Michael Hayes (1997) s01e15 – Imagine: Part 2

Despite some better than necessary acting from the guest stars and nicely competent direction from Mel Damski (though Damski can’t make the silly black and white flashbacks to last episode work and every time they’re jarring and terrible and there are a lot of times), it’s a reductive conclusion to the big conspiracy two-parter.

Given the timing, had the Enemy of the State trailer come out yet? Were CBS and new show runners Michael S. Chernuchin (who also gets sole writer credit here) and Michael Pressman just trying to get into the zeitgeist? Because even though the episode convinces most of the regular cast the world is being run by a combination of the mob and Wall Street, the conclusion punts on it. I suppose “The X-Files” was running at the time too, right? Is “Michael Hayes 4.0” going to be David Caruso versus aliens? Fingers crossed.

The episode opens with Jimmy Galeota and Mary B. Ward coming back to the show for the first time in a couple episodes. Everyone’s gotten over their grieving apparently and the dead brother, dead husband, dead father elephant in the room never gets a nod or even addressed. Chernuchin very intentionally doesn’t give Caruso much acting to do—and Damski directs for the guest stars—so it’s impossible to read any character development into the performances. There’s just a new normal and they’re trying again. Maybe this time they’ll figure it out.

Everyone’s working the conspiracy angle, which brings in Alex Rocco as a guest star (there’s also a Godfather 2 reference no one acknowledges, making it worse); Chris Mulkey’s back for a scene and he’s still bad. But Kevin Conway—who only gets a couple—is still fun. Lisa Banes and Gail Strickland are the good guest stars.

Larry Miller shows up in an overly suspicious conspiratorial part but, I mean, he’s still good. It’s Larry Miller.

“Michael Hayes” never really got a good break. The show’s first pass was already trying to correct, it got rushed through what seems to have been the most earnest stretch, and now we’re in the desperate for attention phase.

There’s a solid chunk of the season for them to try to correct or just to continue to fail, but retracting the scope of the conspiracy angle really feels like they tried sacrificing a limb to the shark in the first tank to swim on to the second.

It’s very hard to be upbeat about the show’s potential at this point.

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