As To Be A Man - I remember zilch. I may have rewritten the script, ergo got credited in house, but I do not take credit for rewrites in the course of business, as an overpaid member of the production. Otherwise - I've been screwed out of a credit and I'll curse the gods. As usual.
As an aside, I also asked him if he would be watching the MacGyver reboot, and his response was classic Kandel. He's the best.
Yeah, I'll watch it like a hawk. Some centuries ago I got a phone call from MGM - the caller said they were doing research on an ancient show, "Seahunt" and because I wrote a lot of the show, did I, perchance, have any old scripts lying about? I had; they sent a messenger; I gave them twenty or so scripts; they returned them the next day. End of incident. Until six months later, the Writers Guild discovered that they were remaking "Seahunt" using said old scripts. After the usual battle of the OK Credit Corral - I collected a small bushel of residuals. SO - I'll be watching the New Mc with predatory avidity.
And with that, let's get into the script. I'll focus on some of the differences between the script and the final episode (with direct script quotations in bolded italics).
- We start out with MacGyver in a supersonic fighter plane. He's got it on automatic, and he's relaxed, reading "Tom Sawyer," as the plane drones onward. Later on he says to himself, "Wonderful book, Tom Sawyer...read it first when I was a kid, and I'd been lookin' forward to reading it again." Why not brush up on your Tom Sawyer when you're on a secret mission to Afghanistan?
- In the script the Khalil character is referred to as Geza.
- After parachuting from the jet, MacGyver opens a sealed envelope. It's a map to the satellite, and it self-destructs Mission Impossible style to MacGyver's part irritation and part amusement. "Agency people -- they watch too many Bond movies."
- Some fun quotes from MacGyver:
- While disarming the booby trap on the satellite: "They also told me the whole thing would be like taking candy from a baby. Well this was one very angry baby!"
- While hang gliding: "When Orville Wright took up the first airplane...he didn't know for sure it'd fly...only advantage I had was -- my ma didn't name me Orville. Hey Orville! I'm flyin'."
- Interesting script note when Ahmed hears the shots and sees MacGyver gliding. He gasps, swallows, touches his forehead hastily. (Please let us research the proper religious gesture). This doesn't appear in the final episode.
- According to the script MacGyver gets shot twice: once in the thigh and once in his right hand which is described as "dangling." In the episode he just gets shot in the right arm, but there's a goof at the 20:11 mark where a soldier says that he was wounded twice, in the shoulder and in the hand. Perhaps the difference results from having to cover up RDA's real life injury from a few episodes ago.
- MacGyver throws sand in the face of the oncoming Afghan (instead of miraculously hurling a rock with his opposite hand as in the episode).
- When Geza comes to the hut, MacGyver pulls a besom (i.e. broom) away from the door and somehow crashes the door into Geza who falls back onto the jagged edges of a pot and dies. In the episode he breaks open a gas canister which hits Geza and causes him to shoot himself.
- What's that smell, is it a little Zia/MacGyver romance starting to bloom in the inhospital Afghan desert?!
- He smiles. A moment, she smiles back, warmly.
- Zia puts a hand on his arm...a small, intimate moment.
- A sudden, infectious smile; she becomes younger, more feminine in an instant -- for an instant.
- Unlike the episode which involves Zia taking a burning hot iron to cauterize MacGyver's wound, the script details the removal of the bullet. Zia heats up a knife and gives it to MacGyver, and he downs some brandy, sticks the knife in his body and removes the bullet himself without screaming (which impresses Ahmed). Then he promptly passes out.
- It's nighttime and MacGyver is starting to think about "getting his Zia on."
- She smiles -- a little sadly -- we see perhaps, the beginning of a deep yearning.
- Their eyes lock but the moment is broken as the door is kicked open (by Ahmed).
- Next MacGyver fixes the water pump and tells them about Minnesota:
- Well...there's this little town called Lake Wobegon...in a part of Minnesota where they've got just two seasons...August...and winter. And in the winter, everything freezes. You got two kinds of landscape: ice. Or snow. I used to skate. Slide...on the ice. Lake Wobegon is the fictional town in A Prairie Home Companion.
- Zia makes a move to loosen MacGyver's waist tie and he pulls back. "I've seen a man before," Zia laughs. "Why do all men think they're Allah's special creation!" I forgot to mention a little earlier when she says to Ahmed (and MacGyver) "MacGyver is very beautiful." Zia is officially ready to "get her Angus on."
- Zia breaks down when telling MacGyver how bad she feels that she had initially wanted Geza because "it was better than being alone." Her face works -- she's on the verge of tears. MacGyver takes her into his arms; she's huddled against him -- hands clamped together on the cloth. He holds her -- then she suddenly jerks back, whips her arms around him, pulls him to her into a desperate, needing embrace. He holds her -- she makes a guttural sound, yanks off the head cloth, pulls him closer -- MacGyver responds, kisses her -- camera moves in closer as she digs nails into his wet back, intensifying the embrace. Whoa! Getting a little hot in here. Is this a MacGyver script or a romance novel?
- This leads us to the central unanswered question of this episode (other than when did MacGyver learn to be a fighter pilot) -- in my original episode write-up, Al noted in the comments: "Is there a hint of romance between MacGyver and the woman - in the morning she wants to 'remember him' (after a very short time as you say) whilst combing her hair in a sultry way and gazing at him?" In the final episode, they cut directly from MacGyver lying in bed gently brushing Zia's tears away to sunrise and the scene Al describes (none of which is in the script, by the way). If they wanted to imply something, why not just show MacGyver kissing Zia as in the script? Maybe there was some concern in 1986 about MacGyver hooking up with an Afghan woman and they wanted to be somewhat discreet about it. Nevertheless, with the many hints of romance described in the script, I think we can assume that MacGyver did indeed "get his Zia on." Now the central unanswered question becomes: where was Ahmed during all this? It's a one room hut!
- After MacGyver gets the jump on the Soviet Sergeant and tells him to run away, he actually fires the gun into the ground to get him moving.
- In the episode the Sergeant is told that he'll be court-martialed if they don't find MacGvyer, but in the script he's told he'll be shot.
- At the very end the Sergeant actually offers them a ride in his tank (instead of just blissfully pretending that he didn't see them).
I just recently wrote about the four primary elements that make a good story. Let's break the final episode down by that criteria:
Setting -- They do a good job of making it feel like Afghanistan, but there are two problems. First, with all due respect to Afghanistan, it's one of the last places on earth that I would like to go. That in and of itself is not disqualifying (e.g. I wouldn't really want to go to the desert town run by the military in The Gauntlet Opening Gambit). But at least that town had some charm, and the sand dunes are an amazing setting for a chase. The setting here is just a bunch of rocks and a hut.
Antagonists -- The villains (the bandits and the Russian soldiers) aren't memorable at all. There's too many of them and they blend together in my mind.
Problem Solving -- not much here either. He builds a hang glider which is cool but it's done in 10 seconds (kind of like the MacGyverisms in the reboot) so it's hard to appreciate. The other MacGyverisms aren't anything special, and at the end of the episode they just saunter away as if no one is looking for them.
Music -- nothing distinctive or memorable here.
Final Verdict: 0 out of 4. Stephen Kandel is one of my favorite people I've talked to on the blog, so I'm holding Mankiewicz and McKnight accountable for the lackluster final product.