Monday, February 17, 2014

Classic TV: MacGyver (1985)

He's a quiet, unassuming scientific genius who's also a government agent with a knack for improvisation. In another era, MacGyver might not have been as successful as it was, but in the mid-80's, it was a breath of fresh air in primetime television.

Richard Dean Anderson (ex-General Hospital) was cast in the title role as Angus MacGyver (the first name was not revealed until near the end of the series), an agent for the Phoenix Foundation, which in turn was part of something called the Department of External Services (DXS). In this regard, this would be no different than the Foundation for Law And Government (FLAG) over on NBC's Knight Rider. However, MacGyver didn't need a talking car to help him out. Instead, taking his cue from another NBC hit, The A-Team, MacGyver cobbled together ordinary household items to create tools for escaping difficult situations, but even that wasn't so unique. On the animated Josie & the Pussycats, 15 years earlier, one of the band members was improvising escape tools even then.

Helping MacGyver along was his boss and best friend, Peter Thornton (Dana Elcar, ex-Black Sheep Squadron, Baretta), who gave MacGyver his assignments, and often went along for the ride. Then, you had other players popping up periodically, like Jack Dalton (Bruce McGill, ex-Delta House), a freelance mercentary, who exploited his friendship with MacGyver for a piece of the action, often needing his fat pulled out of the fire. And there was Penny Parker (Teri Hatcher), who pretended in one episode to be MacGyver's girlfriend---and pregnant, at that---in order to gain access to his apartment, but was there mostly to be a damsel in distress. Well, that would give Hatcher some practice, since she went on to Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, which launched a couple of years after MacGyver ended.

MacGyver lasted 7 seasons (1985-92), but returned in 1994 in a pair of TV-movies that acted as an unofficial coda to the series. In 2003, WB had an option on a Young MacGyver prequel series, but passed. Perhaps that was just as well, since their reboot of Tarzan bombed, and they fumbled the adaptation of DC Comics' Birds of Prey (previously reviewed). Young MacGyver would've met the same fate, but its intended star, Jared Padalecki, rebounded by landing one of the leads in the current Supernatural.

Now, here's the 1st season open to MacGyver:

Cloo has the rights to the series, and aired a marathon on Sunday.

Rating: B.

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