Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fall TV Review: MacGyver

If you're bored on a Friday night before you watch Hawaii 5-0, you could do worse...

Yeah. That's it. That's all I have to say.

I'd love to say that this is, in part, CBS studio mandate, because the original commercial for the show was almost completely scrubbed from YouTube. You can even tell in the writing of the pilot that it was put together in a hurry. How? You mean aside from the lousy acting that sounds like a dress rehearsal, and a slap-dash script that had all the originality of an episode of Glee?

In the original commercial, you might remember that Angus MacGyver rescues himself from what looks like a terrorist camp. There is explosions, and makeshift weapons, and tripwires made from a hose, a press conference with him in front of a great big American flag and military officers? Also an operation that looks like it's from later in the episode as he's infiltrating a high tech white-wall and glass lobby? Remember that commercial? That commercial looked like fun.

It looked like this.

That has nothing to do with the pilot, which really was scrapped and redone. And you could tell from the way the pilot unfolded.

The first ten minutes of the episode feature our titular protagonist working for ... a government alphabet agency cobbled together from leftover letters of the alphabet that haven't yet been used, DGX. Yes, I know it was the random agency mentioned in the early years of the original MacGyver, but did they have to try spelling it out?

Of course, OCP consists of a whole four members: MacGyver, a computer he's banging, a holdover from CSI who has some leftover charisma, and Patricia Thornton, their boss. Yes, if you were expecting Dana Elcar as Thornton, sorry, you're not getting him. Mainly because I think he's dead.

And, yes, MacGyver doesn't have a girlfriend here, he has a bang buddy, and they have all the emotional connection of actors in Twilight.

The pilot opens with our protagonist grabbing a random MacGuffin device from the mansion in the opening of True Lies. Mac returns to their Scooby Van (tricked out by CTU), to find his f***friend at gunpoint. So, he hands over the MacGuffin, like a total moron, gets shot for his trouble, and the computer techie woman is also shot, and her body is never found.

What's that? Disappeared bodies are always eyebrow raising in this instance? Almost like she's bound to turn up? That's right, and if she's not dead, what does that mean, gentle reader?  If you said, "She must be a bad guy," then you'd be right.

Agency XYZ is dissolved (because they have more leaks than a pasta strainer) and they reform as the Phoenix Foundation think tank....because they had to get in that somewhere.

Oh good God I hated that pilot.

Now, SOP is to try three episodes to see if things get better. And ... they have. The show is now "just okay." It's sad that this MacGyver (played by Lucas Till, a reject from the latest round of X-Men films) doesn't have that salt-of-the-Earth, mildly snarky narration, but a smug, self-satisfied explanation of things that make me think, "I miss Michael Weston and Burn Notice. He did MacGyver much better. Was Matt Nix busy?"

I mean, heck, you remember how MacGyver worked with a team every episode, right? Oh, wait, no, he didn't, that's why he had to explain everything in narration, because he had no one else to explain it to. At most, he had a really annoying friend come out of the woodwork to cause trouble, or a side kick he'd pick up over the course of an episode.

Speaking of MacGyver's troublemaking friends, you remember Jack Dalton from the original, right? Played by Bruce MacGill (most recently of Rizzoli and Isles)? He was a bit of a con man, shyster, mildly insane? A short, stocky fellow, who usually meant well, but would almost unavoidably get MacGyver into trouble one way or another? Yeah, that guy.

So, of course, this being CBS, they decided to dig up one of the usual suspects from CSI, George Eads, a smart mouth CIA shooter...No, they couldn't get Michael Weatherly, he's starring on his own show, now. Nor could they get Bruce Campbell, he's got his own show.

And Jeffrey Donovan not only did this show already, he's busy working on a TV show and two other movies this year.

Can you tell that this show makes me miss Burn Notice?  Every time the narration on this series starts, I expect it to start every paragraph with When you're a spy....

It also doesn't help that I can't track what MacGyver is supposed to be making, or how he's supposed to be making them. Which I somewhat remember being one of the interesting draws of the original show.

You want the big let down? It's not how they've jettisoned Richard Dean Anderson's show from continuity. It's not how this MacGyver is a womanizing schmuck who had to fish off the company pier. It's not even that Jack Dalton has been rewritten, or that they need a goth chick Chloe O'Brian knockoff from prison, or an annoying roommate for MacGyver instead of a house's that they only used the first ten notes of the opening theme song.

This is the new version.

To help you recover, this is the old version.


Until further notice, I'll keep watching this show. I'll let you know how it turns out.


  1. Declan
    Yeah I was underwhelmed by the pilot too. The problem is that the new MacGyver is just to snowflaky and earnest. An e EOD guy would have a very black humour because he knows he's one bomb search from death. Yet he seems like he just came out of a SJW university.
    Then where's his rage he got shot for a girl who conned him and is a traitor. Man I'do have anger issues that should be exploited until the season finale cliffhangeI found her escape to be the stupidest lamest most unbelievable prisionee transport scene. Yeah awesome writing there

    Me I'd drop the hint in the next season that he terminated her with exceptional prejudice.

    Anyway it looks to be an SJW verison

  2. a computer he's banging
    And, yes, MacGyver doesn't have a girlfriend here, he has a bang buddy,

    So he's... that fond of Macintosh? Or is this all a euphemism for internet porn?

  3. On the other hand, a genuine EOD guy with a very black humour would make for a great show.

    Haven't seen this though, I don't know if they're bringing it to New Zealand. They probably will.


  4. MacGyver was one of my favorite shows as a kid. Not only that, it was one of the few my parents and grandparents enjoyed as much as I did. Tough trick. That opening brought back a lot of fond memories.

    This sounds like everything I hate about TV these days. That ear-bleeding opening alone told me they successfully sucked the fun out of it. Your review confirmed everything I was expecting.

    Not even bothering with this one.


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