Archive for the ‘Mr. Shen’ Tag

The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 3: Here There Be Dragons (2001)   4 comments

Above:  George Takei as Mr. Shen

All images in this post are screen captures.

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Here There Be Dragons

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired July 21, 2001

Production Number = 5009-01-107

Starring

Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Octavia L. Spencer as Ruby Rydell

Main Guest Cast

George Takei as Mr. Shen

Yuki Kudo as Mina Shen

James Hong as David Lo Pan

Brian Tee as Neo

Dax Griffin as Sam

Behind the Camera

Writer and Consulting Producer = Naren Shankar

Director = Sanford Bookstaver

Above:  Grace Hall and Mina Shen

Brief Summary

Donald Stern assigns Tucker Burns to investigate rumors of a fire-breathing dragon in the sewers of Chinatown.  Something is down there, emitting flames; drug dealer Neo has a scarred face to prove that much.  Tucker, having adjusted to having his mind blown after working at the World Chronicle for two months, accepts that a fire-breathing dragon may be loose in Chinatown, but he insists on proof.  Many residents of Chinatown accept the existence of the dragon, but Don Corleone-like restauranteur (and boss of Neo, not at the restaurant) David Lo Pan remains skeptical.  Lo Pan threatens Tucker and Wes with violence and a lawsuit as easily as he gives them egg rolls.

Tucker comes to believe then doubt then believe again that the story is really about destructive cultural taboos, not a fire-breathing dragon.  He is correct.  Mina Shen, daughter of widower Mr. Shen, is pregnant and unmarried.  Mr. Shen believes that she has dishonored the family.  He asks Lo Pan to arrange an honor killing of the dragon, the alleged father of the new grandson, who has a skin disease.  Lo Pan insists that Mr. Shen do it himself, and sends Neo with him into the sewer to commit the deed.

Wes, Tucker, and Grace, having learned the truth, stage the “slaying” of the dragon (actually mechanical) and the death of Mina.  Mr. Shen, thinking his daughter is dead, weeps.  The father is Sam, a homeless Caucasian man with a skin disease living in the sewer.  He is as kind as Neo, who has designs on Mina also, is not.  Our three heroes send Mina, Sam, and the newborn son upstate, to Mina’s aunt, who has not spoken to Mr. Shen in years.  (Why not?  Mr. Shen, having met his grandson, insists that he has no grandson.)  The two reporters and the photographer permit Donald to think that there was actually a dragon in Chinatown, and to print that story.  The new family gets a fresh start, after all.  And it will be safe from Mr. Shen, who uses morality to justify his immorality.

Character Beats

Donald Stern keeps his promises.

Mina uses the story of the dragon to protect Sam’s identity.

Great Lines

Grace, to Tucker:  “Well, if a sewer is your idea of a romantic getaway, that might explain your success with women.”

Wes, to Tucker:  “I’m sorry about that, man.  After all those Jet Li movies, I should have seen that coming.”

Above:  The Mechanical Dragon

In-Universe

This episode is a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China (1986), in which James Hong originated the character of David Lo Pan.  Lo Pan, no longer a ghost, has moved from Chinatown in San Francisco to Chinatown in New York City.

About two months have passed since the end of the previous episode.  During that time, Tucker has encountered “a Whitman sampler of demons.”

The medical insurance policy for employees of the World Chronicle does not cover “immolation by reptiles.”

Donald Stern is objectively wrong about the causes of many of the incidents about which the World Chronicle reports.

The internal chronology of this series in inconsistent yet mostly consistent.  The date on the issue of the World Chronicle at the end of the episode (the eighth one produced and third one aired) is August 20, 2001.  Yet, Baby Got Back, the third episode produced and fourth one aired, is set in August 2000.  When did Tucker start working for the World Chronicle?  And when had he been working for there for two months?  The March 2001 dates referenced in Bring Me the Head of Tucker Burns (the twelfth episode produced and the eighth one aired) and Let Sleeping Dogs Fry (the second episode produced and the ninth one aired) point toward Tucker going to work for the World Chronicle in the summer of 2000.

Comments

This episode, with a heart, is easily rewatchable.

Naren Shankar is a veteran of Star Trek:  The Next Generation, Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek:  Voyager.  One of his better episodes is The First Duty (1992), in which Captain Jean-Luc Picard tells Cadet Wesley Crusher that the first duty is to the truth.  Tucker Burns begins Here There Be Dragons with that attitude then decides that the first duty is act compassionately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2020 COMMON ERA

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