When I was a kid, I thought that a guy named MacGyver was just about the coolest guy on the planet. In the span of a 60-minute television show (with the occasional 2-parter), this guy could save the world with a scrap of tin foil and one or two common household cleaning supplies. Each week he would be called in to some sort of dire situation, find himself and his guest stars coming down to the wire, then he would narrowly escape death’s icy grip. It was fantastic television, kids.
And now, MacGyver is making a comeback. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to be disappointed.
Here’s what I liked about the original MacGyver, other than all those awesome things I mentioned in my opening paragraph. The show starred just one guy. You had Richard Dean Anderson, and that was it. I know, they added Pete Thornton, played by Dana Elcar, to the opening credits at some point (maybe the second season? I really can’t remember). But that was it. There was no ensemble to this show. It was MacGyver and his boss/friend Pete. And that’s all you needed for the show to work.
Each week, MacGyver would feature various guest stars. Most of the time, these guests were characters who showed up for one episode and they were never heard from again. There were a handful of characters who would appear once, twice, maybe three times a year. Bruce McGill’s Jack Dalton was one of those characters. He’d show up when he needed MacGyver’s help with whatever scheme he’d come up with recently. Another was Penny, played by the incomparably gorgeous Teri Hatcher (yes, I still have a crush on the Lois Lane of my teenage years, sue me). These occasional repeat appearances helped add to the overall mythology of the show. But they never stuck around long enough to bog it down.
MacGyver was simple. It followed the formula of one guy taking on the world. And it worked.
This fall, we will be introduced to a reboot of the series. I don’t know much about what I can actually expect when I see the show. But from everything I’ve seen thus far, I think I can expect a carbon copy of every procedural ensemble action/crime/drama that’s been on TV for the last decade. Just because you give a guy a Swiss Army Knife does not make the show MacGyver.
Why do TV producers feel the need to have six or more actors in their cast? Do they assume that, since it worked for Friends, it’ll work for everything else? Is it a 21-century thing? Is it a participation trophy thing? Everyone has to have top billing, so let’s make them all series regulars. Quantum Leap only had two regulars and that seemed to work out just fine.
Another problem I have, and maybe this just makes me and old fogy, is with the new MacGyver’s age. The 2016 version of Angus MacGyver is being played by Lucas Till, who I know only as Havoc from the most recent X-Men films. He is roughly 10 years younger than Richard Dean Anderson was when he began playing this title role. I know we live in a world where the Millennials can do anything they put their minds to, but I really have a hard time believing that someone in his mid-20s will have the same world-wearied, life-hacking experience as a man in his mid-30s would.
Wow… I sound like Andy Rooney. Kids, that was the old guy with the ginormous eyebrows that would spend the last segment of 60 Minutes sharing his opinion about why the neighbors’ music was too loud or how many keys he carried in his pocket or why he had a hard time figuring out if mangoes at the market were fresh. I guess I’m 36 going on 76.