Edward Woodward’s recovery from his heart attack between seasons necessitated the creation of a story that would cover his absence while he recovered. Mission: McCall: Part 2, is the second half of the storyline to explain his absence.
Written by Ed Waters, Scott Shepherd and Robert Eisele from a story by Waters and Coleman Luck, this episode first hit television screens on 4 November, 1987.
McCall (Woodward) has been grabbed by the KGB, and abducted from the containment facility Control (Robert Lansing) was holding him in. While Mickey (Keith Szarabajka) and McCall’s son Scott (William Zabka) keep an eye on Control, unsure of how much he can be trusted and what exactly he’s up to, McCall’s old ally Richard Dyson (Robert Mitchum) and Harley Gage (Richard Jordan) break into a Russian consulate where McCall is being held, slowly dying from his injuries, until they can chopper him to an approaching freighter.
It’s a fast-paced tale, and a lot of it leaves you wondering exactly how far Control can be trusted on any matter, but not all of it works. There’s some stuff with Gage that feels a little clunky, and the idea of setting him up as a more rough-and-tumble, loose-cannon Equalizer is a little troubling. I would have preferred Mickey taking on the role, stepping into the limelight with maybe some added support.
But that’s not the way it worked out. The series shoehorns Harley into things, and he’s going to be around for at least a few more episodes. But at least McCall has been rescued and Woodward recovered.
Shadow Play was written by Eisele and first aired aired on 11 November, 1987.
McCall is still recovering, and Gage has been given permission to crash at his place, which puts him in a prime position to help Mickey when a police detective, Alice Shepard (Chad Redding), seeks out some help protecting a friend, Andrew Banks (J.T. Walsh) who is testifying in a series of government hearings.
The episode is mainly designed to let Woodward continue his recovery and to illustrate that Gage is a much more ‘edgier’ and ‘dangerous’ character than McCall. He’s wandering around carrying unlicensed firearms, and isn’t afraid to get down and dirty, while McCall, when he shows up in the episode continues to use his wits, before drawing a weapon.
Honestly, I just don’t feel that Jordan is a fit for the series, and I don’t think he and Szarabajka have a lot of chemistry together which is going to make it difficult to enjoy the series should they keep getting paired together while Woodward recovers.
The story weaves politics, organized crime and spycraft but it’s all about giving Woodward time to get back on his feet. Even the shots he’s un, you can tell that he’s not at his best. We’ll see how he’s feeling next week on The Equalizer.