Grab a cuppa and relax…this post is extra long –there was (surprisingly!) a lot more interesting and positive things to say about this episode, – and I really want to finish up this episode!! so 3000 words it is! ie. three posts! 😉
So, on to Dodge City!! [Has anyone seen the Errol Flynn movie? any references to the original movie in this next sequence? do tell! The movie ‘Dodge City’ was written by Robert Buckner- any relation to Brad Buckner?? one of the smk creators? ]
Dodge City is oohhh so dangerous! There’s a sign that says so! Oh yeah.. err and a dead guy at the gate!
You know, I abandoned hope for loving this episode at the point where Amanda said.. ‘but I wasn’t raised in California, I was raised in Virginia!’ Not at this point- like the sign tells ye to!
Lee does a heroic looking close up for his reload.. I enjoy Lee’s dramatically intense reloads!
You know what’s funny- every time one of those people pop up Lee thinks it is a baddie- Lee, when real baddies pop up, they don’t squeek! It makes sense when you are differentiating between good pop ups and bad.. but Lee isn’t! it’s so weird!! haaa!
Eventually, after lots of cat and mouse with Vardosk, Lee enters the red ox saloon (do they serve Red Bull there?!). He very carefully walks down a dark hallway (does this remind anyone else of that moment in The first time- where Lee, the peach puff, gets clocked on the head?!) Only, he’s looking much more worried these days- which I think is a good thing!!
Lee reacts to another squeeky baddie.. and then cautiously enters the saloon- to find it’s filled with Dummies!!.. no, not calling drinkers and gamblers dummies, they really are dummies!!
Vardosk finds Lee in there and shoots at him.. but misses..
Lee does a fancy dive over the bar, and overturns a table to use for cover..
Check out the dummy in the foreground as Lee dives- he can’t hold his liquor!!! rofl!!! No really! He can’t hold it! Look at his fingers!!
Lee hears a noise coming from a different direction than Vardosk was shooting from.. he slowly makes his way over there..
When he is hanging on to that bar stool here and he pauses for a moment –that muscle in his jaw is flexing.. I could swear he is really worried.. and thinking: I am so stupid!! thinking I could do this alone was so dumb!! I need back up!!
I get the sense Lee is regretting his wish to work alone… anyone else getting that vibe?
Still, it is what it is.. and Lee can’t give up now.. so he continues on towards the noise..
He jumps into the hallway and scares the living daylights out of Amanda and almost shoots her! 😆
She jumps sky high and drops her handbag!
and then Amanda does Marcel Marceau’s ‘The Wall’ Mime! 😆
[and after all her accusations.. I can’t blame him for being fed up] but.. we get to hear about bean sprouts and gurus again.. blah blah.. he sees she may be right – and suddenly- he isn’t mad at her anymore LOL! so weird!! It actually doesn’t end up really making a difference now that Lee knows it’s Peggy does it!
Lee wants Amanda out of here fast.. but hey! Amanda is one very lucky bunny! how she could have gotten into Dodge City and found Lee without being killed [In a Bright Red Jacket!!] is beyond ridiculous- after all, they are looking for her- not Lee! Amanda picks up her handbag, Lee leads her back into the saloon, warning her to avoid a switch of some kind in the floor..
They peek in to the saloon- love the look on Amanda’s face.. so funny!!
yes Amanda with all the dummies it’s creepy!
They try to go out a backdoor but Vardosk starts shooting again…
Awh! Swoony! Lee immediately puts his arms over Amanda to protect her! It really is worth hanging in there a bit longer with this episode!! [to watch Amanda ‘ hang on’ with Lee! 😉 ]
Lee tells Amanda to stay there.. Hmm Stay in the Saloon! that’s a new one! 😆
Lee takes off after Vardosk leaving Amanda behind. What’s with the little note on the box there- is that for the actors to tell them to turn right there?!
Lee catches Vardosk, they fight.. Man, these fights are getting much more brutal aren’t they?!! (Lee actually gets whacked in the stomach with a shovel! wow!!)
It’s funny, but usually this is the part of the episode where I doze off.. but not this episode! how ironic! I’m actually enjoying the action finale.. and I had just about given up on this ep! but.. I’m enjoying it again!! Hooray!!
Lee wins.. and picks up Vardosk by the scruff and slams him against the wall.. boy, he’s been doing this a lot more lately!
Lee growls: Get up!
Vardosk: You’re good Mr Stetson [I guess he knows who Lee is because Pavlova pointed him out?], almost as good as the King woman.
Lee grabs him by the scruff and jolts him a bit, snarling: What are you talking about?…
…It’s Amanda you’re after?…
…You think she is our top agent? [Shades of Saved by the bells- don’t you think? Only.. then it was played for laughs] Lee is incredulous.. how could she have possibly been mistaken for a top agent?? More on this at the end of the ep.. but hey – there it is again ‘ Top Agent’ ?? now Lee is thinking they hunt only top agents?? Oohhh boy, I think this top agent thing got a re-write, but they didn’t correct all the dialogue!
Vardosk, now smug ( though a tad squished!): Was!!!
I would suspect it’s too late to help her now!!
Lee mumbles something sounding like a PG rated curse,
and throws Vardosk against the opposite wall of the alley – let me guess this is assassin’s alley?! – ouchie!! Vardosk hits the wall pretty hard, and he slumps to the ground unconscious.. Lee rushes back to Amanda.
Back to Amanda! – it seems she has decided she will indeed ‘stay in the saloon’ Tanya Pavlovich reveals herself to Amanda..
Amanda bumbles her way through her confrontation with Tanya.. What does Tanya say tripped Amanda up?? her ‘performance on the life slide’? so it has a third name? does it?.. Anyway, Peggy errr I mean Pavlova has pulled a gun on Amanda.. and is about to shoot when up pops one of those pop up people and knocks the gun out of Peggy’s hand.
Whoo hand to hand combat time! It looks like Pavlova has been to that training where you learn how to morph into a man for fighting! LOL! And sooo kicks in the clown music! yes! clown music! LOL! Only in SMK.. I don’t have a problem with them making Amanda look ridiculous when it comes to hand to hand combat- do you??
Pavlova (suddenly wearing a really bad wig), highkicks a pop up.
I find this hilarious!!! Just look at the huge stand in the middle of the floor the pop up is attached to?? and that is suppose to surprise someone? rofl!! so funny!! and.. when Lee jumped over the bar earlier, and hid behind that table that Amanda is now standing behind- that pop up was nowhere in sight!
(see Lee crouching behind the table? about to toss it over?) Hilarious! there is no missing it!!!
It’s at this point, just after Amanda swings her handbag at Tanya- where we see the blooper of the Magic Arm! this blooper is not present on the official dvds – I guess because of the aspect the dvds are formatted in? but.. this is what we see with the official dvds:
You can’t see the crew member’s arm at all- the arm you see in the bottom right corner is one of the dummies..but you can see that the pop up at the front of the shot moves in this moment.. when the hand comes out you can’t see the pop up at all.. I think for a split second you can just see the tip of the hand..but I can’t get a shot of it. and you would have no idea what it is without having seen the original wideshot..
But! Thanks to my old anniversary dvd set ( taped off tv) you can see just what is moving that front pop up!! Hooray!! I have access to this blooper!! I love this about smk- these random bloopers.. makes me ROFL every time!!
It looks like the pop up malfunctions and doesn’t collapse properly, it kind of teeters… so eventually we see a mysterious hand enter the picture, grab the cut out person and pull it back down again. Whaaaahahahahhaaaaa! you can even see the crew member’s face! Here it is in a gif so it’s easy to see (bottom right corner):
Every time I see this I laugh and laugh!
I guess it says something that for me.. this is the highlight of the episode!!! Thank goodness I could still access this gem!
Well, you guessed it – Amanda’s luck saves the day Yup.. Amanda clumsily falls over a cut out person and Tanya gets knocked out by one popping down from the ceiling..
Take that! It’s great that this is the only pop up we saw come down from the ceiling – I don’t think I expected it!! I love that it is a policewoman holding out a badge to make an arrest- almost like she is protecting Amanda who has fallen behind her! Thanks Officer Pop up! Ahhhh.. in smk land good people have good luck! and baddies have bad luck! I wish I inhabited that world!!
Amanda scrambles up off the floor to find she has taken out Pavlova without realising it Lee rushes into the room to find Amanda has taken care of the Pavlova herself.. he can’t believe it!
Ohhhhh I love how Amanda acts all knowing and confident here that she has things under control at this end! whahahaaaaa!!
Amanda brushes off her hands and responds jokingly: noo.. it’s alright! ha!…
… I guess she just forgot to ah expect the unexpected! Haaaaa!
Call me crazy, but this whole sequence at Dodge city feels like old SMK to me – ie. normal SMK not the rubbish lame out of character smk we had been dished up in this episode up to that point ( okay okay – I love the rope/ almost everything gag!!) For me.. everything in Dodge city was great! And felt like it fit beautifully with the characters.. Did anyone else notice this? Maybe they filmed the Dodge City part at a different time, with a different director??
Anyway.. It’s Tag time! This tag is one of my all time least favourites.. ending the episode on such a bad note is kind of fitting I suppose! The less that’s said about this tag the better! But there is a little worth mentioning here so I can’t skip it! Instead, I’ll keep it as brief as I can!
Back at IFF… Amanda is working on the computer in the bullpen, while Lee, Francine and Billy discuss the training camp in Billy’s office.
Francine: What a class! Eight wash outs, 3 KGB agents ha and Amanda King.
[ This doesn’t add up at all! I thought there were 15 people in the class plus Lee.. and Francine is talking about Vardosk, Gregorian and Pavlova isn’t she?? so that should be 13 wash outs, 3 kgb agents, and Amanda King.. Love how Amanda gets a special mention ]
Billy: you know, it’s too bad we don’t have anyone to send through.
Lee: Now wait a second, you’re not seriously thinking of sending on Amanda are you?
Billy: Of course not. ( thoughtful)..still..
Lee: ah ha forget it Billy!
Billy: yeah maybe you’re right Scarecrow. But she really is something isn’t she!
Lee gives an ironic sounding chuckle.. and an alarm goes off.. they all rush out to the bullpen, to find Amanda pressed the ERA button..
( the agony isn’t quite over yet..) .. Amanda thought it was the erase button.. but instead it’s the ‘ Entering Restricted Area’ button.. Aie.. now that is lame!! Right up there with bean sprouts and gurus..
lots of ‘Oh Amanda’ looks.. and Lee ends the episode saying: You were right Billy, she really is something!
They finish up making Amanda look like a complete idiot! Ugh! and Amanda sits there and smiles like she is completely clueless??!!! noooooo!!!! Not laughing guys not funny!
Whoooo Lee just winked at Billy.. not sure I noticed that before…for that alone the tag is worth watching!!
I suspect had this been the tag to a different episode, it may not have been so grating – but this episode is so full of lame Amanda moments- it well and truly tips this episode over the edge.. It’s just not funny.. Plus Amanda is sitting right there, and can hear what Lee said.. How humiliating.. ugh..
What follows is some random thoughts of mine raised by this episode.. I’d love to hear what you think!!
I sometimes suspect that Lee is not very forthcoming with others at the agency, about what Amanda accomplishes out in the field with him – I think this is Lee at this point minimising Amanda’s contributions.. he certainly isn’t going to brag about her to anyone.. The tag has no mention of the fact that Amanda managed to nab a KGB agent at Dodge city all by herself! [Don’t forget I see this as before Brunettes.. it’s not until Brunettes that Lee actually is proud of how Amanda fought the guy with the lamp- and Francine is shocked to hear it, like she has never heard of Amanda doing anything.. Just a theory of mine.. ]
I think this episode had lots of high hopes to live up to- we, along with Amanda, had been looking forward to her going off for training..it’s a milestone.. and well.. it didn’t live up to the hopes I had that’s for sure. It is a bad idea to have all the dumbing down and mischaracterisation of Amanda – in this much anticipated milestone episode. Very very naughty indeed!
So, how they choose an agent is an interesting idea isn’t it.. Especially when Amanda comments what do they need blonde models from New York for.. and Lee says what about housewives kind of thing – as I quoted earlier. And it says a lot that no one from the class was good enough to progress to the next stage- Not even Brad (fab race car driver with international connections) nor Dr Floyd (Mr photographic memory)? nor Russian speaking Lyla? None of them made the cut. This seems to confirm the whole unpredictable nature of who would make a good agent and the very high standards required.
I am left with the impression that to be an agent, is to be the best of the best.. and from the way Amanda behaved at station 1, being so dim and inept, she has zero chance.. Then again, it’s ironic that this episode includes Amanda saving Peggy’s life, finding evidence of the russian plant ( the bolt), surviving nearly being blown up, figuring out who is the russian plant, navigating Dodge City all by herself to get to Lee- and then single handedly nabbing the russian plant – a lot of this is down to luck- but on paper, it does kind of look like Amanda deserves to go to the next stage! 😉 they did say you need to do Dodge City to go through to the next stage – well! Amanda did it!! and nabbed a real life KGB assassin 😉 ha!
Okay, realistically though, from the way Amanda is normally characterised at this point, I wonder if she is not yet ready to take on training as an agent. Maybe in that Lee is right. Amanda is not hard enough yet to begin learning about how to shoot, and to fight..[Emily at MI6 doesn’t seem to have this requirement!] But.. I don’t agree with Lee’s view that Amanda can’t be a good agent – she can.. she has lots to offer and as Billy says in Brunettes, she ‘has good common sense’ -she just isn’t quite ready yet.
With a bit more time and with Amanda making the all important decision that she wants to be an agent for herself (which she makes in Brunettes) – she is going to move closer to being ready! It is interesting to note that Amanda’s response to Lee asking if she wanted to do Dodge City, was to say she didn’t want to let Billy down.. I think for Amanda to progress, she needs to answer that: yes! It is what she wants to do!! Not to please Billy but to please herself.. and be proud of herself.. interesting..( and this is dealt with in you guessed it- Brunettes!)
It is fun to be along for the ride.. I think at this stage, Lee sees Amanda as helping him out on little side jobs, maybe being a low level courier – but never an agent..(too dangerous!) .. BUT! I hasten to add that deep down- I suspect Lee actually sees flashes of Brilliance in Amanda, that no one else sees.. not even Billy maybe.. ( talking normal Amanda not A class Act Amanda! or ACA Amanda! or ACAmanda! duh duh duhhhh!!!! ) Remember in the back of the ambulance in Service Above and Beyond?? Lee was very raw.. and without his usual mental defenses – he tells unconscious Amanda that…
‘you just might even make a decent agent someday’
Remember that??? so .. this is how I see it at the moment..
Also, it is interesting to note that once again the baddies mistook Amanda for a top agent – they see something in her that those close to her refuse to see maybe..
So there you have it, Amanda isn’t ready to be trained as an agent. but she has the makings of a great agent.. and very soon.. this progresses even more. ( thinking Life of the party – lots of progress there! but we’ll come to that!)
In terms of A class Act, I don’t trust it to inform my view of Lee and Amanda’s overall relationship.. but it gives a few sweet moments, and very funny moments.. though not enough to compensate for the missteps.. The episode offers an insight into what it takes to be an agent..and I enjoyed the Dodge City sequence.. though – I think it will be quite a while before I watch this episode again.. I’d rather watch Lost and Found! ( and that’s saying something!)
Sooo thanks for reading this epic post..[there was no way I was going to do two more posts on this episode!! I’m done!!] Thanks for sticking with me through a sometimes tough episode to watch.. I hope you have found analysing it enjoyable – if not the experience of watching the actual episode.. I confess I have found it more enjoyable this way but.. I am not sad to say goodbye to A Class Act and move on to Playing Possum!! Thanks sooo much for walking with me and stopping by!
And a special thanks to those of you who walk and talk with me!! I could not do this without you!! byeeee and look forward to hearing your thoughts!!!