The first adventures of Patty and Selma's favorite Boy Scout
As MacGyver, Anderson wasn't exactly a heartthrob, but he wasn't a bad looking guy either. The special agent who could do anything was quite resourceful with the ladies as well, earning the show a decent following and putting him just a few levels below James Bond in the realm of suave spies. Quick with a quip and his knowledge of just about everything, MacGyver couldn't be outwitted and didn't go in for the violence of some of his peers. He never carried a gun and was a role model that kids could really look up to, thanks to his reliance on science while kicking butt. With all his many facets, he was just about the perfect hero.
Coming to TV at the height of The Cold War, MacGyver had a great selection of enemies, be they communists or Arabs. The two collide in Afghanistan, which is at the center of several plots, giving viewers an interesting point of view on the series, considering the current knowledge the world has of that country. He also had a delightful crew of '80s babes, including a very young and ditzy Teri Hatcher ("Desperate Housewives") and the ever-adorable Corinne Bohrer (Police Academy 4). But the reason people tuned in was neither the girls or the bad guys. It was the unusual way that MacGyver got out of a jam with only a Swiss Army knife and the things he found around him that was the real draw.
The writing, in regards to Mac's tricks, was genius, as everything was based on real science, but without certain steps, to prevent kids from blowing themselves up. When it came to dialogue, the show was actually quite silly. As far as MacGyver himself, there's far too much voice-over, and the opening adventures (of which there is one per episode) are all tied to stories from Mac's childhood, which aren't exactly enthralling. After these, it's all downhill. The female characters were written with all the depth of a damsel in distress tied to a railroad track, while the villains are all but twisting their handlebar mustaches. Enjoying the show now takes some suspension of disbelief, but the creativity put into Mac's science is enjoyable.
It's interesting to note that the direction of several of the episodes is credited to Alan Smithee, the fictional cop-out used when a director doesn't want to be known as the director of an embarrassing show or movie. For this show, it makes plenty of sense, as the weakest point of this show is the look. Stock footage is often used, to ill effect, while special effects shots, of which there are plenty, look amateurish. Almost immediately in the pilot, a green-screen effect is practically laughable. Perhaps the clarity of DVD doesn't do well by everything video.
Among the standout episodes in this set are "The Escape" (Disc 5), which has MacGyver going to jail to find a woman's imprisoned brother, "Every Time She Smiles" (Disc 4), which features Hatcher as a ditzy actress, "Target MacGyver" (Disc 3), with Mac's grandfather, and "The Golden Triangle" (Disc 1), in which MacGyver helps a village fight off a drug dealer that has enslaved them.
The Bottom Line