Season 1, Episode 11
Date of airing: November 27, 1989 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 19.1 million viewers, 13.0/19 in Households
If Major Mac ever thought that he was the strongest in the unit and that he would have no problems in decking his subordinates during a training exercise, then I have a foreign federal election for you to meddle in. It seems ridiculous that Mac would expect to be Thor, god of thunder at his age, and it seemed convenient for the premise of the episode that he would start exercising more after being bested by a younger person, as well as having a bit of a midlife crisis, because he realized he wasn’t the strongest any longer. Okay, the latter actually made for a good story, especially after it led to Mac’s fear that he won’t be seen as a functioning Major any longer, who is not being listened to by the subordinates, but the story didn’t even start off like that. Before Mac had to go down that emotional and depressing route, he only feared to not be entirely fit and all he needed was a little more muscle and stamina. And that’s unfortunate, because it took time away from what could have been an interesting comedic look at a man’s midlife crisis while he is at the peak of his life.
But as it’s standard with MAJOR DAD now, the episode was also funny enough to make me forget that the writers forgot to include the most important part (who knows, maybe they wanted to, but weren’t allowed by the CBS executives). Almost all of the scene with Mac unable to move, sitting there in his seat, he can’t reach the coffee mug, he is being laughed at by Gene, were laugh-out-loud funny and it made me realize that Gerald McRaney is actually quite the good comedic actor when it comes to the physical aspects of the humor. His scene in his office could have been a slow-burning sketch on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and it could have worked like that. MAJOR DAD isn’t the show that works towards the next punchline, but it’s a show that is quite physical, although the physical parts of the show are mostly carried by McRaney, as the other cast members do get the punchline joke here and there. The physicality of the episode showed with Gene’s moves of putting down the victim, and how I imagined those scenes to be quite dangerous to produce, because your arm could get easily broken during production, and voila, CBS or the studio is going to hand out some money during settlements.
While Mac was dealing with fitness and a bit of a midlife crisis as he was taking on Gene in a rematch, Polly got a promotion, which means the writers not only remembered that she had a job as a reporter and journalist at the local newspaper, but they did not forget ever since they remembered. Now that she got her promotion, there is a chance the writers could actually focus a little more on telling the story from her point of view. The show is still young, so the writers and producers may have focused on its main star during the early stages, but at one point it’s going to bore me that MAJOR DAD is only about MacGillis and that the other characters are never brought into the spotlight. Granted, we had Byron with his own story in the previous episode, but that shouldn’t mean for the writers to get back to give McRaney all the screentime in the world, even if he happened to be a funny guy, playing a character in a funny manner. After eleven episodes, MAJOR DAD hasn’t managed to be a family sitcom and I’m sort of sad, because I don’t really mind to watch an old-fashioned family sitcom that truly looks, sounds and feels like it was produced before a live audience.