Creator(s): Peter M. Lenkov
Network/Writer(s): CBS/Peter M. Lenkov
Director: James Wan
Actors: Lucas Till, George Edas, Sandrine Holt, Tristin Mays
Tagline/Summary: No man has done more with less.
Before I was old enough to go to school, I spent my days with my grandfather, and we had a routine that included watching three TV shows every afternoon. Our tradition would start with the marching percussion of the Hogan’s Heroes theme, which would cause me to march around the living room. Then, the vastly underrated Airwolf would come on, and honestly I don’t remember anything about that show except the totally 80s opening credits. But it was the third show that was our favorite, and the one we would always tried to watch when I visited him: MacGyver.
So when I heard CBS was rebooting the series, I was horrified, and unfortunately the pilot validated my fears. From a technical standpoint, there is nothing wrong with the show, but it is missing the fun of the original. Maybe it was the cheesiness of 80s TV, but there was a special charm from the series that made Richard Dean Anderson a household name. I am well aware that most things appear better in your memory than they probably were, and I’m sure if I was writing this about Anderson’s MacGyver back in 1985, I would have many of the same issues I have with the reboot. That doesn’t change that my disappointment is magnified because of the history I have with the series.
Lucas Till — yes, the neighbor from the Taylor Swift song — plays Angus “Mac” MacGyver this time around, and he’s okay even though he’s wooden at times, but it feels like his stiff acting stems from him trying too hard to be “MacGyver”. Till is at a disadvantage because Anderson’s portrayal of the character is so iconic that it is hard not to impersonate it. Outside of the scenes when he’s doing MacGyver things, he’s pretty solid and bring a younger energy to the character. Hopefully, he takes the reigns of his version and starts expanding that energy into the secret agent scenes. If not, this show is going to be a bore to watch.
Even if the acting was below average, most MacGyver plots were simple and could be called the spy thriller version of monsters of the week, so they didn’t lean heavily on the actors talents. But since this is 2016, and every show need a twist of some kind, MacGyver went the double agent/complicated plot route, which was telegraphed from the moment she was shot. It was the most obvious turn because they made too big of a deal out of her for the character to only last 15 minutes.
One thing they did get right was naming the company MacGyver works for the Phoenix Foundation, which is a direct nod to the original. Even with that, there was something missing from every aspect of the show including the opening credits. Maybe I’m just too nostalgic about the original, but this pilot was a poor effort to reintroduce an iconic character.
Despite my dislike of the pilot, MacGyver isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Just based on CBS’s reputation, it will probably will last 4 to 5 seasons because they never cancel anything unless it is god awful. Still doesn’t explain why the Big Bang Theory is still on the air, though.