|Richard Dean Anderson as the resourceful MacGyver.|
Or so the legend goes.
MacGyver is the laidback title character of an ABC show which ran from 1985 to 1992. He’s a secret agent for a private company, the Phoenix Foundation, who has contracts with the federal government. He’s a mix of sincerity and deadliness, an adult boy scout who uses low tech solutions for high tech complications.
Many episodes pit him against a dangerous, malfunctioning machine or an insane villain who wants to play a deadly game of cat and mouse. MacGyver famously defeats them all with whatever is handy--chocolate candy bars to fix an acid leak, a baking soda and vinegar bomb to block images on a surveillance camera, or, yes, even some gum just to chew while he thinks up something awesome.
Sometimes when the lead is a handsome, single guy, he might have a love interest who will never reenter his life after the credits roll. For television, this is called “The Bonanza Curse,” and it’s the only thing I cannot stand about MacGyver.
The obligatory kisses and such are just boring, forced and gratuitous. The episodes are often provided with female characters who are just as compelling as MacGyver. Great! But do they all have to become infatuated with the guy only to disappear forever?
In one episode, there’s an madman on the loose, who somehow instantly kills people from the inside of their bodies. He’s after a lady because she knows too much, but does our hero care? Not for the minute and a half they spend on a rushed romance which doesn’t lead anywhere.
It’s maddeningly unnecessary for the characters to find each other attractive. The lead is solid enough, the female interesting enough, the villains are crazy enough and the situation urgent enough to entertain the audience without the bland erotic element--the way they do it, it’s bland--to waste our time. Did I mention the bad guys kill people instantly and in weird, unknown ways? Who thinks of romance at a time like that?
Which leads me to my favorite first season episode because it introduces my favorite first season MacGyver lady.
"Every Time She Smiles ”
MacGyver and the Movies
What’s great about the first season is that you can see all of the basic elements for which the show is known. [Some would say the pilot episode shows everything you need to know.] A few tweaks would come as the years passed, but essentially it’s all there--the stunts, the crazed villains, the compelling women, the ingenuity, his aversion to guns, his inability to punch (although he tries), his altruistic spirit, and his aw shucks-ness. It’s all right there from the very beginning.
For fun, in-depth analysis of episodes from MacGyver:Season One, read "MacGyver Monday" at Rental Rehab.
This review by written by guest blogger Java from Java's Journey.