Retro Television Reviews: The Master 1.3 “State of the Union”

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. The show can be found on Tubi!

This week, The Master stands up for the working man!

Episode 1.3 “State of the Union”

(Dir by Alan Myerson, originally aired on February 3rd, 1984)

“Hi, I’m Max Keller and this is how I start my morning.”

So begins yet another episode of The Master!  This time, McAllister (Lee Van Cleef) is forcing Max (Timothy Van Patten) to start his day by running.  McAllister says that it’s a part of Max’s ninja training but I think it’s more a case of McAllister just seeing how many stupid things he can force Max to do before Max says, “Enough!”

This week finds Max and McAllister in Clearwater, California.  In order to make a little money, Max enters a dirt bike race.  It turns out that Max is very well-known on the dirt bike circuit and he even runs into an old friend named Hog (Mickey Jones) at the race.  Hog only shows up for a few minutes.  He shakes Max’s hand, jokes about the fact that Max is traveling with a hamster and a weird old man, and then he pretty much disappears from the episode.

McAllister watches the race while stroking Max’s pet hamster.

Try to get that image out of your head.

Anyway, Max does not win the race.  Instead, the race is won by Carrie Brown (Crystal Bernard).  At the finish line, Carrie is nearly run over by one her competitors, Chad Webster (Cotter Smith).  Chad is the son of the owner of the local cannery.  It turns out that Carrie also works at the cannery. Max takes an immediate liking to Carrie and decides that he should also get a job at the cannery.

McAllister points out that Carrie is attractive.  Max replies, “Does your ninja training make you immune to such things?”  McAllister shrugs.  It’s kind of an odd scene.

Anyway, at the cannery, Max quickly learns that there’s more to Carrie than just 80s hair and dirt bike racing.  Carrie is also a union organizer!  She’s carrying on her late brother’s dream of unionizing the cannery.  This largely means handing out flyers and encouraging people to go to a meeting. 

How bad are things at the cannery?  They’re so bad that an older worker gets crushed by a palette.  Fortunately, McAllister and Max show up just in time to help out.  Through the use of one of his magic throwing ticks, McAllister is able to send the palette crashing into the ocean.  While Max proceeds to flirt with Carrie, attentive viewers will see the worker — who is now probably crippled for life — being carried away in the background.  Despite having saved the guy’s life, neither Max nor McAllister ever ask about him again.

Anyway, you know where all this is heading.  Carrie wants to unionize the workers.  Chad and his buddies try to intimidate the workers into not joining the union.  At a meeting at the local church, Max gives a speech about how the workers have to get organized.  There are plenty of fights and car chases and yet another bar brawl.  That Max just can’t say out of trouble!

McAllister also joins Max on the dirt bike so that he can throw ninja stars at the bad guys.  This leads to some pretty bad rear projection shots.

In the end, Chad is revealed to have murdered Carrie’s brother.  The cannery votes to unionize and Max and McAllister promptly leave town because even they know better than to work at a union shop.  Though it’s not specifically stated, I imagine that the cannery probably closed two months and Carrie ended up following in the lead footsteps of Jimmy Hoffa.

This episode was a bit silly, largely because neither perky Crystal Bernard nor perpetually mush-mouth Tim Van Patten were believable as firebrand labor activists.  Lee Van Cleef seemed to be largely bored with the whole thing.  Fortunately, next week’s episode features a guest appearance from George Lazenby so maybe that will liven things up on The Master.

We’ll find out soon!

2 responses to “Retro Television Reviews: The Master 1.3 “State of the Union”

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 5/21/23 — 5/27/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

  2. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 5/22/23 — 5/28/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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