Ready for another episode? 86 episodes down, and 2 more to go!!!!
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Thanks to peacockdancer for transcribing this episode for Operation Sandstorm, and sharing it with us all. I hope you enjoyed it!
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Same as the previous episode, I’m not writing this having not seen the episode. I do actually have notes from the very first time I saw this episode, so that will do… I’m finding it’s too time consuming to write it fresh I need to cut to the chase a bit more or I’ll never get these final episodes walked through! If you love this episode, or a particular scene and you would like to discuss it in more detail than what I’ve covered in the walk, please share these thoughts in comments.
Let’s do this!
The episode starts with an airport at night… there seems to be some kind of operation going down..
Operation: Let’s use really old stock footage! haaaaa..
A flight has just landed people are disembarking…. lots of close ups on random men who look like spooks, including Beaman!
Then, we see Lee outside alone, and undercover as a ground control worker.This photo of a random guy disembarking… I’ll just put this here… cough cough..
The scene culminates in a meet up between two people (Vernon with the most faaaaabulous moustache (It matches his eyebrows perfectly) & a guy named Kleiner who just got off the flight) at a pair of phone booths.
Kleiner agrees to point out for Vernon the CIA civilian contractor who was on the flight.. but before he gets to…. an agent starts firing on the pair, Beaman’s team moves in… Lee is furious as Beaman’s team has interrupted his own 3 week long operation.
Seems Lee thought Kleiner would lead Lee to Brody but the opportunity is now gone.
[Uh oh. Brody from The Eyes Have It? He’s bad news!!!!! But.. it’s kinda cool to see SMK bring back a baddie and actually keep it consistent, unlike last episode were Dr Glasner magically became Sergei!]
Beaman (trying to talk some sense into Lee): Stetson, the man is dead!
Lee (shouting over Beaman): Kleiner!
Beaman (loudly): … And you just screwed up our case, we had a priority fugitive warrant.
Lee angrily throws his cap to the ground and stands up to face Beaman.
Lee (yelling): Dammit Beaman!
We see now that Lee is … not looking good. He is unshaven, angry and distraught. He seems to have completely lost his self-control (whooo burned out, perhaps? Or is that pretending to be burned out perhaps?!). Lee grabs Beaman with both hands by the collar and shakes him roughly.
Lee (yelling, furious): You just blew three weeks of surveillance work, you realize that? Kleiner could have been my ticket to Brody! Now why wasn’t I notified about this?
Beaman: If you had bothered to check the latest operations bulletin, you would have known!
The other agents are handling the surrendering Chase. Lee walks away from Beaman in disgust.
Beaman (calling angrily after Lee): What is with you lately, Stetson?
Okay, so Lee has been at this for 3 weeks and is wound up really tight!
I can only guess Lee didn’t put his little operation on that operations bulletin or Beaman would have seen it when he checked it himself as he told Lee to lol.
I guess this is consistent with Lee’s behaviour in The Eyes Have iIt, not wanting to rest, pushing himself physically…
Back to IFF, and Lee is looking pretty scruffy – code for not at the top of his game and under pressure! [but I just find it distractingly hot lol]
Seems Mr three moustaches has survived the gun fight.
Dr Pfaff joins Lee, and waves his ice cream around.. I find this portrayal of a mental health professional so flippin irritating I’m not going to bother to include it! It’s clunky and cringe! booooo..
Dr Pfaff points out Brody is Lee’s old nemesis… and Lee is looking like ‘a lean and hungry agent’ I do find it funny how Lee holds up a picture of Brodie for the Dr like that. I guess Lee has been carrying around that big photo for a while now and using it to play darts.
I am tempted to give the above photo a meme: See now this is the facial hair I am going for!!
…Next scene. Please!
We find Francine visiting a Dr Dunleavy at a safehouse, he’s working on a Stealth radar project… and his project can detect planes that are supposed to be undetectable… Seems some of his colleagues disappeared so he’s now under protection. And apparently missing real food. lol. Poor guy!
he hands Francine his notes and she reports she will take it back to the Agency and add it to his research records.
LOL at this weird handwritten note..
Someone get this man a burger!!!!! I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care if it has filler in it, he doesn’t know what filler is, but he’s sure he doesn’t want to know. and just give him a burger already.
For a moment, I thought Francine was wearing the exact same outfit she was wearing when with Lee, Francine broke into the CIA offices in the previous episode.. almost the same but no quite.. I think? What do you think of the back of the outfit? it’s kinda weird?! Moving on to Billy’s office.
Lee and Billy discuss the case in front of a hierarchy of baddies visual aid. haaaaaa. that’s too funny!
[So is Lee’s saggy butt in those overalls. rofl]
Seems Brody heads his own organisation. A few of the exchanges in this scene:
Billy (sternly): You’re letting this Brody thing run your life. You’d better get ahold of yourself because I don’t want a repeat of what happened at that airport.
Billy (pointing at Lee heatedly): You are not going to get anywhere… Unless you slow down. Look at yourself. (He gestures, disgusted. Lee hangs his head, looking tired.)You haven’t taken a day off for weeks. (Billy’s voice rises.) You’re a wreck! (Billy pauses, then continues in a more measured tone.) I know you feel a certain responsibility…Is it just me???? For a second there I honestly thought Lee was going to respond with: Looking good doesn’t nail the bad guys!!!!!
This feels like a parody of the Burn Out cover…
..only it’s supposed to be real! Which is really weird! I think if SMK had gone on much longer, it would have continued to feel like a parody of itself… when it use to be a parody of the spy business. Soooooo I’m thinking it was maybe time to call it a day!
Okay okay, back to Lee and Billy.. anything interesting here? Umm we find out Brody broke out of prison, and has murdered 2 of Lee’s contacts.
And Billy didn’t know any of this and it’s been 3 weeks?!
[And… maybe Staples is related to Stamps?!]
Lee thinks it’s to get back at him. Lee and Billy ponder who the civilian contractor could be.. They are talking about Chase and Vernon and I honestly don’t care. The point is, they think Brody’s organisation is crumbling, thanks to the latest bust his command structure is in flux.. Billy agrees to have Pfaff question Chase about Brody. I thought Mr 3 Moustache was Vernon, but don’t really care lol. That’s enough about that scene for me! Not even the visual aids and scruffy Lee can keep me interested..
Billy closes out the scene by ordering Lee to go home, get cleaned up, and get some rest..
Having been ordered to go rest, Lee heads to the bullpen to boss Francine around and give her jobs to do. Hmmm.. she has her own jobs Lee!! She’s busy working on Dr Dunleavy’s case..
They’re interrupted when Francine is handed a note because there’s a call on hold for her – Francine reacts with shock at the message..
Lee notices her reaction.. and is nosey! He takes the message and sees it’s ‘Jonathan Stone’ – Francine notes it’s been five years… Lee offers to lie to him for her as she doesn’t owe him anything.
Francine responds that she owes him a piece of her mind.
Lee gives Francine a piece of his mind lol, and says he thinks she’s making a mistake.
[Lee she didn’t ask what you think. Mind you, Francine is always too nosey about Lee’s business so maybe a little quid pro quo is fair (whooo Latin iwsod).] Francine takes the call.. and Lee stands there and unapologetically listens lol.
Francine whispers to Lee: Lee – he wants me to meet him at Michel’s.
Lee: Tell him to crawl back under his rock.
[I don’t know if this line is intentional, but I find this line flippin hilarious!!!!!
Yeah! Tell ‘Stone’ to call back under his rock! wahahahahaaaaa!!!!]
Francine hangs up… seven o’clock at Michel’s… [that night? Francine????? What the heck????]
Lee (irritated): I don’t believe it, why didn’t you tell him to go to hell?
[I’m with Lee. Sorry this may seems a bit harsh but there goes Francine’s feminist of the year award. Seems Stone is important to Francine…]
The scene ends when Billy finds Lee still there and gets cranky with him telling him to leave. oh rofl. Dad busted you Lee! haaaaa..
I’ll leave it here and look forward to hearing what you all think!!!
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I’m guessing the manifest line is because Lee is working off record and needs someone who won’t turn him in to Billy. Interestingly the original script had Francine suggest Lee ask Amanda to do it — not sure why they cut that. It would make sense that Amanda could do it and give something to explain what Amanda is doing like when she researched the jewelry on All That Glitters.
As far as the scientists in custody, I took it as more of a temporary protection detail sort of thing. I doubt it would be that long of an arrangement. I’m guessing the lack of choice is because of the sensitive nature — if he gets abducted, he could be forced to hand over the information and he probably has no training in resistance. It didn’t bother me but I’m also addicted to Secret Service memoirs and protection details at the moment, so maybe I’m biased.
Oh, I’m sure you’re right that they aren’t literally holding Dr. Dunleavy prisoner. If he absolutely wanted to leave, I think (hope) they would not force him to stay in his “safe house.” It’s just a couple of lines that rub me the wrong way… like when Dunleavy asks Francine, “How many other scientists get to enjoy this Voluntary Classification Program,” as if to emphasize that he neither enjoys it nor feels like it is entirely “voluntary.” And later, when Francine tells Dunleavy that the Agency will be needing to control the preparation of his food for “as long as you’re working on the Stealth project.” I mean — that sounds like it could take years!
Yeah, hard to say. I’m assuming the custody would only be until they catch those responsible for the other disappearance and it’s safe for him to be out again, but I’m not sure. A lot of people in protective custody don’t like the restriction though, so I guess his objections didn’t bother me that much!
Scruffy Lee: I’m on Team Neckieh here – I do NOT like this look at all! For me, Lee is at his most droolingly handsome best in Munich, with the very short haircut (in The Times They Are A’Changin’). This unshaven disaster is pretty much the opposite. Just … no. Not doing it for me, sorry.
Beaman in the field: Love this. More Beaman, please.
Brody: Yay!! I love that they brought back a particularly compelling villain from a great episode (The Eyes Have It). This moves Brody up into the same league as Gregory. Worse, actually. Brody really is a cold-blooded killer, and he is in it for the money, not for allegiance to any country or ideology.
“Voluntary” Classification Program: So, the idea seems to be that the three scientists working on the Stealth radar project are basically being held under house arrest in order to be “protected,” ever since one of the other scientists disappeared. It seems like Dr. Dunleavy was given no choice in the matter. I don’t like the tenor of this. Give him protection, sure — but essentially holding him prisoner while still making him work for you seems more like something the Soviets would do.
Why is Lee asking Francine to check a passenger manifest instead of someone more junior? She is obviously busy. She is not your secretary, Lee.
Seeing Francine so clearly taken aback and ill at ease about Jonathan is definitely a side of her personality we have not seen before. I do love that Lee is so instinctively protective of her. Iwsod wrote that Francine has lost her shot at the “feminist of the year” award for agreeing to meet Jonathan, but I can’t say that I blame her. She obviously feels the need for answers and perhaps some kind of closure. This also gives her a chance to show this guy what he has been missing out on.
Since I haven’t watched this episode. From the scene, yes it does seem like a take on the burnout episode. Lee’s appearance is awful. Unshaven, and his hair, that’s a whole different thing going on. His hair is deeply in need of a haircut. There wasn’t anything about this dialogue that made me want to watch it, just appears the writers again didn’t know what to do. Very dull and boring.
He looks similar but it’s really the opposite of burn out. Here he’s basically too focused and exhausting himself trying to get every detail. In burn out, it’s more that he’d be slacking off on the job because he wasn’t carrying enough. In burn out he’d be drinking alcohol, here he’s living on coffee.
Lee looks so good with scruff, I can almost forgive the droopy drawers. Oh please no more painter pants for our boy!!!
Lee with scruff is just so yummy, I can almost forgive the droopy drawers. Oh gawd…. No more painter pants for our boy, pretty please!
Hi Sara, Okay I’ll delete the duplicates. kudos to you for hanging in there with this blog, it’s very quirky for you – but you persist!!! 🙂
Droopy drawers had me sniggering so loudly when I was out this morning I really should’t read these comments in public. rofl!
So glad you are keeping this conversation alive! Is it a coincidence you’re back on BB birthday? I admit these last episodes are bitter sweet since KJ was sick. Were the writers the same in Season 4? I thought it lacked the witty humor we were used to.
me too Loumichelle! 🙂
Indeed I feel the same way, it is bitter sweet!
I think there are some of the same writers, anyone like to do a comparison?
Why is there a lack of witty humour like we were used to?
My guess is they were busy switching up plots and gags were an after thought. ?
I do think as Amanda became more professional and Lee less man about town, the basis for many gags fell apart somewhat… maybe?
i don’t have a firm idea on this though just thinking… anyone have thoughts?
That makes sense to me too, but it’s unnecessary because they’re still hiding things from the family. Lee hiding in the bushes or Amanda making excuses or both of them juggling activities could have continued to happen, allowing for some gags.
I thought they could tell about the marriage but still have the job secrecy. With Lee in the house there would be even more things to hide because he gets injured more than Amanda. I’d love a running gag of him coming home with new injuries he had to explain!
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Yes! It didn’t make any sense to me either.
Most of the writers from Season 4 worked on Season 3 as well. People like Lee Maddux, Tom Chehak, Robert Gilmer, George Geiger, David Brown… All of these people were SMK veterans who wrote or co-wrote a lot of episodes.
There were, however, four episodes in Season 4 written by completely “new” writers, all of them “one-off” episodes: The Man Who Died Twice, Need to Know, Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag and All That Glitters. Take what you will from that. Old writers or new, I think that overall, the writing definitely did go downhill.
I think both of those things are factors in what went “wrong” with Season 4. You could devote an entire blog post to this issue. For me — and this is just my opinion — it boils down to two overarching things:
1) Amanda’s personality change. In the episodes after Night Crawler, she loses so much of the “cheer” and “spark” that we have come to know and love. She seems less happy. And yes, part of this is probably because she is becoming more “serious” in her new role as full-time agent, and maybe the writers didn’t think that through very well. Some/much of the change is no doubt attributable to Kate Jackson’s illness, but it starts before that. Of course, Lee also continues to evolve in Season 4 as he becomes more “domestic,” but he still seems like the same person, only happier and more at peace with his life. So those changes don’t bother me in the same way that the new “flatness” in Amanda does.
2) The mystery marriage. Such a horrible idea, so depressing. It made no sense that Amanda would conceal this fundamental aspect of her life from her family (see: personality change, above). It is hard to find humor in a show when the overarching plot is both (i) completely implausible, and (ii) depressing.
I could go on. The way they handle (or neglect) passion/romance between Lee and Amanda is a huge issue in and of itself.
At least we got Stemwinder and Night Crawler – both superb episodes, the best of the series. Night Crawler was the pinnacle. There was nowhere to go but down from there, it seems. Most shows do not end with their “best” episodes — that’s just the way it goes.
BUT there are still bright spots! At this point in the series, my expectations are so much lower, and knowing that Kate Jackson was sick makes me want to cut them all a great deal of slack. So “A Matter of Choice” actually makes me very happy, because we get to focus on Francine. It is such a nice change of pace. I really like this episode very much.
Yes, you really hit the nail on the head with that scenario. Yes, the writing just went downhill after Night Crawler. Not sure what they were thinking. That secret marriage was so stupid it made me not want to watch any more episodes. One flew East made absolutely no sense to me. Lee and Amanda are back from their disastrous honeymoon, but what gets me is that Amanda is staying with Lee and stops by her house to check on things. Dotty is obviously taking care of the boys and the house. She even tells Amanda about the problem with Jaime. So, she doesn’t question why she’s no longer in her home ever since her relationship with Lee came full circle. would have liked to have seen a fifth season and what happens with that stupid, idiotic mystery marriage. Although if the writing had continued to be this stupid, I do believe it would have been canceled. Now all we can do is wonder what might have come.
I agree! seems like they were too serious, with no time for laughter or any gags. Now that I think about it, that’s why the last season was my least favorite. I get it, they got to know one another more deeply, and both confessed their love for each other, in the meantime they lost the fun and their joy. Especially Amanda, after she became a full-blown agent, she forgot how to laugh or smile, she was too consumed and all about the agency. I don’t know what the writers were thinking.
The only ep I found too much in that regard was killing TP’s child on Promises To Keep. I think that went too far and wasn’t SMK.
But even though Season 4 might not have the same humor, what I love is that it keeps the feel-good, uplifting tone of SMK. No matter how heavy of a case or circumstances Lee and Amanda are going through, it just brings them closer together and you know it will end well and so the heavy eps don’t feel as hard to watch as if another series did them.
I feel like what we lose in humor the last season, we really gain in the character bonding and friendship and that’s what I love most with this show. Look at how they’re always there for each other and those around them: Billy, Francine, T.P., Dotty. Everyone had a crisis this season and every time we see them band together.
Most shows have interesting storylines and characters who are interesting, but not necessarily people you’d want to know in real life. Whereas I’d love to live in the SMK world and have these people for friends and family. Even Francine.
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I really think some of it was related to what was going on in television at the time. The advent of cable, especially, which was just getting rolling right around this time. So they probably felt they had to be less goofy and more serious to keep people watching. It’s too bad, because so much of the charm is that old-movie comedic stuff that keeps it pure escapism.
Of course they could have kept the tension going without resorting to the ridiculous secret marriage. And I do agree Amanda’s character was weirdly flat in some of S4. The whole point of Amanda is that she’s bright, enthusiastic, and optimistic — a counterbalance to all the cynical feds at the Agency. But the fish-out-of-water premise doesn’t work as well when the fish adapts to the new environment. They really could have flipped it and leaned into Lee trying to adapt and keep the Agency secret, too, but hindsight is 20/20 and who knows what the top brass was saying (probably that dudes won’t watch a show about that).
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Not just the fish out of water part, but there was other stuff that just naturally couldn’t stay as well. You couldn’t keep Lee and Amanda arguing nonstop and still make them a believable couple. You couldn’t keep justifying Amanda as a civilian without eventually making her a full-fledged agent. You couldn’t keep stringing the audience along without moving the relationship forward. And I can see why they wouldn’t want to keep the villains as ridiculous because it’s more satisfying to have bad guys who are bad. I think they did a good compromise with making most of them bad but cozy-mystery bad. They gave us one or two who were exceptional slime every season, but mostly they were like the killers on a Hallmark mystery which was a good balance.
And they did still find ways to keep fun and humor in when it was appropriate. On Night Crawler we got the stuff at the beginning with Ms. D’Angelo. Stemwinder had some romantic banter, Amanda’s crazy disguise and “Mrs. Vanderhoosen” as well as some great smart remarks directed at Smyth like the ferrets line. Bad Timing had Lee’s aversion to the doctor and the stuff at the beginning and the tag. And Mission Of Gold kept things manageable with the two older guys.
Maybe it’s different for me because of the way I came into it, with the third and fourth seasons first and rediscovering most of it in 2021, but I think what I love about it the most is it does such a good job of balancing angst and suspense without going too dark, unlike most of today’s series. SMK knows how to do eps with the characters going through cases that get personal like Long Christmas Eve, Eyes Have It, Stemwinder, Night Crawler, Unfinished Business, Bad Timing, and Mission Of Gold without taking things too far and losing the feel-good aspect that we love. It’s really the best of both worlds — it combines the lightness of most older series, but with the character-driven nature and angst of the 1990s and early 2000s and yet none of the gore and depressing crap we’ve seen post 2000 in most shows. There’s really nothing like it and I don’t think there ever will be again.
Lee looks adorable. I love him overtired and scruffy like this.
Sorry you haven’t had a chance to rewatch the eps. Poor you!
Fun fact: Kleiner is played by the same actor who played the German villain Les had tied up in the hotel room at the beginning of The Eyes Have It. He’s a different character this time around but it’s neat that he’s in both Brody eps.
I don’t see this as a parody. Lee’s condition is real this time and it’s totally different from burn out. Here he’s overworking and exhausted.
I only realized a year ago — well after I transcribed this episode — that the actor who plays Kleiner was also Gunther from The Eyes Have It, and that was because I was IMDBing him after recognizing him as Garth on Falcon Crest (a much more substantial role). It was a big “aha” moment for me! The Eyes Have It is one of my favorite episodes and I agree it is really fun that not one but two actors from that episode appear in A Matter of Choice.
Another fun fact: The actress who plays the agent who handed Francine the phone message from Jonathan is Carrington Garland, Beverly Garland’s daughter.
Oh how cool! I had no idea about Carrington.