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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Yearly Christmas Tradition - MacGyver "The Madonna"

The MacGyver episode “The Madonna” has been in indispensable part of my annual Christmas tradition for about 18 years now.

Yes, I adore Richard Dean Anderson. And I have always loved MacGyver. Those are no small part of the reason why I watch this episode on Christmas each year. But I can also tell you that if you want to see an exemplary example of outstanding writing, watch this episode.

Cathleen Young wrote this episode. I don’t know anything else about her because unlike actors, you seldom hear much about the writers behind the scenes of great shows. But I do know I’ve always wanted to find out where to write to her to tell her how outstanding I thought that episode was – and how special it remains, even since it’s first airing back around 1989.

This episode has everything you could possibly want in an episode of MacGyver, or in a script in general. Humor. Angst. Tears. Richard Dean Anderson and children (I can’t think of an actor who does a finer job of playing opposite kids on film). I’ve watched this episode a million times and even to this day, the scene with Mac and Father Patrick Lafferty as his old friend reveals his mother’s last words makes me bawl like a baby.

The episode is also special because it carries on with the powerful characters created in an earlier episode with the late Booker and his wife Cynthia, who in this episode carries on her work at the Challengers Club. And the actress who plays Cynthia sings the most powerful rendition of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” that I’ve ever heard.

And the scriptwriter, Ms. Young, wove together seamlessly several plot threads in this episode that converged beautifully in the culmination of the story’s ending. It was so beautifully done that words of appreciation simply aren’t enough to commend this writer for her fine work.

I really need to make it a 2009 goal to see if there is any way to find out how to contact Ms. Young and tell her myself what an awesome episode this was. I mean, I don’t know what motivates other writers, but for me, it’s the power of the possibility of touching lives. Of making a difference. And Ms. Young did that in a big way.

This Christmas, a friend of mine was over and while she saw a few episodes of MacGyver while it was on the air, she was not an avid watcher like myself. And even she was touched by the episode, and also cued in on the fine writing job done by the screenwriter for this episode.

Man alive, there just isn’t anything more powerful then the written word. God bless all those who have written such words over the years that they have made a difference in the lives of others.


morjana said...

MacGyver's 'The Madonna' is one of my favorite MacGyver episodes as well.

According to IMDB:

This script was Cathleen Young's very first TV production!

Ms. Young won a '95 Humanitas Prize for her script for 'A Place For Annie.'

Perhaps Humanitas could assist you in contacting Ms. Young:

Good luck!

Vina said...

Cathleen is actress Sean Young's sister. Here is some info on her from Humanitas...
Cathleen Young, Executive Director, The HUMANITAS Prize

Cathleen Young came to HUMANITAS by way of her 20-year career as a Hollywood writer. She has written 13 two-hour network movies for ABC, NBC, CBS and Lifetime -- 6 produced. She was on-staff at two network series. Young also won the HUMANITAS Prize and a Christopher Award in 1995 for her ABC Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentation "A Place for Annie," which was nominated for an Emmy® as well as the 1996 WGA Award. Young's other credits include the CBS primetime series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, CBS Movies of the Week Everything to Gain, Her Own Rules and Lifetime's Navigating the Heart. She has had a number of published articles in Working Mother Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun Times and a book published by St. Martin’s Press entitled Quiet Renegade: Isabella Rossellini.

Young has more than fifteen years of experience within the television and journalism industry. She served as guest editor for Mademoiselle Magazine and went on to do long-term story breakdowns for CBS' The Young and The Restless, where Bill Bell was an early mentor. She then went on to become a staff writer for the primetime hit series MacGyver. Her sister is actress Sean Young and her father, Don Young Jr., was an Emmy® Award winning news producer. She has been a Trustee of HUMANITAS since 1996.

Carole said...

You can contact the Writer's Guild of America to see how to get in touch with her. They will probably provide her publicist or management company information, who will forward letters, etc.

B.K. Jackson said...

Thanks so much to those who took time to offer helpful pointers in contacting Ms. Young. You know after I posted that blog last night I decided to Google once again. I've done it in the past with no result, but last night, I did find that link to and I did send an email there. Time will tell if it is forwarded to her.

I feel such great relief at following through on something I've very much wanted to do for a lot of years. I'm a strong believer on giving feedback to people, especially when it involves how they touch lives. And I thank all those who commented with helpful info and tips. Have a blessed New Year!