Episode Recap #7: Doctor Jack
Original Airdate: November 14, 1987
John D. LeMay as Ryan Dallion
Louise Robey as Micki Foster
Chris Wiggins as Jack Marshak
Cliff Gorman as Dr. Vincent Howlett
Elva Mai Hoover as Jean Flappen
Doris Petrie as Dr. Price
Michael Copeman as Jim Bronson
Written by Marc Scott Zicree
Directed by Richard Friedman
This week, we begin outside, at night. A man in trench coat is walking the streets and approaches a flower vendor. When the vendor chases after the money that blows into the alley, the mystery man pulls a scalpel and cuts the vendor's throat. A crowd gathers and the man escapes, cutting through solid iron bars at the end of the alley with the scalpel.
How did Lewis get his hands on Jack the Ripper's scalpel?
At Curious Goods, Jack is reading the manifest, an entry about an antique surgical scalpel. The three of them are discussing the events of the night before, wondering if this scalpel can be the small knife witnesses saw the man wielding. Micki finds a note in the manifest that states the scalpel may have belonged to Jack the Ripper.
Later, Micki and Ryan wait for Jack outside "Jim's Knives", a weapon store. When Jack arrives, he has info on the man Lewis sold the scalpel to. Seems Jim Morgan was a thug and an ex-con and a craftsman when it came to using a blade. In the store, they fish Morgan, the proprietor for information. He denies knowledge, but Micki tricks him into admitting he sold the scalpel. When he won't tell the who he sold the item to, Jack tricks the man by alluding to having incriminating negatives. He tells them the man who bought the scalpel was a Doctor Howlett. Jack tells them Howlett is being lauded as a miracle man for saving hopeless cases. When Micki asks how Jack got negatives on Morgan, he admits that they are really pictures of Micki and Ryan at the zoo.
Our 80s trio dealing with a cut-rate Crocodile Dundee-wannabe!
At Ravenbrook Hospital, Howlett is performing surgery with an audience of doctors and peers observing. He finishes the surgery to applause, while one lone woman watches him. The head of surgery, Dr. Price, admits to being skeptical before Howlett arrived but has to admit she was wrong after watching the surgery. Howlett gives a speech to the group, including reporters, extolling his own virtues as a miracle man and how he will single-handedly save the reputation of the hospital.
On the way to the hospital, Ryan wonders how the place can afford Howlett. Jack tells them they had no choice, the place has been plagued by financial and personnel woes. Hiring Howlett will help them on all counts, if he continues his successful path.
Drs. Price and Howlett walk, Price wondering what Howlett does on his off time. She remembers him from medical school and is amazed that he was able to even qualify as a surgeon. He thinks she is jealous, she says she just doesn't approve of his approach to surgery or medicine. Like or not, it works, he tells her, then leaves. The mystery woman, Jean, is seen watching him once again.
Jean wants revenge, she just isn't good at it.
Our trio arrives at the hospital, as doctors attempt to revive a patient on a gurney. They are directed to where Howlett went. Meanwhile, Jean pins a photo of a young woman to a door, just before Howlett approaches. He sees the photo, removes it and tosses it to the ground. Jean approaches and draws a gun on him. Ryan stops her just before she can shoot, Howlett slipping away. Micki pursues him. Jack sends Ryan after Micki and goes himself to talk to Jean, who has been taken away by orderlies.
The woman is strapped to a bed. Jack enters with photos and papers from her purse. The young woman is her daughter, Jean tells Jack, and was a doctor who looked up to Howlett. The young girl went to meet Howlett, but was later found dead, slashed to death. Jean then followed Howlett as he moved around and there was always a death or two wherever he went. She then began stalking him, waiting for a moment to exact her revenge on the man. She asks Jack to help her get free, but he says he can't. She thinks he is in league with Howlett.
In his office, Howlett opens the case that holds the scalpel. Micki enters, pretending to be someone who works at the hospital. She seems the scalpel in his hand and excuses herself. Ryan meets up with her and she tells him. He sends her to tell Jack while he keeps an eye on Howlett. Jack tells Micki that Howlett has killed dozens of people and if he suspects Ryan, their friend will be in grave danger.
Howlett leaves his office and Ryan follows him. Micki and Jack arrive back at the office and find it, and the scalpel case, empty. Ryan follows the doctor to the basement of the hospital. Jack and Micki work out how the curse on the scalpel must work and take off to find Ryan before something bad happens.
In the basement, Ryan appears to have lost Howlett, but spies the man in a storage room. He is taking out his trench coat and hat. Ryan slips and makes noise. Howlett chases after him, scalpel in hand. Jack and Micki hear the disturbance and follow. Ryan finds himself in a morgue and hides in one of the drawers. Howlett enters and opens the only drawer that is partially open, stabbing the body that lays under the sheet. Micki and Jack burst in, Howlett pushes past them and takes off, Jack now in pursuit. Micki pulls the sheet off the body, but finds a dead man, not Ryan. He calls to her from another drawer, which she opens to find him safe and sound.
Jack chases Howlett and the two struggle for the scalpel. Howlett pushes Jack into an open elevator shaft. Jack grabs the cable before falling, but Howlett uses the scalpel and cuts the cable, sending Jack plummeting down the elevator shaft. He takes off and Micki and Ryan find their friend unconscious.
Jack! How many times are our heroes this close to death?
Jack is rushed to surgery, barely alive. Micki and Ryan impatiently wait for news. Dr. Price approaches them, tells them Jack is being prepped for surgery and that his condition is quite serious. Ryan goes off, needing to do something other than wait.
Dr. Price tells Howlett that he is needed in surgery. He says he isn't scheduled to work. She says this surgery is exactly the reason was hired at Ravenbrook and that the press is already there, waiting to see him perform yet another miracle. Howlett has no choice but to agree to perform the surgery.
Outside, Howlett, again in his hat and trench coat walks the streets in search of a victim for his scalpel. At the hospital, Jean convinces the orderly watching her to loosen the straps on her arms. As he does, she reaches for a vase and smashes it over his head. She takes his keys and leaves the room.
Micki paces, waiting for word on Jack. Dr. Price arrives and gives her information on Jack, telling her that the best surgeon in the country will be doing the surgery. Micki is shocked to realize this means Howlett will be operating on Jack.
Howlett stalks a young skateboarder, but has to abandon that plan when the boy's friends arrive. Meanwhile, Ryan steals some scrubs at the hospital and Jean sneaks into the nurses' station and retrieves her clothes - and her gun - without anyone seeing her.
Howlett approaches a prostitute, but scares the woman away when he pulls the scalpel from his pocket. Micki waits, unsure what to do for Jack.
Dr. Howlett arrives late for surgery, and places the knife on the sink when he scrubs up. Ryan, disguised in scrubs, grabs the scalpel and takes off. He finds Micki and tells her he has the antique. Micki tells him he has to give it back, Howlett is the only one who can save Jack.
As Howlett searches for the scalpel, Dr. Price scolds him. Ryan enters and gives Howlett back the scalpel. In the operating room, an audience watches as surgery begins. Howlett assures Price he hasn't lost anyone yet and he isn't about to now. Jean also arrives to watch the surgery, her eyes locked on Howlett. Micki and Ryan wait, worried for the life of their friend. Ryan tells her that Jack was the first person who treated him like an adult.
How quickly Jack has become so important in their lives.
During surgery, Howlett is shocked to see that the patient he is operating on is Jack, the man he sent plummeting down the elevator shaft. But with an audience, he has no choice to do his best to save the man.
Micki tells Ryan that, no matter what happens to Jack, they have to stop Howlett. They can't let him continue to kill.
Howlett finishes the surgery, saying he has done all he can. He tells the nurse he will personally oversee the patient's post-op care. Dr. Price tells Micki and Ryan surgery is over and that Jack is in recovery. They ask where Howlett is, saying they want to than the doctor for saving their friend.
In recovery, Jacks rests, still unconscious Howlett enters the room, ready to cut Jack's breathing tube, but Jean arrives, gun in hand. She demands Howlett face her. He steps closer and uses the scalpel to cut the barrel of the gun in half, then stabs her. Micki and Ryan race in and, in the confusion, Howlett escapes. Ryan and Micki take off in pursuit.
In the basement, Howlett attacks Micki and Ryan, using the scalpel to cut through a steel can lid and, even more impressive, cut through steel doors. Cornered, Micki and Ryan feel like their end is near. But Jean sneaks up behind Howlett and whacks him over the head. Micki and Ryan take off, but Howlett is soon after them once again.
Ryan jumps the man, a fight ensues and Ryan is knocked out. Micki finds and powers up an old crash cart, holding the paddles behind her back. As Howlett approaches and aims his scalpel at her, she brings the paddles forward on either side of his hand. The electricity courses through Howlett, and he collapses. Ryan comes to and finds Howlett dead, the scalpel stuck in his heart.
Shocking, eh, Doc?
Back at Curious Goods, Jack is home and recovering. The scalpel is in the vault and Jean is on a plane, on her way home. Jack wants to get back to work, but Micki and Ryan tell him to take it easy. Ryan points out that with Howlett dead, at least Jack doesn't have to worry about getting a bill!
Enough with the puns, Ryan, Jack is trying to heal!
My thoughts: Well, not one of the best episodes of the series. Everything here seems so rushed! And the thought of one doctor being capable of saving a hospital with the litany of problems Ravenbrook seems to have stretches credibility, and that is saying something for a horror-based show.
Also, Howlett is either really stupid or really cocky, as when he kills on the street, his disguise is merely a coat, hat and glasses. He kills with witnesses all around and, later, he pulls the scalpel before he is close enough to the prostitute to actually use it. Of course she is going to run away!
While I love the idea of Jack the Ripper's scalpel being a cursed antique with power to kill and to heal, the story around it just seems rushed and then too quickly resolved.
I do like the scenes with Micki and Ryan worrying over Jack. As I said before, this group has quickly become a family and the thought of losing one of their own is a scary prospect.
Next week: "Shadow Boxer"