Saturday, October 15, 2016

MacGyver Reboot -- Episode 4: Wire Cutter

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
After a Cold War era Russian bomb is stolen, MacGyver and the team track down the technician that programmed it.  Then they head to Russia and Kosovo to disarm the bomb which is set to go off near a U.S. Army base.  

Memorable Quote:
The biggest problem with time is that you can never make more of it, which is fine when everything's going your way.  But let's be honest: when does that ever happen?  ~MacGyver

It's great to see Elya Baskin again -- he played Yuri Demetri/Biff in A Prisoner of Conscience and Soft Touch, and he does an admirable job here.  And my favorite part of the episode was his escape from the nursing home.

The scene in MacGyver's house in the beginning was painful to watch.  What was the point of having the whole team there just to talk to him about his computer search for Nikki, don't they have anything better to do?  And the introduction to the Penny Parker character left a lot to be desired -- she had two or three lines and served no purpose.  It feels a bit patronizing to just slap a name from the original show onto a pointless character and think that that will make the fans happy.

Best MacGyverism:
Reconstructs broken keyboard by using other metal objects to complete the electronic circuits.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • I'd said my piece on where I feel the series is lacking so far and so I'm going to try and focus on the episode without repeating myself too much or getting into big-picture points.
  • OK, just one more big-picture point.  Did you ever notice how in modern television, there is music in just about every single second of every single scene? Compare that to 80's television where they knew when to back off and let the scene speak for itself. It drives me bonkers, for example, to hear playful, impish music during a "funny" moment -- please just let the scene stand on its own and don't try to manufacture my feelings at every single turn!
  • All right, on to the episode...oh wait, I have another big-picture point.  There are way too many guns in this series.  When it started I didn't think I'd care so much that Jack used a gun, but the end of this episode pushed it over the top for me when Jack and Patricia engaged in a big shootout.  You can have that shootout on any other show, but the whole point of MacGyver is that the good guys don't use or rely or guns.
  • As is often the case with action shows, it is funny sometimes to consider the scale of the threat response: a bomb is about to go off and reignite the Cold War?  Let's send in four people to stop it!
  • The MacGyverism with the clock hands meeting and igniting was reminiscent of the MacGyverism from The Heist.
  • Strange moment when Riley, Jack, and MacGyver leave the tunnel and see that Elya has been captured, even though they were about two seconds behind him.

Final Analysis:
The story here was more focused and streamlined than episode 2, and it was less silly than episode 3. Also we actually got a close up look at the villain and heard him say a few words for the first time since the pilot.  Ranking this episode as second best behind the opener. 


  1. Despite the silly primary guest star in last week's episode, I preferred it to this one because of the persistent creativity of the MacGyverisms. This one wasn't terrible but left me pretty nonplussed generally. Agreed that the "intervention" at the beginning was complete nonsense. The new Penny Parker was easy on the eyes but her introduction as a character left much to be desired. It can't possibly be overstated how overpopulated this show is. Did you pick up on the agent killed early in the episode being "Bannister"? The same name as Craig Bannister from "The Enemy Within" and "Friends"? Seems kind of pointless to introduce a character held over from the original show only to kill them off after two minutes of screen time but whatever.

    I did like Elya Baskin on here though and it was a nice touch to bring him back. He may be 30 years older but I recognized him instantly. Crazier yet, I looked him up and was shocked he was only 66 years old. I'd have predicted at least 10 years older. He's definitely not "rest home age" but any conventional metric. I also thought the other Russian character here (name escapes me) looked like the guy who played Klug in "For Love or Money" but since nobody else has picked up on it, perhaps I'm mistaken. I couldn't agree more with the use of music on TV shows today. It's always a painfully generic subset of a handful of identical scores extremely overused scene to scene. Also agreed on the gun quotient in the remake. In addition to undermining a guiding principle of the original, it sucks away what's distinctive about the "MacGyver" franchise and makes a product that's already pretty generic into something that seems even more generic.

    What did you think of the Y2K ending? In one sense it was pretty clever, but could it possibly have been more anticlimactic?!?!? Suddenly MacGyver disarming a nuclear bomb with a pointlessly placed tennis racket in a basement nuclear lab seemed like a comparatively fitting resolution!

    It was an okay hour but having watched four episodes each of the "MacGyver" remake and the "Lethal Weapon" TV show remake on Fox, I can say without reservation that "Lethal Weapon" is light years better, something I never would have believed possible a month ago and am depressed to admit.

    1. I didn't pick up on the Bannister thing, not because I don't remember Craig Bannister but because I glossed over the agent's name in this episode (if you would have asked me after the episode what her name was I would have drawn a blank). I wonder if that was just a coincidence because it wouldn't make sense to bring back a name for two minutes as you said.

      I looked up the guy who plays Krug and it's a different guy but I can see the similarity that you picked up on. I agree that the Y2K ending was anticlimactic. I haven't seen the Lethal Weapon show -- has it been getting better reviews than MacGyver?

    2. I only read a couple of reviews of the TV version of "Lethal Weapon" but they've been favorable. Overall though, the show just seems to be getting better buzz. My friend is a big fan of the "Lethal Weapon" franchise and follows the chatter about new shows pretty closely and was taken aback by the positive feedback about the "Lethal Weapon" TV series.

  2. Okay, so now we have a trend of International Espionage. This time it is located in Russia. It is amazing how the team freely moves around a hostile country without the government’s interference.
    Low Points:
    • MacGyver finds baking soda, vinegar, and a soda bottle in a computer room.
    • Apparently Agent Bannister was shot without any visible gunshot wounds.
    • Their cell phones work in Russia! They must have great roaming charges. Can’t phones be tracked? Why doesn’t any Russian official know that they are in Russia? This is definitely not “Jason Bourne.”
    • Enter Penny Parker as an ex-girlfriend to participate in an “intervention” because Angus is trying to find Nikki. This was a weak part of the show. His roommate and ex-girlfriend may care about him, but Mac is a strong character and does not need an intervention.
    Favorite Lines: [paraphrasing]
    • “Oh my God, he is an old you.”
    • “You have been run through a copy machine and came out Russian and wrinkly.”
    Recognizable Actors:
    • Elya Baskin plays Alexander Orlov. He was in two previous classic MacGyvers, where he played Yuri Demetri. He is a go to actor of many shows where a Russian actor is needed. He has given memorable performances in Quantum Leap, Air Force One, West Wing, and October Sky.
    • Olek Krupa plays Victor. Also a classic actor for a Russian role. I recognize him from Person of Interest, Monk, and The Italian Job.
    • I liked the grain dust explosion. Midwest grain silos are known to explode when the fine particles become suspended in air. The smaller the particle the more rapid the reaction.
    • I liked the Y2K glitch, which bought them another hundred years to solve the problem. Will MacGyver be around to fix it then?
    Final Comment:
    This show definitely has “Hawaii Five-O” fingerprints. I would really like to see Mac operating in his normal life…like at the grocery store or on a camping trip. Espionage! Why does it always have to be Espionage!

    1. Yeah I agree about wanting to see MacGyver stumble onto something like at the grocery store in "Blow Out" where he foils the robbery. So far doesn't look like the show is heading in that direction though.

  3. Agree completely with the overuse of music in modern TV shows. I was happy that the reboot got a composer for score and background music and not just the usual treatment of putting in some recent radio hitlist songs, but this isn't what I hoped for.

    Have you ever seen "Buffy The Vampire Slayer"s Episode 5x16 (The Body, 2001)? There is NO music at all and it hits you like a sucker-punch in the gut. It deals with grief (a beloved character is found dead right at the beginning of the episode) and it's so oppressive or stifling but it hurts oh so good. You can only hear some minor background sounds (birds chirping, a door closing) - but you don't need anything else because the actors do all the work.

    While I always enjoyed the score on the original MacGyver (I realized during my rewatch that I sometimes remember the score even if I don't remember anything of the storyline), I really wouldn't mind if they toned it down a bit for the reboot; along with some slower pacing.

    I really think the actors are good enough to deliver without constant noise in the background or moving cameras.

    1. I've never seen Buffy but what you described is exactly what I'm talking about and what I'd like to see more of (not just on new MacGyver but on other shows too). At least have a few scenes per episode where there's no music -- the way they do it now is very formulaic and uncreative.