Sunday, March 1, 2015

#27: Cease Fire

Season: 5

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
MacGyver is in Geneva, Switzerland, to help broker peace talks between two warring countries. The Defense Minister of one of the countries tries to sabotage the peace talks by killing the president, but MacGyver foils the assassination attempt.  The Defense Minister shoots MacGyver and blames him for the assassination attempt, but MacGyver escapes and is aided by a young girl from an international school. 

Memorable Quote:
Oh, you scared me half to death.  ~Lisa

Excellent first 10 minutes as the peace talks background information is quickly established while MacGyver is riding in a Swiss Alpine gondola, and then later he suspects something is amiss when the umbrellas on the veranda are taken down and a man carrying a suitcase walks into the nearby woods.  

I hate to sound like a Debbie Downer, but the dialogue in the boathouse (e.g. "You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it") comes off a little too fluffy for me.

Best MacGyverism:
Welds a nail to a broken spark plug using jumper cables and a battery.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Allan Lysell makes his third out of fourth MacGyver Project appearances as a member of the peace brokering team - I hope to get a hold of him before his fourth and final appearance.  And Yanif (played by Eli Danker) is a strong and capable bad guy - let's add him to the top villains list
  • Oh no, MacGyver's been shot!  Time to update the shot chart.  This is the 8th (and I believe the final) time that the shot chart will have been updated.  If you need a refresher on why this is significant, read this post.  
  • 12:17 - not sure that Pete has enough of a reaction to the news that MacGyver was the sniper and is now dead.
  • It's our third and final Lisa Woodman appearance, but the first chronologically. This is Lisa's finest hour: no quarreling with parents or alcohol problems - just a sweet kid doing whatever it takes to help MacGyver. 
  • MacGyver once again rocking the baggy suit and sneakers look.
  • Pretty impressive that Lisa is able to outrun the three bad guys to the boathouse.  
  • 41:48 - classic, impressively filmed shot from opening credits of MacGyver jumping on top of the gondola.  Or "gon-DO-la" as he calls it. 
  • 43:24 - "He's got a thing about heights."  As if it's abnormal for someone to be apprehensive from jumping out of a gondola attached to a rope a thousand feet over a mountain. 
  • Appropriate use of the Swiss Army Knife while in Switzerland. 
  • Nice ending with Lisa having lunch with her parents and talking about a "Cease Fire" in their home.  Too bad in the later episodes that Mr. Woodman ends up being a sleaze.  

Final Analysis:
Exciting adventure, great acting, and a fantastic locale.  This is one that originally I had higher on my list (#15) before I re-ranked the top 60 a few months ago.  I feel like this is the appropriate place for it, though I'm guessing that many MacGyver fans will have it even higher than I do. Objectively, it feels like the most classic and memorable episode from Season 5 (not including Passages), and Mayim Bialik does a great job and takes the episode to a higher place.  It's just that there are some episodes that resonate more with me emotionally which is why I have it at #27.  Also there's not one particular highlight that stands out to me as a fantastic moment.  But definitely an episode that made a big impression on me as a kid, and one that I still really enjoy. 


  1. Here's another one you liked quite a bit more than me. I didn't dislike it but certainly wouldn't rate it amongst my favorites of season 5, a season with many pivotal and beloved episodes, two of which were selected by fans in an online poll for the "Fan Favorite" DVD released a few years ago. It was a great idea for an episode though, both the Swiss setting and the peace negotiations talk. You could tell by the first few episodes of season 5 that there was a renewed emphasis on adventure for the season, complete with international settings, and I really welcomed that. The location work this series did was exceptional, and it's no surprise they took advantage of the gondola car for one of the first episodes of the season, where it was filled in the summer before they had to worry about snow messing up the stunt logistics.

    What didn't I care for in the episode? Two main things. First, MacGyver made some genuinely bonehead moves. It was impressive that he instinctively knew that Yanif was up to something based on his body language and all the activity after the agreement was reached. But after he thwarted the assassination, what in God's name would compel him to catch the sniper rifle thrown at him by the would-be assassin? I suppose you could say it's a reflex response to catch something thrown at you, but my reflex would be to pull away. I just didn't get that at all beyond it being a mere plot convenience to frame him for the would-be shooting. And again, you could argue that his carelessly leaving the bloody rag lying on the edge of the clearing before going to the boathouse is the result of a gunshot wound rendering his judgment a little dicey, but it's so uncharacteristic of MacGyver to be that sloppy that it stood out to me. I didn't necessarily mind the hammy dialogue in the boathouse with Lisa because Mayim Bialik was such a charismatic child actress, but I thought some of their banter as they sped across the lake was more silly. And one of the things this show is the weakest about is its breezy handling of gunshot wounds. How many times has MacGyver been shot with nearly inconsequential fallout (Brainwashed, The Stringer, and Humanity all come to mind)? In this one there's at least a wound that needs to be attended to....but he didn't take the bullet out! He just bandaged it up! I don't hold this against the episode per se but moments like this tend to accumulate when holding the episode up against the other 140.

    The positive attributes of the episode still dramatically outweigh the negative though, at the final quadrant of the hour was great with the impressive motorcycle ascent up the cliff and that spectacular gondola stunt, which would seem to be worthy of the top-five stunts this series every pulled out. Less impressive though was the blue screen backdrop during the bomb defusal and the worst explosion scene of the entire seven seasons at end. I get that this was a big budget episode and they had to do the pyrotechnics on the cheap, but it was still a little cringeworthy. I did like this one though and welcomed Lisa Woodman as a character. I preferred her in "Twenty Questions" even though I know that one was not a favorite of yours, but she's very good here too. I rank this one #95.

    1. Do you know what the consensus fan opinion is on this one? Though I suppose there's no such thing as "consensus fan opinion." I figured this one would have been popular but I may be wrong. It was one of my favorites as a kid, maybe because there was a kid my own age helping MacGyver and that was something I related to. And his getting shot adds to the momentousness of the occasion. But I see where you're coming from. The catching of the gun doesn't bother me because I figured not only is he a little groggy from being hit over the head, but they're holding a gun on him so they could just make him touch it if they wanted to. I was surprised that Yanif was handling the gun himself without gloves before tossing it to MacGyver. And leaving the bloody scarf lying around was certainly sloppy - I guess just a plot device to make the story unfold the way that it did. I wonder how they did the gondola stunt - it looks like it's really RDA jumping on top of the gondola.

    2. Also what is the fan favorite DVD, and which were the two episodes picked? Probably Halloween Knights (based on what you said during that review) and Black Rhino or Passages I'd guess.

    3. From what I gather the consensus opinion on this one is middle of the pack...perhaps the halfway point between your 27 and my 95 would seem like where the fans' feeling is on this one. I know RDA usually does his own stunts but it's really hard to believe they'd allow him to drop from 10 feet above onto a gondola car as the risk of injury that would put the show out of commission for weeks would be too high. But you're right that it really does look like RDA dropping from that tower. If it was, it seems safe to say it was the ballsiest stunt he ever did for the series.

      "Halloween Knights" and "Legend of the Holy Rose" were picked for the Fan Favorites DVD. The other two episodes were "Phoenix Under Siege" and "The Widowmaker". It was only those four/five episodes on the DVD and was reportedly chosen through an online poll. I didn't participate.

    4. Regarding the stunt and RDA, sounds like a good question for Stephen Downing Part 2.

    5. Indeed it does. Any idea when Stephen Downing Part 2 will be?

    6. I'm thinking once I get to #5, that way I can be a little more open in asking about episodes from my top 5 (not that we can't ask about others though). Haven't had as much luck lately getting responses - still a bunch more people I'm going to try (including some that have worked on multiple episodes and I want to wait until their final one).

  2. Also, based on former clues you've given and the fact that there's only one episode left on your list from season 5, I know what one of your top-11 is. :)

  3. My ranking for this one falls between Mark's and yours. I like this episode quite a bit, but there are others that I enjoy more for various reasons. I really like the gondola stunt, but some aspects draw this one out a bit more with 'fluff' over substance.

    (and i'm behind on my countdown b/c my silly dayjob thing keeps getting in my way and eating all of my brainz)

  4. Phew I’ve got a lot of catching up to do! I really like this one. As you say the setting is great, the threat level is high and there’s plenty of action plus MacGyver’s trademark sorting -out -someone else’s- emotional- problems whilst under serious duress!
    We’re back in the land of Heidi! As Nick commented, MacGyver’s idea of formal attire is the baggy jacket and trousers look topped off by trainers, but never mind. The cable car girl is sweet and its typical of MacGyver to take time on his diplomatic mission to talk to her and explain. The villains are menacing and both the audience and MacGyver can tell early on that there’s something fishy but why, oh why, doesn’t MacGyver tell Pete before he goes dashing off? Great leap as he stops the sniper just in time followed by an exciting chase and poor MacGyver, (who’s already taken serious punishment in a punch, blow to the head, kick in the ribs and then a gunshot wound) tumbles down the cliff. I agree, you would have though Pete would have been more devastated to hear that MacGyver is dead. Then, If the tables had been turned, I think Macgyver would have abandoned the diplomatic mission to search for Pete once he’d realised he was alive.
    The MacGyver/Lisa scenes are very good and there’s some great suspense at the boathouse as we expect the villains to discover him. Can’t help agreeing with Mark, after initial drama, the gunshot wound is shrugged off rather easily – no way could he have run to the boathouse and a piece of sticking plaster seems to magically make everything ok! Neat spark plug MacGyverism.
    Some great bike- riding up a very steep slope but it was a shame MacGyver didn’t get to hotwire the motorbike as someone has conveniently left the key in the second bike. The cable car scenes and the leap are great stuff. But how can MacGyver say ‘ Yeah, I’m alright’ to Pete considering the state he must be in. Loved the cable car girl lending MacGyver her SAK and telling him ‘its got lots of different blades’ ..pause.. ‘I know’. The next job was indeed not for someone who doesn’t like heights and I agree, the explosion was a bit lame. I thought the end scene was both good and bad, great that Lisa’s parents were talking things over but why did they ignore MacGyver after all Lisa had been through with him? And lose the purple bomber jacket, please.
    This one really appeals to me, somehow and I’ve ranked it high, in my top ten, around 7.

    1. I also thought of Heidi from GX-1 - that would have been funny if she would have made a cameo as the gondola driver. And I thought the same thing wondering why MacGyver didn't say something to Pete once it becomes obvious that they're going to try and shoot the President - maybe something like, let's get him inside. Perhaps he wanted to let it play out to try and catch them in the act, but if he jumped on the guy a second later it would have been too late.

  5. I watched this last night...hubby joined me for the ending...and as leaders in a scout type organization and being fairly well versed in knot tying since we teach it to the kids.....we were both! We wouldn't be trusting our life to some backpack. Tie a bowline on a doubled up rope and you get two loops to make a beautiful harness with. MacGyver should know that! However, we decided to forgive him...I mean he was shot, so maybe not thinking as clear-headed as he should have been! LOL


  6. That rope harness is called a "Swiss seat" which would have been perfect given the locale and the massive length of rope available.