MacGyver: Cigar Cutter – “If You Die, You’re Fired” (Review)

Lucas Till as MacGyver

This episode of MacGyver “Cigar Cutter” brings everything together in terms of the team and the now not so new leader Matty Webber. With her threat to Bozer, “If you die, you’re fired,” and her handy take down of “Dr. Zito: Webber has proven to be as full of compassion as she is Queen of the bad arse’s.

David Dastmalchian returns as Murdoc and he turns out to be a partner of “Mr. Organization” (the splendid William Mapother). The two men have a third member in their little team, a mercenary type who fakes his way in with a prosthetic mask. (Played by busy English actor Mark Sheppard, the role is pretty impressive considering he does not have that much screen time.)

The flashback sequence at the start mentions Patricia Thornton (Sandrine Holt) yet again and it is looking more and more like she will be popping up in a future episode, if not this season, then the next. Sidenote: MacGyver has already been given the green light for a second season. Fans are, no doubt, overjoyed, although the original MacGyver, Richard Dean Anderson, who nixed appearing on the reboot, will be less than impressed…

Regardless of the little things that still annoy (For example, the titles that have no apparent connection to the episodes…Did anyone else struggle and fail to spot a “cigar cutter?” Answers in the comment section below, please and thank you.) the show does keep getting better in terms of character dynamics.

Another annoying aspect of the show’s plot line is that Tony Stark robot with AI and a very similar English accent to the “metal man Friday” who became a “real boy” in the films….

Matty Webber has taken on the mantle of Phoenix big boss capably and this episode shows why she was hired. Tough, caring, and a damned good shot, Webber is now firmly in the status of regular, and beloved, cast member in the new re-imaging of the ’80’s favorite. Dalton keeps his end up with enough comedic soft shoe movements and Riley, now that that horrid hairdo is gone, is the official heart throb of the show.

Bozer, in this episode, finally gets some sign that Riley cares about him. Of course that only happens after the fake Dr. Zito stabs Wilt in the stomach but it is clear that MacGyver’s bestie’s heart still throbs for Riley.

Dalton managest to “do a MacGyver” (almost) and, with a little help from Riley, makes some and Mac, makes a bomb that blows up the wall to the servers.

Along side the main plot of Murdoc teaching an evil mercenary new tricks in order to kill off all of Phoenix, there is the “Mac’s dad is missing” storyline. It would be beyond cool if the original MacGyver (Anderson) appeared  as Poppa MacGyver but Anderson has pretty much stated that he will have nothing to do with the new show…

Leaving aside the idea of a cameo by the first Mac, this episode proved that Till has grown into the shoes worn by the first hero of the series and that fans love it almost, if not as much, as the original.

MacGyver airs Fridays on CBS. Tune an and see what you think about this new “Mac.”

Cast:

Sleepy Hollow: Freedom – Highway to Hell (Review)

 Sleepy-413_SCN9_TR0014_f_hires1

The season four finale of Sleepy Hollow (titled “Freedom”) could have been called “Highway to Hell” with its connection to the devil and the bartering of souls as its centerpiece. It was a wrapping up of all the new characters introduced in this season and the possibility of a return of the grown up Molly if the series returns.

Sleepy Hollow saw the death of Crane’s fellow witness at the end of last season and this year Ichabod moved from his old stomping grounds to the country’s capital. Lt. Abbie Mills bid the show adieu and a new witness was introduced; Molly Thomas.

The change of partner and locale did not bode overly well for the series as its viewing figures dropped from just over 3 million to 1.92 million. The season average for the show’s targeted demographic also dropped from .83 to .50 this year.

Once again, the show’s overall storyline dealt with an impending apocalyptic event, referred to as “the Apocalypse” which implies that the end of the world really applies only to America and the United States. (Or at  the very least that the end of days will start there.) This gives the US a rather imperious significance in the world of the supernatural.

Since the script for Sleepy Hollow was written before the advent of November 8 and the election of the newest POTUS, it seems almost prophetic that this season’s storyline deals with an egotistical madman who becomes the newest leader of the “free world.”

(All the season four bogeyman lacks is a bad orange hairdo and the advanced age of the current POTUS.)

The season has faltered however. Despite bringing back the brilliant John Noble, who never really had the chance to chew up great bits of the scenery as he did in earlier seasons, and introducing the delightfully talented Seychelle Gabriel as the grown up Molly, Sleepy Hollow has lost its spark.

SLEEPY HOLLOW: L-R: Guest star Seychelle Gabriel and Tom Mison in the ÒFreedomÓ episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW airing Friday, March 31 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Tina Rowden/FOX

The last episode of season four has Malcolm Dreyfuss (a rather impressive baddie who manages to cheat the devil out of his due) taking over the White House and holding the real president hostage.  He has raised the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and is ready to bring things to a nasty end.

Henry Parrish is the God of War and he is persuaded by his father, Ichabod to lay down his fiery sword. Crane reminds his son that freedom, the title of the episode, is more important than revenge or selling one’s soul to a tyrant. This, more than anything else, helps to save the day and allows the rest of Team Crane to stop the Horsemen.

Crane and Diana defeat Malcolm, much to the satisfaction of Jobe who immediately collects the megalomaniac’s soul. Ichabod defeats Dreyfuss because he placed a “lien” on his soul in exchange for the Philosopher’s Stone. This made Malcolm’s immortality vulnerable for a moment, long enough for the two to kill him.

By the end of the episode, Alex shows Jake just how much she cares for him, Lara/Molly decides to go walkabout and get her head straight and Crane has gotten a new partner in Agent Thomas. Jenny and Ichabod are also made part of Thomas’ new team.

The move to bring things to full circle, having a supernatural task force that reports directly to the president (just as George Washington had his own task force) was a nice touch. (Although it does feel a bit “Agent X.”)

Sleepy Hollow finishes with a kraken and a new bond between Thomas and Crane. It also sees the present day Molly released from her role as witness. If the show does somehow manage to be given another season it will be interesting to see what direction it takes.

With such low viewing figures, however, it seems that another season may not be in the cards. If you missed the season four finale head over to Hulu to catch up on all the episodes.

Cast:

Guest starring Seychelle Gabriel as Lara/Molly, Edwin Hodge as Benjamin Banneker and Terrence Mann as the Devil and John Noble as Henry Parrish.

MacGyver: Compass – DNA (Review)

Lucas Till as MacGyver

“Compass” starts out with a bit of a disconnect by showing Bozer back in the field in the MacGyver teaser segment. Wilt made it pretty clear in an earlier episode that he preferred to stay back in the lab and would be doing so in the future.

The opening sequence had Jack and Mac in a garbage compactor and they were about to be crushed. While Dalton talks about Star Wars and the compactor scene, and solution in that film, Mac works out how they can really escape.

In the process, however, Jack is injured and later Matty questions whether or not Dalton should still be partnered with Mac. During the short conference, Mac learns that his best friend in Uni has been killed. He jets off to attend the funeral where he is met by Dalton.

Jack has his injured arm in a sling but he still manages to accompany his friend to the service. Later they spot someone taking pictures of the mourners and after some hacking by Riley, they learn that Mac’s friend Frankie is still alive.

Her project; a new DNA analyzer, has uncovered something that someone wants hidden. There are the usual MacGyver tricks and he even makes a centrifuge out of cardboard.  We learn that Frankie was a romance that he knew could never happen and that Matty really does care for Dalton.

On the romantic front, it appears that Bozer has to live with Riley falling for the Hawaiian Kalei that she met in the Hawaii Five-O crossover episode “Flashlight.” He is jealous of all the “text time” that the two are engaging in and later, after talking to Jack, decides to keep being friends with his crush.

This episode really brought nothing new to the table.  On the plus side, those annoying subtitled split screen “builds” have disappeared.  However, there is very little time spent with anything that Mac now manufactures for any particular storyline.

There needs to be some middle ground where we can actually see how clever MacGyver really is. Having other characters point out what he is making, in this episode it was Frankie who asked if he had really made a piece of lab equipment from a cardboard box, is going too much the other way.

MacGyver has always been about improvising and not using guns to take out the bad guys. Sure the series was annoying as hell in the beginning but with too much emphasis on what Mac was making but now it is beyond vague.

Complaints aside, the team are still working well together, Tristin Mays has been allowed to ditch that bird’s nest hairdo she was lumbered with in the beginning and Meredith Eaton has slid nicely into the position of severe but caring new boss at Phoenix.

Till and Eads are a respectable double act, although Eads manages to fit in well with whomever he works with, and Hires as Wilt feels as comfy as an old pair of shoes.  While the original MacGyver was less about teamwork and more about Mac’s going it alone, this new iteration is hitting the mark with a good cast and some standard scripts.

MacGyver airs Fridays on CBS. Head on over and check it out and see what you think. Good or mediocre?

Cast:

Guest starring Aly Michalka as Frankie and François Chau as Richard Sang.

Passengers (2016): Lost and Found in Space (Review)

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in Passengers

Written by Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Doctor Strange) and directed by Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game, Headhunters), Passengers is a spectacular offering that runs the gamut from a Robinson Crusoe theme to one of heartwarming romance. In-between these two scenarios the film offers some brilliant action and soul searching moments. 

Chris Pratt is Jim Preston is the “everyman” engineer who wakes 90 years early because of the spaceship hitting a very large meteor. His existence is lonely, frustrating and desperate. In the year he faces life on his own, he finds Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) and after an agonizing time of indecision, opts to wake the writer up early. 

Michael Sheen is Arthur, the ship’s robotic bartender. (A clear nod and wink to the film Arthur which was  about an alcoholic millionaire played first by Dudley Moore and later by Russell Brand.) The three spend their days interacting until another person wakes early; Gus Mancuso (Laurence Fishburne). 

Gus, the only crew member to wake early, tries to find out what is wrong with the ship and works to fix it.

Passengers skillfully and deftly moves between its four acts and allows us the opportunity to really care for each character as they appear. Preston grabs our sympathy from the very start and later, when he and Aurora bond we feel for each person in this unlikely romance.

As the characters grow and change the atmosphere melds into one of unease as things go on in the background.  Each shift in the tale increases our interest in the people and their fate.

Each actor in the film knocks it out of the park. Fishburne is brilliant as the last minute guest. The casting of the actor must have been a homage to his doomed captain from the 1997 space film Event Horizon

Michael Sheen manages to not only shine as the android bartender who seamlessly blends in with the only two passengers on board but he also offers a delightfully odd air throughout the film. His drink and wisdom dispensing robot, with those overly pink lips, comes dangerously close to stealing every scene he is in.

Passengers offers up moments that feel like loving homages to scenarios in other films. Basketball, from Prometheus, the robotic cleaners; a nod to Silent Running, and other nods and winks are there for the movie fanatic to pick out at their leisure.

Tyldum, who specializes in the offbeat tale, manages to put everything together perfectly. The film looks brilliant and epic. The sets are spectacular while the editing and lighting are absolutely spot on.

This is a visual treat that may rely too heavily on a few cliches in order to offer up a pleasing payoff. Overall the film entertains, pleases and thrills so the manner of delivery does not, in the end, matter.

Rather interestingly, Andy Garcia has a cameo as the ship’s captain and his silent presence is somewhat puzzling although welcome. One can only assume that whatever lines the actor may have had wound up in the cutting room floor.

At almost two and a half hours long, the film could have drug in places but Tyldum keeps things interesting and the pace, while not too fast, works to keep the interest of the viewer at a constant rate.

This is another 5 star film. It could have suffered a half star loss, just for that “Hollywood” ending, but because we care about the characters there really was no other way for the film to finish.

Passengers is available on a number of platforms, i.e. Amazon, i-Tunes, et al and should be viewed immediately if not sooner.

Sleepy Hollow: The Way of the Gun – War (Review)

Sleepy-411_SCN2_TR0161_f_hires1

Perhaps one of the best episodes of Sleepy Hollow this season, “The Way of the Gun” offers a lot in terms of time travel and there is a slight nod to “The Terminator” with a plot twist that surprised and entertained.  This season of the show has made mention of time manipulation before and it has been used to good effect in this episode.

An earlier episode featured witches who had lived for centuries and made themselves appear younger, which is a sort of allusion to time travel as well. Another “repeat” feature was Crane’s old buddy Benjamin Banneker who appeared with more magical items in his goody bag.

Dreyfuss is raising the four horsemen and not only are Crane and his team trying to stop the immortal but a mysterious young woman who wears Malcolm’s symbol is also working against Dreyfuss. She retrieves the “gun of war” (which will be used to summon the last horseman) and the young woman attempts to destroy the powerful totem.

This episode begins with Molly, Diana and Crane all interacting after the youngest witness’ Valley Forge play. It is a precursor, or a portent, of the show’s end scene.  The stranger, who tricks Ichabod and Diana by stealing the gun, turns out to be the grown up Molly.

She is now a young woman who carries and uses powerful magic. Molly  returns from the future with the aid of “a very different Ichabod Crane” to save Diana. Her mother is meant to be the horseman of war and she tries to keep Agent Thomas from dying “again.”

Before the climatic end scene, where Crane mutters (in an apt demon voice) “I am become war,” Wells and Alex are captured by Malcolm’s right hand demon Jobe. The entity tortures Jake and kills Alex, except it not real. The exhibition serves to completely un-nerve Wells and he tells Dreyfuss what he needs to know.

We learn, as a result of this almost execution, that Alex Norwood cares much more for Jake than he realizes. Although before she can confess her true feelings, Jenny arrives to save them both.

The final moments of the episode sees Molly succeed in saving her mother but Ichabod takes the bullet meant for Diana and he “dies” instead. While it seems that Crane is now doomed to be the very thing he has been fighting against, it is not too farfetched to think that the very powerful Molly will able to switch things about.

Dreyfuss has indeed started the ball rolling toward his future as a tyrant who tortures Crane on a regular basis. The introduction of the grown Molly, which was  a brilliant touch, has insured that however things turn out, there is at least one very powerful character who has the magic necessary to save the day.

The casting of Seychelle Gabriel as the grown Molly was spot on. She resembles the young Oona Yaffe enough that it is not a stretch to believe that she is the same character as a grown up.

Apart from the whole time travel storyline, there is the parallel plot line of Jenny’s going back into the relic business. It seems certain that both she and Molly, along with the newly saved Agent Thomas, will help to save Ichabod from a fate worse than death.

Sleepy Hollow airs Fridays on FOX.

Cast:

Guest starring Seychelle Gabriel as Lara/Molly and Edwin Hodge as Benjamin Banneker.