While today’s political climate may feel kind of 1980s-esque, the technology of today is so different, I didn’t reallly think a modern MacGyver was long for the world. And yet, this week, I finished season one of CBS’s reboot, and I have to say, overall it was a great experience. The cast is charismatic with great chemistry, the stories were exciting, and while Mac’s improvising seemed to move a little too fast to catch all of it, it was still fun.
Granted, it probably helps that the original MacGyver was never really my jam. I was 3 when it started and 10 when it went ended, so my TV schedule was mostly filled with Captain Planet, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Saved By The Bell. I might catch a rerun at my grandparents or during my sister’s time watching Mac, Knight Rider and The A-Team, but it wasn’t something I was invested in. And apparently that makes a lot of difference.
But from my perspective, Lucas Till does a good job stepping into the titular role, hitting the marks of the MacGyver I remember — shaggy blond hair, even-toned narration, and appreciation for everyone’s favorite save-the-world tool: a trusty Swiss Army knife. Even his style — from hair to boots — fits in a modern setting while still being somewhat evocative of that 1980s look.
As for his team — I know, I know, Mac having a team is a sin to MacGyver purists — they all are good fits to fill modern roles that MacGyver couldn’t conceivably handle by himself. George Eads plays Jack Dalton, the former Army Ranger who has Mac’s back on missions, Tristin Mays’ Riley handles the hacker techie side of things when making things go boom or bad guys fall down isn’t a feasible choice, and Justin Hires’ Bozer fills the everyman role as a makeup artist/roommate/childhood friend who had been kept in the dark to MacGyver’s double life until danger came knocking on their door. Once Bozer is brought into the fold, all the characters get appropriate screen time for their roles, and everyone gets at least one episode that delves deeper into their lives and background.
Season one was a mix of stand alone, mission-of-the-week episodes and episodes that fit into a season (if not series) long arc as The Phoenix Foundation tracks down a shady organization while trying to avoid all the baddies it throws their way. There are twists and turns and a couple surprises. It’s all fairly compelling and never confusing, but one of those mid-season surprises is sure to annoy the aforementioned purists.
In a previous post, I mentioned all the shoutouts to MacGyver’s grandpa — the guy who raised him to be stuffed full of platitudes, ingenuity and a strong moral compass. Now, I don’t really remember, maybe original MacGyver did that, too, and this is just a callback to that, but I still think it’s very conspicuous. I still wouldn’t be surprised if Richard Dean Anderson someday had a cameo, if not as THE original MacGyver (a prospect that seems unlikely given the Dalton and Thornton already in this show) than as an easter egg sort of thing.
Either way, I’m kind of glad I kept putting MacGyver off. Because now I really want to see what’s next, and I don’t have nearly as long to wait.
Season 2 of MacGyver premieres at 7 p.m. (central time), Friday, Sept. 29 on CBS.
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