The last time we saw MacGyver in any official capacity, he was walking along a sunset lit path by the Thames. There's long been rumors about our hero one day returning into our lives on a white horse, and it now appears that his return is closer than ever with both a movie and a television show in the works. The tv show's progress is further along with casting underway and may begin initial shooting later this month. If you ever wanted to read one fan's 1100+ word opinion on all this, you've come to the right place!
Let's start by saying that I have mixed feelings, but first the good (I'll refer to the tv show for now, but my thoughts about a movie are along the same lines). If I had to pick one side or the other and give a straight Yes or No opinion on a reboot, I'd give a definite Yes. I wouldn't expect the show to be good (mostly because I don't enjoy most of what's on tv today -- just like movies, it tends to move too fast and not spend enough time on characters and story), but I'm willing to risk it on the 5% chance that it actually is a good, enjoyable show.
I also like the thought of MacGyver being in the news and helping the original series to gain exposure among millennials and younger kids, many of whom have no idea who MacGyver is. Last year I gave a Season 1 MacGyver DVD as a gift to my two nephews (ages 16 and 12) who don't agree on much, yet they both LOVE it and often watch it together, and by now they have seen each episode on the DVD multiple times (I'm giving them Season 2 later this month). Like all series from 30+ years ago, MacGyver can sometimes feel dated in comparison to today's television, but it generally holds up remarkably well. It also has a positive message unlike much of what is on tv today, and so I believe that MacGyver getting back into the public awareness and reaching some new fans is a good thing for everyone.
As for the casting of the lead, I have no problem with MacGyver being recast. Now there will never be another Richard Dean Anderson -- his greatness and unique qualities in portraying, shaping, and embodying the character won't ever be duplicated, but I believe there are other strong actors out there than can bring something to the role and put their own personal spin on it. Just as I'm glad they have kept making James Bond movies and how I hope that they keep making Indiana Jones movies post Harrison Ford (provided they're better than Crystal Skull), I wouldn't let the lack of RDA prohibit my possible enjoyment of the new show, though obviously the casting of the lead will be very important and something that the show's success or failure will hinge on.
Most importantly, I am in favor of a reboot because there is nothing to lose. Even if it is the worst show in the history of television, it will never change my love for the original series. It's like when Michael Jordan returned to the Wizards and people thought he was ruining his legacy but now nobody cares. And my reference to Indiana Jones is another example -- Temple of Doom and Last Crusade are some of my favorite movies of all time, and that won't change no matter how bad the sequels are. And look at the pilot for Young MacGyver -- if you can make it past the first five minutes, you're a better man than I, yet this failed attempt at a reboot never enters my mind while watching the original.
With all that said, I saw an article about the proposed characters and plot, and it sounds like a borderline disaster. Besides the fact that it feels formulaic and also very reminiscent of Homeland, it also doesn't sound anything like MacGyver. There's one episode in Season 1 where MacGyver's military background is mentioned, but that is it -- when people think of MacGyver, they don't think of a soldier. Narrative consistency wasn't a strong point for the original show to say the least, and I'm not going to get my undies in a huge bunch if the new show takes some liberties with new characters and origin stories. But this pilot sounds like it's taking more than a few liberties, and at least a semblance of continuity would be nice.
I worry that the creators are just thinking of MacGyver as someone who makes something out of nothing and that they are looking to cash in on the MacGyver name without being aware or respectful of all the other things that made MacGyver (the show and the character) unique and special such as his humility, his lack of machismo atypical for an action hero, his passion for social causes and the environment, the show's great music, great locations, the Phoenix Foundation, etc. If you're going to make a show with a character and supporting characters that sound nothing like MacGyver, just call it something different. I've recently started watching Burn Notice thanks to Mark's recommendation, and the lead character in that series also likes to make something out of nothing. If they would have just renamed the lead character "MacGyver", would that be any different than what we will see with this pilot?
Even if the people behind the tv and movie projects end up straying from the original series, they owe it to the project and to MacGyver fans to at least put in the effort and learn as much about the original series as possible. Then they can choose what to keep and what to move on from. I've personally reached out to at least 6 people involved with creating the new show to offer up my knowledge (free of charge, of course!) in case they wanted to learn more about the old show. I'm not surprised that no one's responded, but I am surprised and disappointed that no one's talked to producer Mike Greenburg. If I were in charge of remaking an old show like Remington Steele, for instance, wouldn't I take the time to have a long talk with all the major players on that show and learn all that I could?
So in summary, I have some major doubts that a MacGyver television show or movie will be any good, in part because I am generally not that taken with most tv or movies today as I alluded to earlier. But I'm still in favor of a reboot because it will never change how I feel about RDA and the original series, so I have nothing to lose. And who knows, maybe the new show will pleasantly surprise us all.