Down the Ballot

Monday, March 2, 2015

MacGyver Mondays

Patti and Selma from The Simpsons might be right about Mac being a genius. In my quest to celebrate 1985 I found myself skimming many of the television shows that premiered that year and I was surprised to see MacGyver on the list. I had never watched many episodes, my mother claims that I watched a lot of them with her when I wasn't old enough to pay attention. The entire series is on Netflix so I decided to start watching this month. Been dedicating Monday evenings to watching a couple episodes.

The first season so far has been interesting.  The stories were not greatly developed and in many cases I feel like viewers are dropped in the middle act of a longer story and that we never get to hear the beginning. In one episode for instance, MacGyver heads off to some place to help some friends work an oil well. The other characters are great friends of his, and he even decides to take off a few months to help them work on the well. We hear very little of why they are such great friends. That particular episode featured Nana Visitor of Star Trek Deep Space Nine. 

Another episode that was a pleasant surprise was another Season 1 episode. It was rather funny in the premise. MacGyver heads to the jungle to help a biologist and ends up fighting for survival against killer fire ants. It is also another great example of MacGyver being drawn into helping a 'good friend' that we never really know why he is a 'good friend' it is just alluded too.

Peter Jurasik plays the obsessive scientist who is too concerned with the ants to notice them trying to kill him. It was a delightful surprise to see Jurasik on screen. Peter captured that perfect balance of hamming up a part and making the character a believable friend of MacGyver. His character was a little out there, so it makes sense that MacGyver's friends are a little out there too. Also seeing anyone in safari/explorer gear is rather humorous. There is a particular green screen shot of the two of them on the boat going up the river just cracked me up as a totally campy scene.

All in all, I'll keep watching on Mondays for the time being. I did some reading and it seems like MacGyver was one of those workhorse shows that the network believed in, even though it featured a non traditional hero. A character with the ingenuity of the A-Team and the intelligence of Magnum pi and he rarely ever carried a gun. He did carry a swiss army pocket knife. Richard Dean Anderson ended up with a rather extensive and for the most part steady career (which I think is something all actors hope for) for nearly 20 years between MacGyver and Stargate SG1.

While the show ceased production in 1992, it was sold into syndication and became an international hit. It has allowed people worldwide to enjoy the series. This popularity created the opportunity for two direct to TV films to be made in the mid 90s. MacGyver would continue to be popular as Anderson returned to the character several times during the early and mid 00s for television commercials. There was the great Mastercard ad during the Super Bowl in 2006 and then this 2012 film created by Mercedes-Benz.

Pretty cool little video just to show off a Citan. Mythbusters had an entire special based on things seen on MacGyver too. It is rumored that creator Lee Zlotoff is still working on a new film for the character. He did 5 issues of a MacGyver comic book that were well received and helped introduce the character to new set of fans.

I raise my glass my MacGyver for finally turning 30.
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