Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a new feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past! On Fridays, I will be reviewing The Master, which ran on NBC from January to August of 1984. Almost all nine of the show’s episodes can be found on Tubi!
The adventures of John Peter McAllister and Max Keller continue!
That’s right, the search for McAllister’s daughter is still on and Max is still learning how to be a ninja. But, before we get to their latest adventure, it’s time to enjoy the opening credits!
Episode 1.2 “Out-of-Time Step”
(Dir by Ray Austin, originally aired on January 27th, 1984)
“Hi, I’m Max Keller and this is how I spend my mornings….” Max Keller tells us in voice over as we watch footage of Max (Timothy Van Patten) balancing on a rope that’s been tied between two trees. Yes, Max is still our narrator and John Peter McAllister (Lee Van Cleef) is still training him to become a ninja. Max is also still traveling in his van and with his hamster.
At the end of the previous episode, Max and McAllister were heading down to Atlanta to search for McAllister’s daughter. At the start of this episode, we discover that they are in San Francisco, investigating a lead that McAllister’s daughter may have danced at a club called Truffles. So, did they go to Atlanta or did they just change their mind and decide to stick around California? More to the point, did NBC say, “Hey, we’re not paying for you people to go out of state?”
Anyway, Truffles turns out to be a club that’s owned by Charlie Patterson (Charles Collins), a former film star who has fallen on hard times. (Charles Collins was a real-life dancer and when Patterson watches footage of a screen test that his character supposedly did for a Hollywood production, the footage is actually of Collins performing in a 1936 film called Dancing Pirate.) Patterson has two daughters. Kelly (Shanna Reed) is a dancer who thrills the club’s patrons every time she steps out onto the stage. The other, Jill (Lori Lethin), uses a wheelchair. Jill tells Charlie that he’s “an ex-hoofer with two daughters, one who wheels and one who does cartwheels.”
Upon arriving at Truffles, Max and McAllister discover that Charlie is being intimidated by Chinatown gangster, Johnny Chan (Brian Toshi) and Chan’s main enforcer, Mr. Lika (Soon-Tek Oh). Mr. Lika spots McAllister’s medallion and realizes that McAllister is a trained ninja. McAllister spots Mr. Lika’s ring and realizes that Mr. Lika is a member of the Yakuza. This establishes a mutual respect between the two of them, one that inevitably leads to a final battle between Soon-Tek Oh and Lee Van Cleef’s stunt double.
Of course, McAllister does more than just fight Mr. Lika. He also encourages Jill to stand up from her wheelchair and take a few steps. And when Johnny Chan has Kelly kidnapped, he and Max rescue her. (But not before Johnny shouts at her, “You’re a dancer! DANCE!”) It leads to a lot of action scenes but it doesn’t bring them any closer to McAllister’s daughter.
This episode wasn’t bad, largely because Soon-Tek Oh and Lee Van Cleef got a chance to face off. Even if all of the actual fighting was done by Van Cleef’s stunt double, it’s still undeniably fun to watch these two icons glare at each other and exchange tough guy dialogue. Plus, there was a lot of dancing! I always appreciate any show that finds room for more than one dance number, even if they are obviously lifted from Flashdance.
As I mentioned earlier, this episode ended with McAllister and Max nowhere close to finding McAllister’s daughter. But Max promised that they could keep looking. I’m sure they’ll find her. It’s not like America is that big.
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