Friday, August 22, 2014

#107: The Treasure of Manco

Season: 5

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
MacGyver is in Peru to attend the funeral of an old friend's archaeologist father who was murdered.  They resume the late father's quest to find the Incan Treasure of Manco and get caught in the middle of some civil unrest between the army and the rebels, who are led by another former friend of theirs.  Eventually they all meet in the ancient temple and discover the secret behind the Treasure of Manco. 

Memorable Quote:
"Ah, I love this kind of stuff."  ~MacGyver

The part where they find the well, and MacGyver drops a rock down to see how far it is.  

"I can’t see the bottom.  It’s a long way down."  ~Ramon
MacGyver drops a rock and makes some great facial expressions until the rock hits bottom 5 seconds later. 
"A looonnng way." ~MacGyver

When I was a kid, I loved this part.  For some reason the idea of a super-deep well captured my imagination, and I also liked MacGyver's perplexed reaction.  Some physics websites that I went to say that 5 seconds of free fall = 125 meters of height, which surprised me because I would have guessed much more than 125.  But it's still a fun scene.  

I think the opening scene in 1540 could have been done a little less campy.

Best MacGyverism:
Nothing really to choose from here, at least in the traditional sense.  I guess I'll go with figuring out that the temple is a grain elevator. 

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Whoa, the opening caption says "Peruvian Andes, 1540!"  As Frank Sinatra said, "Come fly with me, let's go down to Peru!"
  • What do you know, Peru looks a lot like Western Canada.  I know, I know, I've run that joke into the ground. 
  • So it's 1540, and here we are in the temple.  Manco, the Incan chief, is giving another Incan the headpiece, which is the key to the treasure.  Not a lot of people around to experience this momentous event - only two guards on the inside and two on the outside.  The recipient of the headpiece looks like he could pass for an Incan, and then we see Manco, who looks like someone the producers pulled off the backlot.  Let's check IMDB....yep, his name's Alexander Kirkwood.   
  • "Maria, your father was a brilliant archaelogist.  How do you expect to find something he couldn’t?" ~MacGyver.   We need some Debbie Downer music - wah wah wah. What happened to the MacGyver who motivates and inspires, Ugly Duckling style? And a little bit of overacting from my man in this scene.
  • 6:34 mark.  It's a llama crossing.  The llama shepherd doesn’t even look at the oncoming car which stops about a foot away and instead just crosses the street. Can't have an episode in Peru without at least one llama. 
  • 9:08 - It's Gregory Sierra, who we'll see a few times in the series.  No one plays the Latin American dictator any better. 
  • If Maria really believes Enrique killed her father, probably not the best move to reveal that they have the headpiece.  And why was the headpiece not stolen when the father was killed?
  • 15:56 - Uh oh, MacGyver’s getting into preach mode.  Preach, brother!  "All right, listen up Ramon.  I don’t buy into guns or vigilante justice.  Now I can’t tell you not to defend yourself the best you know how.  But I can tell you that that ache in your gut to kill Enrique is dulling your senses.  And you better get a hold if it before you do something you regret.  Now let’s go."
  • "Those two peaks are called Los Dos Pumas.  My father and his father before him used them as landmarks." ~Ramon.  So it took Maria's father, the brilliant archaeologist, 15 years to realize that the cats on the headpiece were connected to a mountain called Los Dos Pumas, and it took MacGyver 10 seconds.  That's why he's MacGyver. 
  • 44:31 - a very soft shake.  
  • I like Enrique, seems like a good guy.  He's not physically imposing enough to be an ideal wingman for MacGyver, but he does run a rebel army which should count for something.  Let's add him to the list.  

Final Analysis:
I like this one.  Not a whole lot of memorable moments aside from the rock falling down the well, but nothing bad either.  And I like Maria, Ramon, and Enrique - too bad we didn't see them in any other episodes.  Have a good weekend, everyone!  


  1. I'm a fan of the treasure hunt episodes and this one was no exception. The pacing was a little slow at times and I don't recommend this one to someone who's a little tired when pop in the DVD, but the story is clever, the cast strong, the acting performances generally convincing, and the production quality impressive. Subtitles on a weekly TV show have become pretty commonplace now, but they were super slick back in 1990. The silo bit was great revealing that the golden treasure was an amazing harvest of magic corn seeds that never rot or even collect dust for over 550 years! Again, the energy level was lethargic at points in this episode but overall it was a strong episode. I ranked it #59.

  2. There were quite a few week points in this episode but it is difficult for me not to like it because I find Mesoamerican and Inca mythology and history interesting. The Canadian pine forest filming location was fine for representing Europe in past episodes but trying to make it look convincing for Peru was difficult. At least there was some llama action! I haven't really been keen on the Spanish speaking revolutionaries that have turned up in the series so far and I don't think they had enough threat here either, certainly the army captain was far more villainous than the timid and wooden Enrique who initially appeared to be the enemy. The gravel quarry setting for the army camp looked very similar to a location often used in Stargate SG1 which was filmed in the same area around Vancouver. The Inca temple set was fantastic, very reminiscent of the cave in Mask Of The Wolf, and I wish they could have spent longer in there rather than the un-Peruvian forests. It's a pity the clever Inca engineers didn't set up some booby traps as well! It was good to see that the grain was the real gold because in reality it was true that, even though the Inca valued gold, it didn't mean as much to them as it did to the greedy Conquistadors and storing food for the population was hugely important, as evidenced by ancient grain stores in the mountains of Peru. It was funny how simply Mac could find the clues on the crown yet Maria and her father weren't able to decipher it despite being experts! Still, we wouldn't have a hero without Mac saving the day and that is what it's all about in the end, although sometimes it does devalue the other characters a little bit as in this case.

    1. Yeah, that always got me too how MacGyver figured out the clues so quickly and obviously.

  3. Damn you beat me to the calculation. I thought the same thing when I watched it. It wouldve been even better if he had said "Its about 400ft/122m". Physics ftw

    This is a great episode with two frequent guests: Gregory Sierra, and the guy who plays Manny/Enrique/etc that Im blanking on. I had the same thoughts about pine tree filled Peru, Im joining your cynicism :P, but otherwise it did evoke a feeling of the Andes.

    As always, I love when they make small details to locate it. In the school, there is a sign that says SALIDA instead of EXIT. Where the heck was that filmed?! Who thought to put up that sign if it wasnt there already? And there is a very visible Peruvian license plate, not sure if its authentic. And of course the obligatory llama. Ramon and the llama guy looked somewhat Peruvian, but the rest of the characters look like Central Americans.

  4. "Maria, your father was a brilliant archaelogist. How do you expect to find something he couldn’t?" ~MacGyver. We need some Debbie Downer music - wah wah wah. What happened to the MacGyver who motivates and inspires, Ugly Duckling style? And a little bit of overacting from my man in this scene.:

    Macgyver wasn't himself because he was hungry? He needs to eat a snickers! :)

    "15:56 - Uh oh, MacGyver’s getting into preach mode. Preach, brother! "All right, listen up Ramon. I don’t buy into guns or vigilante justice. Now I can’t tell you not to defend yourself the best you know how. But I can tell you that that ache in your gut to kill Enrique is dulling your senses. And you better get a hold if it before you do something you regret. Now let’s go."

    Yeah Macvyver! You tell him!!!! Go Macgyver! Hmmm he must have eaten a snickers. :)

  5. Love the way MacGyver misspronounces Quintano. Even when the name is mentioned the correct way by the Hispanic actors, MacGyver still gets it wrong, although, it is noticeable that he tries to say it right the second time he mentions the name.

    In order to be pronounced the way MacGyver did it, the name must be spelled Q├╝intano, otherwise it should be pronounced as Qintano or Kintano.

    I'm enjoying watching the serie following your ranking, and of course, reading your synopsis and comments.