blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Michael Hayes (1997) s01e14 – Imagine: Part 1

Well, it makes sense why the previous episode closed off two plot threads with big ol’ cop outs—“Michael Hayes” has got a new pair of drivers. This episode adds Michael S. Chernuchin (single writing credit on the episode) and Michael Pressman (director of the episode) as executive producers. Their big idea for what to do with the show is make it as sensational as possible, with David Caruso and company hunting down a Unabomber-esque suspect who the FBI has been hiding from the public for eight years because Waco.

We’ve also gone from Caruso just waiting for his permanent appointment to the unnamed but it’s Janet Reno boss in Washington out to get him. And Ruben Santiago-Hudson has become a fascist.

There’s nothing about the bombshells in Caruso’s life in the last episode, even though part of the case involves sibling loyalty and he doesn’t flinch at it. I suppose you can imagine Caruso added something to the performance because of the previous events but… there’s nothing in the script. Outside the characters, the show’s tabula rasa.

There are a bunch of guest stars—got to have persons of interest in a procedural (Caruso’s not running around with a gun at least, just personally investigating the crime and interviewing witnesses). Kevin Conway’s the reporter who helps Caruso leak the story and then becomes integral to the investigation because it’s Kevin Conway. Gail Strickland’s good as the woman who thinks her brother has become the bomber. Lisa Banes is an antagonist defense attorney who has history with Caruso and gets the best acting out of him. Chris Mulkey’s a weasely FBI agent. Harley Venton is the former CIA wetworks guy with all the answers whether Caruso wants to hear the truth or not.

Venton’s godawful and might be the first shark Fonz is jumping over after zooming towards the ramp. Mulkey’s part of the ramp.

None of the regular cast gets much to do since Caruso’s doing all the investigating and interviewing himself (after Santiago-Hudson gets done with a fine Richard Riehle). Rebecca Rigg maybe gets the most after Santiago-Hudson. Hillary Danner gets the least (i.e. she’s only in full group scenes). Peter Outerbridge in between Rigg and Danner.

Thanks to Chernuchin and Pressman, “Michael Hayes” feels like sensationalized CBS nonsense, which it’s kind of amazing they managed to avoid until now. At least Caruso’s not running around with a pistol taking shots at suspects but… who knows what will happen once the Fonz is over the next shark.

It’s also a two-parter so I suppose there’s the slim chance the new guys’ll save it in the landing.

Or the shark will eat them.

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