Thursday, September 12, 2013

#135: Honest Abe


Season: 7

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
MacGyver arrives in a small town to attend a college friend’s son’s bar mitzvah.  The boy’s grandfather, Abe, kidnaps MacGyver and takes him to a Caribbean island in a stealth helicopter in the hope of taking the island’s dictator back to the United States.  MacGyver and Abe narrowly escape a hanging and successfully return with the dictator in time for the bar mitzvah.   

Memorable Quote:
"It’s kind of complicated." ~Abe

Highlight: 
The only thing even remotely redeemable about this episode is MacGyver’s escape from the imminent hanging, and it’s actually a pretty cool escape.  As MacGyver is standing on the platform about to be hanged, he asks to borrow a mirror so he can have one last shave.  "If I’m gonna meet my maker, I want to be presentable," he says.  While shaving, he uses the mirror to reflect the sunlight onto the stealth helicopter’s sensor in a morse code pattern that activates the emission of knockout gas.  

Lowlight: 
So many terrible characters to pick from, but I’ll go with Perigot, the dictator.  You have to see him to believe him, though I don’t recommend seeing him, unless you want to see a Latin American dictator who is jovial, silly, French, wears a bright white suit, and does magic tricks.  He speaks English in a goofy accent while awkwardly throwing in little French phrases like "c’est la vie" and "qu’est que c’est."  

Best MacGyverism: 
Covered above in the highlight.  Let’s add it to the big board.    

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • We're get off to a bad start when Ben Stein appears as a hired gun named Major Sneed.  "BN for Mister Harding," he says.  “BN?” another asks.  “Bad News,” Sneed responds.  Just like this episode.  
  • In the next scene, we meet MacGyver’s friend’s son Jeffrey.  He’s turning 13 but looks like an offensive lineman for the Packers.  There’s no listed age for the actor on IMDB but he looks more like 20. 
  • Go ahead and reread the synopsis again.  What?  What were they thinking?  And this was a season premiere?
  • The Italian-American character (more on him later) seems like a bad guy to us in the beginning but is later revealed to be undercover.  That doesn’t stop him from shooting at MacGyver and Abe as they are driving away in broad daylight.  What’s another plot hole along this bumpy road?
  • There’s nothing worse than weird, over-the-top characters that aren’t funny.  On the last season of Numb3rs, another show I liked, they often similarly resorted to zany personas, a sure sign that a show is on its last legs.  This episode has a surplus of goofy, terrible characters:
    • The Italian-American undercover agent.  He talks in normal English except when he throws in little phrases like andiamo, paisano, and va bene.  Such as, "Posing as an fbi agent?  Great scamarino, va bene."
    • Ben Stein doing his dry Bueller persona as Major Sneed. 
    • The town sheriff as the dumb southern lawman.  Fortunately his screen time is minimal.
    • Abe, an obnoxiously annoying character who pretends to be so stupid that it’s not believable or amusing.
    • Last but not least, the French dictator, covered above in the lowlight.  Fortunately, Time Winters (the actor) will get a chance to play a much better character, Merlin, in "Good Knight MacGyver."  Here's a conversation I did with Time where we talked about this episode.

Final Analysis:
Keep in mind that I love MacGyver, so I don’t lightly throw around words like embarrassment, train wreck, and catastrophe, but in reality Chernobyl was less of a disaster.  At least it has one good highlight which is more than The Mountain of Youth could say – that’s why it’s one spot higher. 

Fortunately we can now move on from the two complete disaster episodes.  Next up, #134, which is only a partial disaster.  

7 comments:

  1. Wow, already we're moving from complete to partial disasters, and we've only seen reviews of two episodes -- fantastic!

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  2. Yes! And I think there's only one partial disaster before we raise the bar even further!

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  3. Oh this was a bad one. I was only 14 when it originally aired and I just knew the seventh season was gonna be the series' creative nadir after this stinker. I agree with your review on this one almost completely in that I liked the Morse code bit on the helicopter's weapon systems but the whole hour being ruined by the cartoonish characters, particularly Peugot the would-be Caribbean dictator. Just a howler all around and ranked #130 on my list.

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  4. Really, you guys dont like this? I wouldnt put it in my top ten, but I like it. Its funny, has a good plot and satire of a lot of 80s events.

    "Is there anyone you didnt finance?"
    "...The Democrats?"

    I never realized the dictator was Time Winters. I imagine a Frenchman would disagree, but he did a good fake French accent. When I saw Lance Legault, I thought thats who it was, not knowing the actor who played Bodine earlier. Speaking of recycled actors and sets, I was wondering how they find or make such big sets that look really like some Central American hellhole. Was it from some bigger film or show? And then I thought the palace looked familiar. It looked like the one in Bushmaster. Indeed, season 2 and 7 were both shot in the LA area. And comparing stills I took of the two palaces, they look identical. I wonder where that is and what else it was used for.

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  5. Strangely season 7 started out of order last week with The Coltons before recomencing with the correct first episode. There is not much to say about The Coltons that hasn't already been said in the discussion on that page and suffice to say that it was not really MacGyver so it doesn't really bear comparison with the rest of the series. Maybe the first proper episode would get things back on track? I remembered how low Nick ranked it which meant that I was not expecting much and was therefore not too disappointed with the poor quality that followed. I'd put this one in the same category as Harry's Will, Faith Hope And Charity and the like as it was just too much over the top silliness and lazy attempts at comedy. The escape from the cellar was alright and the plot idea of the stealth helicopter could have worked without Abe and the rest of the cringeworthy characters. I often laugh to myself when I notice the number of times MacGyver is actually said in episodes but here there was a real rival with MacGyver himself saying Abe. I'd like a pound for every utterance!

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    Replies
    1. The Coltons was filmed in Vancouver and was originally supposed to air in Season 6 but it got bumped into Season 7 -- I'm thinking that's why they aired it first, and I'm impressed that whoever is scheduling the episodes on CBS Action was aware of that.

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  6. I barely remember anything from this episode (I wasn't alive back in the '80s but my parents raised me well). Really nothing to say.

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