REGULAR CAST, GUEST CAST & CREDITS
TV GUIDE PROMO
SYNOPSIS 1 by Sally Dye
SYNOPSIS 2 by Loretta Miller
COMMENTARY 1 by Mao693
COMMENTARY 2 by Loretta Miller
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Laila Ali (Melina)
Jim Borda (Bill)
Leesa Halstead (Victoria)
Johnny "Yahya" McClain (Jim)
Tristen Spears (Kelly)
Josephine Bragamontes (Tanya)
Denise Loden (Sheena stunt double)
Written by Gene Miller and Karen Kavner
Directed by Jon Cassar
Filmed on location in Orlando, FL and Africa.
TV GUIDE PROMO
Cutter and Mendelsohn team up to help a female boxer to realize her dream of being a champion. ClickTV
A young girl carries on her late father's dream, to be a boxing champion. A match is set up with the reigning champion but, with millions riding on the match, our girl isn't supposed to win! Logline
This synopsis is by Sally Dye .
A young Maltaka boxer, Melina, is practicing with a punching bag. She is thinking about her father, who had a dream for her, and about Robert Wangila, who was an Olympic boxer. Sheena asks her how the bag helps her. Melina says Cutter is coaching her and has her doing all kinds of conditioning exercises. They are preparing for a bout with an undefeated fighter named Kelly Lewis. Melina says she was surprised to be offered the chance to fight Kelly, who is internationally known. Cutter says they couldn't find anyone else who would fight Kelly because she's so good, so they chose an unknown fighter for the publicity. Cutter says Melina has a good chance in the fight because she has more height and reach than Kelly, but Mendelson says that Kelly's size is an advantage because she goes for the body. He and Cutter argue, so Sheena and Melina decide to do some road work. They run through the jungle together until they come to a rope bridge crossing a deep gorge. As Melina is crossing the bridge, two men -- Bill and Jim -- cut the ropes. Melina almost falls, but Sheena gets to her just in time.
As Melina continues to practice, the men watch her with binoculars and discuss other ways they could stop the fight.
Sheena goes back to the bridge and finds the rope cut. She tells Cutter, who advises that they not tell Melina it wasn't an accident until they know more. Sheena shows him some powder from the rope that he identifies as talc, which means whoever cut the rope was from the other camp, since Melina doesn't use it.
Bill reports to Victoria Stevens, Kelly's manager, who is exasperated that he couldn't do the job right. She explains that Kelly's sparring partner, Tanya, has knocked Kelly down twice. She shows Bill a tape of Tanya sparring with Melina, who is able to knock Tanya down. She is afraid Melina will win the fight, and she will be in about $5 million worth of trouble with a guy named Ajay Fahid, whom she has guaranteed that Kelly will win the fight. She says she will double Bill's fee if he can put Melina out of the fight.
Cutter goes to see Victoria. When he gets into the compound, Sheena sneaks out of his truck and slips into the foliage. Cutter tells Victoria he doesn't think Melina's "accident" was one, and if anything else happens to her, things will get ugly. When he leaves, Victoria tells Bill that now they have no choice -- Melina must be killed.
Sheena overhears Bill call Jim and tell him to kill Melina and lose the body. Sheena gets out of the compound, taking out several burly bodyguards in the process.
Jim and two other men jump Melina, who has gone to visit her father's grave. She fights them off and runs into the jungle.
Sheena catches up with Cutter and they radio Mendelson to find out where Melina is. When he tells them Melina went to see her dad, they head for the burial grounds.
The men catch Melina and decide to throw her to the crocodiles. Before they can do this, the darak'na leaps out and kills the men, then runs off into the jungle. Cutter runs to Melina, who is amazed that the darak'na saved her life.
Victoria and Bill don't know what has happened, only that they can't locate their men and don't know where Cutter and Melina are, either. They decide to post guards at the doors to the weigh-in and keep Melina from getting in. She will then have to forfeit.
Melina is at Sheena's cave home. She and Sheena talk. Melina says she wants to box, but can't feel the joy in it if she has to contend with the hiding and the secrecy. Sheena says she needs to do what feels right for her. Melina thinks about it and then begins training again.
At the weigh-in, Sheena takes out the guards at the door so Melina, Cutter and Mendelson can get in. Victoria tries to cancel the fight, but Melina gets there in time.
Bill tells Victoria they need to "persuade" Melina to lose the fight, so they kidnap Mendelson.
Cutter finds Mendelson's abandoned vehicle. There is a radio and Cutter picks it up. Bill is on the other end and says that he has Mendelson and will kill him if Melina wins. When Cutter tells Melina this, she wants to cancel the fight, but Sheena says no, she will find Mendelson.
The fight begins as Sheena -- in ocelot form --tracks Mendelson to the house where he is being held. Melina is passive in the ring, letting Kelly hit her. Bill and Victoria are loving it. Melina tells Cutter between rounds that she is not feeling the joy in this fight. Sheena frees Mendelson and they head for the arena. Melina is knocked down but is saved by the bell. She tells Cutter that she must go down for good in the next round, but just then Mendelson appears in her corner. He gives her the strategy to beat Kelly. Melina goes out fighting and knocks Kelly out.
Bill and Victoria try to get away, but Sheena follows them. She jumps onto their truck and pulls Bill out the door. While they fight, Victoria tries to drive away, but Bill accidentally shoots the gas tank of the truck and it explodes.
Melina comes by on her way to the airport to thank Cutter and Mendelson. Mendelson asks that she bring him a hot dog from Coney Island. Melina says that when she returns from her tour she's going to build a youth center with her prize money. Cutter gives her a T-short that says "Melina the Champ" on it. He says he had the shirts delivered BEFORE the fight, because he believed in her dream, too.
This synopsis is by Loretta Miller .
Melina, a Maltaka boxer, sharpens her skills on the punching bag. Cutter is helping her train. She is to fight Kelly "the Killer" Lewis. Melina has a 24-0 record and the University is sponsoring the fight between them. Mendehlson, also helping with the training reminds them that Kelly is smaller and that Melina has the advantage. But, Kelly can get "under" the fighter. Mendehlson tells Melina that to win she’ll have to hit "the mark", a blow to the solar plexus that will down Kelly.
Melina and Sheena run through the village to the delight of the area kids, through a meadow and over to a rope bridge. A man from Kelly’s camp and the opposition sees Melina on the rope bridge and cuts the rope nearly sending Melina into the raging river below. Sheena saves her and Melina survives with only a minor injury to an elbow.
Cutter tells Melina to forget the incident and focus on the positive: the fight.
Victoria Stevens talks with her right hand, the man who had cut the rope, as they watch Cutter help train Melina. They spot Mendehlson and figure that he’s assisting in the training. Victoria tells him that he has to do something to stop the fight. The man has an injured hand from the rope bridge incident and tells her that he has to get it checked.
Sheena is back at the rope bridge and finds the rope cut and reports the finding to Cutter who thinks that the rope could have been gnawed on by animals. Sheena tells her a sharp blade cut through the rope and she found white powder at the site. Cutter thinks that it could be resin, and explains to her that it’s a powder used by weightlifters and others to dry out the hands in order to make the grip stronger. Would boxers use resin? Cutter tells her no. Sheena suspects that someone from the opposite camp did the deed, narrowing it down to only a couple dozen men. You find the one using resin, she says, and you’ll find the attacker.
Victoria is told by her right hand that they were unsuccessful in their attempt to hurt Melina. The man wants to know why Victoria wants her out of the picture so badly. Victoria has a TV set at the ready to show him a video of Melina taking on Tawnya, a fighter that had downed Kelly twice. Melina won that fight easily. The man sees that Melina’s skill is far better than Kelly’s as Victoria tells him that she has $5 Million on a guarantee that Kelly win. Victoria tells him that Melina must pull out of the fight and suggests he break one of her limbs. In order for that to be accomplished, he tells her that his fee has to be tripled.
Melina is back training but her heart isn’t in it. She needs to see her father, who had died a number of years before, at the burial grounds. Mendehlson reminds her that Cutter doesn’t want her leaving the training area but she leaves anyway.
Cutter enters the opposition’s camp, and introduces himself as "the enemy" but sees Victoria Stevens. She tells him that the fight is "press only" to keep the fighters focused on the fight and it’ll be a "pay-per-view". Cutter doubts that it is on the contract. He gives her a warning. He knows that her men were behind the attack and there is only one warning. The consequences for anything dire would be harsh.
Sheena is near the opposition’s camp, near some training equipment, and overhears a burly man radioing to someone else issuing the orders to kill Melina. Sheena goes to the house nearby where the men are housed and fights guards that tower over her. She manages to knock one out and downs another by throwing a barbell with large weights on it at the guy.
At the burial ground, three men from the opposite camp approach her from behind as she kneels at her father’s grave. She tosses dirt in their faces and the fight is on. She punches them repeatedly and then runs off. Sheena spots Cutter’s truck from a tree and jumps into the bed to inform him that she’s overheard the death threat. Cutter radios Mendehlson who tells him that Melina is gone to see her father. Sheena tells him it must be at the burial grounds. They head that direction.
Melina is running with the men hot on her trail. She falls and cuts open her left thigh. She is surrounded and held at gunpoint. They tell her that her fighting is just "too good" and tells his henchmen to feed her to the croc’s. Suddenly they hear a SCREECH of the Darak’na. The Darak’na attacks the men, slicing and dicing them up and leaves in a mad dash back into the dense brush. Cutter arrives moments later with Melina telling him that the Darak’na saved her life.
Victoria is informed that her men were unable to kill Melina. They know nothing about the woman that attacked her men earlier in the day, either. Probably Cutter’s worker, Victoria supposes. They know that if Melina doesn’t show up for the weigh-in the next day, the fight will be a forfeit. Driven underground, they set up training in a cave. Melina is deeply sad and Sheena doesn’t know what to say to her. Sheena asks about her wound, which is merely a flesh wound and "okay" according to Melina. It’s not her physical injury, it’s her spirit which has been damaged. Melina wants to box but can’t "if it resorts to this". She tells Sheena that when she has her gloves on she feels freedom. Her father had told her that you box from your soul, from within. She’s afraid she’ll lose the joy of fighting. Sheena tells her that she loves the La Mistas and would do anything to protect it. She tells her that the joy comes from knowing who we are, it’s a place to start. Melina goes to the punching bag that has been mounted for her and with one punch sends the bag flying.
She’s back to training…hard.
At the weigh-in, Sheena shows up and fights the men who are guarding the entrance. Mendehlson asks her if she ever considered a career in ultimate wrestling. Inside, Victoria holds up Kelly’s arm announcing that due to Melina’s absence the fight has to be forfeited. Behind them come Melina with Cutter and Mendehlson flanking her. Victoria’s face falls as she watches Melina weigh-in. She tells the press that has gathered that she hopes to bring honor to her country, her tribe and to Cutter and to her trainer: Mendehlson. Later, Victoria meets with her right hand and they argue. He’s said this whole deal was her fault and she was running the operation "piecemeal". Stopping the fight was Victoria’s idea. He has an idea, to gently ask Melina not to fight.
Mendehlson, driving alone in the jeep, is overtaken by another vehicle and stopped. A canvas bag is thrown over his head and he asks, "I’m being kidnapped, right?"
Cutter finds Mendehlson’s empty jeep and a radio taped to the steering wheel. He uses it and finds out he’s talking to a man from the opposition’s camp. He tells Cutter that they’ll cut Mendehlson into little pieces if Melina doesn’t take a dive. "She loses or you lose." Melina is warming up in the locker room of the arena when Cutter tells them that if Melina wins, Mendehlson dies. She wants to quit. Sheena tells her she’s worked too hard to quit. She tells her that the longer they fight in the ring, the longer she has to find Mendehlson. She’ll track the bad guys. "Is your nose really that good?" "No, but I know someone’s whose is." She leaves and shape-shifts into a cheetah.
Melina is meditating as Cutter comes in and tells her it’s fight time. "Is Sheena back?" Cutter has to tell her, "No."
The cheetah goes to the opposition’s camp as Melina enters the ring. The Cheetah finds the jeep the men used and follows the scent. Meanwhile, Mendehlson lifts the lid of the trunk they have him stuffed in and gets an eyeball of the fight on TV. The thug holding him has his back to him, intently watching the match as it begins. Mendehlson sees that Melina isn’t fighting. She’s taking repeated punches but isn’t punching back. She’s trying to extend the fight as long as possible.
The plan is that Melina will take a dive near the end of the fight. Sheena hasn’t returned, Cutter tells her at the end of one of the rounds. The cheetah enters through the window where Mendehlson is being held and changes into Sheena. She fights the man and frees Mendehlson from the trunk. Mendehlson shows up at ringside just before Melina is to take a dive and coaches her quickly on what she needs to do as he could tell Kelly was weakening by watching a little on TV. He tells her to "hit the mark" (the punch to the solar plexus) as Sheena is above on the catwalk. She sees that two seats at ringside are vacant.
Victoria and her right hand are making their escape in a jeep. A downed tree stops them as Sheena jumps on the vehicle’s roof and drags the driver out through the window. They begin to fight as Victoria slips in behind the wheel. The man pulls out his revolver and a shot rings out, the bullet hits the jeep’s fuel tank. Victoria is racing off as a second shot ignites the line of fuel. Flames race down the fuel and the jeep explodes.
Much later, Cutter is hauling out several cardboard boxes while Mendehlson busies himself getting some sun. Melina arrives and wants to thank them before she starts her tour that will take her to the U.S. Mendehlson requests a coney dog with onions. Sheena reminds him it’ll be a three-month tour and he tells her to forget the onions. Cutter shows Melina tee shirts saying, "Melina, the champ". He knows he had them printed before the outcome of the fight was known, but he happens to believe in her dream, too.
This synopsis is by mao693.
I need to say two things before I begin this review.
1. The episode wasn't bad at all.
2. I don't care for sports -- ANY kind of sports. I find watching sporting events very boring.
That's why I'm writing this part of the review while the VCR is taping the second half of the show. I'll watch it when it's done, so I can fast-forward through the fight scenes.
Basically, Cutter & Mendelson are helping a young African girl train to be a boxer. No idea when they started this, much less why, but somehow she's gotten good enough to get invited to fight some (American?) female boxer. Unfortunately for her, the "enemy" has a manager who's promised some big-time bookie that the "enemy" boxer will win -- and is willing to kill our heroine to make that promise happen.
The show starts out with some history about an African boxer from the late 1800s, I think, who won the gold at an Olympic game. Presumably this is true stuff, which unfortunately means nothing to me. This gentleman has no connection to our girl, other than being an inspiration to her father and, thus, to her. Dad's dead now, sadly, but he left her with a desire to box and to win.
Sheena meets up with her at a training session outside of Cutter's bar, and soon they're off running cross-country (cross-jungle?) to basically get away from more of Mendelson's stories. Sheena's already across a rope/wood bridge when Melina (the name of this episode's heroine) gets a bad break -- the bridge loses a couple of slats and she's about to fall into the gorge beneath but Sheena saves her. What the gals don't realize until Sheena goes back to check on the ropes is that the problem was deliberate.
We then discover that the manager of the "enemy" boxer needs for Melina to lose the match -- but the manager thinks that is unlikely, since she knows that Melina is better than her boxer. So she hires someone (a group of someones, actually) to break Melina's leg, or otherwise hurt her so Melina can't fight. Once Cutter becomes convinced that the "enemy camp" is trying to hurt Melina, he warns the manager against any more attempts, which results in the manager changing the contract from 'hurt' to 'kill.'
Sheena -- who hid (somehow -- I didn't really catch how that was done, though I think she was on top of Cutter's truck) as Cutter came into the "enemy camp" and then got off -- overhears this and she and Cutter haul themselves back to Melina. Who, unfortunately, has picked this time to go visit Dad's grave. And, who, of course, is quite vulnerable to the baddies with a gun. Fortunately for her, the Darak'na conveniently gets there in time to keep the bad guys from feeding Melina to the crocodiles (much easier to explain than a gunshot wound.) At this point, our gang retreat to Sheena's cave and the jungle to finish the training. We also get a heart-to-heart talk about doing what is important to us, etc., which gets Melina back into the business of trying to win her match.
Next we are treated to a scene where the "enemy camp" is guarded to prevent Melina from showing up. 'Evil manager' attempts to claim that Melina is an obvious no-show, only to be foiled by the gang walking in and claiming "heavy traffic" (Cutter, of course.) Sheena was needed to take the guards out, but once they're in, all is well. At least, for our folks. I guess this was just a weigh-in, and not the actual fight, because they all leave after this and go back to their respective homes. 'Evil manager' is all upset that Melina is still alive and kicking (or punching) but 'evil sidekick #1' says "Oh shut up, we'll let the match go on, but we'll convince Melina to lose." So they go kidnap Mendelson, who is using a golf cart to ride from town to town on -- big surprise that he gets overtaken.
Ah, sheesh. I just watched the rest of the show. ::sigh::
Well, Cutter discovers the empty vehicle and a convenient walkie- talkie that connects him to the bad guy who warns "Melina takes a dive or Mendelson dies." For whatever reason, Cutter decides that both Sheena and Melina need to know this, which of course prompts Melina to say that she'll do it. Sheena disagrees and becomes a lynx (or other small cat-type of animal) to find Mendelson. She does, but it takes a while and Melina must fight for time, not the joy of fighting she and Sheena have discussed is the best reason to box. Of course, Sheena and Mendelson show up in time to save the day and Melina goes back out for one last round to knock out her opponent. What joy there is in Maltaka.
'Evil manager' and 'Evil sidekick #1' run away -- got to get anywhere else but here before 'bad bookie' finds and kills them. Sheena has followed, however, and gets them to stop so she can then pull 'sidekick' out of the vehicle and beat up on him. Here comes the "sheesh factor" -- he pulls a gun, which goes off twice. First, it punches a hole in the gas tank, then (after 'evil manager' has started backing up to get away from Sheena) the second shot starts the gas on fire -- straight to the car, which of course somehow has enough gas left in it to blow up, taking 'evil manager' with it. No idea what happens to the 'sidekick.'
Then we get an "aww-y" type of ending, with Melina showing up at Cutter's prior to her three month boxing tour, just in time to accept a t-shirt that has "Melina-The Champ" on it. Sheena notices that said shirt was delivered prior to the fight -- Cutter says that Melina wasn't the only one that believed in her dream. Pretty much fade to black after that one.
What I liked:
Cutter treats Melina as a professional. There's one scene where he gives her a pep talk, then slaps her butt as they turn from each other. Unlike just about any episode from the first season, I did not get the feeling that this was anything OTHER than a sports- related tap.
Mendelson has some decent work. Not quite sure about the smirk as the bad guys come up on him in their jeep, nor too pleased about his "I guess I'm being kidnapped" quip, but his request to Melina to bring him back a hot dog from Coney Island was cute. (Sheena reminds him that Melina will be gone for three months and New York is first on the tour -- "in that case, hold the onions.")
Nice to see the Darak'na and a morphing Sheena in the same episode.
Convenient gun shots to the car at the end.
No Kali -- nor Rashid. Not even in the audience at the fight.
Fairly uninteresting guest stars.
Verdict -- not a bad episode, but not one I was interested in. Hard to explain, I know. The writing wasn't bad, but the story left me cold? How about that?
This synopsis is by Loretta Miller .
I don’t know about any other viewer, but I have always taken Maltaka to be a rather remote section of Africa. Having Cutter teaching the kids of Maltaka how to play baseball and the fun in seeing that would be one thing, but coaching a boxer? I dunno. Mendehlson is certainly a man of many talents, isn’t he? He has fashion nailed, knows about plastic explosives and now can coach a boxer to victory. I think that whatever Cutter is paying him, he needs a pay raise.
Mendehlson (Kevin Quigley) once again brings this episode its lighthearted moments and when he was kidnapped, his understated, "I’m being kidnapped, right?" was great! Perhaps the writers are making him more of the comic relief in this series. I don’t know. I truly enjoy his bits, that’s for sure.
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
08-20-01. Laila Ali is Muhammad Ali's daughter.
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