I'm no stranger to the spy genre. I've always been a huge James Bond fan, a few of which I'd rank up there with some of my favorite films of all time. I was fortunate enough to review a fantastic little show called Secret Agent: Danger Man. For one reason or another, MacGyver has always alluded me over the years. After receiving MacGyver: The Complete Series for review, It's obvious to me that I didn't really miss much.
MacGyver debuted in 1985, running through 1992 for a total of 7 seasons and 139 episodes, revolving around scientific genius Angus MacGyver (played by Richard Dean Anderson) who works as a problem solver for the Phoenix Foundation under the command of his best friend, Pete Thornton (Dana Elcar), as well as an agent for the Department of External Services (DXS). Educated as a scientist, MacGyver served as a Bomb Team Technician during the Vietnam War.
As it is with most shows in the secret agent genre, MacGyver is a stud. He's suave, charismatic, good looking, gets the girls, and he packs a punch. There is, however, one difference that separates MacGyver from the rest of the pack. Instead of relying on a gun to do the talking, he uses his knowledge to wiggle his way out of life or death situations. Let's talk about the "draw" of the series, so to speak, that made this show stand out. The "Macgyverisms." which means creating something useful out of useless items. Due to MacGyver's background in the physical sciences and working in the war as a bomb technician, he can come up with clever solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems, often in life or death situations requiring him to improvise complex devices in a matter of minutes with nothing but his handy Swiss army knife and the various things he can find. For example, in several situations MacGyver disarms a bomb with nothing but a paper clip... another situation has him plugging a sulfuric acid leak with chocolate. He performs multiple feats similar to these in every single episode and it's a blast to watch, easily being the most enjoyable aspect of the series.
Due to the fact that there is no primary cast, the entire series hinges on the performance from Richard Dean Anderson as he's one of the only 2 consistent presences throughout the entirety of the show and he delivers in spades. Thankfully, the casting department go a gem with Anderson as he carries the show singlehandedly on his back with his charisma and obvious enthusiasm for the role. As for the supporting cast, there are only a handful of actors who appear more than once or twice. Most notably, MacGyver's nemesis, Murdoc (played by Michael Des Barres), appears in nearly 10 episodes across the series, thus making him the most prominent villain. Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives, Lois & Clark), who appears in a half a dozen episodes as MacGyver's friend Penny, a smalltime thief who aspires to have big success in show business. Jack Dalton (played by Bruce McGill), MacGyver's best friend who gets them in trouble more often than not.
The primary problem I had with the series is its pacing. Each of these 139 episodes follows the exact same formula; MacGyver is assigned a mission, he goes to some beautiful/exotic locale, follows the target, plot twist! and he wraps it up nice and neat. We follow the exact same formula through these 139 adventures and it gets tedious after the first couple of seasons, the writing just isn't there. Another problem I had with the show was its supporting characters, particularly the villains and women. The women are portrayed as nothing more than damsel's in distress and the villains are failures of Wile E. Coyote proportions.
+ Great performance from Richard Dean Anderson. He completely owns the role of MacGyver.
+ The "MacGyverisms" are wonderful to watch.
+ A simple, yet fun show.
- Every single character not named MacGyver is a joke.
- Hasn't aged well.
Video and Audio:
The audio on the set is delivered in a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix that is solid across the board throughout the seasons. The dialogue is clear for the most part and there were no noticeable dropouts or distortions.