Episode Reviews (2)
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Intriguing opening descends into a routine outing.
Even though the plot was clearly derivative, at least on the surface, of Eddie Murphy's "Golden Child" film, "The Wish Child" starts off on a strong note with the mysterious ceremony in which Paul's unique powers are showcased to overeager historians, followed by MacGyver's entrance and subsequent escape from airborne fireworks crate. Unfortunately, the episode peaked at that point. Far too much time was dedicated to various conversations about the wish child mythology....and WAY too much time dedicated to characters walking up and down the corridors of Mr. Li's ship....all leading up to an ending that wasn't particularly satisfying. The gorgeous Tia Carrere was underutilized as even gratuitous scenes with her would have been more satisfying filler than the patched-together filler that constructed the middle and final scenes of this episode. It was kind of a bad omen for the second season that the writers seemed this spent by only the fourth episode, but thankfully things would quickly pick up again in subsequent installments.moreless
While the storyline is generally solid, and there's a good variety of MacGyverisms, the presentation of the Chinese characters here is horribly stereotypical. I'm not one to talk about political correctness, but every character here is either presented as superstitious (Dr. Wei, Lee, pointless banker character who accompanies Wei to the initial test), a crook (Ston, Ston's gang, Lee, Lee's thugs), semi-crooked but likeable (Paul, Sam), or oblivious (Lisa, who lets her 14-year-old brother roam the streets).
Could anyone imagine, say, the producers doing an episode where a community of white people all embraced the superstition of a "Wish Child"? Pete Thornton becoming obsessed with the ancient anti-glucoma Boar Statue of Northern Ireland? Or any of the show's inevitable rich white dudes trying to find immortality through the supernatural? But here it's stated that practically everyone in Chinatown believes the superstition.
And the show presents Japanese actor George Takei as a Chinese researcher. Guess they'd figure no one would know the difference: "they" all look the same, right? :( Yes, Hollywood often did the same thing, but the much-vaunted social consciousness of the series even in its second season leads one to expect more from them. Maybe they were just happy to get a Star Trek actor on the show?
The story also sets off a payoff that Paul really is the Wish Child (the handprint, the bust), but never finishes it. And even if the question is left unanswered, so what? It's not like Paul's really a better person or anything.
Also as noted, there's a whole lot of corridor-walking going on. Lee discusses the Wish Child myth with Wei, Sam tells MacGyver, Wei tells MacGyver: we get the same info spoon-fed us three times, for Pete's sake.
So generally I've got to rate this one pretty low. Later episodes dealing with the Chinese underground revolution would portray at least some of that nation's members in a more positive light. You don't have to be "politically correct" to realize this episode isn't the one to look for positive portrayals of the Asian community.moreless