Lester Barrie is back again for his third straight episode as another double of Elston Diggs, although this time he only gets a bit part.
Most bizarrely of all, today's premise includes much discussion of a lost Mallory clan, who were apparently powerful wizards. Though it clearly wasn't planned at this stage, this could all dovetail nicely into season four's mythology, particularly had Jerry O'Connell got a chance to play his double in this one. Even more tantalizingly, his brother Charlie O'Connell actually appears in this episode.... but then you have to wonder why he didn't get to play Philip Mallory. Sure, the cop character Charlie plays is a role with a bit more meat to it, but it could all have fit together into the larger canon so much more neatly with him in the Philip role. You have to wonder why he didn't automatically get that part.... At any rate, it's great to see Charlie popping up again and giving an excellent performance!
The A-plot turns both ugly and ridiculously as knife-play is used as a major turning point - ultimately becoming the biggest detraction in the entire story for my tastes. It's too far into the realm of things I don't want to be watching or recommending others to watch on TV or cinema. Too bad John Rhys-Davies couldn't have pulled a similar stunt to what Tom Baker did in "The Face of Evil" (Doctor Who story no. 89), when he refused to wield a knife as the script asked him to, and a much more unique and beautiful character moment emerged instead, something no fan could imagine not having these days.
Additionally, the credibility of Arturo's long-term situation seems to be floating out the window here. If Melinda can heal fatal knife wounds with her magic touch, why could she not do something similar for Arturo's still-ridiculously-vague terminal illness? If he was willing to try the shamans of the previous desert world, why not the apprentice warlocks of this one? In fact, with no mention of Arturo's health anywhere in this episode, one wonders if it wouldn't have been a better candidate to precede "The Guardian" than the less-than-brilliant episodes we did get at that point.
It must be noted that in most other respects, this A-plot is working really well, deftly using major and minor guest characters to enhance many of its nuances, and bringing up some thematic material with good weight to it. Just a little better imagination when it comes to the "action" would bring that aspect up to par.
Everything leads up to a confrontation with a dragon at the end - not bad for imagination, but this also turns out to be sadly underwhelming. Time has not been kind to this rushed, low budget early example of CGI, which resembles a stiff and rather friendly-looking puppet a bit too much. Jerry O'Connell still manages to give us a classic moment or two though, as he wields the sword. Nice. Ultimately, though they brought in a fine cast to play the major guest characters, the ending they devised didn't give these roles enough to do near the end. Climaxing with a confrontation involving Gregory Martin's fine performance as the villain no doubt would have held up much better than his CGI stand-in.
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