MacGyver First Impressions
“My name’s Angus MacGyver. I have twelve first-place science fair trophies, two years MIT, three years defusing bombs for the military, and what do I do now? Little of this, little of that.”
For a show supposed to be all about finding the smart alternative to direct combat by making use of the environment, this sure is a stupid pilot. I suppose it is thematically appropriate to take all the cliches left over from other shows and attempt to stitch a narrative out of it, but it doesn’t make for a good story. The writing for this episode, titled The Rising, is cheesy to the point of being intolerable, and the fact that this is the production team’s second pass at this material is perplexing. It’s a show like this that makes me want to retroactively knock my score for Lethal Weapon up by a half star. This is a miserable first episode, and no amount of Vinnie Jones can save it.
While I wasn’t expecting this to be an instant classic, I was actually looking forward to seeing this series. My exposure to the original MacGyver was limited, but one can see how a low-tech approach to handling problems could stand out amongst the crowd. Unfortunately, the show proves to be annoying, right from the get-go, as we are treated to an obnoxious voice over from Jason Till that informs us of the individuals comprising his team. I remember thinking to myself that the only logical reason for such a ham-fisted opening would be if they pulled a Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible and killed off the team, and then wondering if I had just predicted a plot point. I did, if you count half measures. Vinnie Jones shows up to “kill” MacGyver’s girlfriend and shoot MacGyver. Sorry if my use of quotation marks spoiled the twist for you, but, don’t worry, they couldn’t have made it less surprising if they had tried. Cut to a couple months later and MacGyver is moping around his apartment, being annoyed by his insufferable roommate, when he is contacted regarding the virus that was taken from him during the botched mission. The problem is, they need access to his girlfriend’s files, so they break a hacker out of prison who then advises them to take the hard drive out. I am angry.
Our main characters are MacGyver, his friend, Jack Dalton, and their new hacker, Riley Davis. I never want this show to talk about computers ever again. This level of computer logic would have sounded stupid in the time period of the original MacGyver. At one point, they clone Vinnie Jones’s voice Mission: Impossible style, but, instead of using it to modulate someone else’s voice, they type words into the computer and it reads them out over the phone in Vinnie Jones’s voice with the proper inflection. This is one of those productions where I feel none of the actors knew what they were doing. The writing is so stilted that, much of the time, I have difficulty imagining anyone successfully pulling it off. I may have condemned Jason Till’s narration earlier, and it is terrible, but there are moments where he seems like he could be a decent lead. He does, however, look like a particularly young cosplay of Sam Winchester, which can be rather distracting. Jack, who is played by CSI’s George Eads, doesn’t have much of a point in this episode. He’s actually so irrelevant it ends up feeling a bit odd. He flies a helicopter towards the end and has a past with Riley’s mother, but, beyond that, he could be cut from this episode entirely. Riley is fine, but she has the regrettable role of presenting this show’s understanding of technology. This cast just does not click, but, again, I wonder if it is due to the terrible dialogue and directing.
The cinematography is passable. Nothing special, but most of the times it fell short were due to terrible writing or budget limitations. There was a generally cheap feel to much of the episode though. This show has terrible explosions. It is an odd thing to criticize, but The Rising begins and ends with an explosion, and they are both garbage. Maybe they blew all their budget to get the rights to use “Fortunate Son”, but I can safely say it wasn’t worth it. It’s a great song, but their application of it was so forgettable that in the two hours between my viewing the episode, and going back to collect screenshots, I had completely ceased to remember it was in there.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- MacGyver’s girlfriend, Nikki Carpenter, is played by Tracy Spiridakos who previously starred in NBC’s Revolution. Her character is apparently loosely based upon a more protagonistic character from season 3 of the original series.
- Sandrine Holt appears as the head of DXS renamed the Phoenix Foundation at the end of the first episode. The show feels the need to explain the symbolism of the phoenix. Icarus is starting to look more appropriate… and not just because his father DIYed it. Holt has previously had roles on such shows as Mr. Robot, House of Cards, and 24. She plays a gender swapped character of an equivalent character from the original.
- MacGyver’s roommate is played by Justin Hires, who recently starred in the Rush Hour TV series. He has not made a good first impression on me.
- For those who are unaware, CBS had the staff scrap the original pilot and James Wan directed this as a replacement.
I went into this hoping for a fun silly series in the same vein as Human Target. Instead, I received an insufferable show with an idiotic and cliche-riddled plot and stilted unnatural dialogue.