Monday, October 21, 2013

#129: Final Approach

Season: 2

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
MacGyver takes four gang members into nature as part of a Phoenix Foundation rehabilitation program.  On the return flight, the plane goes down and one of the youths is critically injured.  MacGyver figures out a way to get the plane to take off and gets help from the gang members, who learn to trust each other and work together. 

Memorable Quote:
If you can do what you just did, you can land this thing on the moon.  ~Ramon

I like the first scene when MacGyver crashes a plane which is later revealed to be a flight simulation.  Then we learn that Pete intentionally set it to crash. 

As the gang members snip at each other, MacGyver yells probably his loudest scream in the history of the show.  "All right!  Can it!  You two wanna fight you put on gloves, but it doesn’t happen here!  Time out!"  Chill out, MacGyver!  

Best MacGyverism: 
MacGyver replaces the plane’s busted wheel with a hollowed out log which then glides along a muddy trough constructed by the gang members.  I was curious how MacGyver was planning on landing the plane at the other end, but he then says something like "I’ll get them to lay down some foam."  But wasn’t the radio broken, and is foam on the runway going to solve the problem of landing a plane that has a piece of wood for a wheel?

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Our first visit to Season 2!  Season 2 has the best theme song.  But aren’t all the theme songs the same, you ask?  No, not quite!  There are some subtle differences in instrumentation, and Season 2 gets it just right.  Later in the series, the theme sounds a little campier. 
  • I always enjoy looking up the actors’ resumes on IMDB.  Tom Cavanaugh, the social worker who bails on the group, is played by Gregory Itzin.  Hmmm, that name sounds familiar, where have I seen before?  Let’s check the link……Good god, that’s President Charles Logan!  I would never have guessed! 
  • Not one gang member seems excited about this program, and Ramon allegedly killed Luther’s brother last year.  Probably shouldn’t have them together this far away from civilization, or at all.  The program’s not sounding like the best idea at this stage. 
  • That must be the smallest plane ever – I’m getting motion sickness just watching.  6 people in a space that can’t be more than 4 feet wide by 7 feet long. 
  • A rattlesnake invades the tent, and MacGyver subdues it with a stick.  Then he holds the thing by the neck and takes it outside.  Nice. 
  • When Tommy and MacGyver confront the mountain lion, the full frontal shots of the lion are pretty clearly pulled from somewhere else, like a nature video.  It’s far from the only time that we’ll be seeing stock footage in the series, most notably in "Thief of Budapest" which liberally uses numerous shots from The Italian Job.  I checked the credits to see if there was any mention of the source mountain lion video but no such luck.

Final Analysis:
This episode was a little better than I remembered, and the actors were all pretty good.  It was, nevertheless, somewhat cheesy, awkward, and interminable, and there wasn’t much fun to be had.  We’ve now officially covered one episode from each season.  This is fun! 


  1. So you're a 24 fan as well as a MacGyver fan (re. reference to President Logan)? Aren't Bower and MacGyver polar opposites in a way?! ;)

    1. They are very different but it's possible to love them both!

  2. Thanks for pointing out the differences in the theme song from season to season. I didn't catch them. I think it takes a musical ear!

    1. Yeah maybe sometime I'll do a whole post on the differences, though it's hard for me to describe them. I definitely like season 2's the best though.

  3. Not much fun to be had??!??! This episode was a hoot! Glad you at least liked it better after your most recent viewing as I found the entire hour to be nicely done even if the 80s gangbanger shtick seems dated 28 years later. Also love that you caught that President Logan from 24 was a guest star here, something I confess I never would have picked up on if not for recognizing the name Gregory Itzin in the guest cast a few years back. Anyway, the young actors were all good, especially the ones playing Ramon and Luther and the revival of the plane, complete with its own mud runway was vintage MacGyver. I'll concede there was some cheesiness with the stock footage of the mountain lion and the less believable footage during the plane crash, but this is an episode I like more upon further viewings. It's ranked #63 for me.

  4. I agree with Mark, I liked this episode and the younger actors who gave convincing angst-ridden performances. At one point MacGyver did get a bit shouty and angry himself, it was a tense situation after all. One thing that I did notice was the names of two of the youngsters - Tommy and Gina. My sister is a big Bon Jovi fan and I have enjoyed seeing them live with her several times so I instantly thought of Livin' On A Prayer! The lyrics are based on the tough lives of a fictional couple called Tommy and Gina! When I looked up the date when this episode originally aired it turns out that it was just four days before Livin' On A Prayer was released as a single on the 31st October 1986! The album containing that song was released in the September of that year so, unless the MacGyver episode was filmed after then and rushed through production, the names are just a coincidence rather than a reference as I initially thought it could be. Still, it is a nice coincidence, especially as this Tommy and Gina have a bit of a tough past but find they can 'hold on to what they've got' and have still 'got each other and that's a lot'!

    1. Very interesting, I had never thought of Livin' On a Prayer before - thanks Ed!

    2. Outstanding observation. Pretty sure it's a coincidence because this episode would have been written two or three months before the episode actually aired, so I doubt MacGyver's Tommy and Gina were connected in any way to Bon Jovi's version.

  5. No problem! When I looked at your blog write-up for this episode I was expecting your good self, or one of the other regular commenters, to have made the same observation already, having likely watched it many times over the years. Not that I was necessarily expecting any Bon Jovi fans to have commented!

    My sister thought that the same names and similar story seemed like too much of a coincidence when I told her, until we put the dates together and realised that the writers would had to have heard a very early airing of the song live, if that even happened, or heard the album and written the episode and got it to air in a month and a half!

    1. I'm not a big Bon Jovi fan but am certainly aware of the song, yet somehow never thought of it before when watching the episode. Given that the episode and the song were released at right around the same time, probably it's just a coincidence but you never know!

  6. "As the gang members snip at each other, MacGyver yells probably his loudest scream in the history of the show. "All right! Can it! You two wanna fight you put on gloves, but it doesn’t happen here! Time out!" Chill out, MacGyver!"

    Hahahahaha! I think the teenagers need to chill out! :) How old are they 16? That girl was hitting on Mac! Oh sorry I mean Macgyver. :)(I know how you hate people calling him Mac) and then Macgyver stops it right away! :) It's that damn charm! Teenage girls are not immune by his charm! Although she was just trying to get her boyfriend jealous, but still!

  7. I didn’t remember this opening scene but I love the part of MacGyver getting even with with Pete. “I remember things like this, Thornton!”, then he thinks up the payback quicker than he would even have needed his memory and Pete’s face when he hears the bonus... priceless.
    What I liked even more was MacGyver’s fantastic job of turning the youngsters around by being a true leader: someone followed because he knows what he’s doing, not because of an “or else”, and indeed, even these control freak kids start to listen to him instead of feeling like they’re just being bossed around, start to reciprocate his compassion instead of seeing it as a weakness, and eventually they are able to work together as a team. MacGyver doesn’t harass Luther for refusing to help: he understands that the inner transformation cannot be forced or rushed. The lost knife is a great story. I remembered it almost word by word and MacGyver made his general disapproval of honour killing clear enough by then that it doesn’t look like he was suggesting that killing Ramón would only be immoral if Luther was wrong about him.
    Another interesting example is the long second he spends quietly looming over Tommy when he gets to him just after the puma leaves, then proving him totally wrong if he expected a confrontation.
    It was nice to hear Pete’s unyielding confidence in MacGyver. I liked the music at the runway ingredients collection and on top of all, RDA does some cool stuff such as handling a rattlesnake and rappelling down a rock!

  8. I didn't hate this episode, but I generally don't enjoy the 'social worker MacGyver' ones. I also wondered if kids ever actually talked like that, but maybe they did in America in the 80s - I'm not from that part of the world. There were one or two good MacGyverisms, but as for the one that scared the lion away, I don't really understand why it didn't immediately return to its meal.