The Americanization of Machiko
Written by: Charlie Coffey
Directed by: Gilbert Shilton
Original Air Date: October 11, 1989
Leap Sate: August 4, 1953
This time: Sam laps into a sailor coming back from a tour. He is Charlie (a name he gets from his duffel bag) and his ecstatic dad, henry MacKenzie, picks him up, taking him back home. As they drive off, they do not see a Japanese woman picking up her bags and calling “Charlie-San!”
At said home, Charlie’s mother, Lenore, prepares some lemonade while Charlie’s old flame, Naomi, wait for his return after two years. Father and son arrive, and Naomi is all over him. After being left alone, Al shows up and says that Naomi and Charlie will be miserable together.
A local cop shows up and the family comes out. It seems that he picked up the woman, Machiko and took her to the MacKenzie’s as she is Charlie’s wife. Later, Machiko offers Lenore a kimono, but it is not accepted. Henry is eager to get to know Machiko, but Lenore is less than pleased. Beyond less than pleased. It does not help that the only room available for Machiko belongs to Charlie’s deceased sister.
Machiko puts in the effort. Cleaning the kitchen, cooking breakfast; neither of which Lenore is appreciative of. Sam tries to get Machiko to be more … American. Men and women can work, women can drive and all that. After a driving lesson, they pick flowers for Lenore to appreciate.
While doing chores, Sam takes his shirt off. Cue Naomi showing up in skimpy clothing ready to rekindle their romance. Meanwhile, Machiko is also feeling warm working outside on the farm, so she takes off her shirt, too. Cue Henry, Lenore and the reverend showing up to marry the pair.
After the frenzy (and commercial break), Al explains from his time in Japan, that women in the fields would take their tops off to stay cool. The reverend is shocked (his wife fainted) but still invites the whole family to a local picnic. Not wanting to be embarrassed, Lenore refuses to attend. Naomi has a talk with Sam about the Mackenzie’s dead sister who Sam realizes committed suicide.
After attempting to break things off with Naomi, she takes it upon herself to Americanize Machiko. Her work comes to fruition when she calls the Mayor’s wife fat. She quickly realizes the error of her ways, but the damage is done.
Home from the picnic, a storm comes in. While making preparations for safety, word reaches Lenore about Machiko’s faux pas. Absolutely furious, she will not even listen to the explanation. Machiko runs off, where she is picked up by a local asshole named Rusty. A former AAA baseball recuit, the draft killed his prospects. After four years in the Pacific theater, he became an alcoholic. Thankfully, Sam arrives in time to save her, but she is hurt.
At the hospital, she is on the road to recovery, but doubt’s Lenore’s remorse. She cannot embrace another ‘daughter’ that the town would snicker at behind her back. Eventually, she runs out.
At the chapel for the ceremony, Lenore is absent, though makes a late appearance ... in the kimono. Sam leaps …
… into the bubble bath of female executive.
Stop talking to yourself: Sam hates that once things go well and everyone is happy, he leaps out, leaving him discombobulated. He likes Charlie’s dad, who is a lot like Sam’s.
Mirror images that were not his own: Sam sees the handsome face of Charles Lee MacKenzie in the town’s window.
Something or someone: For some reason, Sam cannot leap until he sees Lenore in the Kimono, despite having done the work already.
Let’s up the rating: Working under the hot sun, Machiko cools off by taking off her top, in public.
One more time: “I’ve always loved the farm in the summer. The smell of corn. Wheat rustling in the breeze. The sounds of calves mooing after their mothers. It always takes me home.” “Personally, I’d rather be in Vegas”
Sam to himself and Al to Sam about the farm.
The Rainbow Treknection: Before playing the wiley mature Alisia who fooled Martus but not Quark in Rivals, K Callan played Lenore MacKenzie.
Put right what once went wrong: “I met this woman wandering Main Street and she claims that she’s married to your son.” Last week had a problem being too short, this week we have the opposite problem.
It starts off strong, too. When we see Machiko, we know here it is going. There are the expected comedy bits and the expected dramatic notes. Dad is giddy. Mom is pissed. With only an hour to tell the story, the early beats are there. It helps that they have talent in front of the camera. Wayne Tipitt is great a Henry. The happiness at seeing his son, learning about Machiko, he is having a blast.
Speaking of Machiko, Leslie Ann Olsen is fantastic. She plays a fish out of water perfectly with Japanese customs but trying to acclimate to America. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the beginning is there. She explains where she is coming from and plays wonderfully off her co-stars. She has good scenes with just about everyone
It all falls apart in the final act. There is just too much going on with Naomi’s influence, Rusty being a kidnapper, the storm. So much happens so quickly that it is hard to keep up. This is not Avengers: Endgame where everything neatly comes together after an appropriate amount of set up. This is rushed and they tried to set up Rusty but there is not enough time and giving us the exposition at the end is too little too late. We got enough with him giving Machiko nasty looks earlier. Naomi is also very one note and does not really have much to do.
The worst casualty of this is Lenore. She just seems to be going through the motions in the last third, up until the ending scenes. K Callan did perfectly well up until that point, but the comparisons to Susan French are inevitable. She is good, but not great.
At the end of the hour, I am not eager to go to the next episode with that fumble at the end.
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