Seven Days (“Brother, Can You Spare a Bomb?)

Season 2, Episode 18
Date of airing: April 19, 2000 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.2/4 in Households

This episode was okay. The writers and producers finally gave a chance for Nick Searcy to pull some strings on the show and to get some of his acting chops on screen, while Jonathan LaPaglia was given a break of constantly being front and center, which also means his hardest work during the entire episode was when Parker was being chased by Ramsey around the white truck and LaPaglia had to watch that he is not going to hit his head while crawling through it. There is probably a reason Nick Searcy got a “Story by” credit for this episode, and I can imagine that the whole cast was trying to bring ideas into the writers room that would make SEVEN DAYS a better show, a less boring show than it was for most of the episodes, and a more meaningful show for its cast and the viewers who watch. I can remember having read an article about the fact that the cast was unhappy with the way the show was handled behind the cameras, which may or may not have led to tension between some of the cast members, most notably LaPaglia and Justina Vail during the later stages of the third season (rumor has it she walked off set one day, and in the age and era of #MeToo, I would love to know if that may have been one of the many reasons for frictions behind the scenes).

Parker and Ramsey are on the same side for once.

The story itself… Well, it’s nothing majorly interesting. It’s good to see that Ramsey had an opportunity to be given a back story, which make his life looked very messed up, but maybe it would have been nice to mention his family connection in an earlier episode, just to prove that the writers knew for what kind of characters they were writing. Olga reveals she had (has) a husband, right after he time travelled into NeverNeverLand; Talmadge’s niece was about to become important, because the story screamed for it, as well as dead children in the narrative; and Mentnor needed a granddaughter and a wife, because he was front and center of the story and the writers needed stuff to fill airtime with. Anyway, all those family connections disappear right after the writers used them for their respective episodes, and I was a bit disappointed that Nick was never mentioned again after this episode, let alone all the other family members of the main characters that have appeared (except for one, who made another appearance midway through the next season). Because the back story of this episode told me that Nick and Ramsey had contact (or Nick wouldn’t have said that his brother talked some good stuff about Parker, although that could have happened between the time Ramsey sent his brother to the VA hospital and the final scene), and that they aren’t as estranged as the story makes them to be. In addition, there is brotherly love between the two, which makes it even more disappointing that Nick was never really an issue for the show after this episode.

There were some things about the story that were ridiculous though. Nick has the nickname “Ameri Bomber,” before he even blew up the Senator, meaning his bombs already went off way before that. I imagine Nick blew up other people before, or at least did some serious damage as a domestic terrorist, which is why I cannot understand that Ramsay was so open to helping his brother and covering up for his crimes. It’s almost certain Nick killed people — why would Ramsay help a killer, even when the killer is his not-estranged-at-all brother? The second huge problem is Parker’s lie in the new timeline. There is no way that Talmadge and the NSA wouldn’t know what happened in the old timeline. They can’t just trust Parker with all the information, without backing it up on various chips (like the one that had been encoded for “EBEs,” or like the one that was programmed with new intel in the pilot, right before the very first backstep). Consistency, guys, that’s what makes a show good. But in this particular case, the writers did not care for consistency, because it was easier for Parker and Ramsay to team up and stop Nick on their own.

This screenshot is full of people who are hated by the far-right.

By the way: Why exactly made the NSA panel decide to backstep in the first place? It sounded like the death at the immigration office was the final straw in all of it, but that would mean the NSA did not care about a dead member of Congress. In addition, the episode had a hint of anti-immigration spout from some of the characters (most notably the Ramsey brothers), but as it turns out it was actually not at all part of the narrative of the episode. It lets me continue to thin that SEVEN DAYS is a highly conservative and patriotic action fun pulp show, and that a story about immigration would not get accepted like the way it was for this episode. Because at the end of the day, the anti-immigration agenda spouted by Nick is still standing and was not debated by one of the other characters. The Church of Trump is going to love this episode when they discover this show.

Seven Days (“X-35 Needs Changing”)

Season 2 Episode 17
Date of airing: April 5, 2000 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.0/3 in Households

This episode was alright. Even though I was a bit annoyed about the writers first “choosing” to have Parker and Donovan on the mission, it made sense later that Olga would accompany Parker instead, due to the Russian angle of the story, although I would have loved to see the writers trying to adapt a THREE MEN AND A BABY kinda film for this episode, only to cut out a man and set the story in the middle of a war-torn country. Having two guys protect the baby is a more fun premise, and SEVEN DAYS is definitely not alien to the premise of a funny story, but I guess it was much easier to write the premise with Olga in it, because motherly instincts are apparently a hot thing. It does show though that SEVEN DAYS has once more ruined a great chance to make an average premise a lot more entertaining. So, if this show ever gets a reboot, Claire’s love interest in “Parker.com” should be replaced with Olga, and Olga should be replaced in this episode with Donovan. Somebody could also make a fan-fiction story out of this, and maybe I will read it.

Olga has had enough of this crap.

Anyway, the story wasn’t much of a burner. In fact, it was just a plot device to awaken specific intuition ad emotion in Olga, and have her care deeply about someone she would normally not care about. The idea of her being a mother seems alright for the show, and it’s definitely an idea to work with, but Olga’s change from a scientist who thinks of Project X-35 as sound to a woman who would protect this baby with her life looked a little chopped-up, let alone underdeveloped. Besides that, the writers have done absolutely nothing with the premise of a genetically altered baby and what it can do to the world. Enter James Cameron, whose DARK ANGEL pilot was already greenlighted by the time this episode was produced, and would air the following Fall on FOX. Who knows, maybe this episode of SEVEN DAYS could be seen as an idea prequel to DARK ANGEL. What I want to say is, the writers took a futuristic story for this episode (a genetically altered baby who could either be James Cameron’s Max or Stan Lee’s Steve Rogers) and did absolutely nothing with it except make Olga look like the baby’s mother.

Meanwhile, the story was set in Chechnya, which was not the first time SEVEN DAYS brought the action into these kind of woods. It makes me wonder what the writers had with the country and why they thought that Chechnya was a bombed-out country that looked like it just survived a nuclear war. It’s also common for the show to depict crappy villains when they come from war-torn countries, and this episode wasn’t special in any regard about that, hence the undeveloped villains of the story and their motives of kidnapping a baby and keeping it for themselves. I guess they saw in X-35 their very own Captain America? They would have called him Captain Chechnya then, and that’s kind of a thing I want to see now. It’s like BRIGHTBURN, but with no people who could stop the superheroic villain. But really, was the baby supposed to be the Chechnyans’ John Connor in 20 years or so? The lead terrorist was talking about the future war, but judging by the country’s current look, it wasn’t even guaranteed that the war would still go on 20 years from now. Was the baby a first step of what would become the back story of ALIAS called “Project Christmas?” Have the baby learn how to handle weapons and bombs in five years and it can be a super spy in ten, reimagining Robert Rodriguez’s SPY KIDS, but with villains in it that don’t have to fight against heroes.

They aren’t the parents, yet they would risk their lives to protect the baby.

The “road trip” in the war zone was good though, and it made the episode somewhat look like a real adventure slash road trip with a few explosions in-between. Of course it made SEVEN DAYS look cheap once more, because shooting in the back wilderness of British Columbia makes every show look pretty much cheap (I’m looking at you, STARGATE SG-1), but the interaction between Parker and Olga made this hour more entertaining, and I even loved that the writers brought in some consistency. Olga called Parker by his first name for once, when the two were in serious danger, and when he almost literally came back from the dead to save Olga and the baby, and she went into liking her partner and colleague a little more after this, because he was not only a good person (and an aggressive male with a heart), but also because he saved her life again, as well as the life of the baby. But sometimes I would wish the writers would have done something more out of the show and the Parker/Olga coupling — this episode could have been a great beginning to them seeing something in each other they haven’t discovered before.

The climax was dumb. I didn’t need the Russians to be involved in the “kidnap X-35” plot, and I seriously didn’t need the “friendly conversation” between the Russian Major and the American diplomat, talking like they could shoot each other at High Noon, but not before discussing their friends, families and who they slept with during lunch before. It was a hilarious piece of what the Cold War could have looked like for real in the year 2000 though — Americans and Russians point weapons at each other, but talk about their dinner plans. I think there is a parody premise in that. Also, having multiple parties responsible for the snatching of the baby seems a bit ridiculous. First the nurse (I believe she was not Russian and just wanted to save the baby from future test probing and all that stuff Olga imagined at the end of the episode), then the Chechnians, then the Russians, and finally the actual parents of that baby. Too many people knew about Project X-35, which made it anything but top secret. Someone must have leaked the project to the Russias, which by itself is its own investigative event within the NSA.

Seven Days (“The Cuban Missile”)

Season 2, Episode 16
Date of airing: March 22, 200 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.4/4 in Households

This was an average episode with nothing much of a story, during which the writers could go nuts with with the world of boxing, which they must have loved or it would not have been in the focus this much. When it comes to continuity though, the scribes definitely wanted to try something out. “Vegas Heist” was pretty much referenced more than once (and not just with Sonny Hayes being the secondary antagonist of this episode), and in general, the time travel rules established by this show are still being remembered every once in a while. Once more, Parker lost money on a sporting event, which is something he always does after a backstep, because he never learns from his previous mistakes and he never changes the bet after he travelled through time. That does make Parker a bit of a dumb man, but since it’s not necessarily a reminder of the technical rules of this show and instead just the continuation of a running gag, I can live with it. SEVE DAYS is not known for continuity, and this episode bringing some of that to the plate should be applauded, even if it’s basically just a sorta-sequel to “Vegas Heist” — by the way, the show should have done that more often throughout its run. Only two episodes were a sequel of a previous episode, the other being “Walk Away,” but in hindsight I would have loved seeing more than just those two.

Olga and blood on her face are not a good mixture.

The story was boring, but sort of comical when it comes to the depiction of Fidel Castro. Every time the guy had screentime, I didn’t know if his portrayal was supposed to be a caricature of the real person or if he was always this kind of a dumb man. Fact is that the writers didn’t take Castro serious as a character, but that just led to the guy being super hilarious for this hour, even if I believe that it was unintentional humor. Also, an episode like this makes me think what Castro may have thought about it, if he ever got to see this work of fiction on his television screen. We all know that Kim Jong Un wasn’t happy about his caricature character in THE INTERVIEW, but what was Castro thinking about the fact that he was always the villain of any American story about communism? Sonny Hayes was also unintentionally funny, but in his case it’s because of the way he wanted to be the villain of the story, but didn’t have any experience to be one. The guy sounded and looked like he was a criminal mastermind, but it turns out he was just an amateur, unable to keep his future plans together, which crumbled from under his feet just because a federal agent showed up and snatched Teo away from under the guy who was freshly released from prison. This guy wanted to be Cookie before Cookie was Cookie, and he definitely was no Cookie.

The backstep event was kind of hilarious as well, when you think about it just a little bit. The man who was screaming for Viagra pills and petted a cat shirtless like he was a more serious version of Dr. Evil sent kerosine-filled nuclear rockets to Miami, just because his adopted son was murdered on American soil, which was a federal crime that hadn’t been solved yet. What would Castro have gone nuclear about if it hadn’t been Teo’s assassination in the ring (which the cameras of course had to capture with live pictures of his dying face, instead of turning the cameras away… Americans and their sensationalist coverage of live events)? Would he have smashed up a few smaller towns than Miami if he hadn’t gotten Viagra pills from his own men in the castle?

The Cuban star will fight for the American flag.

Teo was an okay-ish character though. He was honest, he had a beating heart and family values, and he had a bit of depth to him as well, when it comes to his family background and the way he was fighting for his family on and off the ring. The latter could have been front and canter in the episode though, because I didn’t quite like the notion that Castro was lying to Teo about his family for that long, and as soon as Teo finds them, he isn’t really available to celebrate with them, let alone be freaking happy that they are still alive. And maybe Teo’s family background could have made this episode a little more serious. That it wasn’t serious at all I have already established, but the cherry on the cake was the moment Teo’s sister Raquel kissed Parker out of nowhere after Teo won in the ring by only hitting his opponent a few times onto the mat. Not only was Teo’s win extremely ridiculous, but of course Raquel had to kiss Parker and Olga had to witness it all and never forget to be shocked and maybe disgusted by the women Parker seems to be getting lately.

One final note: Raymond Cruz may have been the third actor of the show to portray a second character, after Ravil Isyanov had two portrayals of evil Russians in the first season, and Ursula Brooks was a dead CIA agent in the first and Parker’s therapist in the second season. Cruz himself showed up before in “Daddy’s Girl,” so here is the question of why these three faces were allowed to play a different character (with Brooks it might have been obvious, as she was Jonathan LaPaglia’s partner back then), but why Cruz and Isyanov, and who will be the fourth actor to get a second shot on SEVEN DAYS?

Seven Days (“Space Station Down”)

Season 2, Episode 15
Date of airing: March 1, 2000 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.8/3 in Households

It was a pretty crappy episode, and it was a hilariously great episode. That makes this episode pretty much average, but in SEVEN DAYS-standards, the episode is good enough to awaken a few tears in the eye socket and let them free, in case you have the mind of connecting with the characters and realize how tragic Cassie’s fate is by the end of the episode, as she is following her daddy’s footsteps both in being an astronaut and how he died. The tragic story of Cassie is indeed dark and emotional, and her death is definitely something to talk about (even if the writers weren’t interested in talking about it), but that was essentially the only solidly good thing about the episode. Because as soon as you see how the actors were portraying the zero-gravity moments, you not only can’t unsee it, but you will also probably find reasons to laugh about it. I get that you can’t just shoot television episodes while flying a parable with that plane you book when shooting films like APOLLO 13, but the cast members were walking around the set while making me believe it’s all zero gravity. The camera captured some of the walking of the cast members, and what is even more hilarious is how they used the hand rails on the walls of the space station to move along, all while still walking and making the viewers believe they are in zero-gravity.

Get ready for a wild ride o this space station.

The episode still had a few good moments beyond Cassie’s fate though, even if SEVEN DAYS never managed to pick up those character arcs again, let alone make them count within the episode. It began in “Buried Alive,” but this hour made clear that Parker is very much alone in his repeated efforts to save the world, and as Olga and Donovan were talking about it, I realized again that Parker is pretty much not a character for himself, but a character for the world only. He was hired to pilot the Sphere and sed it through time, but according to his way of living ever since he arrived at Project Backstep, he managed to lose his chance of living a life beyond his top secret NSA job. It kind of makes him a true martyr, and there will probably never be another moment in which Parker does not have to save the world and can enjoy life for once. There will never not be a moment Parker doesn’t stretch his neck out for the world and instead does something for himself. And people like Ramsey will never care about that and continue to treat Parker like he is a lunatic in need of a prison cell. By the way, Stephen Beck wrote this episode and “Buried Alive,” so it’s my head canon now that Beck wanted to bring some consistency into Parker’s characterization of the lonely man saving the world nonstop and never finding a time to be a person just for himself.

Meanwhile, it’s pretty obvious that the story was stupid. I didn’t even understand why the GSS was falling towards Earth, and why it couldn’t be steered into a new orbit, because in cases like these, the people in ground control have something to say as well, and they can remote pilot the vehicle. If Cassie wasn’t able to pilot the station because she couldn’t reach whatever she needed to reach to make the station be pilotable, the ground crew could have done the job for her. Besides that, the fuel line was fixed since Parker came with the replacement parts and I never believe that the hull breach where the Russian cosmonaut got sucked out of mattered when it comes to the integrity of the space station. Also, it has only one lifeboat? I would consider that criminal from the start, but hey, John Ballard oversaw the space station project, which adds to his incredible list of things he achieved, like developing time travel, developing a super computer that turned itself into an attractive young woman, and creating a virtual reality computer game (without the virtual part) when his digital avatar was winning a box fight against the real Parker. When does the guy ever have time to meet the women he is so fond of? And why was the NeverNeverLand base in control of the mission before the backstep? It’s almost like the entire world is being run by that single base somewhere in Nevada, which has a few dead aliens in it, but also houses the time travel project. Also, the writers once again forced themselves into backstep mode by bringing Plutonium into the game, which of course killed a couple million people back on Earth. Why is it always Plutonium, and why couldn’t the reactor have powered with solar energy instead? The space station debris itself could have killed a few thousand people, and that would have been enough of a reason for a backstep event, especially since the show never cared enough about creating proper backstep events.

Let’s talk about our lives before we die.

Gene turned out to be a ridiculous character. He was too villain-esque for the episode, and too crazy for his own good. Was this guy angry at Cassie, because she got to command the mission? Does NASA not check the mental state of its astronauts before they go up for an extended mission? And what the hell was Gene talking about, right before he entered the lifeboat and happily burned in the atmosphere? It’s almost like he went even more full-on nuts than Parker ever did, and he is certifiable. This episode didn’t need a villain — it already had one with outer space. By the way: I found it funny that the Russian guy was the first one kissing his ass goodbye. As if it was of importance that Gene, the villain, had to be American, and that the Russian cosmonaut was just like an African-American character in a 1990s television episode: If it’s a genre or action show, said African-American character dies first. They are the redshirts of 1980s and 1990s television.

One fun fact for the history books: Cassiopeia was Parker’s code name in the German dubbing of the show, since Conundrum is a too complicated word to both translate and actually use in German dialogue (besides, German people don’t know what it means). When I watched this episode for the first time in 2001, the fool I was, I thought this episode was sort of an origin story of Frank’s code name, and therefore an important episode (“the most beautiful [constellation] out there”). I also wonder if the German dubbing studio knew about Cassiopeia coming up while they were dubbing the show. It premiered on German television around the time “Time Gremlin” aired on UPN, but who knows how far ahead production was, and if all the scripts already landed in the studio where they produced the German dubs, while they were looking for a less complicated-sounding code name for Parker.

Seven Days (“Deja Vu All Over Again”)

Season 2, Episode 14
Date of airing: February 23, 2000 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.0/3 in Households

I could repeat what I was saying during the review for “Buried Alive,” because most of it still stands. What was happening in and outside the writers’ room during the past few episodes, which made them come up with, for SEVEN DAYS standards, unique episodes like “Buried Alive,” as well as this episode, and why did the third season not have these kind of episodes? In addition, why is it that Parker has to suffer the consequences of time traveling only in this episode, and not in any other episode? Why is it that the writers have decided not to include a single instance of serialization into the show and instead have everything return back to the status quo between episodes? The time burbs established in this episode, as ridiculous as they might sound, were an intriguing premise, and considering that Parker is living in multiple timelines already, having memories of events that never happened and therefore remembering more days than he has lived (in THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, remembering two lived timelines caused some serious health issues for Ashton Kutcher’s character), but there is no spoiler when I say that the writers never revisited this premise and forgot all about it after the production of this episode, because everything about SEVEN DAYS is simply just pulp and fun and anthological. I get that it’s easier to win new viewers with an anthology show that doesn’t take in effect previous events from episodes that aired two years ago, but there is never a great show in an anthology that runs for multiple years.

Chinese bullets will never reach this superhuman.

Still, I sort of loved that the writers made a topic out of time in this episode, even though the premise of this hour turned into outright theft of the German movie blockbuster LOLA RENNT by Tom Tykwer, which a German cineast should know, and which happens to be one of my all-time favorite films to watch, as it is a chill watch with all the foot-racing action and the techno soundtrack (and I don’t even like techno music). I loved that something unique was happening in Parker’a life that he couldn’t even begin to understand, but still had the courage to talk about with someone, even if that someone happened to be Dr. Manson, who only had two appearances in the entire show, this episode being her final one (but hey, Ursula Brooks still stuck around in Jonathan LaPaglia’s life, as she was, and still is his wife). Also, I loved the notion of Parker having conversations with his mirror self. He is considered to be a certifiably crazy guy after all, so it was only logical that there might be a chance for him to lose his mind by talking to his inner self about all things time travel, which should melt one’s mind.

Of course, there are some hiccups – I mean, burbs — with the story. I like that the writers brought Talmadge to the attention of the audience and gave him a bit of a story (or at least something other to do than smoke a cigar and brief the team about the newest backstep event), but I don’t understand why the NSA panel would approve a backstep, just to save Talmadge’s life. Yes, he was a good leader, but there are probably a few more good leaders out there who could run Project Backstep as good as Talmadge did. Maybe the NSA panel thought that Talmadge did spill some of the secret beans to the Asian villains, but even then the panel should have realized that too much time had already passed and that the time of his death, which happened to be seven days ago from the point of the backstep, doesn’t mean he didn’t have a forced conversation with his kidnappers. Secondly, way too many people know about Project Backstep these days, and most of them are villains. And for the second time in the show’s run (the first time was “Parkergeist”), the villains knew about the project — if South American drug lords and the Chinese know about Project Backstep, there is really no way of telling if the Russians and the North Koreans and therefore the rest of the world knows about Project Backstep, and trying to create a mission that would have them steal the secrets of the NSA ad try to get their own time travel device up and running. I’m actually impressed that the NSA hasn’t been dealing with antagonistic parties trying to get at their secrets.

Isn’t beer pretty?

Anyway, the episode was good, despite it being LOLA RENNT in an abridged version, portrayed by Americans who don’t know a lot about movies to begin with (but know enough to remake them into television episodes). The story-breaking scenes are there, when Parker (Lola) talked to Parker (Manni) about the time burbs (love and life), which somewhat affected Parker’s (Lola’s) decision during the next round of running and life-saving, but that doesn’t mean the writers knew the original film, let alone understood its complexities. Yet this episode was filled with action and a hip and hyper soundtrack, as well as a little bit of SEVEN DAYS-typical humor — it’s almost a perfect episode for SEVEN DAYS, even including the kinda dumb moments in the story, beginning with the rickshaw driver, continuing with the lady on the phone while driving, and let’s not forget all the weirdness that made Chinatown in Vancouver, British Columbia look a little weird (a funeral service in the back alley?). But the writers made it known with this episode that they have learned something from their previous mistakes: Every time Parker called Ramsey after the backstep or the time burbs, he caught Ramsey in an earlier moment of his appreciation for the cigar than before (at first right before he put fire to it, the second time around right before he cut it, the third time around when he was sniffing it), because every time Parker ran up to the phone booth, he was quicker in throwing out the random dude who didn’t want to listen. Also, consistency was part of this episode: Every action in the new timeline changes something from the old timeline. The rickshaw guy wasn’t there the third time around, proving that Parker is involuntarily affecting the new timeline once more, although I would love to know what Parker did to affect the rickshaw guy not being there the third time around.

Seven Days (“The Backstepper’s Apprentice”)

Season 2, Episode 13
Date of airing: February 16, 2000 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.5/4 in Households

It was a solid episode, but it was also an hour of television that looked to be written in a lazy fashion. When it comes to the premise and the tech involving backsteps, I wonder if the writers ever established rules they weren’t allowed to break for the sake of the premise or if they just didn’t care about the rules as established by previous episodes. According to this episode, Parker can travel back six days before he starts materializing, and while he is going down to Earth again, he apparently can travel back another day — even though SEVEN DAYS never cared about the technological aspects of the premise, I can only ask how the hell that is even possible. Parker picks up a kid hitchhiker, but the only way Morgan travels back in time is only via his consciousness, because little Morgan wakes up in his bedroom, almost believing it was all a dream, all while Parker has to physically travel back in time and feel the pain doing so — how the hell is that possible, and why did the writers just decide that someone’s consciousness was travelling back in time instead of the entire physical body? What would the episode have been like, if Parker had found Morgan in the Sphere after he regained consciousness? Sure, the story of finding Morgan would not have been in the episode, and Parker wouldn’t have questioned whether he was hallucinating or not, but the writers could have created a weird and trippy storyline about a kid accidentally traveling through time and “solving crime” with the actual backstepper. While this almost sounds like a premise of a late 1970s TV adventure show, it’s not like SEVEN DAYS has’t made used of that kind of idea before.

Why is she still surprised about that kiss? They have had a few of those by now…

On the other hand, this episode has an emotional angle, which made it more memorable. Morgan was a good and interesting character for this hour, and it’s good that he was just out to save his grandfather from certain death, and not use the information for his own gain, like beating his bullies at school or winning over his crush — granted, he did both those things, but it’s not like he was out looking for it. The writers managed to steer around the usual time travel tropes, and simply made a story about a lovable kid trying to help his loving grandfather and nothing more. I just would have wished for Morgan to be involved more with Parker though, instead of pushing that part of the episode into the fourth act. Looking at the episode’s title, it’s kind of ridiculous how few scenes Parker and Morgan were sharing, acting alongside each other. In fact, there were only two scenes: the one in the parking lot, and the one in the chopper on their way to save Morgan’s grandfather.

Episodes like this are also an example why SEVEN DAYS needed to be more serialized every once in a while. That serialization would have helped creating the rules of the show, and it wouldn’t have made things awkward during the first two acts of the episode, during which Morgan’s timeline and Parker’s timeline never ran concurrent with each other. It was established that the plane crashed the day after the assassination of the Padre, which means all this time Parker and Project Backstep were focusing on the mission at hand and they never heard of the plane crash. All this time before the backstep, and both stories weren’t even happening simultaneously, because in the timeline, Morgan already crashed with the plane and died before the team even had the chance for their briefing. Stories like this would have been better if SEVEN DAYS didn’t focus on being stand-alone in every episode, and it may have helped the show in being better and more successful in the ratings game. SEVEN DAYS was already the network’s most popular show, but the writers didn’t do anything to keep those viewers and maybe expand the reach of the show.

This kid will pay for his plane ride with a stolen credit card.

But at least the writers came up with a proper reason for the backstep. Episodes that don’t focus on Parker’s mission and instead put emphasis on a side gig (helping out a friend, battling Galina, or saving a colleague’s family from getting killed) usually don’t come with big explanations of why the backstep actually happens, or don’t even go into a backstep event at all (I’m looking at you, “Two Weddings and a Funeral” — yes, the explosion of the Statue of Liberty was not a backstep event), but here, the writers gave the viewers a proper backstep event, and even a scene in which Frank “saved the world” by doing the mission for a scene. I think that’s a first in an episode that doesn’t deal with the backstep event.

Seven Days (“Buried Alive”)

Season 2, Episode 12
Date of airing: February 9, 2000 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.3/4 in Households

This is without a doubt the best episode of the entire show, and I say that as someone who knows the entire show already. It’s a different episode compared to the rest of the series, ad it has a unique premise, at least for SEVEN DAYS standards, as it relies heavily on character-focused storytelling than the usual backstep-event-of-the-week. This was not only an episode to learn a bit more about Francis Bartholomew Parker, whom we have witnessed saving the world for one and a half seasons now, but also an episode that shows you can even do something about your show, even it has become generic and impossible to make better. Also, the fact that the writers focused on characters this time makes this episode of SEVEN DAYS truly unique. With characters, there are emotions, and with emotions, there is a connection, and when I can connect with a TV show, it doesn’t matter whether the show good or bad, when the biggest thing I’m in for is connecting with and feeling for the characters.

There are a few times Donovan is allowed to wear the chrononaut suit.

It’s interesting that this episode comes in the middle of the second season. I would really like to know how the writers’ room came to this idea when pitching ideas, and how the episode was eventually broken down. What happened in the lives of the writers, when they conceived and broke this episode, and why wasn’t it possible for them to continue the work they have done during the week or two, when they broke story on this hour? I know that around this time of the show, the writers were definitely out to redefine the show and change it up (playing with the premise of space and time in “Time Gremlin”, being more patriotic again by setting a story on a battleship, the LOLA RENNT adaptation episode that comes up pretty soon and the WARGAMES adaptation that came earlier this season, as well as the fact that this season hasn’t been heavy on science-fiction stories), eventually making it better, because they most likely realized that the show has become stale and repetitive, and that you can’t simply just write 22 episodes without bringing change and development or at least good ideas into it. I wonder what happened in the lives of the writers, and I wonder why whatever happened wasn’t kicking around in the writers’ room for a long time. Because in a few episodes, everything is back to normal and SEVEN DAYS is going to become a cheap and silly and repetitive pulp action fun show again.

This episode pretty much didn’t have a story. It was all Parker — his life as a teenager, his life as an orphan, his life in the Navy, his life in the hot box in Somalia, his life as a lonely kid, who turned out to be a great human being, yet still lonely. All of a sudden I understand why the marriage with Patricia didn’t hold for long, and why Parker is always such a madman, risking his life for the greater good. He doesn’t have many friends (his colleagues might in fact be the only ones), so he doesn’t have a lot of baggage, when it comes to saving the world one backstep at a time. He didn’t have much of a life, thanks to having no parents, and not much of a goal as a teenager, thanks to his being raised among nuns and priests (he might have been one of the lucky ones to not get abused by the Catholic church system). It took a lot of criminal mischief and a priest to show him the right direction, and it needed a lot of ass-kicking on his part to figure out that even when you are lonely, you can do great things. I’m also thankful that the episode didn’t steer Parker into religious beliefs during his flashbacks, considering he was pretty much the “son” of a priest, any Catholic or Christian TV writer would have brought God into the story, but God wasn’t even mentioned in this episode. It’s one more example why this episode is so much about Parker himself than any kind of story.

The hot box of Somalia is quite roomy.

I also loved that the team was in focus for once. Olga and Ramsey are having a talk about not wanting to lose Parker, and in the next scene Talmadge and Mentnor are having a talk about not wanting to lose Parker as well, although they at least found joy in smoking a few illegal cigars. The team became important again, and I’ll take any episode of SEVEN DAYS, in which the team actually got important for the story, as tiny as it might have been. By the way: the story. First of all, helping along the uniqueness of the episode was the fact that the backstep happened not even five minutes into the episode (the fastest backstep of the show) — that meant there was a lot of time to have Frank in the mine under the mountain, reminiscing about life, and fighting for it, showing his hunger for survival through flashbacks and his present situation. Secondly, I am wondering though why no one really realized that an explosion happened under the mountain and why Frank didn’t die right away during that explosion, since it kind of looked like the fireball had engulfed him off-screen. I’m pretty sure that a bang like that would not only make Parker’s ears explode or even bleed, but also be noticeable by the guys on the ground, who were seismographing (is that a word?) the mountain.

All in all, it’s a shame that this episode wasn’t the beginning of a new version of the show. I blame the producers and the studio, and maybe even UPN for the fact that the writers weren’t allowed to continue redefining and changing the show. If the writers were at fault for the decline of the show after that (and I don’t know until someone decides to speak up, if they still remember what they were doing in early 2000), then I don’t even know what to say. Maybe the show should have been axed after the second season. Maybe the show deserved its silent cancellation after the third season, simply because the writers weren’t ready to put a new coat of paint on their work.