Friday, November 28, 2014

#83: Eagles

Season: 2

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
MacGyver is in Utah to follow a pair of golden eagles and find their nest in order to protect it. While hang gliding, he sees a helicopter with poachers who shoot down one of the eagles, and he meets a young boy and his mother who are living in the mountains.  MacGyver goes climbing to find the other eagle, and then he takes down the poachers who have come back to eliminate the witnesses to their crime. 

Memorable Quote:
That grindstone seemed like a pretty easy target.  Till I tried to hit it.   ~MacGyver

I like the use of a hang glider as part of the story.  I'm a fan of hang gliders in general.  I've always thought it would be fun to take one up and soar over a highway and look down and laugh at the people who are stuck in traffic.  As long as the hang glider didn't fall down into the traffic - then it wouldn't be a laughing matter.  

Usually I'll point out the stock footage in an episode without being too critical of it, given that production costs were high and it's not any worse than the cheesy CGI of today's day and age. But in this episode it is disastrous, first the opening hang gliding scene and then the mountain climbing scene halfway through.  It's hard to get lost in the story or take it seriously when you see grainy stock footage that looks like it's from the 1950's interspersed with MacGyver's head shots. At a certain point, if you as the producer can't get the shots you need, you should move on and choose a different story line.  I also find it interesting how there is no mention of anything in the credits (I looked) like a movie or documentary.  Though it is funny how they dressed MacGyver up to look like the character in whatever show they took this from, including white stockings to give him a Swiss Alpine look.    

Best MacGyverism:
Uses ball bearings, a bicycle (slingshot), a grindstone, and a portable stove with a propane tank to create an explosion.  

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • I'd think the odds of finding an eagle in a state park without knowing where exactly to look would be rather slim.  
  • I've said before that I'm a big fan of the voiceovers (i.e. when MacGyver is talking to himself).  Yet in this episode, even I think that it's way overdone.  I understand they have a lot of dead time to fill as he's hang gliding or mountain climbing, but I only like to hear him talk when he has something of value to say, like how his MacGyverism works.  In this episode he rambles on and on with meaningless platitudes like "It may seem cruel, but one animal's death means another will live.  All a part of nature's balancing act."
  • The acting by the poachers in the helicopter is not the best.  And I know the other eagle is "in shock", but it's hard for me to believe it wouldn't be able to avoid hitting the helicopter rudder.  
  • Why does MacGyver give Danny his pocketknife after seeing that the mom clearly didn't want Danny to have it?  Though the mom is really not much fun at all. 
  • I'm all for animal rights, but is it really worth MacGyver risking his life to climb the mountain and look for the eagle on the North Face when he doesn't even know for sure the eagle is there?
  • Isn't the mom suspicious at all when the bad guys come to the cabin saying that MacGyver's jeep was crushed, and then they're willing to stay until nightfall just to give him that information?
  • 37:20 - finally, a shake!  We haven't one of these in a while.  And this is a good one too - he really milks it for all it's worth.  
  • In a case of life imitating art, here's an article I found about the release of 2 golden eagles earlier this year at Dead Horse Point.  
  • According to Google Maps, Dead Horse Point (where MacGyver starts out) and Monument Valley (location of the eagle nest) is 176 miles away.  That's a decent amount of hang gliding!  
  • So the mom doesn't let Danny have a pocketknife, but she lets him hang glide with MacGyver?

Final Analysis:
In retrospect I had this one way too high.  I had to rack my brain to come up with a highlight, but there were plenty of lowlights to choose from.  It feels more like a nature documentary than an episode of MacGyver and seems like something that would appeal more to a 10-year old than an adult (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).  Maybe I had it higher because I liked it more when I was 10.  Up next, we're staying in Season 2 for some international adventure!  


  1. Reading through your comments here, our impressions of the episode are almost identical, along with our ranking. I enjoyed this one as a boy and it still has some moments I really enjoy, but it doesn't hold up great. Adult eyes are not kind to the terrible transfer, juxtaposing between 1986 rural Los Angeles County desert to 1967 Swiss Alps nature video atop frozen mountains. The kid was generally annoying and the mom only a little less so and the villains were cartoon characters. I almost wish there was no villain at all and the entire conflict of the episode involved the eagle rescue. And as I've said before I'm not a big fan of MacGyver's voiceovers, particularly when they're mere stream-of-consciousness observations as they were in this episode and a little too often in general in Season 2 for my opinion. At least with this episode you seem to agree with me. Criticisms aside, I still have a soft spot for this episode. MacGyver's near mishap mountain-climbing with tent stakes and a dog leash clip was intense. The final hang-gliding safari to get the eggs off the tall butte was nicely done. And the MacGyverism with the propane tank, bicycle, deflated tire, and ball bearings collectively blowing up the barn was one of the my top-10 MacGyverisms of all time. This episode doesn't rank as high for me today as it would have at age 9 but I'm still ranking it #78, giving it points for being creative and "outside the box".

  2. I'll go along with most of this; I'd forgotten how bad the stock footage interspersed with episode shoot was and how some of the scenes drag.. However, like Mark,I still like it somehow for its feel-good factor. The fall during the climb is dramatic and the MacGyverism spectacular; I quite like it that he has to have several goes to hit the grindstone. I think MacGyver jumps up and down shouting 'Ow Ow' after punching the villain because he's already hurt his hand during the climb; its certainly one of the best shakes'!

    1. I don't believe that we will see a more emphatic shake than this one!

  3. I don't have much to add to the comments already made, but I can't be too critical of the episode because it is great having a hero who will risk as much for wildlife as he will for an (often annoying!) person. The actual shooting of the eagle was horrible; even with the stock footage it still made me feel bad, as did seeing the magnificent birds 'injured' on the ground. It was such a shame that the female eagle didn't make it after all the care MacGyver had given it. In the end it was a heartwarming moment when the three little chicks hatched but in reality it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for the young boy and his mother to raise them with only his book knowledge behind them. Still, I suppose MacGyver would help out or take the chicks to someone who could raise them. I knew that the long shake would be well liked!

    1. Overall how have you been enjoying seasons 1 and 2 now that you're fairly deep into it?

  4. I have really enjoyed them! Once I got over the initial differences, which I obviously expected, it was just the same programme. MacGyver himself might be younger, a bit cockier maybe, but essentially he was just growing into the character that I started with in 'Pirates'. The one main thing that I definitely prefer as the series progressed is having the camaraderie of the Phoenix Foundation, and most importantly Pete. The two actors just seem to have such a good understanding and relationship which really makes many episodes. In the beginning it seemed as if MacGyver was a bit lost without his friends, Jack included of course!

    There were some really great moments in season 1. The first few were non-stop action, if a little ropey at times compared to later episodes. 'Last Stand' and 'Target MacGyver' introduced some crazy villains including the classic Axminster, whilst there was a rival to Murdoc as the most deadly 'Assassin'. In my opinion, 'Nightmares' had the outstanding acting by Richard. Unfortunately there was that terrible train journey to a 'Slow Death'!

    Season 2 has been at a consistently high level so far, aside from 'The Wish Child'. I think I was a bit harsh when commenting on 'The Road Not Taken', although it would still be next weakest. Jimmy 'The Eraser' stood out to me from his second appearance and I think he provides some of the most effective and believable acting in the whole series. It was also very good to finally see Jack appear at his eye-twitching best! There are just five episodes to go now until I catch up with 'Pirates' and then I will be picking and choosing a few of my favourites to watch again until February when season 6 will, hopefully, begin!

  5. Having traveled alot around the states it was funny to watch scenes ranging from what appeared to be Alaska or Glacier, to what was obviously the California hills to Monument Valley. He sure can mountaineer up to 20,000 feet in a hurry too. His hang gliding skills are off the charts. I know we supposed to suspend reality a bit but this was shoddy. And the description of the bad guys as cartoonish was generous!

  6. Hi all, it’s nice to be back! When I last wrote, CBS Action abruptly stopped airing the series midway and now it’s back again, this episode was on a few days ago.
    I mostly remember it for the beautiful scenery when I watched it before I knew what stock footage was. I liked the diversity of assignments MacGyver is given, but I agree that it didn’t make sense to put him in such risk. His feelings about hang gliding changed as much for the better since To Be a Man (where his only comment about it was “Lord, I hate heights”, perhaps just because he had less confidence in his hand-made glider than in this one) as his aiming did for the worse (slingshots). And, good a reason he had, I was a bit disappointed he couldn’t come up with a distraction plan without blowing the whole workshop up!
    I liked the quick shot of the goat looking up at him and him gliding past Darin (they could as well have used his own, similar enough name). I wonder how this latter one was made as the dog takes no notice until he’s past them. The skid hitting the eagle was good editing too. By the way, monogamy in animals usually means they only look for a new mate if the current one dies and golden eagles are the most widespread eagle species.
    I loved the crazy sprint down the mountain but I wish they did a better job of matching the largest, most noticeable piece of clothing to that of the stuntman or the person in the stock footage who wore a white shirt while MacGyver had a blue one. Then sometimes it looks like he wears a white one under the blue one!
    I liked his “hair of the dog” solution of turning the arrow into a splint too but I could not believe my eyes when MacGyver left the eagle alone outside on the ground when Darin’s dog, whom he previously saw barking at and wanting to get to them, could have been or most likely was running around loose! He was incredibly lucky. Also, when the goons turn up at the house, Curry provides a perfect example of how not to greet a dog!
    I liked Darin standing up for his mum and I didn’t find them annoying. When Curry scoops him up outside, you can see Danny laughing but he’s back into character very quickly for the angry “let me go!” shouting. He’s also good at imagining that there are eagles in the basket and the stock footage is edited in quite well with no sides of the nest showing.