Monday, May 7, 2018

"The Master"--Remastered! (Pt. II)


Here's Part II of our look at "Kunoichi", the episode of "The Master" in which Jack Kelly guest-starred in 1984.

Brian Elkwood applauds at the conclusion of the Chopin piece:

But, the applause suddenly stops when a woman screams from the audience. She sees the ninja assassin on the catwalk above the stage, aiming a gun at Elkwood!

Luckily, McAllister and Max were able to escape from the safe house. Max takes down "The Hawk", and then he and Elkwood nervously watch as McAllister battles with the assassin:

Finally, McAllister defeats the assassin, saving the day and Elkwood's life--again:

(I've obscured the assassin's unmasked face to avoid a "spoiler" for those who haven't seen the episode yet, but the character's identity isn't really surprising if you know the meaning of "kunoichi". ;>)

Elkwood salutes McAllister:

The next day, Brian tells McAllister and Max that it would have been a disaster if "The Hawk" had replaced him at the summit in Geneva:

And, he expresses his gratitude to his old war buddy for saving his life:

The Master is a big slice of 1980's cheese, from the Bill Conti theme music and The Master's A-Team van, all the way to Ms. Harmon's shoulder pads and Crystal Carrington hairdo.

And, yes, it's preposterous every time elderly, frail-looking Lee Van Cleef suddenly becomes a lean, mean ninja fighting machine in the battle scenes. Plus, the scene in "Kunoichi"where McAllister and Max escape from the safe house should have been prefaced with an announcer intoning, "Tune in next week, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!"

But: I love it! "Kunoichi" isn't spectacular, but it was better than I thought it would be. It was wonderful seeing JK act with Van Cleef once more. Like Elkwood and McCallister, JK and LVC went way back. They previously acted together on TV in the "Man Down, Woman Screaming" episode of the syndicated 1950's series City Detective. They also appeared as themselves in When the West Was Fun in 1979.  And, of course, they also co-starred in the 1968 feature film Commandos.

Before acting with Kelly Harmon in "Kunoichi", JK had appeared with her sister, Kristin Harmon Nelson, in the 1965 feature film Love and Kisses. (Sadly, Kristin passed away in 2018 at age 72.)

And, JK didn't just play a government official on TV--he was also the mayor of Huntington Beach, CA, in 1984!

All 13 episodes of The Master are now available in a remastered DVD set and can be purchased through Amazon and other retailers.  

Please stay tuned for more about JK's TV and movie adventures in TDS! :)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

"The Master"--Remastered! :)


I just made an amazing new DVD discovery: The Master. If that title doesn't ring a bell, it's not surprising: The Master was an NBC television series which ran for only 13 episodes in 1984. 

Photo courtesy the Internet Movie Database
"The Master" is "John Peter McAllister" (Lee Van Cleef), a seasoned US veteran of WWII and the Korean War who becomes a revered teacher of the ninja way in Japan.
McAllister leaves Japan to search for his long-lost daughter back in the States. Along the way, he finds a friend, "Max Keller" (Timothy Van Patten), a young man who travels with a pet rodent named "Henry". (Max is also the show's narrator.)
The Master also has an enemy, "Okasa" (Sho Kosugi), a former pupil who has sworn vengeance on McAllister for abandoning his ninja sect.
The Master employed a lot of familiar guest stars from TV's past, including Stuart Whitman, Claude Akins, David McCallum, Doug McClure...and Jack Kelly. :)
JK appears in the episode "Kunoichi", which originally aired on April 6, 1984. He plays "Brian Elkwood", a wartime specialist in espionage who is now the "right-hand man to the President".
On the eve of a crucial summit meeting in Geneva, Elkwood suspects that a traitorous "mole" has infiltrated his high-risk security operation.
Meanwhile, McAllister and Max arrive in Washington, DC. McAllister explains that Elkwood had written to him, anxiously seeking his help. He and Elkwood go way back, having been held in the same P.O.W. camp during the Korean War.
However, Elkwood tells his devoted secretary "Allison Grant" (Kelly Harmon) that he wants nothing to do McAllister, who he claims is a dangerous crank who's sent threatening letters to him. He warns Allison that McCallister is not the man he once knew.
Then, Allison meets McAllister when he rescues her from some attackers. She tells him how Brian had warned her about him and about the threatening letters. McAllister tells her that he sent no such letters. He insists he came to DC because Brian wrote to him.
Allison tries to reconcile the two former war buddies by bringing McAllister to a party at Elkwood's house. Elkwood is not amused:
McAllister tries to plead his innocence, but Brian won't listen and angrily orders him to leave. He does, but later sneaks back to the house to surreptitiously examine the letters, which he knows are forgeries.
While in the house, McAllister notices a wartime photo of him and Elkwood:

("Watch Your Six O'Clock" is military slang meaning to check behind you
to make sure you're not being followed)

Then, Brian catches him red-handed with the letters:
 McAllister convinces his old pal to put the gun down:

 Brian begins to think that maybe John didn't write the letters:
They deduce that someone else wrote the menacing missives in an effort to pit the two men against each other: 
However, their reunion is interrupted by a ninja-garbed assassin. McAllister foils the attempt on Brian's life by battling the ninja, who mysteriously vanishes in a puff of smoke.
Then, the police arrive. They assume McAllister is the would-be killer and take him into custody. A cynical detective (William Campbell) scoffs at John's story of being framed and tells him he's going to be transferred to federal prison for the attempted murder of Elkwood:
(It's "Trelane" from Star Trek!)
McAllister tries to call Max, but is unable to reach him. However, he's able to reach Allison. He tells her to contact Max and explain the situation to him:
"Care for a Tic-Tac?"
Max springs McAllister from the security van before he reaches the prison. They infiltrate a "safe house" where Okasa is meeting with the mole--who is really a "Hawk". And, it turns out that the ninja assassin--trained by Okasa--is really:
I hope Jethro Gibbs doesn't see this...
And, the plan is to kill Brian Elkwood at a piano concert and frame McAllister for the crime--again. Then, the Hawk will attend the summit in Geneva. Max and McAllister are held captive at the house as the assassin heads to the recital. 
Blissfully unaware of all this, Elkwood enjoys Chopin's Polonaise No. 6 In A Flat Major Op. 53 at the concert hall:
Note JK's cowboy boots. You can take
the actor out of Maverick,
 but you can't take the Maverick out of the actor! :)

Will "The Master" escape in time to stop the assassin? Please stay tuned for Part II of "'The Master'--Remastered!" :)