Friday, January 9, 2015

#65: Pilot

Season: 1

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:

MacGyver is called in to clean up a mess resulting from an explosion in an underground lab.  He makes his way through the wreckage to find an acid leak and a trapped pair of nobel prize-level scientists.  He learns that the explosion was not an accident, and he alerts the team on the outside that the leak is stopped just in time before the lab is wiped out by a missile. 

Memorable Quote:
Spencer, gosh darn it, I told you to wait outside!  ~MacGyver

I'm going to have to go with the soundtrack as a whole.  Wow, what a score.  And this was the pilot? The whole thing is like a symphony to my ears.  

MacGyver shoots a gun at another person for the only time in series history.  I'm so disappointed in you, MacGyver.  What am I supposed to tell my kids?

Best MacGyverism:
Only about 10 things to choose from.  The chocolate bars in the acid is a classic MacGyverism and is now added to the top 5 MacGyverism list.  

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Sit down and make yourself comfortable - I have a lot of thoughts about this one.  
  • This episode was written by Lee David Zlotoff and then re-worked by Thackary Pallor. We see Zlotoff's name in the opening credits of every episode as the creator, and when I was a kid I had figured that he was the mastermind of all things MacGyver.  I was surprised to learn later in life that he was uninvolved after the first episode and did not contribute to the series after that.
  • Now let's get to the episode!  I love me some opening gambits, though this one is not one of my favorites.  Normally I like the voiceovers but in this case the whole story about the golden palamino feels a little much, though since it was the very first episode, perhaps it was useful to give the audience a sense of the man instead of just having silence as he walks around the camp.
  • 3:06 mark (time based on DVD - the youtube video may be off slightly) - classic frame where he quickly picks up the flare gun from the downed plane.  This clip would appear on the longer version of the song which as a kid I affectionately referred to as "long song."  Once I saw this clip, I would happily yell, "long song, Mom, it's long song!" and dance around the family room.  Sometime I'll have to go into more detail about my MacGyver opening credits dance - another time, perhaps.  
  • 5:15 - how in the heck have we gone 71 episodes without hearing this most basic of MacGyver tunes?  Unless I missed it, but I've been keeping an ear out for it.  You hear it again at 42:11. This is one of my favorites - the early season "MacGyver is doing something" music.  Let's get it on the music list.  And that's immediately followed by an awesome track at 5:41 which I associate more with another episode that we'll get to at a later date and add to the music list at that time.   And nice use of the paper clip to disarm the missile.  
  • 6:34 - classic frame of the branch going through the gun that is seen in the song.
  • 7:38 - MacGyver and the prisoner run the edge of the cliff and seem surprised that there's a dropoff.
  • 7:50 - MacGyver's fateful shot (see lowlight).  Brings a tear to the eye. 
  • How does the parachute support both MacGyver and the prisoner?  Is the prisoner just hanging on to MacGyver the whole time?
  • 8:55 - interesting shot of the lab exploding instead of the outer space explosion where "MacGyver" appears during the song.
  • Does MacGyver live in the observatory with the giant telescope?  If so, that's awesome. 
  • I like the chess game as part of the story - creates a more epic feel.
  • 12:50 - shot of the digital clock bomb seen in the song
  • 15:18 - "Call the lab, Gant, tell them we're on our way."  ~MacGyver.  This is the kind of initiative I like to see!  If this were season 6, he'd be saying, "Aw Gant, do I have to?"
  • I like the whole lead-up with MacGyver arriving by helicopter and then being briefed on the overwhelming situation.  Feels like the knight coming in to save the day all by himself.
  • It's Pete!  But wait, it's not Pete!  Actually it's Dana Elcar as Andy Colson, chief of operations. And he's smoking!
  • First-time viewers learn some interesting things here about MacGyver, like he carries his own matches and uses his knapsack more for things that he intends to find along the way. First-season MacGyver is awesome - just a bundle of confidence and energy with no fear of tackling huge problems.  Compare this to Season 6 and 7, when he's basically retired and getting pulled into things often against his will.  Watching these episodes out of order really makes me appreciate Season 1.
  • 22:23 - classic frame from the song where he captures the laser on the binoculars. Great MacGyverism, by the way.  Makes it look easy.
  • 23:04 - another classic shot seen in the song - swinging down from the upper floor.
  • It's amazing how young he looks here.  I just watched Black Rhino from Season 5, and he looks much more than 4 years older.  It's almost like how presidents visibly age more quickly than most people.  Maybe the stress of the role took his toll on him.  Not that he looks bad or anything in the later years, just older.
  • Speaking of looks, I feel like I'm an ok judge of what women find attractive in men. Sometimes RDA's style/haircuts in the later years makes me wonder what all the fuss was about, but I gotta admit, in this episode he's a pretty charming fellow and good-looking guy, and I can understand why the ladies were interested in the young man.
  • And I've talked many times about the season 1 swagger, but my goodness, in this episode it overflows like an avalanche.  Where does it come from?  Would love to hear people's thoughts on this, and I'd love to ask RDA or the producers why his Season 1 persona was so different from the rest of the seasons.  My theory is that it came internally from RDA rather than from someone telling him how to act.  In reading some articles about his 70's/early 80's persona, he strikes me as  a confident guy with some swagger, and I think he's playing himself to a large degree.  Then once Season 2 started, he came back down to earth a little bit and got used to the celebrity, and then by the later years he was more withdrawn and less vivacious (and this rubbed off on his character). That's my working theory.
  • 25:25 - awesome music.  One of the coolest tracks I've ever heard on MacGyver.
  • Love the part where he picks up the chocolate bars and Spencer is aghast that he is thinking about eating sweets.  And I like his rationale about "storing up on a little energy."  If only chocolate were that virtuous.  
  • 30:55 - chilling scene with the room of dead scientists.  Amazing music.  
  • 36:50 - MacGyver is explaining to Spencer how the chocolate in the acid leak will work.  As he rambles on about "C12-H22-O11" and "thick gummy residue" in an accent that I can't even describe, I marvel at how the actress playing Spencer could possibly keep a straight face through all of this.  And where does the inner hick come from?  It's not really similar at all to a Minnesota accent.  Another question I'd love to ask RDA.  
  • Love the way he reacts to Spencer barging in (see memorable quote).  Runner up for memorable quote:
    • "Don't tell me you know how to make a bomb out of a stick of chewing gum." ~Spencer
    • "Why, you got some?" ~MacGyver  
  • We end things with some live-action end credits!

Here's a link to my conversation with episode director Jerry Freedman (aka Alan Smithee).

Script Analysis:
Here's a link to my script analysis where I compared the original script to the final episode.

Final Analysis:
Wow.  Kind of an amazing hour of television.  After the first 15 minutes, I thought maybe I had it a little too high, but now I worry that it's much too low.  I'm blown away by the fact that this was the pilot.  Normally you think of pilots as rusty and working out the kinks, and while there was a little bit of that (like MacGyver firing the gun), it's amazing how good of an episode this is and how well this holds up (much better than some of the later episodes).  I'd like to think viewers back in 1985 would have seen this and thought, "wow, there's something special going on here."

Next up, it's a two-parter!  Two left to choose from: will it be Ming Dragon or Merlin?  Place your bets! 


  1. I didn't know what to expect based on your teaser but you caught me off-guard again as I didn't expect the Pilot episode. I remember seeing the early ads for MacGyver during the summer of 1985 with ABC's "You'll Love It" promotion and fell in love with the show about six weeks before it even premiered. I still remember the anticipation on September 29, 1985, leading up to watching this premiere--and the terrible cold I had that day--and the pilot lived up to expectations completely.....even though the ratings were absolutely terrible in the show's brutal Sunday night time slot up against then top-5 "Murder, She Wrote" and the premiere of Steven Spielberg's wildly hyped "Amazing Stories" which faded rather quickly and "MacGyver" gained at Spielberg's expense. Still, given how low the ratings were out of the starting gate, it's pretty amazing this series survived beyond its original 13-episode order let alone become the global cultural tour de force it became. But the most spectacular MacGyver survival story of all came with how this show got on the air in the first place....

    I'll clear up the confusion right away about the show's inception--and there's plenty of confusion to clear up. It's a legendary story about how journeyman Hollywood writer Lee David Zlotoff was approached by Paramount to write a pilot for Paramount, who originally planned for him to do a real-time anthology series comparable to "24" except with different sets of stories every week. That didn't play out so he ventured into a different direction and in a typical uninspired moment in a Hollywood board room full of suits, the idea of MacGyver was born. Zlotoff wrote the 90-minute pilot and pitched it to ABC. His work with the series was officially over the day he did. At that point, ABC made the 90-minute pilot and showed it to test audiences.....who weren't particularly receptive. ABC was on the cusp of canning the show and moving onto the next shiny object, but for whatever reason, decided to have another writer--Thackary Pallor--consolidate the material from the pilot from 90 minutes to one hour. This doesn't happen often to put it mildly! The more condensed version of the pilot did better with test audiences and ABC put the show on its weekly schedule. The drama on the set continued, however, with the network micromanaging the direction it wanted the series to go and an endless stream of producers butting heads with them, leading to a spectacularly high turnover rate of the crew and a complete reconfiguration of the show's format (goodbye opening gambits) as the early episodes were taking forever to produce and were going way, way, way overbudget. Somehow, amidst all this drama....and terrible early ratings in the one of the worst timeslots on television in the fall of 1985....MacGyver persevered and trudged its way to a semi-hit show for the network by season's end. The greatest MacGyverism of all may be how this show avoided the cancellation ax after its first dozen episodes!

    1. The real director of the pilot was named Jerrold Freedman. I suspect he took on the name "Alan Smithee" because the episode was cut from his 90-minute original to an hour. I'll venture a guess that never before has a series' pilot episode been directed by "Alan Smithee" and went on to succeed, let alone last seven seasons. It's more common than you think for a show's pilot to be written by someone who then passes it off to another showrunner. I'm sure that was the case with Steven Bochco, as one example, who was contracted to produce a handful of shows for ABC in the 1990s. He wasn't gonna be the showrunner for all of them so he probably wrote or co-wrote a number of pilots and then walked away. But LDZ's example is a little more peculiar in that he was just a journeyman writer from "Remington Steele" at the time who could have had his own series to showrun but elected to walk away.

      Randy Edelman was the composer for the first several episodes and did subsequent musical scores in seasons 2 and 3. He was the best of the show's three primary composers, even though Dennis McCarthy and Ken Harrison did first-rate work for the show as well. Given his outsized footprint on the series' musical legacy, it's a little surprising that Edelman only composed 16 total episodes during the show's run.

    2. And giving a little more context for those terrible early ratings, MacGyver benefited greatly from the limited choices available to 1985 television audiences. Its pilot episode ranked 54th out of 63 primetime network shows aired in its week. A figure that bad in the fragmented TV world of 2015 TV with scores of cable options would be an instant death sentence. The network today would immediately quit advertising it and accept the show as a flop, possibly but not necessarily burning off the remaining episodes produced before taking it off the air entirely, and the lack of promotion would ensure there was no coming back from that crummy opening night performance. But there was a little more patience in 1985 because the three networks made up about 85% of the primetime audience share, meaning there was room to grow at one of the other network's expense if their series started faltering. Now the little old ladies watching "Murder, She Wrote" on CBS weren't going anywhere, but NBC's "Amazing Stories", hyped in the preseason as "nothing like anything you've ever seen before on television", had room to fall. And fall it did, and the mediocre anthology shed some of its early audience each successive week, and over on ABC, their new action-adventure show actually was delivering on the type of show NBC promised, seeing its ratings inch up week to week. Only a couple of months into the new season, MacGyver had at one point beaten "Amazing Stories" for second place in its time slot. It's entirely possible the show would have persevered had it stayed on Sunday night, but there was an opening in a safer Wednesday night time slot and ABC moved it there by midseason where it began to flourish. The main point is that MacGyver's comeback story from terrible early ratings was rare in 1985, but would be next to impossible with the changed economics and logistics of television today.

    3. Thanks for the background. Makes you wonder how many other would-have-been great shows never got the time to grow and develop due to lack of patience from networks, especially in today's world of demanding instant success.

      I remember watching Murder She Wrote occasionally as a kid with my Mom. We would wonder why anyone would ever go visit that little town where someone gets murdered every week. I've never even heard of Amazing Stories.


  2. Now, getting to the episode itself, it was a great pilot. I get why you didn't love the opening gambit's voiceover distraction, but the production values were masterful and the suspense was unlike anything I had seen on television up to that point where the adventure shows I was used to at the time were more formulaic and without a stepped-up threat level. There was no defusal of a ticking-down missile with a paper clip with one second to go or a mountaintop escape by using a flare gun as a rocket launcher to evade an army or armed Mongolians bearing down on him! It was just spectacular, and the Randy Edelman soundtrack was indeed of feature-film quality, fitting the mood and international settings of those early episodes like a glove. Eight and a half minutes into MacGyver and it already had displaced all of my existing favorite shows of the mid-80s! Most fans are similarly shocked to see he fired the rifle in the pilot and even executive producer John Rich was embarrassed to have it brought to his attention at a seminar for the show in the late 90s, but as you said.....the series and character were a work in progress. All is forgiven as far as I'm concerned!

    The main story also worked for me, although the motive of Carl Steuben for blowing up the lab remains a little murky for me. Also, MacGyver's swagger has its place in season 1 but I cringe at some of those scenes now because they were so different from the character MacGyver would become, particularly when he's a smug smartass. Agreed, however, that he went too far the other way by the end of the series' run where he seemed to be annoyed by just about everyone in his presence rather than shaking it up with them at all. My other criticism was the acting in general was inconsistent, and there were plenty of cringeworthy acting moments in the first half of season 1. In addition to his odd tone explaining how the candy bar would stop an acid leak that you mentioned, his "that was dumb Spencer, very very dumb" just seemed so stupidly breezy given the gravity of the situation.

    But back to the good stuff, the action and plot development were on point throughout the story, along with the production values which were a party for my 8-year-old eyes, particularly the laser show in the elevator shaft. MacGyver seemed to have chemistry with "Andy Colson" from the get-go so I can see why they made the decision to recast Dana Elcar as MacGyver's boss. More than any other episode, MacGyver's exotic approach to problem-solving was featured in this episode (which I guess makes sense given that it was the primary gimmick of the show and this was the first episode!) and that helps it overcome its uneven moments and inconsistencies with the narrative for the rest of the show. Kind of surprised actually that you rated this one lower than most of the early episodes but my ranking for this one was #18.

    1. I think I should have had it higher. My memory was that it was mostly underground (not my favorite setting) and that while it was fun and enjoyable, it didn't get my MacGyver juices flowing as much as some of the others. But it actually did really get my juices flowing, and it's one that I think I like better as an adult. Your point about "that was dumb, Spencer" hadn't occurred to me, but you're right, that's not the most thoughtful thing to say to someone who has just been shot.

  3. re: LDZ - go here: - read his letter, then read the 4 or 5 blog posts linked at the bottom. It's the whole story of how he came up with the MacGyver concept. It's a LONG story, but a truly interesting read. And, from that, I gather, that he may not have been brought in to do more than write the pilot story and maybe some of the script. You'll get what I mean once you read it. =)

    The 'standard' explanation for the gun firing is 'early episodes, they hadn't determined all the ins and outs of the character yet'. And - that gun firing scene, is removed from the clip when it's used in later episodes.

    I really like the pilot episode - it's one of the few pilots that doesn't make you *facepalm*.

    As for Mac's weird accent - aren't they sort of yelling over the ambient noise in that scene? If so - that might explain some of the 'odd'. (The same thing happens in Hellfire where they're all yelling over the gushing oil derrick.)

    1. Thanks for sharing the link, Highlander. Interesting stuff. I also remember not seeing the gun being fired in later re-airs. The final scene with him playing basketball with his little brother looked new to me - I'm guessing that was a deleted scene.

    2. You're welcome! I found it a couple weeks ago doing random searches for MacGyver. =)

      The basketball scene at the end was definitely missing from the run they did on USA Network.

  4. I didn't watch many MacGyver episodes originally ( we didn't get the whole series in the UK anyway) and came to this one much later but it's hard to imagine a better pilot for a new tv show. The opening gambit quickly establishes the concept ; we've looking at a dare-devil, resourceful yet unconventional hero and the main story takes it and runs with it, Clearly a nice guy ( playing baskets with his Little Brother), he's a super-competent agent -' What other options do they have....I'm it aren't I?' yet very different, as Coulson's greeting suggests,'You must be the screwball' followed by a wry smile from MacGyver. His scientific credentials are obvious with his question about the lasers 'Infra-red or gas discharge?' and his immediate grasp of the consequences of the acid leak. I love the swagger as I've said many times and didn't think it tipped over into smart ass here.The plot itself unwinds excitingly - he's whisked off by urgent helicopter and it builds up with lots of dramatic tension and suspense eased by light-hearted moments. The microphone is a good device linking the action to the control room and helping to establish character, drama, countdown and further suspense once its lost. Spenser is a good partner and they team up well; she's also stubborn and resourceful- another character we should have seen again. Moments I love include; 'Take the pack why don't you?' from Coulson as MacGyver takes all his ciggies, his jaunty whistling of the Beatles'Penny Lane' as he sets off down the shaft, Spenser's 'MacGyver...that's a good name' ( she's right of course!) and MacGyver telling Coulson 'She likes my name', the joke about the cold capsule 'I wouldn't have kissed you if I'd known you'd got a cold', and all the MacGyverisms.....I could go on.... Altogether a firm favourite, and in my top five. Maybe even my all time favourite -haven't quite decided on the final rankings yet. I too came across the LDZ blog a few weeks ago and like you felt it opened up almost as many questions as it answered about the origins of the show and character.

    1. Good observation on the Penny Lane whistling! I just went back and rewatched that clip and you're right - it does sound like Penny Lane.

  5. A fair number of people consider the Pilot the best episode of all as you suggest you may ultimately rank it. I'd like to see the original 90-minute pilot some time to see what all was cut out.

    1. would be brilliant to see the full 90 mins - perhaps its in a storeroom in a studio somewhere or would they have deleted it- someone, somewhere must know. Perhaps we could launch a campaign to track it down? .... I'm getting carried away here! I knew about the Alan Smithee significance of the episode but not the reason behind the anonymity - cutting the director's work from 90 to 45 mins might well explain it. Shedding some light on Nicholas's theory about RDA and MacGyver's character development, Michael Greenburg says on the MacGyver global site ( where the LDZ info is) that one of the highlights of his involvement was ' watching Rick become the character and the character become Rick in many ways.Wit and charm come to mind'. RDA certainly does a great job in the Pilot; confidence and charm radiate from him, helped by his handsome looks and those amazing dark eyes. I won't go on in case I start sounding too much like Patti and Selma Bouvier. I guess over several seasons, long hours and a punishing schedule, some of the initial spark fades out of any actor/character and they themselves also become older and wiser. I think most Stargate fans preferred the early to mid season Jack O'Neill to the later version.

  6. Thanks all for a great review of the groundbreaking and wonderful pilot! I'm a big fan of this one too. One of my favorites in fact. It's one of those episodes that I remember well and the MacGyverisms have stuck in my mind after all these years. The chocolate bar acid plug and sodium cold capsule bomb are 2 of my all-time favorites.

    Very interesting information about LDZ and his contributions or lack thereof. I'm very interested to read the MacGyver Global page to learn more.

    I too am disappointed in the scene where Mac fires the gun, but I have heard many times over the years about how the character wasn't yet developed and they hadn't decided that the anti-gun stance was going to be central to the character's ethos. This reminds me of when Mac used the word "hell" in "Flames End". Not something that felt very MacGyver and they quickly put an end to the PG rated talk from him. I loved Mac's brown leather jacket in this one too. It's different than his other, more common one, later in the series. Loved the quote about how his bag is for what he finds along the way (not what he takes). It is reminiscent of a quote Pete had in "Ghost Ship" about Mac taking next to no food or water, he travels light and survives on what he can find. I also found interesting that Mac said he had a date (which he pretty much never talks about) as well as his little brother, which I'm pretty sure is never mentioned again. In fact, later in the series, I'm pretty sure we find out that Mac is an only child. Now that I think about it, he probably meant Little Brother as in Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

    I agree, the strange accent or intonation Mac had while describing the chemistry of chocolate is similar to a few other instances in the series. Namely the ones already mentioned as well as a similar one in "Legend of the Holy Rose" while describing Ambrose's laser. I do agree that it's mostly due to his excitement at the time coupled with the noise level/location at that particular instance.

    I liked Spencer and it seems like the producers thought the character might be a recurring one, given how smitten they both were with each other. Her and Mac obviously had chemistry so I wonder why she never reappears. She's a heck of a lot better for Mac than some of the floosies they tried to make us believe were part of Mac's past.

    Lots to discuss here, but I think you guys captured it well. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Corey! You're right that MacGyver is an only child and his little brother is from the volunteer program. I actually don't even mind his firing the gun (my making it the lowlight was more of a joke) - in some ways it's kind of a cool piece of trivia and something that is interesting to see because it's so rare (like a 4-leaf clover).

    2. 'because it's so rare' -- yeah - until they bungle it all up in "Trail to Doomsday" *sigh*

    3. I'm looking forward to watching the movies again since I don't remember them, but Trail to Doomsday sounds really bad!

    4. Trail to Doomsday is my #141... if that tells you anything.

  7. I don't know why it took me so long to realize that's what he meant about his little brother. I don't remember him ever talking about this particular volunteer program where he is assigned a specific person. Either way, the kid who played Reggie did a nice job. Very energetic like 1985 Mac was. As soon as I saw him I knew he was the kid who played Arnold's friend Dudley on Diff'rent Strokes.

    1. I think it was replaced by the Challenger's Club, which, in s6 & 7 can be seen w/ the Big Brothers, Big Sisters logo. Maybe a partnership or something. And, with the Challenger's Club, Mac can help more ppl at a time. But the concept is similar.

  8. Got it, good point Highlander. Thanks.

  9. As I noted in the comments for 'Passages', my MacGyver viewing has been stopped at the end of season 5 because for some reason CBS Action isn't carrying on with season 6. The only plus side to this annoying hiatus is that the channel has started showing the series again from the beginning so I can catch up to what was my introduction to MacGyver, season 2's 'Pirates'.

    My thoughts on the Pilot are summed up like this; it was MacGyver but it wasn't, at least not as I know it! I can't deny that it was an action packed and exciting episode but there were things that I thought I knew that were just, well, different!

    I had seen the term 'opening gambit' on this site before and was expecting an adventure before the theme music but this bore no relation to the actual episode! It was like a separate episode condensed into 5 minutes! I know these opening gambits are much loved so don't misunderstand me, it was very good, but why didn't the story continue into the actual episode?

    As a pilot, I obviously expected it to be a bit rough around the edges and for character background to not be developed; Dana Elcar wasn't Pete but sort of acted like Pete! Mac lived in a huge observatory with an adopted brother? Mac's accent suddenly changed! If I had started here then everything would have been new and the oddities would have emerged later on, but watching it after three and a half seasons just made it seem strange! Still, everything has to start somewhere and with so many great MacGyverisms and action throughout, the episode was certainly enjoyable, just not quite right for someone who watched it out of order!

    1. Welcome to Season 1 MacGyver! In a lot of ways, Season 1 is like a completely different show, and coming from just having watching season 5, I'm not surprised that you have noticed a big difference. The accent is noticeable -- in some of these early episodes RDA sometimes talks like a hick for unknown reasons. There are technically 7 opening gambits, with one of them having a slight connection to the rest of the story. I love the opening gambits, but sadly they had to stop them for production cost reasons.

    2. I agree Ed, the sudden switch back to the beginning after season 5 on CBS action was irritating. I'd set the recorder for Tough Boys only to find it was the Pilot again. I've obviously got the DVD but its still handy to have them as tv recordings. When I watched in the early '90's the episodes seemed pretty random and I don't think we ever got the later seasons in the uk. The fact that its now only being shown once a day at 10,00 am makes me think they're tailing it off and we're never going to get to the later episodes! Even seeing them, like you, completely out of order, I really liked the epic, old fashioned feel of the Pilot and the brashness of the younger MacGyver.
      As a minor aside, I mentioned in my previous comment that MacGyver seems to be whistling 'Penny Lane' as he crawls along the shaft. I've since read on various sites that its supposed to be 'The Streets of Laredo' but I know that tune and it isn't that. Its also not quite right as 'Penny Lane' because he whistles a couple of descending notes at the end. Maybe RDA just forgot how the tune was supposed to go!

  10. If you are reading this Al, there is good news! I contacted CBS about season 6 and 7 and they confirmed that they will be showing them in February, although no definite date was given. Something to look forward to so keep checking the channel listings!

  11. Thanks Ed, that was enterprising of you, I'd just about given up hope. Though I'm going to have to do some deleting to fit all those MacGyver recordings in!

    1. IMPORTANT! I meant to post this earlier in the month; Season 6 will be finally be starting tomorrow, 24th February, on CBS Action at 19:00! The series is still in the morning listing too so I assume that maybe each episode will be repeated the day after as it has done for the re-runs so far. Having just watched Passages again with a tear in my eye, I am very excited to watch some new episodes!

  12. Hi everyone, it's great to be here!
    I first saw "MacGyver" in 1990 when I was ten years old. It was my favourite series at the time – though it did not air past the first three seasons – so of course my eyes lit up when I come across it on CBS Action after so many years! One of the big differences watching it nowadays is the internet one can delve into for information. I was interested to find thoughts of others who followed the show, and it didn't take long to end up here! The amount and quality of work you all put in this blog is amazing!
    It looks like we all were around the same age when we first saw the show. I started watching it on CBS Action from Season 4, and besides seasons 4-7 I never saw the pilot before either, so, when I expected to see Tough Boys after Passages and saw MacGyver climbing rocks, I thought, "Wow! The opening gambits are back! So are the voiceovers and the cocky attitude! And he finally sorted his hair out, back to the way I liked it and the music's back to keyboards instead of violin-whinging (sorry!)! And a MacGyverism already? And another, and another?? OMG, that's the show I remember...! So, it took me a minute to realise that it's not that they suddenly made huge improvements for the last two seasons but started over and this must be the pilot...
    Please let me know if any of you are still around, I hate to see discussions ending with my posts as if I killed them!


    1. Hi Rita, I'm still around! I'm glad that you were able to finally see the pilot and that you found my site, and thanks for the comment!

    2. Hi and thanks, I wish I joined sooner!
      It's nice to see that most episodes are up on Dailymotion! I tape on a freeview box but it's a shared one with rarely more than ten hours space on it at any time so instead of recording whole episodes I pick the MacGyverisms out, usually in four segments per episode just because that's how many fits on the screen without scrolling. If there's more than that worth recording, as it usually is the case with the earlier seasons overflowing with creativity, I make it 8; if that'd still miss a lot of good out, or I just liked the plot or anything else enough, I keep the whole episode (a way to end up with a favourites list!). The recording needs to be at least 30 seconds long to store on the box so I look at the Dailymotion uploads (they are the shorter versions, unfortunately!) for markers, this way I can also start at the start of a cut and finish at the end of one, and not cutting sentences in half (which is a bit tricky as the screen is sometimes half a second early, other times half a second late to what's actually taping and the sound stops recording about a second earlier than the picture). I piled up quite a collection by now so I whish I could aomehow save it off the box!
      This episode, of course, was one to keep entirely. It's the pilot, it's packed with MacGyverisms and there are some unique never-again parts in it such as MacGyver firing a gun and Dana Elcar not as Pete!

  13. I wonder if the outer space explosion that is usually shown during the opening credits is stock footage from the early 80's time traveling TV show Voyagers! It too had an outer space explosion that was shown as a part of the time travel sequence.

  14. "We end things with some live-action end credits!"

    And a filmed version of Paramount Television's Blue Mountain logo (I think that the same was in a videotaped form for the balance of the first season and all of the second [1986-87]).

  15. As I mentioned somewhere else, I'm currently watching all the episodes from start to finish after buying all the DVDs a couple of weeks ago. I've now watched 6 episodes of the first season. (I've watched quite a few episodes before in my life, though.)

    Enjoyed this one a lot. It's probably not my absolute favourite but it's right up there. The opening gambit is a brilliant start to the episode and to the series as a whole. I'm not too bothered by his use of the gun - it might be a bit out of character, but nothing earth-shattering: he only uses it for a few seconds to scare off the baddies. (I do love your "lowlight" comment, however.)

    The only really weak spots for me are at the beginning and end of the episode proper - the bits where he's hanging around with the kid at his observatory/flat or whatever it is. (I think one of you mentioned that the kid was originally supposed to appear in more episodes, or am I mistaken?) Especially the bit at the end seemed tacked on just to end the episode. But it's a small gripe in the grand scheme of things.

    So far my favourite episode (of the six I've seen this time round) is The Gauntlet and my least favourite is Thief of Budapest - I found the bit with all the cars driving around near the end particularly tiresome.

  16. Over the past two years we have gone through each Macgywer episode and picked up on your blog mid way through season 3. We are going back to the beginning now and are delighted to be back in season 1. Back to macgywer swagger,niceness and enthusiasm. I remember this episode from my childhood, the chocolate stopping acid, sticking out in my memory. Looking forward to the countdown from season 1 to 3. Rate this pilot in our top 10.

  17. Excellent review, I agree ever word!