammo Hung, Don Johnson, and Cheech Marin. And all on cop-based programs, at least two of which (Nash Bridges and Martial Law) were created by Carlton Cuse!

I didn't even know that the Walker, Texas Ranger/Martial Law crossover was two-part, either. (There was an episode of Martial Law that Chuck Norris - as Walker - showed up in.) And now I learn that Sammo took a trip out to Texas for an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. To fight the same bad guy again, no less!

Even though I didn't see the whole of the Walker, Texas Ranger episode, I noticed some odd similarities (at least, as the shows were during the crossover)....

Both shows have a black sidekick. But that's where the similarity between them ends: Martial Law's Terrell Parker (played by Arsenio Hall) looks as urban as Walker, Texas Ranger's James Trivette (played by Clarence Gilyard) looks suburban (except for Trivette's hat, which looks like it rode in from the panhandle and found itself stuck on the wrong head). While I can't make an accurate assessment off of one episode, I think I'm right.

Both shows have a female authority-type person. Which is a bit of a stretch on my part, since Martial Law has commander Amy Dylan (played by the oft-spoken-of Gretchen Egolf), while Walker, Texas Ranger has district attorney Alex Cahill (played by Sheree Wilson). How much control does the DA have over the Texas Rangers? No matter, they had something much greater in common: both were completely minimized by the need to give the guest star more to do.

Both shows have the shapely female undercover officer. To give you an idea of how similar these two are, when the Walker, Texas Ranger shapely female undercover officer (Sydney Cooke, played by Nia Peeples) is rescued from an ugly death by Walker and Sammo, you can't see her face - it's obscured by her hair. At this point, someone walked into the room, looked at the TV, and asked, 'Oh, is she guest starring on this too?' (meaning Martial Law's shapely female undercover officer Grace Chen, played by Kelly Hu). That's how much they look alike - they even dress similar! As long as you don't see their faces or hear them speak, forget it - you could easily mistake one for the other unless you're quick enough to notice the difference in skin color (and even that isn't an incredibly large difference).

Of course, there was major difference: The writers of Walker, Texas Ranger couldn't write a decent line of dialog for Sammo Hung if their lives depended on it. Sort of hard to cope with continuity when he went from speaking perfect, if heavily accented, English on Martial Law to sounding - at points - like a poorly translated instruction manual ('Yes. I remember it very much.') on Walker, Texas Ranger. Funny, when Chuck Norris showed up on Martial Law, he didn't say 'Y'all come down to Texas sometime, y'hear?' or any other stereotypical Texasisms....

July 25, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Honor Among Strangers')
Deepartment fo Corecctions: Read the last paragraph of that pre-rant floor show? Well, I'd like to amend it sightly. Whoever wrote the Walker episode of Martial Law (J. Larry Carroll and David Bennett Carre?? - TNN logo's in the way of the last letters) couldn't do decent dialogue either. A couple of bonehead moments from the characters, a Mary Sue guest star, and some lines that made me want to bust out my Necronomicon and send them something ugly and recently reanimated in the mail.

Go, go, Texas Rangers.... Sorry, but I couldn't resist. I've also ranted about this one on this page before. Triple threat.:)

Pocket (pool?) review: I don't suppose there's any getting around the fact that I didn't like this episode?

I'm a confused little rocket.... Not only did they use film stock for the one missile that fired, but the stock was of a spot loaded with contrails from previous firings. Since Martial Law-wise there was only one missile fired, it must have made all the contrails itself. So it covered the same airspace at least three times. It was flying in circles, maybe?

If they're white supremacists, why do they drive a BLACK van? 'Nuff said.

Where does the time go? This episode (both from my timing of the commercials AND the VCR count of the taping) was about two minutes shorter than all the others.... Maybe the ad for the Walker half of the crossover took it. If so, I can see why they nixed it. It'd be a commercial for TNN's rival network USA.

How you do spell it? I spell the bad guy's name "Egilton", even though sounding it out makes it sound more like "Eagleton". Why do I spell it such? Because I knew an Egilton. I think. Something like that, anyway. Besides, my only other source is the IMDb, and they've been wrong before. And after*.

*After: Miss Bock in "The Thrill is Gone" and several other Scorpio episodes. The script plainly spells it "Bock". The IMDb uses slightly more sensible soundalike "Bach".

Dylan's Dearth of Dialogue: Not that Terrell or Grace got much in either. I know Amy was minimized to give Walker a bit of room, but it just seems a bit excessive to make her little more than a Girl Friday for everyone else. I mean, with lines like this.... (Never mind the P.J. character. You'll learn a lot more about her later in tonight's rant.)

Amy: "Meanwhile, where do we start?"

P.J.: "Well, check out the Brigade's local sympathizers, get a line on Egilton."

Terrell: "Consider it gotten. What else?"

P.J.: "Who else. If somebody at Denby is supplying Egilton with stolen weapons, we need to find that contact."

Sammo: "So we can find Egilton."

I'm sorry, but P.J.'s here two minutes and already the MCU's best of the best is asking her such no-brainer questions about basic investigation.

* * *

Walker telling Amy to run a license plate. It made sense plotwise, but she didn't seem to have much point in the scene except to be there to get the license plate request and otherwise act as Walker's motivation sounding board.

* * *

In one scene she's there as little more than an information source for P.J. P.J. doesn't know something, Amy dutifully marches off to find it out, hey ho, even if it's a military matter that an army officer would have an easier time getting info on than a police detective.

Yet another evil guy: Not only is Egilton a white supremacist, but there's the story of how he kills someone's family one-by-one to screw with the poor sod's head. Why not just make him Hitler and get it over with?

Slight character redemption: An overbearing pig of a military guy who becomes a bit less overbearing and piggish and saved Grace's and Terrell's lives.

Slight scripting redemption: How much fun Terrell was having playing the military officer. (He gets to go undercover in a silly role! Wooooo!) Hell, even through the acting, it seemed to me that Arsenio Hall was enjoying it.:)

High-wanking officaw: I don't know his rank when he was undercover, but I think it was a colonel. Colonel T. Parker...?

Run for it, he's talking about Amy's hair! Oh, and there's a reason why flat hair with the part down the middle looks flat. It's flat. Flat. Okay, it's a change. It's a flat change, but it's a change nonetheless....

And then there was that pink sweater again.... That wasn't flat.

Jump for it, he's talking about nitpicks! First, how did Egilton find out that Walker and co. know about his hideaway cabin just one scene after they learn about it? They plainly didn't go out there and look around, since the homing device Egilton got in that same scene was the one he placed in the cabin before they arrived there. Did the girlfriend of Egilton's lackey (who told Walker and co. about the cabin) tell her boyfriend that she'd ratted him out? Not likely, since she was scared to death of Egilton!

Then there's a painful jumping baton. Grace is holding a baton-type "pugil-stick" in two hands. Cut to another angle and she has it in one hand by her side.

Then, there's the scene in the cabin. Sammo, P.J., and Walker stare at the homing device for at least five seconds before running for their lives. You think, since the bad guy had conveniently cleared out and left a ringing cell phone for them to answer, that maybe he was luring them into a TRAP? No, Sammo and P.J. just gaze at the homing device until Walker shouts "Run!"

Gimme a hug: Terrell gets a hug from Amy. Lucky... oh, wait, did that joke already.

If I should die before I get my payment.... If I'm ever a Martial Lawish arms dealer, I'm leaving a detailed itinerary somewhere safe, with a note on the cover saying "In the event of my death, check my Thursday 9:00 AM appointment. He did it, I hope you nail the bastard to the wall." Offhand, I can remember the arms dealer in "Red Storm" and the one here both getting killed by their last client.

Archetype Plaza: Talk about a bunch of archetypes. It's like they figured Walker was so well characterized that they could coast on the others. You have:

Walker, natch.
The arms dealer from the last entry.
The evil ex-military type who's a white supremacist.
The overbearing military type who's a white supremacist.
The overbearing military type who's a white supremacist.
The overbearing military type who's NOT a white supremacist.
The good non-overbearing military type who's got her own entry....

Sammo, Walker, and Mar-uh, P.J. Penelope Jane? I'm sorry, I thought you were Mary Sue: This is being obscenely uncharitable, but the character of P.J. seemed to me to be a dread fanfic regular, the Mary Sue. She was young, sort of idealistic, vulnerable in an endearing kind of way (she was fresh out of officer training), she gets her own Deep Meaningful Speech about being a rookie that sounds like Amy Dylan (circa "Blue Flu") wrote it for her...

(Gasp, gasp, run-on-sentence, gasp!)

... she has more and longer lines than most of the regular cast, she's far too hard on herself for making mistakes, she gets to pal around with Sammo and Walker (Even in a press release shot which I've stolen from Lee Goldberg's site.), and dies saving their lives.

Speaking of which... after she died, Sammo was just sooooo out for the killer's blood that Walker had to talk him down from throttling the guy to death! The guy wanted to kill hundreds of people gathered in the Asian-owned Tanaka Plaza, but Sammo's not really mad over that: he's out to avenge P.J.!

If Grace, Amy, or Terrell got killed, I could see him getting mad. But even then, look at "Blue Flu". Amy and about a dozen other LAPD members were due to die within the hour, with about two hundred more to follow before sunset. Sammo was obviously not happy, but after spending half the episode trying to keep his stoic shell from cracking, he doesn't even rough the bad guy up! Okay, he was sort of busy trying to stop a vial of a bacterial killer from being shattered, but he didn't even seem that mad during the dialogue-heavy final confrontation! Hell, later in the season, he won't even seem that ticked off at The One, who has tortured him and killed about 50 of his coworkers, tried to turn his son from a street thug to a hired gun, put Terrell in the hospital, buried Amy and her fiancé alive, and beat Grace to near-death!

For the sane people who don't read much fanfic. Mary Sue: A fanfic (or even Real TV Show) character who's obviously a nigh-paragon* avatar of the author. Wish-fulfillment by the metric ton.

(* "Paragon", not "paragonic" or "paragonal" or even "paragontic"** or "paragonite", is the adjective form of "paragon".)

(** I say "paragontic" because the adjective form of Certain Other Word is "archontic".)

Even back as far as my high school days, my humorous fiction (fanfic and even original stuff) was notorious for always containing a parody of a Mary Sue character, even though I didn't know the term (or its notoriety) at the time. This poor fellow who was often referred to in the first person (even though I hate first-person writing) and wound up being the most badly-abused character in the entire story. Occasionally he gets one small bit of wish-fulfillment (hey, it is a Mary Sue), but he winds up getting run out of town in the process. (I never kill my Mary Sues. Too many of 'em sacrifice their lives, the only way to kill 'em properly is having a series regular go insane and beat them to death.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 26, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Freefall')
Dear God, here it comes.... Six episodes left. Five Scorpio episodes left, and one not-very-good non-Scorpio episode. Remember my comments on Goldberg and Rabkin wanting to stick to light escapism? Forget it. From here the bad guys are either Scorpio or a serial killer.

Granted, the plots are generally escapist, but when slammed up against the disturbing bad guys it's a rather painful clash.

A quick discussion on my idea of escapism: Something light. The plot can have a few holes, as long as they don't insult my intelligence I'm not worried. The bad guy is suitably bad without being unnerving, and any scriptwriter who brings up the phrase "Ripped from today's headlines!" when pitching their plot ideas is punched out.

If the bad guy is evil torturer kind of evil, then it's not escapism, because I see enough of that on the news. At near-best you're going to pull off cheap melodrama, near-worst it's just not going to work.

This episode was even worse. Only (some of!) the regulars and Kyle Strode were likeable.

To the extreme: More extreme fighters. Yay. Beat to death in more ways than one.

Evil Posse, Scorpio Style: They didn't show up 'til the finale, except for the obligatory one scene where Tim "The One" Curry gave them their orders. Good thing they weren't there more, their leader (not Curry, but the local lieutenant type, Mr. Lark) wasn't the most impressive actor and he only had eight lines.

Scorpio Body Count 2.0:

Kills: Several. The homeless guy and a whole street gang. I'm assuming 6 gang members but I feel that's low. I'm not counting the one gang member killed in self-defense or gang-member Primo, who was never officially "killed", not like Scorpio got the information they wanted out of him by asking him politely then letting him go.

Attempted kills: One threat of Primo's sister, though no attempt was actually made, so it's not counted. Neither is the normal fight-scene carnage.

Intra-Scorpio abuse: None.

Torture: Implied that Primo was kidnapped and tortured (to death, likely) for information.

      Episode Name | Kills | Attempts | Abuse | Torture |
    Scorpio Rising |   1   |     4    |   1   |    0    |
          Freefall |   7   |     0    |   0   |    1    |
             Total |   8   |     4    |   1   |    1    |

Lone Wei-nger: At least Sammo's talk about his son (Shian, AKA Lone Wei - "Wei" pronounced almost like "Way") was mostly in two-shot form. Kelly Hu was at least interesting to look at for my third run through this slice of plot exposition.

Make me hurt, baby. Oooh. Wait, no, NOT WITH THAT! AAAAHHHH! Amy, with Terrell's help, gets information out of someone by threatening some anesthetic-free dental work. (At least, I assume that's the general idea of Amy's favorite scene of "Marathon Man", given the drill she was holding to someone's mouth.)

The rather disturbing thing was that she really looked like she was having fun. How does this make her better than Scorpio, who she's trying to take down? (If Amy was just acting like she was having fun, she was doing a vastly better job than when she was acting like she had been shot, earlier in the same scene.)

Hmmm. Hold on. Early in season one, Louis Malone threatened to use the bamboo-under-the-fingernails trick on a suspect to get information out of him. Here, Amy threatens to torture a suspect to get information out of him. In "Sammo Blammo", Amy refered to the recently-transferred Louis by his first name alone.

I know! They were both in the same "Using torture to extract information from suspects 101" class at the LAPD academy!

I read palms on the weekend: Amy's precognizant, or a necromancer* on the side. (I can see it now. "Dad? It's me, Amy. Am I going to get into a fight today? Great, thanks. Love ya, hope the afterlife is still treating you okay.") She never gets caught in fight scenes while wearing high heels or a skirt. Just a blouse/sweater/shirt, slacks, and sensible shoes. Of course, that's about all she wears, period.

* Necromancy: (From Greek "Nekrós manteía", literally "Corpse divination".) No, by "necromancer" I don't mean the D&D practitioner of the black art** who can raise undead and do other things, but the original Real Life version, which was basically a diviner of the future who used the dead as the source of his/her information.

** According to my dictionary, that's what it was actually called at one point, as the first syllable was taken (no thanks to the alteration of the "c" to a "g" sound in Medieval days) to be the Latin "niger", meaning "black". Back a few centuries - or in your average D&D novel - "the art" was apparently a term for magic in general.

Self-fulfilling sophistry: As a corollary to that last entry, Amy did do that whole Feng Shui thing in "Sammo Blammo". Some people think that Feng Shui is an outgrowth of Chinese geomancy. Hmmm. Not much of a jump from being an earth mage to being a mage concerned with what's been stuck six feet down in the earth.:)

You know, I could rant about that Feng Shui thing all day. Since Amy was clearly not a New Age pseudomystic quack - hell, while they never broached the subject, she struck me as being closer to agnostic or Christian-by-habit in matters incorporeal - you could hear her brain grinding out the logic in using Feng Shui on the MCU. (Sammo and Grace are Chinese, Feng Shui is Chinese, so they would appreciate a Feng-Shuied office. I'm glad a Mandarin coat is evening wear, else she'd have shown up at the MCU kitted out in one of those.)

My personal decorating choice is the "Does it get in the way?" school. "Does it get in the way or look ugly there?" for any place I might entertain guests.

Gratuitous Ratings Moment: Just once before the series dies the death of a rerun phoenix again at the end of "Final Conflict, Part 2", I'd like to see Grace wear slacks. Or something she can sit in comfortably. Once. Please?

I have a deep respect for you, you two-faced sonuvabitch: Grace has a moment where she realizes that Shian is Sammo's major motivation, not herself. It's only going to get worse before it gets bet- no, it's not going to get better. Life sucks, then you get cancelled.

If it's so funny, why am I so sad? Amid the Gehennan pits of flaming torment, there was some nice comedy, from the wonderful way the homeless guy said "He's building the first starship in the defensive fleet. We're leaving on Tuesday." to Sammo's prediction of how his fight with Kyle Strode's bodyguards would end to Amy almost decking Terrell in the middle of a fight.

Is "Huh?" Chinese? Sounded like Sammo said it while talking to someone in Chinese.:)

Nice breas-sweate-hair! Said it before, say it again. When Amy was wearing that tight blue sweater, her hair was so lovely (this was when it was IMHO at her absolute Martial Law best) I wasn't paying attention to the sweater or what was inside it. (Not like you could see much with the gray jackety thing over it.:)

Nice breas-blouse! Was Amy's second-from-top blouse button variously open and closed in different scenes, or was it just overlapping so as to look buttoned sometimes?

Nice blous-blood? Why didn't the dentist/cut-rate surgeon notice that Amy didn't have a hole in her blouse? (Unless I just can't see it.) She had the fake blood (unless she bled someone for it, which I wouldn't put past her after the torture scene) staining her nice blouse in a pattern indicative of a bullet or even a stiletto wound, but no hole.

Dylan non-Devolution: I'm disturbingly happy with the self-deprecating humor Amy shows in the next series of lines. (After Amy and Terrell bust Sammo out of his deportation cell.)

Sammo: "Why are you doing this? You are jeopardizing your careers."

Amy: "Ah, that's okay. You know, I was never really all that ambitious anyway."

I think I broke my can(n)on: You know, if you took a sledgehammer to the plot, you could almost make it work with season one.

Season one fact: Grace is 27 or 28, assuming dialogue from "Shanghai Express" is still valid.

Season one fact: She had parents.

Season one fact: She had a boyfriend at some point while her father was around.

Season two fact: She knew her grandmother at some point.

Season two fact: Ten years ago, she was living on the streets, presumably of Shanghai. (Though I do apologize for a previous point on this page which mistook it for growing up on the streets. Now fixed.)

Wow. Maybe her father spontaneously became evil and threw her out when she was seventeen? Making Sammo's imprisoned-father childhood and not-imprisoned-father childhood work might be a bit harder.

Oh, the real-world irony. Hateful FBI agent Wicke* said that he didn't want Sammo or Grace - as Chinese nationals - working on a case of national security. Given the FBI's recent foibles, a Chinese national might be the only person to trust with a case of national security!

(*I wanted Wicke to die painfully at the end of the episode, or at least get kicked around. Rick Springfield's FBI agent in "The Friendly Skies" was genuinely evil and I still liked him more.)

Oh, the fake-world irony. Kyle Strode: "People don't watch Mike Tyson for his towering intellect or kung fu movies for their plots."

Nice bit of self-aware commentary there. If only this episode's plot wasn't dragged down by these characters.... (If scriptwriters Goldberg and Rabkin - they've worked together on so much stuff that I think of 'em as a single unit - ever find this page they are not going to be thrilled. Not that I could ever lambaste them with half the bile of Usenet.)

He Strode onto the scene: Kyle Strode was the closest season two ever got to a "delightfully unethical" bad guy, even if they had throw in making his "badguyness" doubtful. Neal McDonough is a good actor, and it struck me that the scriptwriters seemed to like Strode more than anyone else in this episode!

Turn on a light, it's too dark in here: I'm used to episodes ending with a nice finale where everyone changes clothes (to denote a day's advance in time) and stands around the MCU. These last two episodes ended on very dark notes.

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

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

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

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

July 27, 2001 AD (Episode: 'The Thrill is Gone')
Scorpio Body Count 3.0: Let's get it over with.

Kills: Tons. (I'm not counting the four or five "Thrill Kills" since they were a byproduct of the Scorpio drug Thrill and not direct Scorpio malignance. I'm also not counting the people killed by people on Thrill, even the ones that were killing at The One's behest.) At least four in an office building, if Terrell's estimate of the number of employees (before Amy finds the corpses off-camera) was right. The evil scientist at the end, and Strode's drug dealer contact, Waldo. Then there was the terrorists that The One himself offed. I might be willing to let that pass, but he was doing it to save his own ass and not for any noble reasons. Despite my count coming up higher, The One says at one point there's a dozen terrorists, and I'll take his word for it. Twelve, four, one and one. That's 18 total.

Attempted kills: One assassination that was botched by Sammo.

Intra-Scorpio abuse: None.

Torture: None. They were in straightforward kill mode tonight.

      Episode Name | Kills | Attempts | Abuse | Torture |
    Scorpio Rising |   1   |     4    |   1   |    0    |
          Freefall |   7   |     0    |   0   |    1    |
The Thrill is Gone |  18   |     1    |   0   |    0    |
             Total |  26   |     5    |   1   |    1    |

This was my favorite Scorpio episode. Which isn't saying much....
"Scorpio Rising" was okay.
"Freefall" was populated with too many hateable characters. Even my beloved (that's why I've called her a stupid bitch...) Amy weirded me out in that dentist scene. The final ten minutes were great, though.
"The Thrill is Gone" wasn't bad if I leave off the Scorpio baggage from my viewing of the "Final Conflict"s.
"In the Dark" wasn't only too dark, it felt more like it should have been "Final Conflict, Part 0" than its own episode.
"Final Conflict, Part 1" was just too infused with evil and hopelessness for me. Maybe if Kyle Strode had been around he could have played the "(dim) light in the dark" he played in some of the other Scorpio episodes.
"Final Conflict, Part 2" wasn't bad, its major sin was that it was bogged down with tying up all the subplots: Amy's wedding doubts, Sammo rescuing his son from the Dark Side, Scorpio in general, the whole damn series....

Quote of the... zzzz. Sammo (after the extremely bothered Terrell asks Sammo why LA traffic doesn't bother him): "In Shanghai, there are more cars, more people, and thousands of bicycles in your path. I learned a great lesson about life. (...) Get someone else to do the driving and you can sleep."

Zzzz... nanosecond. Kyle Strode: "Nice, but in my experience you either sell drugs or you use them. You do both and you end up dead."

Owww. Sammo breaks his leg and Terrell bleeds during the first fight scene. Terrell also puts his fist through a car window, which should have done a bigger number on his fist than it did! Am I complaining about the realistic violence to the unrealistic violence? I don't know. All I know is that I don't like this middle ground.

Hi, we're Scorpio! I'm sorry, but Scorpio recruited morons. The first two (the corpse thieves) killed themselves when they were captured. Yeah, I know, death before capture, etc. But there was absolutely no reason to assume Scorpio was involved. Suiciding using the poison cartridges built into their little fingers made it obvious Scorpio was in the thick of it. Had they been captured and suicided using more general means once left alone (like hanging) they would have thrown everyone off - after all, who's going to check the small fingers of every nut who suicides in jail? (I know it's to speed up the plot, but come on!)

Amy, are you pondering what I'm pondering? Amy didn't seem thrilled (no pun intended) when she learned Scorpio was involved. That makes two of us.

I think so, but Terrell could never say "Sweeney!" like he says "Dylan!" I wish they would've got Gretchen Egolf to do the obligatory Scorpio background dialogue. Arsenio Hall says the word "pinkie" (in the line about Scorpio agents having poison cartridges in their pinkies*) kind of weirdly.

(* Which sounds mildly amusing to me since my maternal grandmother used that as a euphemism for a certain part of the female body.)

Nice ass. The picture, not you. Was it just me, or was the "fine art" on the restaurant wall blurred (likely not electronically - on the canvas) so the model's backside wasn't quite so clearly defined? So, it's okay to show a real woman in pants so tight you know where the crack of her ass is, but an old-master style painting of a woman showing her actual ass isn't. Talk about a blurred line of taste. (Pardon this pun, too.)

My good friend E.: The body bag Terrell was hiding in at one point (so the corpse robbers would cart him right to their hideout) had the following on the toe tag: "E. Murphy".

Nitpick: How do the corpse crooks know the exact number of dead Thrill users and which hospital morgue they were stored in? They didn't look through all the toe tags, just until they found the one Thrill victim.

Bock? Wasn't that a sound effect on the old Batman show? And here's the introduction of Miss Bock. Not a bad character, even if she was consummately evil. Her introduction was a nice two-shot where the evil doctor guy backstabs her (figuratively) when she's talking to The One, though she was IMHO too reserved in her reacting when she heard the evil doctor tell The One that she was "a fool or a liar". (It's called a two-shot for a reason....) The end scene where she backstabs the evil doctor type (literally) is rather nice as well.

The Nitpick is Gone: In Bock's final scene of the show, The One tells her to wipe out all traces of the Thrill operation. She grabs her little finger like she's ready to break it (and the poison capsule inside) and says "And myself?". How could she wipe out all traces of the Thrill operation if she killed herself right there? If she idly rubbed her finger or something, it would have worked better.

It's a trick I picked up from Amy: So nice that Grace wore sensible shoes (I think they were sensible, they moved too fast to tell for sure!) out to dinner with Strode. She wound up in a fight.

Where's Waldo? Getting roughed up by Miss Bock (see below). Before that, Kyle Strode roughs him up (and offers to introduce him to Misters Smith and Wesson) after he slips Grace a Thrill mickey. I'll tell you, I don't know if Strode was being made out to be a nice guy with no ethics or if the scriptwriters just liked him.

Miss Bock? Not Mister Bock? Waldo, in the scene where he's being roughed up by Strode, refers to his supplier using male pronouns (unless his whiny voice was seriously distorting things). When he meets Bock and the evil doctor, he tells Miss Bock that he was looking for her. So she's his supplier. I know her hair's a bit short for a woman, but she's not that bad!

Think different. Really different. As in Kill Thy Neighbor different. Scorpio has a lot of those laptops for The One's communications scattered around.

It's a secret lab. Shhh, it's a secret. When Miss Bock used the phrase "our secret lab" and the word "Scorpio" in front of drug dealer Waldo, don't you think that made it a bit obvious to him that this wasn't a normal office? I know he wasn't supposed to be there, but her line is a bit of a tip-off as to why. (Oh well, she was mad when she said it. And the way she kept shoving the hateable Waldo into the walls and furniture was funny.)

On the bright side (pun again not intended), that office was the sunniest Scorpio stomping grounds yet. They usually skulk and sulk in dark rooms, like the lab at the start of this episode.

Maybe machines run on magic in the MCU: The comment about the PC hard drives being removed by Scorpio to cover their tracks was nice. Amy recognizing a PC as an "old 386" was nice. How it worked without being plugged in wasn't nice. Maybe it was a very freaky proto-laptop - that'd explain why Terrell was looking on the side of it instead of into a monitor like I'd expect - but that doesn't explain that thing that looked like a power cord that was hanging out the back of it. Unless Terrell had an extension cord leading off-camera, from where he carried the PC in at the start of the scene.

I'm having that flashback again.... Sammo mentions Gilligan's Island here. Taken out of context, it's rather funny. Taken in context....

Another flashback! Is it just me, or is Thrill and its effects (including death of the user) about the same as the drug in "Dead Ringers", early season one? What, did this guy find the late "Dead Ringers" scientist's notes?

Why I'm not an actor redux: Miss Bock (Natalie Raitano) actually, at the end of the show, delivered the line "The Thrill is gone." Not only is this the title of the episode (which isn't that bad, since Terrell did it in "Sammo Blammo") but it's an awful pun, one so bad even I wouldn't make a go of it. And she delivered it completely deadpan. I wince just thinking about it.

You sexist Limey pig: (No offense meant to any Brits in the audience.) When The One greets the terrorists, it's with the line "Welcome to Budapest, gentlemen." There's one woman in the crowd, unless The One knows something about her that I don't know. Or, the terrorists were invited to take girlfriends, which (given the almost exclusively male group) means that there's something about Middle East terrorists that I don't know and don't want to know.

Just because the assassination failed doesn't mean I can't entertain you with some shadow puppets. Look, a bunny! I've got to side with Usenet on this one. The One, silhouetted behind red glass, didn't look like he had Tim Curry's build. It looked even less like the man later associated with The One - Christopher Neame - since it had hair! In fact, someone who was watching with me commented that it had as much in common with Arsenio Hall as anyone. I disagree: my personal bet is on Ronald Reagan, since he had short hair with a bit of a tuft up front that you could only see when he was in half-profile. Yep, I think this was ol' Ronnie's triumphant acting comeback.

Disclaimer: I'm not making fun of the ex-president of the US. It's a joke, get over it.

I'm out of here! The more lines Tim Curry had, the less I liked him since it gave him more chances to ham it up. He got a lot this episode, and took several opportunities to sound like he was trying to get them all out on one lungful of air. At least Neame's taking over next Scorpio ep.

I'm not racist, the casting director is: Looked like there was a lot of English-speaking whites amongst the Middle East terrorists and their henchmen. Do the various factions outsource their terror needs?

The One, and The Two and The One Two Three Four: Sammo mentions that his battle with The One is only beginning. Actually, it's half over.

July 30, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Heartless')
'Ullo Gov: Sammo and Governor Marx (Marks?) have an interesting take on who owes whom a debt of gratitude. The governor tells of how Sammo saved his life (when he was visiting Shanghai) one night after he was robbed and stabbed. (Sammo carried him ten blocks to a hospital.) In the very next scene, Sammo tells about how the governor greased the political gearwork that got him onto the LAPD. A very nice pair of scenes, since each ignores what he did for the other while playing up what the other did for him.

Get me a wedge: Two throwaway comments about Sammo's son that make it obvious that this episode was kind of shoehorned in the middle of the five Scorpio ones without any connection to the umbrella plots.

Doctor SUV Black: That crazy doctor has a black SUV at his disposal.

Is black leather the new LAPD standard? For Grace, anyway. Oh, and black tights. (Tight tights.) For spring/summer in LA, Grace is dressed to kill (via heat exhaustion).

Monochromaticon: I just coined a word.:) "A picture in one color" is a good description of Amy and her wardrobe. Last episode, she was garbed in a blue-gray suit jacket and slacks with a faintly more bluish sweater, collar rather high but not quite a turtleneck. This episode, she was wearing a reddish-brown/burgundy version of that same blue-gray/bluer-gray outfit.

And while I'm thinking about it, why does Amy never wear a necklace yet not have a problem with earrings (I saw some at least once) and vivid nail polish (bright red in "Deathfist 5: Major Crimes Unit" and reflective-looking silver in this episode)? Either you're minimalist or you're not. Not like she minds things around her neck, what with how high the collar on her sweater was today.

Temporal remembrance: Short one-day timeframe. So everyone ended dressed as they started, and with the same hair. In Amy's case, that's really not a good thing. (Mildly amusing is Gretchen's hair color shift between episodes. Sometimes she has a blonde streak, most of the time it's all brownish, but these last couple of episodes it's been done up in such a way that it looks like she has black roots.)

We need both the dark and the light. In total darkness, without the light, there are no shadows for us to move in. A rather odd bit of text I once wrote for a fantasy-esque uber-powerful and stereotypically evil character (well, pantheon of demigods treated as a single being) who wasn't quite as evil as he was made out to be. But it brings up an interesting point. Even in a darker environment, there needs to be light, there needs to be hope. Too much joy makes for a dull and unwatchable show; too much vileness makes for a depressing and unwatchable show.

In tonight's episode there wasn't a moment of respite. It was steeped in evil almost from the first second. Only at the end (and in some of the fight scenes, though they were obviously done by someone not really concerned with the overall plot) was there the faintest glimmer, but that was the obligatory happy ending and felt like a jarring token attempt. If this were two different television shows, it might have worked. See the next two entries. Read 'em and then tell me that you think these elements were in the same show.

You can never lose hope. Terrell quote, when he was speaking to Sammo at the end of the show. Here's the light....

The plot was somewhat escapist (a heart for the governor's sick daughter being held hostage).

The fight scenes had some wonderfully funny moments (Sammo using a plunger as a weapon in the first one, Sammo's part of the bowling alley fight, the mail truck fight).

There were a dozen silly little plot holes that weren't worth mentioning.

The scene where the girl's father (the governor) says that ruining his career to save his daughter was a bargain.

The governor was a somewhat interesting character. He was a fool, granted, but such was part of the plot. At least he loved his daughter.

There's nothing pleasant about this. Grace quote from when she was talking to the serial killer. Here's the dark....

The plot was disturbing (three serial killers get busted out from jail to be used in illegal surgical experiments - one kills the other two and the doctor who busted him out and takes over the doctor's heart-hostage racket).

The fight scenes had some dark moments (the implication that Sammo broke someone's arm).

There were a dozen silly little plot holes that compromised the reality of the show.

The scene when Grace was interviewing the serial killer. The same scene, acted the same way, in another show could (maybe) have been a good dramatic moment. Not here. We did not need to hear someone gloat about how he made 25 women beg for their lives before cutting off their heads with a hacksaw. Mother of God, I thought that was sickening.

None of the lesser characters were likeable. A kindergarten teacher who loves a serial killer and attacks a cop with a pair of scissors. Three serial killers who, thanks to one rather off-putting bit of plot exposition from Amy Dylan, have 51 confirmed kills (54 by the end of the episode) to their names.

Skritch.... Sammo's obviously the right bodyguard for that heart. Based off of that popping sound effect usually used to denote bones breaking, Sammo breaks the arms of two bad guys in the first fight scene!

Sammo's Effective Questioning Technique of the Season: He hasn't questioned that many people this season. Today however, he wasn't playing the bad cop - he WAS the bad cop! Terrell played it up a bit, but you get the feeling he wasn't exaggerating that much.... Between this show, Sammo being ready to kill in "Honor Among Strangers", and Amy's unorthodox torture questioning methods in "Freefall", it's no wonder baddish-guy Kyle Strode was one of the more likeable characters of the end of the season - he had half of the regular cast beat!

Kill ratios: Someone almost beat Scorpio. 54 kills. The slit throats on the three most recent victims of the serial killer was a nice touch. Hell, why not have someone drink the blood and really get things going?

Take me to a hospital that these guys never go to: "The Thrill is Gone" had a hospital as one of its main locations. So did this episode. So will both "Final Conflict"s, though to a lesser extent.

Knotted-up cut strings: Again Amy calls in the SWAT team to raid an empty building. (See also: "Thieves Among Thieves", "Call of the Wild") Again no one seems bothered. (See also: "Call of the Wild")

Nitpick 1: Just because we don't know anything doesn't mean we're not organized. For people who apparently didn't know anything about what was going on, those three killers certainly followed along with the crazy doctor's breakout plan like they knew what they were doing! (How'd they know to stay together in the confusion and run for the rear exit?)

Nitpick 2: I thought something rubbing up against me was supposed to feel good! Sammo gets dragged behind a van for a good stretch. Not only does he survive (unlike everyone else who's been dragged behind a moving vehicle), he doesn't even look roughed up.

Nitpick 3: Drei ice. (All Germans in the audience may now groan.) They've got a heart for transplant. In once scene, the killer holding it hostage opens the container and threatens to spill it. As he opens it, nothing (solid or vaporous) comes out.

Next scene, (after it's used as a weapon in a fight scene!) the heart container is rescued. Sammo opens it to check on it, and ta-da! Mist indicative of dry ice billows out.

Nitpick 4: Serial Posse. Serial killer and head bad guy tells his Evil Posse (who just showed up in the scene previous) to "Split up." They don't, instead running single-file away.

Nitpick 5: Nice Shirt! Sammo grabs the back of a suspect's shirt and pulls it over the suspect's head and face. Sammo spins the guy around and pushes him against an iron grating. Cut to a shot from behind the iron grating (same instant, as he's just hitting it from both angles) and it's not over his face, just his forehead, so he can deliver his lines.

Nitpick 6: Pardon me! Could a governor really pardon three serial killers who are on Death Row, AND keep it under wraps for the better part of a day?

Nitpick 7: Fuzz remover. Crazy doctor holding heart hostage demands release of serial killers. (That sounded like a newspaper headline!) He wants them released in the atrium of a certain hotel (same outdoor shot as "No Quarter" and "Scorpio Rising"). He says that he'd better not see any cops or the deal's off. Watch the scene and the place was crawling with cops! Just because they were undercover didn't mean anything. Do normal people talk into their lapels with that kind of frequency?

Nitpick 8: ZAP! Another defibrillation thing, this time of the governor's daughter, with an EKG and separate defibrillator. Was it just me, or did the heartbeat sound wrong after the defibrillation? Too regular, like it was something rigged to an on/off switch and not a proper muscle. If her heart was damaged as well, as the doctor said, wouldn't her heartbeat be more irregular? And why don't the EKGs ever register the electrical current used to shock the heart?

Nitpick 9: Must be an everyday occurrence. When the kindergarten teacher attacks Grace, and again a minute later when she's being handcuffed, she screams. There's no kids in her classroom, but the door to the hall is open. You mean to say that no one in the hallway noticed a woman screaming...?

Nitpick 10: Connecting the dots. Amy lists the connections the three killers had. "Hat size, preference for chocolate, blood type, come from broken homes, victims of abuse, bedwetters." Later on, Sammo figures out that three different psychosurgeons who visited the three killers were (via makeup and assorted aliases) the same person. Then, Amy just punches the three killers' names into her PC and all of a sudden she knows the institute that funded the research. It didn't come up on her first search that the three of them were being researched by one institute?

Nitpick 11: Connecting the bullets. So this one doctor hired about a dozen men to impersonate the killers and confuse the cops, someone to steal a mail truck, half a dozen guys to steal a heart at the start of the episode, at least one person who owned and could use an automatic weapon.... In addition he impersonated three different men from three different universities, and yet the "institute" this guy is head of looks to be a five-room office with no other employees?

Nitpick 12: Heart-rending. When the killer is holding the heart-container thing open and threatening to drop it, Terrell says they (as in, the cops) can't risk taking a shot and hitting the heart. Who cares about hitting the heart, if the guy gets shot he'll drop it onto the pavement!

Nitpick 13: Ranter's dozen. I suppose I could comment on the shoddy reality of the fight scenes (the heart container being used as a weapon and the heart not suffering for it, Sammo running up onto and over a moving vehicle, Amy and Grace both exerting one-handed enough force to push a 200-plus pound man into something hard enough to knock the wind out of him, etc.), but I won't since that's a hallmark of the show. Most of these nitpicks are things I'd let go in an lighter episode (say, something around "My Man Sammo" which was semi-serious yet escapist and light) but here they're striving for a dark grittiness in which these things just don't work anymore. The scriptwriter (David Ehrman, if my guess at the TNN-black-bar-obscured letters is right) doesn't seem to know what show he's writing for!

It's over, thank God. The bloopers were funny. This is the one where Gretchen is cute as hell yet makes my cynical side scream "What an airhead!" Oh well, they're still funny....

First one of the three she's in - there's about eight, the others are fight scene mess-ups - she's supposed to open a door, and (with Kelly Hu) charge in for the fight scene. Only she can't open the door properly, and Kelly Hu cracks up, doubling over in a fit of laughter loud enough to be heard on the other side of the door. Gretchen finally gets the door open, charges towards the actor playing the serial killer, and tells him (doing perfectly cute and entirely moronic arm-shaking gestures as she does) "We're very dangerous!" in a somewhat child-sounding fashion. Okay, she's just a bit embarrassed.

Second, someone's stomach (sounded like a small dog, to be honest) growled mid-scene loud enough to be heard and Gretchen says "Is my stomach growling?" She laughs, looks into the camera with this perfectly cute and entirely moronic look on her face, and says "Sorry!" in a higher-pitched voice. Okay, she's just a bit, er, a bit more embarrassed. Yeah.

Third is Arsenio Hall's fault (he botches a line). Of course, that doesn't explain why Gretchen's voice ramps up an octave as she plays along with the joke. I mean, does she actually talk like that with any sort of regularity?

And, yes, she has that hairdo that she had all episode. That one I dislike so very much, (which even non-fans think makes her look less intelligent) except longer in the back. Which is an improvement. Not much of one, mind you, but it's an improvement....

Rant retrospection: When I started writing these episodic rants, it was just when something bugged me.

Then as "Shanghai Express", the season one opener, drew near, I decided to expand the format a bit. I started using these bolded headings, including adding ones (usually just the original first sentence) to the early bold-free rants; most headings weren't humorous. I started looking for things to write about. Just general observations and such.

Then I quickly started making the headings into light bits of humor. ("Do you really think this episode was cowritten by Carlton Cuse?", "Yet another euphemism for sex:", "Sexy Sadie Sammo:", etc.) before long a surrealistic twist took hold ("I'm having a season two flashback. Flashforward. Whatever.", "Run-run-run-run-runaway:", "The kick heard across the high-rent district:", "I tawt I taw a desert cobra!")

Now, (starting with "The Friendly Skies", I think - I originally intended to have a doodle pad so I could ignore the Darrow scenes) I use a makeshift notepad to keep track of things so I don't need to remember them all. (There got to be too many of them!)

As the season progressed, I found myself going from using half a page to a full page. These last couple of episodes, I've had to ramp down my writing to half-size and write in the margins as I neared the end of the episode. These rants have been getting longer. Either I've been getting keener or there's been more to complain about.

Now it's coming to an end. I won't be doing another "Shanghai Express" review, I don't think, even with my notepad. Except to see how much more I can extract from the episode, as an experiment. In any case, I'll have all but "24 Hours" and "Dog Day Afternoon" on tape twice each around the end of next week ("Cop Out" being the last one I need). Then I stop watching Martial Law, except for episodes I missed, the occasional trip back into the archives for a bit of nostalgia, or for one of Gretchen Egolf's better episodes. (Of course, first I'll need to figure out precisely which ones are better than the others....)

It feels kind of weird, actually. This page will be about a half a meg of text by then, and represent countless hours of work.

I'll spend a day splitting it into quarters or less. Don't know if I'll sort it in such a way as to merge the two or three different rants on some season two episodes. I don't think so, just link 'em with A NAME tags, maybe put them next to each other but still separate. After that, only one smaller page (containing The Egolf Chronicles, Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies, and a random rant or two) will be updated with any frequency. ../cathink3.htm will be renamed to catfight.htm and ../cathink3.htm with be a small page containing a link to the split version and the original.

Wow. I feel like I have a kid who's going off to college. It's so weird.... I'll miss this. I'll love the extra time to burn reading e-mails and stuff, though.:)

July 31, 2001 AD (Episode: 'In the Dark')
Scorpio Body Count 4.0: Another David Ehrman episode. Why am I not surprised? Eugh. For the first time I'm actually hating writing these rants.

Kills: Presumably the fighter who received the failing grade from Scorpio won't be given a glass of milk and sent on her way. The heavily-armed guys roaming around the jail might have killed someone, but I'm not counting it since it's not proven. That's one semiconfirmed kill. (It'd be zero if I was feeling charitable.)

Attempted kills: One Scorpio agent tries to kill Grace with a gun, then The One intends to torture her to death. I'm also counting the Scorpio spider team's attempt to rescue Trembel by killing Terrell and Sammo.

Intra-Scorpio abuse: Kyle's part of Scorpio now, so his sins count. Including when he killed a Scorpio agent. Had he been doing it just to save Grace's life I'd have left it pass, but I felt he was mostly doing it because he wouldn't like to have sex with her corpse. (Picky, picky, picky....)

Torture: Kyle slowly drowning someone as payback for a debt of cash. He let the guy go in exchange for the info that Grace was a cop. In addition, I'm counting Trembel's mind games regarding Sammo's son - mental abuse is hell. I'm not counting the vile attempt on Grace, but I do admit that I'd have overlooked the other two if not for this one.

      Episode Name | Kills | Attempts | Abuse | Torture |
    Scorpio Rising |   1   |     4    |   1   |    0    |
          Freefall |   7   |     0    |   0   |    1    |
The Thrill is Gone |  18   |     1    |   0   |    0    |
       In the Dark |   1   |     4    |   1   |    2    |
             Total |  27   |     9    |   2   |    3    |

Call the Fashional Guard! The Scorpio-agents-as-guards had shoes that Sammo noticed as being wrong for the uniform. In "Scorpio Rising", Sammo noticed that the guns the Scorpio-agents-as-cops had weren't police issue. They really should be a bit more fashion conscious.

I'm The One. The Other One. Introducing a new method of communication for The One at the same instant as they introduced a new actor for The One wasn't a good idea. Thankfully they amended it by going back to the old laptop trick for the next scene*. Albeit, using the MCU's PCs as a laptop replacement - which makes one wonder why they made the laptop explode at the end of "Scorpio Rising" if they'll hack all the MCU PCs and send them the sound-wave program, which might make a bit of a paper-trail back to Scorpio's home turf. No matter, The One's a nutball, so it's not like this can't be part and parcel of that.

(*Of course, Amy recognizing The One's voice when no one in the audience did was amusing. Talk about having it made transparent that you're acting!:)

And that shadow at the end still didn't look like Neame.

I'd like to apologize to Tim Curry - Neame wasn't much better here. (Did the script read "The One talks like he's only inhaling after every other paragraph."?)

You little EMP: Thankfully, the EMP device wasn't kept a big enigma 'til the end of the episode, since anyone in the audience with a bit of TV watching experience or knowledge of electromagnetic pulses who noticed the power, phones, and cars all dying at the same instant knew that it was going to be a good ol' EMP weapon that did it.

I could gaze into her blue sweater all day. Eyes. Blue eyes. I could gaze into her blue EYES all day! Amy was wearing that tight blue sweater that always seems to make her breasts look bigger, though not quite as big as the pink one does (don't ask how I know that). But let's not talk about that. Let's talk about her eyes. I could get lost in her blue eyes, since getting lost in my own brown ones has lost its appeal. Besides, replacing the cracked mirrors isn't cheap.

And let me tell you, did I have the chance today to get lost. As one Amy/Grace dialogue scene went on, they made the closeups even tighter - their shoulders weren't even in the shot, just their faces and a bit of their necks. Any closer and it would have been a pair of left eyes acting instead of two women. In another scene, Amy and an FBI agent stood face-to-face, both in profile. Yet they cut between closeups instead of doing at least a bit of it in two-shot form. Oh well, I can't fault them that badly for it; they cut to Amy for a reaction shot during the FBI person's lines about her "people not being a priority". Another long (several minutes, or it felt like it) Sammo/Trembel dialogue was done exclusively in closeups. I know Sammo's not the master of good line delivery, but couldn't he be given more than five-second stretches on camera?

Chop chop: Was the female FBI agent's line "There's a chopper leaving at dawn, but you'll have to hurry." used in an earlier episode as well? Rick Springfield in "The Friendly Skies" mentioned a chopper on the roof but that's not it. It sounded like it....

Don't hurry too much: Even if that line wasn't used elsewhere, Amy obviously didn't hurry. Between leaving for the chopper and her scene at the jail, her hair went from sort of like the style I love (a la the end of "Freefall") back to flat with the excess frontage pushed behind her ear (which I haven't seen in a while). I could see it being windswept by the chopper blades, but it lost the wave and other styling it had!

Someone light a match, we're in the dark here. Remember how in the old Infocom games you could be eaten by a grue if you wandered around in the dark? Well, if the grue is poor taste incarnate, then Martial Law definitely got eaten by a grue while In the Dark!

Taste Nitpick 1: Running scarred. Scorpio implants these poison cartridges without any scarring. The good guys remove one from a Scorpio agent (a high ranking one named Trembel or something) and he's got the worst-looking scar ever. I might not have much experience with surgery, but I don't think even a recent operation (as implied by the stitches, I think that's what they are) looks quite so much like it's about to bleed with one wrong move.

Taste Nitpick 2: SKRITCH! Trembel breaking his own finger (sans poison capsule) to show that torture wasn't a great concern of his.

Taste Nitpick 3: Put the duct tape back over his mouth, please. Trembel's description of assorted tortures to Sammo was tasteful. The bit about skinning someone was nice. Trembel had all of one good line: Sammo said he could make use of a moose-antler trophy (as part of a trap). Trembel sarcastically says, "For what, comic relief?"

General Nitpick 1: Guarded Missals. Or not. But why'd Scorpio send both a black-garbed "spider team" and the guys dressed as guards into the jail? One was backing up the other? Why not have the spider team guarding the exits instead of waiting in the woods for the fake guards to fail? Were I in a better mood - i.e. this were a better episode - I'd let this pass.

General Nitpick 2: Someone break Amy's fingers to see if she's part of Scorpio, please. Amy mentions in one scene that Kyle Strode is now part of Scorpio. How does she know? Grace and Kyle's first conversation after that scene (when Kyle still thinks she's just an upwardly-mobile street fighter) makes it clear that she's not supposed to let it spill to him that she knows who Scorpio is, so it's obvious Kyle didn't tell her. What, is Amy on the subscription list for Scorpio's monthly newsletter, or something? Do they have Strode's place under surveillance? Well, that'd explain....

General Nitpick 3: But by the Grace of God.... How did Grace just waltz into the meeting between Strode and his main Scorpio contact? No one guarding the door? For that matter, how'd she know when it was?

General Nitpick 4: We've been planning this for ten years. But we want to raise a little hell first. This episode, The One wanted a billion dollars per month (is that all?) to not trigger the EMP. Yet his plan (Operation Skydive) that was/will be revealed in "Final Conflict" was plainly (at the end of part two) said to have been put in motion ten years ago. Where would he spend the billion dollars if he plunged the world into anarchy the next week? It wouldn't be worth its weight in kindling paper! Even gold and platinum wouldn't be terribly useful, given the quirk of there being nothing left to spend it on....

General Nitpick 5: It even kicks mechanical ass! The One's prediction of the EMP device's effects: "Patients on life support dying. Elevators plummeting. Thousands trapped in subways!" First one I see. Third I see. But elevators have mechanical brakes that are meant to work even if the cable snaps when the electronics are dead (for instance, during a power outage).

General Nitpick 6: Bionic Sammo. When Sammo leapt over someone, did my ears collapse or was a sound effect that sounds more befitting of The Six Million Dollar Man buried in the soundtrack?

General Nitpick 7: Maybe the spider team pulled a Scorpio and broke one of its own appendages. A spider team of eight men is coming for Trembel, a tidbit he accidentally lets spill. (And we see all eight of them in an early scene.) I counted seven being taken out by Sammo and Terrell. The one standing behind the head spider man (God, what a sad pun) in the fight scene disappears.

General Nitpick 7b: Spidey Posse. Maybe not. Terrell might have taken out the eighth at one point, but since they're mostly dark-haired white men and they're all in black commando outfits, I can't tell if the one he ties up at the end of the fight is the same one he punched out and started to tie up in the scene before.

General Nitpick 8: Go ahead and kill them! We'll make more! Grace puts a bullet hole in a Scorpio agent and Kyle Strode finishes him off. Yet Strode is still in Scorpio's good graces a few scenes later. I guess killing their own is fairly typical.

General Nitpick 9: I've got water on the knee, and Shian on the mind. How the hell does everyone know Sammo's son? He keeps it a secret for two years plus TV time and now EVERYONE knows! Okay, I can sort of see Trembel knowing, as he's a fairly high-ranking Scorpio member and The One would want to exploit any possible weakness to get the much-hated Sammo Law. But Kyle Strode? He's been with Scorpio three weeks or so and already he knows that The One's major obsession is Sammo and that Grace is Sammo's student?

General Nitpick 10: I should let this one pass, but I'm in a worse mood than when I started listing these. How'd Trembel know about the planned use of the EMP device when he was in jail? I suppose he could have guessed what was going on, though. You'd think The One would hold off on his plans a week or so just so any information extracted from Trembel was useless or at least off-date.

General Nitpick 11: Vertigo it ain't. I'm sorry, but that scene where Trembel falls to his death was just bad. From the fakest effect to make him "fall"* to Amy's shout of "No." - that's not a typo, it didn't really deserve an exclamation point. I don't know what was wrong with it, it just didn't sound right. Granted, an ear-piercing shriek would have been worse, but as-is it didn't have much oomph behind it. Maybe because it was plainly dubbed in later; Amy's mouth didn't actually move! It was held open in a more wordless scream. (Or something with a long "Ah" sound. Daaaaaaamn? Naaaaaah?)

(* Lying against a green screen as the camera zooms out, you know the type - come on, use a longshot and a stuntman, we don't really need to see his face as he falls! Or - since this was likely all done on a ground-floor sound stage, though it's not like a two-story concrete facade would be that hard to find in LA - don't show it at all and just play that dull "thud", since it didn't look that fake when he was just hanging over the edge.)

General Nitpick 12: We've taken over the building. Except the stairwells. And the exits. Sammo says The One's building has been "taken over" by the cops and that his EMP device has been confiscated. Yet Kyle Strode, The One and Shian, and a decoy car all get out of the building somehow without one cop stopping them, despite The One, Shian, and Strode needing to get from a high floor to the parking basement. And Strode likely took a different route from the other two.

General Nitpick 13: Fun in the woods. Why'd Sammo and Terrell drag Trembel into the woods in the first place? Yeah, to avoid Scorpio, but the woods were very large. (200,000 acres according to a guard Amy talks to later.) Wouldn't it have made more sense to go into the woods, then do a wide arc back out to the main road? No, they just charge blindly forward until they find a shack.

Notpick: Well, for once Terrell had a good reason to be gunless - surrendered it at the jail gates.

Notpick again: Thankfully - for the scriptwriter - they used Terrell's car to go to the jail. Being a newer Porsche, it has a computer inside it to be conveniently disabled by the EMP. I'm not up to speed regarding fine details on what an EMP bomb can and can't take out, but assuming the in-show assertion that it only knocks out electronics is valid.... Sammo's car is older than the hills. So old that there's a good chance it doesn't have a computer in it - it's completely mechanical and electrical! Had they taken it out to the jail, they'd have been able to hop in and drive off instead of hiding in the forest.

Maybepick: Does some brand of duct tape come perforated, like toilet paper, so you can rip it with no obvious effort like Sammo did?

I like making death devices In the Dark. Sammo and Terrell build a ton of MacGyverish traps. I don't think they built them at night (which would be suicide, as the bad guys would see their torchlight a mile off). I think they built them the next morning (which would be worse suicide, as it gives the bad guys all night to close in).

Great. I learn there is a God, but He's Greek Orthodox: In contrast to religious types, Amy was being a bit defiant and unorthodox this episode. Rather a departure from her original stance.

Romancing the last on a damn long list. The last Martial Law regular to have sex (well, an in-bed afterglow scene) on-camera was Dana Dixon, waaaaay back in season one's early episode "Cop Out". Now, Grace gets to nuzzle in Kyle's chest hair, which made me notice something. Actor Neal McDonough has interesting nipples. Mine are positively two-dimensional in comparison to his. Being a useless evolutionary extra, I didn't think men would have that much variance in nipple types. What the hell that has to do with anything, I'll never know.

I'm a bit inexperienced regarding this: If you're an official "good guy" or have sex with an official "good guy", does the after-sex pillow talk always get laden down with Deep Meaningful Speeches and one bad cliche?

On the other hand, Amy being ignorant of the fact that Grace was currently in said afterglow when they were on the phone led to one cute joke (Amy asks if Grace is making progress with Kyle) and one line that I'm still debating the innuendo level of.

Bock must have been a sound effect in the old Batman series! Miss Bock has a cameo. For a while I didn't think that anyone would beat Terrell in looking bad while fighting, but Bock beats him all to hell at looking bad while beating someone... uh... all to hell.

Strode's not a good sound effect. On the other hand, Strode's one kick was funny for being even more pathetic, and that was good. He wasn't supposed to be a fighter.

He don't know Shi... That's a Terrell quote. (Shian being the name of Sammo's son.) But the way Arsenio says that line, he drags it out so you really think he's going to say something else. I was duly impressed, since I think that's exactly why he did it.:)

One, two, three, FIRE! Sammo uses a gun in the final scene while trying to break the glass between him and The One. Dramatic, and a high point of the episode.

Turn on a dark, it's too light in here: Remember (during my "Freefall" rant) when I said "I'm used to episodes ending with a nice finale where everyone changes clothes (to denote a day's advance in time) and stands around the MCU." Well, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. And boy, did I get it. Just the ending I wanted. Except that it was full of closeups, had God-knows-what going on with Amy's hair (the closeups of her are too tight and from only one angle, but it looks like it's been pulled as tight to her skull as it's ever going to get) and ended on an even darker note!

December 21, 2001 AD (Episode Update: 'In the Dark')
How quickly we forget. Remember this item from In the Dark?

General Nitpick 9: I've got water on the knee, and Shian on the mind. How the hell does everyone know Sammo's son? He keeps it a secret for two years plus TV time and now EVERYONE knows! Okay, I can sort of see Trembel knowing, as he's a fairly high-ranking Scorpio member and The One would want to exploit any possible weakness to get the much-hated Sammo Law. But Kyle Strode? He's been with Scorpio three weeks or so and already he knows that The One's major obsession is Sammo and that Grace is Sammo's student?

Okay, I'd forgotten that there's a possible logical connection in that Shian knew Strode. That might explain how Strode knew about Grace being Sammo's student - as pointed out in The Thrill is Gone (and quickly forgotten by your humble webmaster).

By extension, his surprise at learning Grace was a cop might have been an act for the benefit of the watching Scorpio agent.

But I still can't see any time when or any reason why Shian would let his life story and everything about Scorpio spill to Strode. He didn't seem the chatty type, even if he met with Strode after they were both part of Scorpio.

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

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

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

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

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

August 1, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Final Conflict, Part 1')
Scorpio Body Count 5.0:

Kills: Holy Hell, they did a quick spot of business this episode. The limo driver and a Scorpio agent that I'm not counting except as intra-Scorpio abuse. Oh, and a plane carrying 234 people!

Attempted kills: Amy and Dennis, buried alive in their limo.

Intra-Scorpio abuse: Killed one of their own after he was blamed for letting Terrell and Grace onto their building sites.

Torture: Yet another attempt on Grace, but I'm not counting it. I am counting The One making Sammo choose between letting his son die or letting Grace die. I'm also counting Amy and Dennis being buried alive.

      Episode Name | Kills | Attempts | Abuse | Torture |
    Scorpio Rising |    1  |     4    |   1   |    0    |
          Freefall |    7  |     0    |   0   |    1    |
The Thrill is Gone |   18  |     1    |   0   |    0    |
       In the Dark |    1  |     4    |   1   |    2    |
 Final Conflict P1 |  235  |     2    |   1   |    3    |
             Total |  262  |    11    |   3   |    6    |

"Previously on Martial Law": They got Kelly Hu to say that for the start-of-show flashback last episode. This episode, they got Sammo Hung to do it. For some reason, I found his poor pronunciation - which I should be used to - really funny. I guess I wasn't expecting it.

Not previously on Martial Law: Tim Curry's old lines were redone by Christopher Neame for the flashback. Rather amazingly, he got Curry's good - if slightly melodramatic - lines, and he managed to cock every one of them up.

Marital Law. Or, is this really acting? Amy got engaged. Must not have been a hard bit for Gretchen to pull off, she was either engaged or (my guess) newlywed when that was taped. That's a long way to go for character research.

(Update, March 13, 2002 AD: I just tripped across something that mentioned when filming was for some of the episodes. If my math's right, she was probably married before she even started on the show.)

I just lost the fanboy sweepstakes: I'm sorry, but the best moment of this episode was my memory of the following message board quote every time Dennis was around. Google's poor translation only makes it funnier. It's part of a rundown of the next episode, though it fits better here.

While Amy IS GOING AWAY TO MARRY with a certain Dennis, a procurer all ugly and nothing that to see and that they put not more so that yes, net that Amy deserves something better like I.

I suppose it must have looked awful. Two actors doing their best to act their way out of a tin can (literally) and me sitting there with the giggles.

Fanboy serious time: I suppose I shouldn't giggle at another Gretchen fanboy. At least - like another (appropriately enough) non-English-speaking person whose possibly-mistranslated overtones weird me out - I don't get ranting fits when my idée fixe of choice gets kissed on camera. (Though I will admit to a raised eyebrow even on a second viewing. Eyebrow!) Kissing isn't that much when you consider what she's done on stage. Which, in turn, isn't that much compared to what I'm sure she's done with her husband. (Oh, come on, don't tell me that with all my sexual commentary you didn't think of that at least once!)

It's the fanboys like that that cause me to keep most of my fanboyish crushes under wraps. I admire a woman who happens to turn my head, which makes a hell of a lot more sense than admiring modern art. I rant a bit when she does something to annoy me, which is usually something that annoys me no matter who the person is. I make a lot of self-deprecating jokes, since I know I'm being silly yet have no desire to change. But, in the end, I know that she's not the person onscreen (they call it acting for a reason) and that she goes home at night and behaves just like every other borderline normal (an actor can't be that normal:) human being out there. I am sure she's had her fair share of indigestion, for instance.

I'm also entirely aware that she's a woman, not in the sense of "ooh, boobs" but in the sense that she's got the same truckload of passions, habits (good and bad), psychological quirks, and faults that every one of the three billion plus females currently not acting have. (The three billion males have their own attendant passions, etc. but I have a somewhat better handle on that problem, being part of said group.)

Final Cupid, Part 2: This next item first appeared in my "End Game" rant.

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

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

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

They don't call it "Shanghai" for nothing: Apparently getting a price-free menu (what Amy calls a guest menu) is a fraud trick in Shanghai. The bigger a sucker you look, the bigger the bill. This was a very good and decent fish out of water moment, I'd just like to know if it's real or if scriptwriter Paul Bernbaum is playing with his prosaic license.

Buried Alive, Buried Alive, already did this joke.... No matter. So here's where Amy gets buried alive with Dennis, in the limo he rented. Do I need to reiterate how dark this is?

The One's an effing nutball: It's been established, but I just wanted to drive the point home. And warn you to close your eyes, as the next entry has a cuss word in it. Real bitch, ain't it?

Can you actually say this at 7 PM? A Scorpio agent's unknowing wife: "Day and night he's on call, you know? Like he's a friggin' doctor!"

She lacks polish. Except for her nails. Amy: nice earrings, okay silver nail polish, a wonderful black jacket, black slacks and white turtleneck sweater, dreadful zigzag hair part. Oh well, can't have it all.

I bwoke my widdle nose: Sammo breaks a Scorpio agent's nose during a fight scene. The agent's wife is told it was an accident at the construction site he works at. Funnily enough, I know someone who got his nose broken in a fight (that he started, IIRC) and tried to pass it off as a "construction" accident!

If I'm ever a terrorist leader, I'm getting a sunny windowed office. The One's introduction (physical, not vocal) was nice. Hell of an office, though. Windowless, diamond-shaped, with yellow, red, and blue neon lights in the corners and on his desk! This guy's got freaky tastes.

Glimmers of the living past, shadows of the dying future: Terrell gets to go undercover! Never mind the scene as the pushy Indian-affairs historian type, I'm talking about his scene as a food seller. That was great, the best part being an apparent ad-lib not in the script on Goldberg's site - telling someone his food makes lawyers rhyme like Johnny Cochran! (You know, that OJ Simpson "If it doesn't fit you must acquit!" crap.) Wonderfully funny.

Quote of the moment, and a moment I don't want to quote: Just before the Amy/Dennis kidnapping.

Dennis: "Well, there I was this morning (sighs) brushing my teeth, all excited knowing that I was gonna ask you to marry me, when all of a sudden I had this crazy idea."

(White limo pulls up.)

Amy: "I don't get it."

Dennis: "I booked us a suite at the Fairmont."

Amy: "In San Francisco? Huh! Pretty sure of yourself there, huh, cowboy!"

(That's the line I found funny. And the two "huh"s sound completely different when spoken. But now, I'll skip past where Sammo and Dennis convince Amy - who doesn't want to abandon her post - to go.)

Amy: "But I don't want to be left out of the loop, Sammo. Promise me."

Sammo: "I promise. Go have fun. Separate rooms!"

That last bit would have been a lovely bit of humor if not for Sammo's rather harsh delivery. I could see it if this was Grace, as he's her father-figure and might be a bit of the stern parent type involving her sex life. (Too late....) But Amy? He's not half as close to her. Even if he had smiled after he said it, but no. Too jarring a mood change as well, since he just spent half a minute convincing her to go! Surely he's not dense enough to assume that a man and a woman are going to go on a romantic little rendezvous without actually rendezvousing.

Nitpick 1: 50 lives, give or take. Sammo was one of 50 Shanghai police officers buried alive 20 years ago, that's covered here several times. The One says it was payback for his brother (an arms dealer Sammo busted in Shanghai 22 years ago) and 50 other men dying after being buried alive when the mining tunnel they were doing hard labor in collapsed. Pardon my math, but Sammo was one of fifty. The One's brother was one with fifty others; one of fifty-one. The One sets up a superpowerful terrorist cult, and yet he can't COUNT?

Nitpick 2: LA's full of morons. Maybe it really is - hey, it has Hollywood, that pulls the average IQ down 30 points right there - but the fictional one is packed with idiots for sure.

The limo Amy and Dennis are in is buried behind this Scorpio agent's house while his non-Scorpio wife is out. It had to happen in the middle of the day, given the one day (I think - see below) time scale of the episode. The neighbors didn't notice the hole, which was at least twice as deep as the limo is tall and just as long? Even if there was some other excuse for the hole, no one wondered why a car was being lowered into it? Or was it done while all the neighbors (of which he has some - there's a row of houses shown when Sammo drives up) were out, too?

Nor did anyone notice when Terrell's truck was crushed, him inside it, at one construction site, or when Grace was beaten up by four or five guys and dragged off at another site? Don't construction sites usually attract onlookers?

Nitpick 2.4a: The Amazing Shrinking Limo. Or, Home is Where the Car is. How'd they get that stretch limo into the backyard of that house anyway? There looked to be barely enough width clearance between the fence and the house to drive it in, and even then they couldn't turn it so it'd fit onto the back lawn....

Nitpick 2.4a subparagraph D: The One is a Time Lord from Doctor Who! No, really! There was The Doctor, The Master, The Valeyard, The Rani.... Besides, it'd help explain the dialogue that was messed-up timewise in one scene on this episode. The One says that Amy and Dennis might have a day's air. Let's assume that's valid. It's a big limo, even after Dennis opened the front sunroof, filling the driver's area with dirt. No one changes clothes this episode, implying a one-day timeframe.

The rear lawn is covered in new sod, green with grass. The Scorpio agent's unknowing wife says it was laid down "The other day." They couldn't have laid it before today, unless it was pulled up and the lawn was dug out to put the car under. Which makes the work hiding the car even more unlikely.

Nitpick 3: It's mine and always has been, never mind that it's attached to your body. I should let this (and a similar event later in the scene) pass since Amy was not in a good mood at the time, what with the cold hand of death on her windpipe, but when Dennis confesses to bonking his previous girlfriend, Amy seems to be not-very-thrilled with that little tidbit of information (okay so far) yet then asks, "When? You mean since we've been dating." So she was starting to get offended before it occurred to her it was an affair and not a previous sexual relationship? She was expecting him to save himself for his wedding night, or something? Even if she had just asked "When?" instead of adding that "You mean since we've been dating." which made it sound like she had a literacy problem for writing on the wall.

Cosmic TV karma: Gretchen's two lead-character roles in TV (assuming this next one isn't stillborn*, though I doubt it) were Amy Dylan in Martial Law, and Faith Wardwell in the upcoming Leap of Faith. Martial Law ends with Amy's current wedding plans in doubt because her would-be husband had a one-night-stand (apparently one!:) while they were dating. Leap of Faith starts with Faith having a one-night-stand then calling off her own wedding. There's some sort of TV character karmic resonance in there somewhere....:)

(*Update, December 30, 2001 AD: Why is it that every time I think something is a sure thing, the odds fall against me?)

Nitpick 4: Hardware Hacking for Homeboys. Terrell turns a bomb-finding thermal scanner gizmo into a Scorpio finger-cartridge finder. If the cartridge was a replacement for part of a bone, why would it show up on a thermal scanner? If it's inside a human body, it's going to be almost the same temperature as the flesh around it!

Nitpick 5: LA isn't full of morons, they just employ them. Terrell is amazed that Scorpio knew he was a friend of Sammo's. Why? They had already hijacked the limo that Dennis rented for himself and Amy, and delivered a message to Sammo, Terrell and Grace saying they had, so they MUST know who Sammo's friends and coworkers are and who their family/fiancés are! (The limo was obviously rented in Dennis Taggert's name, given the dialogue in one scene.)

Nitpick 6: Unconsciousness is a function of the person who knocked you out. No, really. Sammo knocks out all five or so guys who kidnap Grace, but they all magically revive about 20 seconds after Shian shows up and starts to beat up on Sammo. I guess they were only out while Sammo was paying attention to them.

Nitpick 7: Final Gratuitous Ratings Moment. I think. How'd Grace ever think she'd sneak onto an all-male construction site as a worker? In that skimpy undershirt and tight jeans? Considering the attention she drew, it would only take minutes for someone to notice they didn't add her to the payroll!

Nitpick 8: Tie-tongued. I suppose, after getting all dirty digging Amy and Dennis up, Sammo was warranted in stopping to change his tie....

Cough, cough, hack! Gretchen did a much better job of coughing up a thespianite lung here than in "Blue Flu". Told ya I'd never comment on poor acting from her without counterbalancing (and overbalancing) it!:)

The men on the show: I wrote that in my notes and later spent five minutes figuring out what the hell I was thinking when I wrote it. Notice that in the past two episodes, the male bit characters (semi-regular Kyle Strode and one-episode Dennis Taggert) who are in relationships with the female regulars are both betraying two-faced pigs? FINALLY, SOME ACCURATE MALE CHARACTERIZATION!!!!!!!

All hail Macbeth, Thane of Auric! Another fanfic line I'm sharing with you.:) So, The One's real name is Auric Thane. You see, it's only the people with really stupid names that take titles for their names.

The One: Auric Thane, Martial Law
The Master: Koschei, Doctor Who, The Missing Adventures: The Dark Path
The Archon: No comment.

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

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

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

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

And Terrell is just Terrell. The end.

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

August 2, 2001 AD (Episode: 'Final Conflict, Part 2')
Scorpio Body Count 6.0: AKA Final Tally, Part 2. Given the HTML twisting I did for these charts, is it obvious I took an accounting class?:)

Kills: Two more planes. Death tally unknown, so I'm being kind and leaving it pass. (Were it a poor episode, I'd have levied a 500 kill count. Were it really bad, 750.)

Attempted kills: Sammo, by Miss Bock and that other Scorpio guy, Mr. Gant. Then there's Grace Chen by Shian. I'm not counting four more planes of people, and whoever they hit on the ground, not like Manhattan would have many people in it in the late afternoon. Hell, I'm not even counting Dennis (who's on one of those planes), since there's no proof the plane he was on was picked out of spite like Amy said. If so inclined, add 2000 or so to the final Attempted Kills number.

Intra-Scorpio abuse: Miss Bock killing a guard - since he was Scorpio as well, I'm only counting it as abuse. And then there was when The One ordered Miss Bock be "agonized" (looked more demeaning than agonizing or painful - Gant just pushed her down onto her knees).

Torture: Not really. More preparation, but no one actually got around to it. (I guess you can't show it on CBS....)

      Episode Name | Kills | Attempts | Abuse | Torture |
    Scorpio Rising |    1  |     4    |   1   |    0    |
          Freefall |    7  |     0    |   0   |    1    |
The Thrill is Gone |   18  |     1    |   0   |    0    |
       In the Dark |    1  |     4    |   1   |    2    |
 Final Conflict P1 |  235  |     2    |   1   |    3    |
 Final Conflict P2 |    0? |     2    |   2   |    0    |
       Final Total |  262  |    13    |   5   |    6    |
 Adj. Final Total* | 1012  |  2013    |   5   |    6    |

(* If you thought this episode sucked.)

Final Funny: Terrell had some real funny moments at the start of the episode, after he saved Sammo. Just his line about being "ready to kick some butt" when he looked to be in danger of falling on his own was wonderful.

The two ambulances he stole (the second one off-camera, but with the later justification that they shouldn't leave the keys in them, so stealing them is a public service) were a nice running gag too.

Quotes of the moments:

The One: "What's the problem, Shian? Food not good enough? People not friendly?"

Shian: "The problem is that you put a gun to my head."

Lesson one: Before you start any cunning plan, make sure that the main participant understands that pointing a gun at him and saying you'll kill him is part of the act. Oh well, file under "The One is a nutball."

* * *

How the following line was scripted....

Amy: (In reference to Dennis.) "He'll be on a plane to New York tomorrow...I want him as far away from this as possible."

How the following line was said....

Amy: (In reference to Dennis.) "(Clears throat.) He'll be on a plane tomorrow for New York. I want to keep him as far away from... from this as possible."

I don't know who changed the line between Rabkin/Goldberg's writing and Gretchen's delivery, but they definitely improved it with the implied "as far away from me".

* * *

It's the final episode, I'll let pass the Deep Meaningful Moments where Grace was making herself sick over how she wanted Sammo to choose her life over his son's life.

* * *

The One: "Sammo Law. I offer you a rare opportunity. Look out your window and behold the beginning of the end of civilization. Right about... now."

I just can't believe they used the phrase "beginning of the end" for a series finale. Or that I used it on this page without even remembering they used it.

* * *

Exactly what you never want to hear your pilot say as he comes in for a landing:

Pilot: "We are now beginning our descent into Los Angeles International Airport. We hope you enjoy your stay in the sunny southland. And it's been our pleasure serving... what the hell?"

I'll leave pass why the plane was so low over the city even before Scorpio took control, since they didn't put it into a sharp dive or even bank it much to get it to buzz the skyscraper across from the MCU.

* * *

Amy: "(I) Just got off the phone with the FBI. Scorpio has taken credit for the plane crash as well as one in Athens that happened at the exact same moment as the one here. (Sammo asks what Scorpio wants.) For all air traffic worldwide to stop immediately. And if it doesn't, they'll crash four planes tomorrow, eight the next day, sixteen the next; and continue doubling the carnage until their demand is met."

As someone who converts hex to decimal on an almost daily basis, I can carry that on for a good long time. 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16384, 32768, 65... hang on, I always forget if it's a double 5 or double 3... 65536.... I know full well it'd make for a dull as dishwater scene, but since it's Amy talking I personally could kill five minutes just watching her read a phone book out loud.:)

Oh, and I don't know if Dennis is already on the plane out to New York, but if not, this would have been a damn good time to tell him to take the bus.

* * *

What I was saying to myself (in MST3K fashion) as Amy was lamenting that her cheating sonuvabitch boyfriend was going to die on one of four planes about to crash into NYC: "Nothing like a bit of death to improve one's opinion of someone. Hey, if that plane crashes New York will be a disaster area. They might even need to declare martial law or something. I had tickets to see Jackie: An American Life, and now what am I gonna do with them?"

* * *

Shian: "I've been doing a lot of thinking, father. About what you said. Choosing which path to follow."

Sammo: "I hoped you would."

Shian: "And I want you to know I appreciate you treating me with such respect. It meant a great deal."

Sammo: "I'm only sorry I was unable to be that way when you were young."

Shian: "That isn't important anymore. What matters is that you trusted me enough to make my own choice... (...) and now I have." (Shian shoots Sammo.)

Yeah, it's just with a tranquilizer dart. Still funny, though.

* * *

Sammo: "You knew I was going to escape?"

Shian: "Of course. I set it up that way. I'm your son! I know your moves!"

Final Flashback: Remember when I wrote, "Just once before the series dies the death of a rerun phoenix again at the end of 'Final Conflict, Part 2', I'd like to see Grace wear slacks. Or something she can sit in comfortably. Once. Please?" So much for asking politely - it didn't work. Well, maybe in the final scene, but the purple shiny halter-toppish thing wasn't doing much for my opinion of the slacks.

Final F(lashl)ight: Why do the spotlights in Scorpio's ante-torture chamber (as in, the place everyone was taken to be tortured but never actually were) make such a loud "Thud!", like a heavy-duty circuit breaker being flipped, when they turn on? Is each light attached to its own breaker?

Spectre. Remember, he's got a British accent. The One has described both Sammo and Scorpio as rising like a spectre. He needs a new word. Like "eidolon" or "revenant".

Oooh. Fancy camera work: The closeup-free fight/conversation Shian and Sammo had where Shian has the big revelation about Sammo's reasons for doing what he did was nice. The camera spinning around them would have been a little more appreciated if Shian (actor Sung Kang) wasn't moving at the exact same speed as the camera, to keep himself in the frame.:)

It's not like we'll need it anymore: Scorpio HQ really gets demolished by Sammo and Shian in the final fight. Their fault for leaving so much free-standing frosted glass around.

Brrrrzzzzt! Good thing Shian ripped that electrical cable out of the wall with his right hand. As all electricians who work for good guys say, never rip electrical cables out of the wall with your left hand, else the current cuts through your heart on its way to ground and you either die or get nitpicked on Len's rant page. Speaking of which....

Nitpick 1: Who cleans up the bodies? I've got to wonder how Scorpio expects to go anywhere if they don't mind killing their own so much. (Kyle Strode killing a fellow Scorpio agent to save Grace in "In the Dark", Miss Bock killing a guard because he was in the way here.)

Nitpick 2: Who's maintaining the firewall? Sorry, but the way The One is hacking into the MCU PCs, they really should just take 'em off the Internet. Yeah, the script had a semijustification (Grace: "So much for Amy's new electronic security protocols....") but the show didn't.

Nitpick 3: I move like the wind. I look and sound like it too. The way Shian attacked Grace from behind made it obvious that Kelly Hu was deliberately acting oblivious, as I don't think he could have covered the space from cover (which he had to be in, considering that the way the walkway behind Grace turned meant she'd have been looking right at him at one point) to Grace's back without making some noise.

Nitpick 4: Amy must be a contractor in her spare time. Since she clearly says that if she's right there's two feet of space between the offices at the Scorpio-run law office. The secret room Grace finds looks closer to five feet.

Nitpick 5: Badda BOOM! Okay, Grace using a stun gun to pop the secret door's electronics was a nice nod to Terrell doing the same thing in "Call of the Wild", but sort of clashes with her later comment that if the wrong person tried to use Scorpio's retinal scanner, she'd expect the whole building to explode. Unless she likes playing with fire....

Nitpick 6: Terrell is strong. Got great ears, too. And clairvoyance. I won't complain that Terrell heard, one room away, what Amy was saying and managed to pick up the conversational thread as he walked in. That's nothing compared to the powerful Scorpio agent he had in tow. If Amy and Grace just discovered the retinal scanner, what reason did anyone (least among them Terrell, who's supposed to be in the hospital) have to pick up this guy from jail? Just to show him the sights and maybe have him provide a retina to scan if the opportunity should present itself? (Then there was that Terrell's lips didn't move right on one line of dialogue, the same one that's not in Goldberg's script....)

Nitpick 7: Sins of the fathers. And every other TV show on the face of the earth. Banks of blinkey lights on the Big Powerful Computers. Remind me to "agonize" the set designer.

Nitpick 8: Sins of the father's scriptwriter. Sammo tells the newly-redeemed Shian that they have to stop those planes from crashing. The way he says it implies he knows precisely which planes are going to crash and when. Yeah, I know Shian could have told him, but I couldn't let that heading go.:)

Nitpick 9: Pick a pinkie. Early in the episode, Miss Bock kills a fellow Scorpio agent by breaking the little finger on his right hand. In the final fight scene, Shian breaks an ex-fellow Scorpio agent's left little finger to do the same. I could write off variance when someone does it to themselves, which I'm sure there was, on the assumption that the poison cartridge would be placed in the off hand so the dominant one could be used to break it. But it's a bit much that everyone else can guess which hand the cartridge is in.

Nitpick 10: Black comedy. For God's sake, this is California! Why do bad guys like Shian and The One insist on dressing in all black? From Shian's uncomfortable-looking black (leather!) jacket, shirt and pants to The One's black suit, dress slacks, shirt and tie! At least The One spent the episode in an air-conditioned Evil HQ. Unlike Shian....

Final Nitpick: Someone gets thrown off a catwalk, falls to the ground. As they do, they hit a ceiling-hung light and something falls from it. Cut to the shot of them hitting ground and whatever object it was doesn't hit ground at all. (I should leave this one pass too, but I just can't.:)

Notpick: I wonder why The One was looking at that glass map of the world from the back. Not really a complaint, just looked like it was set up so the audience could see him through the map with the map oriented right.

Feel the pain, little toy cars! They broke the model budget with the plane ripping through the rooftop parking garage.

Final Rant: I can see leaving Amy's wedding plans in a bit of doubt. Nothing wrong with that. But Amy saying that one Scorpio agent (after they hacked into Scorpio's system and figured out where all their bases were, leading to an international task force wiping them all out, supposedly simultaneously) said "The scorpion has two claws!" was just pushing it. They knew the series was ending, couldn't they just let the good guys have one final, total, and absolute victory? Believe me kids, if they revive the series (highly unlikely) over here or Sammo Hung manages to start a Martial Lawesque father-and-son-kick-ass series over in Hong Kong like he's been trying to (more likely, but I'm not holding my breath), the last thing they're going to do is base the plot around Scorpio!!

Could I take you to the PROM? The thingy causing all the planes to crash was one computer chip installed in all planes for the past ten years. Looking at it, it plainly had a circle on the top for light to get through. Which is used in EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory) chips, since they're erased by ultra-violet radiation. Isn't using something that can be wiped clean by subjecting it to ultra-violet light or even strong sunlight a bad idea for something A) in a plane, B) that you want working ten years from now, and C) is a lot more expensive than a plain non-erasable PROM or a mass-produced ROM chip? The voice-recognition and spy-plane chips in "Sammo Claus" had, if I remember, similar quirks.

(Update, December 10, 2001 AD.... I don't remember, because it turns out - from a quick viewing of that one "Sammo Claus" scene - that they didn't.)

Final... er... Finale: I suppose I should cut into the final scene as being hackneyed and oversentimental, heavy on Deep Meaningful Speeches and closeups, etc. etc. But Sammo and Shian discussing their motivations was done so nicely it almost made me cry, even the third time around. Almost.

This is where I came in: Gretchen's hair, that made me cry like a baby. What a way to go out. It was poor-but-necessary when she was in the hospital, better in the rest of the episode, but the finale? Yeesh. Back to the style at the top of this page but longer in the back. Oh, you might as well stop reading here if you're not interested in my hormones. I mean, just look at what that next heading implies....

If I do this too much I'll go blind. Squinting at the TV screen, I mean.

I'm at an impasse. It's either go blind or go mad or both, so I'm not really looking forward to my fate here. Maybe I can get it out of my system with this.

This is why closeups can be a bad idea - they give me way too much neural fodder. During one closeup, it looked to me like Amy (or, more to the point, Gretchen) had some sort of three-dimensional lump on her face. It was about the size of a pimple, and flesh tone. By that logic it could have been a zit hidden under makeup, but something didn't let me accept that. A light gnawing that didn't let go until it compelled me to dig through my obsessive fanboy image archive, where I found enlightenment. The same thing is rather prominent in one of her headshots.

I kept looking through the image archives and a couple of convenient Martial Law episodes and I realized that it's always been there. It's well-hidden, since it's right at the tail end of the mouth crease whatsit along her left cheek, so it doesn't show a lot of the time. I suppose the tender attentions of makeup and lighting minimize it in some situations, then there's times when it's lost due to her current facial expression, or JPEG compression, or something else that ends in "pression".

Gretchen has texture. Oooh. Then again, maybe I've really lost it and am imagining the whole damn thing. Either way I expect the boys in white coats to come for me.

Gretchen Obsession: Hey, that almost rhymes. I've used both words a hundred times and just now realized they've got a beat when stuck next to each other.

The matching nail polish and outfit in the middle of the episode was seemingly unintentional yet interesting. (I thought her nails were red when watching it, but this other TV and VCR combo makes 'em look almost black. Well, either way it's matching something she's wearing, be it her red blouse or black jacket. Silver polish - which Grace/Kelly had taken to wearing this episode - would have matched her blouse buttons.) Her hair wasn't bad either. Not amazing, but not bad....

Her blouse in the final scene (that off-white cut-like-a-proper-blouse one, sort of like the one she wore in "Dog Day Afternoon" or didn't wear in "Blue Flu") was nice. Which offset the hair a bit. If only she'd worn a skirt instead of slacks....:)

August 3, 2001 AD (Episode: None. These are my final thoughts.)
I was going to attach this to my "Final Conflict, Part 2" rant, but it stands better on its own at the very end of this page. I think this is a good place to end things, don't you?

The end of the circle.... Well, I might do a few more early Martial Law rants, but I get the feeling they'll be much shorter. Either way, this is the spiritual conclusion of my almost 500K Martial Law rantfest. 44 episodes, and...'s been fun...
    My Quotes/Moments of the Nanosecond/Moment,
    Gretchen/Amy's better scenes and outfits and hair styles,
    Arsenio/Terrell's wisecracks or silly undercover stints,
    Tammy/Dana's sharp wit,
    Kelly/Grace's ability to both act and fight well,
    Wright/Winship's character building episodes and excessive use of his last name,
    Louis/Louis' sort-of crush on Grace and the fact that I know a lady who thinks he's cute,
    Sammo/Sammo's insanely choreographed fight scenes and endearingly poor English,
    The bloopers;'s been maddening...
    My Nitpicks and continuity rants,
    Gretchen/Amy's more wince-worthy scenes and outfits and hair styles and schizophrenic characterization,
    Arsenio/Terrell's buffoonish early episodes and too-good-a-fighter or too-lousy-a-fighter fight scenes,
    Tammy/Dana's too sharp wit and general nonexistence,
    Kelly/Grace's infuriatingly tight outfits,
    Wright/Winship's episodes where he wasn't so much an actor/character as a cardboard cutout,
    Louis/Louis' steady minimization and eventual redundancy,
    Sammo/Sammo's gratuitous it's-time-for-a-fight-scene fight scenes and occasionally poor acting,
    Watching the bloopers after losing the innocent and idealistic notion that nothing bad was happening off-camera (certainly not saying that nothing good was happening - but it's a cloud over the whole affair nonetheless);

...but at its best...
    Season one's "nicer" bad guys,
    Season one's generally lighter mood,
    The fish-out-of-water moments that make me laugh,
    Season two's light escapist plots,
    The use of an ensemble cast to its best effect in both seasons,
    My razor-sharp commentary,
    Lee Hei's really great moments;

...and at its worst...
    Season one's pro-Chinese yet anti-world stance,
    Season one's writing so formulaic you could set your watch by the fight scenes and bad guy intro scenes,
    The fish-out-of-water moments that make me wonder,
    Season two's darker environs and surreal TV logic/real-world logic mix prevalent in the second half,
    Occasional fifth-wheel problems (both seasons) and the Amy/Grace catfighting that's the source of this whole damn page,
    My not-so-sharp commentary and massive spelling errors,
    Scorpio's not-really great moments;

...and even at its most mediocre, it was still - to me, anyway - worth watching at least twice, and worth ranting about at least once, and that's all I can ask for from a TV program.

The Archon

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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