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Cult TV: The Master Episode 2 – “Out-of-Time-Step”

July 10, 2021 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Cult TV - The Master Image Credit: Kino Lorber

Cult TV Issue #7: The Master Episode 2

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the latest issue of Cult TV. I’m Bryan Kristopowitz.

Here is the link to the previous issue of Cult TV, just in case you missed it: The Master Episode 1: “Max”


Am I the only one who gets disappointed when a much sought after old movie or TV show gets a bare bones home video release, especially from a boutique home video company? I mean, yes, I fully understand that producing DVD and Blu-ray special features can be an expensive proposition and that there’s always the chance that the people involved in the movie or TV show don’t want to relive their past (maybe making the movie or TV show was a terrible experience for them). Sometimes making special features for a DVD or Blu-ray is just not feasible. Fans should be happy that they’re getting the movie or TV show on home video period.

But still… it would have been so cool to get a short documentary on the making of the movie or TV show, why it’s taken so long to get a home video release, and some context as to the movie or TV show’s place in pop culture, both past and present.

And that’s how I feel about the very fine home video release of The Master from the fine folks at Kino Lorber and CBS Home Entertainment (Viacom, the now parent company of CBS along with Paramount, originally produced the show for NBC back in 1984, so that explains why CBS is putting out an NBC show on home video). It’s freaking amazing that Kino Lorber and CBS decided to make an effort to get the old ninja TV show on DVD and Blu-ray. Who ever thought it would happen? I know I didn’t. I figured that if the show didn’t get some sort of official release back in 2005/2006, when TV shows on DVD were a huge deal, it would probably never happen. And yet, back in early 2018, Kino Lorber, under its KL Studio Classics imprint, along with CBS Home Entertainment, released all 13 episodes of the one season show. And the episodes were remastered in HD, meaning they probably look better now than when they did when the episodes originally aired. Kino Lorber and CBS put some effort into the release of the show.

But The Master doesn’t have any special features on it. None. No documentaries, featurettes, or commentary tracks. The last disc of the set does have some movie trailers on it, for movies that Lee Van Cleef made and movies that Sho Kosugi made. But we don’t get anything The Master specific. No TV commercials, no trailer for the set, no anything. That just seems like a missed opportunity.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to see an on screen interview from either Timothy Van Patten or Sho Kosugi or show creator Michael Sloan where they talk about the show? That would be so badass. It didn’t happen, though. And that’s a shame. A real shame.

Well, at least we got the show on home video. That, in the end, is the big deal.

And now, onto the second episode of The Master.


Episode 2: “Out-of-Time-Step”


Director: Ray Austin
Writers: Michael Sloan and Susan Woolen

Okay, so, I just want to get it out of the way immediately that Sho Kosugi’s Okasa character is not in this episode. Yes, Kosugi appears in the show’s opening, but the Okasa character doesn’t show up to fight McCallister (Lee Van Cleef) or Keller (Timothy Van Patten) or interact with any of the other characters in the episode. That’s not cool at all. I’m guessing that this isn’t the only episode Okasa doesn’t appear in despite being in the opening credits. Kosugi is still listed as doing the episode’s fight choreography and provided ninja technical advice, so at least he’s in the episode in spirit, in a way.

“Out-of-Time-Step,” the second episode, has McCallister and Keller in San Francisco still looking for McCallister’s daughter (they apparently didn’t find her in Atlanta, which is where McCallister and Keller were headed at the end of the first episode). There’s a chance that a dancer at a hip and classy dance club they want to question/take a look at (it’s not a strip joint, but there is sexy dancing going on at all hours of the night. McCallister and Keller get to the club at 4am and the place is still jamming). When McCallister and Keller arrive they meet the club owner Charlie Pattersen (Charles Collins) and his smoking hot dancing daughter Kelly (Shanna Reed, the future Polly Cooper MacGillis on Major Dad). Pattersen also has a daughter named Jill (Lori Lethin) who is in a wheelchair. Jill is sort of depressed, because she can’t walk and she wishes that her father’s club was a super classy place that was about the sort of dancing that her father used to do back in the day (Pattersen was in movies or some bullshit and was famous for being a classy dancer). McCallister immediately takes a liking to Jill and sees an opportunity to help her walk. Jill isn’t McCallister’s daughter, though. Kelly isn’t, either (there’s a whole thing where Kelly might know who McCallister’s daughter actually is but she doesn’t. So that mystery isn’t solved in this episode, either).

Now, while all of that is going on, known criminal and “businessman” Jonathan Chan (a very young looking Brian Tochi) and his main henchman Mr. Lika (the incomparable Soon-Teck Oh) show up in the club to extort Pattersen. McCallister notices a ring on Lika’s finger and suspects that Lika is a ninja of some sort. A bad ninja. So McCallister decides to check out Lika and Chan and get them to stop trying to extort Pattersen. No one should be extorting anyone, and it’s not cool at all when it’s a ninja doing it, at least to McCallister’s way of thinking.

And while all of that is going on, McCallister is still training Keller in the ways of the ninja. McCallister loses his shit on Keller when Keller uses a ninja star in a fight with club bouncer Jerry (the original Swamp Thing hisself, the great Dick Durock). McCallister wants Keller to understand that he can’t just whip out a ninja weapon whenever he feels like it as that’s not what true ninja do. McCallister also wants Keller to become proficient in walking a tightrope. Ninjas are all about balance, after all. Keller, at first, doesn’t see the need to learn how to walk a tightrope, but by the end of the episode he has to do just that because of course he does.


So what is the whole Chan extortion scheme all about? Basically, Chan’s gang wants to buy Pattersen’s club and use it to make money/maybe launder money? After Pattersen rebuffs Chan multiple times, Chan has Lika kidnap Kelly and hold her for ransom. When Pattersen tries to figure out how to get Kelly back he finds out about Chan’s big “club buying” plan. And that’s when McCallister and Keller decide to use their ninja skills full force to take down Chan, save Kelly, and make sure Pattersen can continue to be a club owner for the foreseeable future. And on top of that, there’s an eventual ninja showdown between McCallister and Lika because, if you’re going to have at least two ninjas in a story and one of them is a good ninja and one of them is a bad ninja they have to fight. It’s a sort of unofficial official rule.

“Out-of-Time-Step” is a fairly decent episode of television. The lack of Sho Kosugi is super glaring and a real detriment to the episode, but the presence of Soon-Teck Oh is a real plus (this would have been one of the greatest episodes of television in TV history had Sho Kosugi and Soon-Teck Oh been in it together). It’s odd how Soon-Teck Oh’s Mr. Lika isn’t the boss of the criminal gang but the main henchman of Brian Tochi’s Jonathan Chan. There’s no explanation as to why that is. At first, I thought Chan was Lika’s sort of spokesperson as he isn’t as physically intimidating as Lika, but Chan is in charge of the gang. There’s also no explanation as to what sort of gang Chan’s outfit is. Is it Yakuza? Is it Chinese Triad? Is it some other sort of “Asian” gang? And how does the ninja angle fit into the gang? We see Chan’s gang operating out of San Francisco’s Chinatown. How many ninjas are in Chinatown? And are there Chinese ninjas? I guess there could be (the star of the show is a white guy who is a super ninja master) but the episode never explains any of this.


The episode does have a few good action scenes. The tightrope walk escape towards the end of the episode is insane because, while you know that it isn’t Lee Van Cleef doing it, the way the sequence is edited together you sort of believe it is in the moment. The final fight between McCallister and Lika, like in the first episode, is good and exciting for what it is but it could have and should have been longer. The way the fight ends is pretty nifty, though, something I didn’t see coming at all. It’s ridiculous as I don’t think a seasoned ninja fighter like Lika would have fallen for the trick McCallister plays on him, but the sequence somehow works. The most ridiculous sequence in the episode has Lee Van Cleef’s McCallister hanging on the roof of a moving car after McCallister jumped onto it. I mean, come on, Lee Van Cleef holding onto the roof of a moving car? At that point in his life?


The sequence does end quite spectacularly, though, with McCallister smashing through the car’s windshield and taking the steering wheel while the car is still in motion. It’s ridiculous, to, but still pretty badass.

The big hooha dance sequence, where Shanna Reed’s Kelly Pattersen lights up the dance floor at 4 in the morning, is fantastic. And it looks like Reed is actually doing the dance. I wonder how long it took to figure out that dance and shoot it. It’s a quick dance, sure, but it’s still fairly elaborate and full of personality. According to Reed’s imdb page she is a trained dancer and did a stint in Las Vegas, so she had the necessary chops to do the dancing. I had no idea.

The “I’m going to help you walk” relationship between McCallister and Jill Pattersen isn’t as interesting as the episode wants us to believe. In fact, Jill isn’t all that interesting. She has believable father-daughter chemistry with Charles Collins but Jill herself isn’t as engaging as Kelly. Maybe Jill’s character arc would have been more interesting if Jill wasn’t sullen and depressed but was more positive about finding a way to walk and dance again.

So what happens to Chan’s gang? We don’t know. Did McCallister make the gang go away for good? We don’t know that, either. Maybe Chan’s gang just “moved on” after the final ninja fight between McCallister and Lika? Maybe McCallister and Keller would have gone back to San Francisco in season 2 had there been a season 2 and we would have seen a second part to this story, at least when it comes to the Chan gang.

I liked this episode. I didn’t love it. I wanted more Sho Kosugi. At least we got Soon-Teck Oh. Soon-Teck Oh saves it. He’s always great regardless of what he’s in. Oh, and be on the lookout for future stunt legend Jeff Imada as one of Chan’s henchmen. And Dick Durock is awesome.


Rating: 3/5


Next issue: The Master Episode 3: “State of the Union”



The Master Episode 2: “Out-of-Time-Step” IMDB page

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