THE MASTER staring Lee Van Cleef & Timothy Van Patten

Classic TV Shows


The Master is a short-lived ninja-themed action-adventure TV series created by Michael Sloan which aired on NBC. The show focused on the adventures of John Peter McAllister, an aging ninja master (Lee Van Cleef), and his young pupil, Max Keller (Timothy Van Patten). Most episodes focused on the mismatched pair driving around in a custom van, helping people in need along the way, similar to its more well-known contemporary, The A-Team. The Master lasted only 13 episodes before cancellation.

The Master follows the character of John Peter McAllister, an American veteran who stayed in Japan following World War II and became a ninja master. At the beginning of the series, McAllister, now an old man, leaves Japan for the United States in search of a daughter he did not know he had. This flight from his ninja life is seen as dishonorable by his fellow ninja, including his former student, Okasa (Sho Kosugi), who attempts to assassinate him. Escaping with a minor wound, McAllister finds himself in the small town of Ellerston, where he believes his daughter resides.

Along the way, he meets a drifter named Max Keller, who aids the ninja master in a bar fight, but is subsequently thrown through a window, a recurring event for the hot-headed Keller. Max desires to learn to fight like a ninja, but McAllister is reluctant to train him, feeling him to be too emotional. When Max gets involved in a dispute between Mr. Christensen (Clu Gulager), a ruthless developer, and the Trumbulls (Claude Akins, Demi Moore), a father and daughter who run an airport targeted by Christensen, McAllister decides to train him to survive.

The pair goes on to have many adventures traveling the country in search of McAllister's daughter. A recurring enemy is Okasa, the rogue pupil of McAllister, who continually tracks his old master down and tries to kill him. In the first episode, the two duel and McAllister wins. However, the old master refuses to kill his opponent, preferring to renounce his ninja ways. Of course, this leads to Okasa's future attempts. 

The show also included some great action guest stars including CLAUDE AKINS, DAVIND McCALLUM, GEORGE (“JAMES BOND”) LAZENBY, JACK KELLY, STUART WHITMAN,  DOUG McCLURE, EDD BYRNES and JOCK MAHONEY. The quality of this show is excellent - a good 8 or better.

1. Max (1/20/1984) - see above, under "Premise."

2. Out-of-Time Step (1/27/1984) - a ninja-guarded crime lord mistakes Max and McAllister for bodyguards hired by a nightclub owner the crime lord is trying to control.

3. State of the Union (2/3/1984) - Max befriends a "biker chick" who is trying to organize a union at the cannery where she works; he and McAllister strike back when the cannery owner tries to strong arm the girl and the union.

4. Hostages (2/10/1984) - McAllister is accused by a secret agent of helping a band of terrorists; to prove his innocence, he must help rescue the hostages that the terrorists have taken.

5. High Rollers (3/2/1984) - a former girlfriend of Max's becomes a pawn in a Las Vegas heist when her daughter is held hostage to insure her cooperation. The resulting adventure leads Max and McAllister to a deserted western movie set, where the Master makes himself very much at home.

6. Fat Tuesday (3/9/1984) - during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, a reporter uses Teri McAllister's name as a cover for her own sources, hoping to bring down a respected local citizen who is secretly running guns to Arab terrorists. Max and McAllister become entangled as a result.

7. Juggernaut (3/16/1984) - Max and McAllister help a mother and daughter organize the local farmers against an evil land baron. McAllister has more success romancing the mother than Max does with the daughter, and the old man's "pre-ninja" background as a military pilot is emphasized.

8. The Good, the Bad and the Priceless (3/23/1984) - Caught between a criminal mastermind and an FBI agent posing as McAllister's daughter, the two leads find themselves forced to steal the Crown Jewels of England.

9. Kunoichi (4/6/1984) - With the help of a female pupil, Okasa puts in motion a plan to frame McAllister for the murder of an old friend, who is now a prominent government official in Washington.

10. The Java Tiger (4/13/1984) - Max and McAllister take a break from the search for Teri to help out a friend of McAllister's: a bumbling PI, based in Hawaii, who is on a quest for a legendary tiger made of gold. Unfortunately, a Bond-villain-like crime lord with a penchant for karate is also interested in the Java Tiger.

11. Failure to Communicate (5/4/1984) - Max reunites with his estranged father Patrick, who is a pawn in a kidnapping scheme. Max is so preoccupied with family affairs that McAllister ends up chaperoning the two "damsel in distress" characters, played by Ashley Ferrare and Rebecca Holden, just about everywhere.

12. Rogues (8/10/1984) - a high school friend of Max's is now a cop, on the run from a band of crooked cops. A woman who runs a gym harasses McAllister about being out of shape.

13. A Place to Call Home (8/31/1984) - Max and McAllister protect an orphanage from greedy land developers, with Max playing surrogate father to a troubled teen.

The Master, Classic TV Shows
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