Sunday, September 14, 2014

#102: High Control

Season: 6

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
MacGyver runs into a prior adversary, Earl Dent, who asks for his support at a meeting with his parole officer, an unforgiving woman named Montana.  While Dent is trying to embark on a righteous path, his old biker gang finds and blackmails him into joining them for one more job. MacGyver goes undercover as a biker to join the gang and help his new friend 

Memorable Quote:
That's a biker hangout, isn't it?  ~Pete
Yeah, I think so.  ~MacGyver
Well, what are you going to do?  ~Pete
Hang out.  ~MacGyver  

Some good physical comedy when Dent falls off the roof of MacGyver's houseboat and lands on a table.

Montana is not a lot of fun to be around.  More on her later. 

Best MacGyverism:
Attaches some type of rocket to Dent's trike which crashes into Kluge's van. 

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • We start things off with MacGyver wearing commando gear and dark face paint while in the back of a truck looking for biological weapons in a box of teddy bears.  All of what I just wrote is true.  As usual in these write-ups, I have a few questions/thoughts:
    • You'd think if the situation was serious enough to dress like a commando, he'd be more aware (e.g. looking around and making less noise) when he exited the truck.  And why is he in commando gear in the city?  Wouldn't he stand out more that way?
    • Was there just one vial of weapons?  If so, how does he know which teddy bear to look in?  And if not, why not just take the whole box of teddy bears?
    • For being involved with biological weapons, the two bad guys at the scene don't seem that well-trained.  
  • Dent - my God, what a wingman.  This is all I ever wanted for MacGyver's wingman - a big, strong guy who just beats the heck out of people.  Imagine if he was by MacGyver's side all the time - a perfect team combination of brains and brawn.  And I love Butkus - awesome personality and does a great job with the character. 
  • 3:53 mark - Pete putting eye drops in his eyes, and MacGyver asks what's wrong.  I guess this must be the first time that Pete's eye problems are mentioned. 
  • 9:00 - "He can stay with me," says a reluctant MacGyver.  He's so easy. 
  • Don Stroud plays Kluge, and he also was the Commander in Renegade, which I wouldn't have noticed except for having checked IMDB.  He has good range to successfully play such different characters.  
  • 10:56 - that little kid looks and sounds like Tommy Giordano.  Checking is! He sure doesn't have too much luck in the father department when it comes to his guest starring roles. 
  • The timeline is not clear to me.  This episode makes it sound like Dent was in prison for 7 years and just got out 2 days ago, but what about the events in Harry's Will?
  • So earlier in the office, Montana said how busy she was and how little time she had for Dent, and now she is following him for the day.  And she has a tracking device! And a gun!  
  • Nice undercover work by MacGyver in the bar, overhearing Kluge's conversation and figuring out a way to quickly gain access.
  • 33:50 - Not sure anyone would leave that much cash just sitting in a warehouse like that. 
  • 35:30 - Wow, Montana is dumb.  Very dumb. 
  • Not too smart of the bad guys leaving them tied up in a room with beakers.  Even I could have figured out how to escape from that one. 
  • Interesting how the bad guy passes out from breathing the ether that MacGyver sprays in the air, but it dissipates a few seconds later when MacGyver enters the space. 
  • 40:43 - Butkus asks MacGyver what he is doing.  "Mixing stuff," he replies.  I miss the days when he told us what exactly he was doing instead of just saying, "Mixing stuff."
  • MacGyver rocks an old-school Chicago Blackhawks jacket during the denouement

Final Analysis:
Some plot holes and things to nit-pick, but it's a fun episode with amusing moments.  And Butkus is great.  


  1. Nice synopsis on your blog..... P.S. I thought the parole officer - Montana - played her part well. And Dick Butkus and Kluge were good also. And, of course, MacGyver on his bike was fantastic!

    1. Thanks for reading! I agree, the actress who played Montana was great, and gotta love biker MacGyver!

  2. It was around this point in MacGyver's run that the series started feeling old to me. That's not to say I hated the episode, but in the MacGyverism pantheon, "mixing stuff" had to have been the all-time low point. Not sure if the writer just didn't want to reveal ingredients to make methamphetamines as that was the context of MacGyver's would-be bomb in the end or if it was merely a moment of extreme laziness, but sadly I suspect it was the latter. On the plus side, Dick Butkus always lit up the screen as Earl Dent and his banter with parole agent Montana was strong enough that I'm surprised they didn't push for a spinoff show. The story was okay and Klug's set-up was clever, but the drop off in ratings back in 1991 suggests I wasn't the only one who felt the show was losing something by this point. I ranked this episode #115.

    And as an aside, there's a good reason why so many of the same actors were on this show over and over, including Don Stroud and Tony Dakota in this episode alone. It was filmed in Vancouver and part of the agreement shows have to make to film in Vancouver is to employ X number of Canadian actors and crew members. Needless to say the acting pool in Vancouver back in the late 80s wasn't that large, which is why we saw Gerry Bean, Dale Wilson, and Garwin Sanford on about 20 episodes each. Interestingly, the latter had a recurring role in early videos by 80s rocker Bryan Adams, another Canadian employing Canadian actors in his videos.

    1. Yeah, I was taken aback by "Mixing Stuff." A definite low point in the world of MacGyverisms.

    2. I always thought 'mixing stuff' was Mac being slightly snarky and in a little bit of a hurry. Also, him knowing he's talking to Dent, who isn't the brightest bulb. 'Mixing stuff' is one of my face lines from this ep. XD

  3. You guys hit the nail on the head...Dent=awesome, Montana=meh, "mixing stuff"=come on MacGyver!. I enjoyed this episode a lot, but I yearn for the old days when MacGyver explained what he was doing. Even if he leaves out a step, at least tell us something! I wonder if there is a connection between the fact that he didn't tell us what was in the mixture and the fact that it didn't work! The show would have been WAY different if they didn't ever feel obligated to explain at least briefly what comprised each MacGyverism. That would have been a blank check to do whatever they wanted and the show would have been even more fantastical than it already was, which demeans the whole platform. But, I digress. Loved Mac on the bike though!

    Mark, thanks for the info on the recurring cast members. I often wondered about that so it's great hearing your explanation.

    1. Thanks Corey, I'm with you on the voiceovers - I always loved them and found them interesting and helpful, though apparently RDA didn't enjoy them.

  4. Oh, I wasn't aware that RDA didn't like them. I wonder why. Very interesting. Honestly it's one of my favorite parts of the show. Thanks!

    1. I read about it in the opening of the comic book Fugitive Gauntlet. I'm not sure exactly why he didn't like them (not sure if it was more about disliking the act of recording them or thinking they were dumbing things down for the audience). I always saw it as education and not dumbing down (it may have been dumbing down if it was obvious what he was doing, but most people don't have the level of scientific knowledge to know what he was doing). Plus it was just fun to hear his narration and the character's take on things.

  5. Good point. I have the comic books too, I need to re-read them. I never saw them as dumbing down either. Like you, I thought it was explaining the scientific principles that most people don't know. I agree that each narrative was a small window into Mac's brain and helps you understand him as well as the MacGyverism. There are many of these narratives that start with "When I was a kid..." or "My grandpa Harry taught me...", which is a terrific avenue by which to get to know who Mac is.

  6. Is it just me or is season 6 crying out for Jack Dalton? This episode seemed tailor made for an appearance by MacGyver's old mate but instead we have to believe that MacGyver would trust a criminal that he only met briefly a few episodes ago. I didn't even immediately remember who Earl Dent was, probably because I found any scene in Harry's Will with him and that awful car crash woman quite terrible! Now I didn't find him too bad here but just wondered what possessed the writers and producers to bring him back in such a way that it seemed as if he was somehow a long time acquaintance of MacGyver's even though he only appeared briefly as a slapstick criminal. Anyway, I for one certainly miss the moustache, pilot cap and twitching eye of good old Jack. Hopefully he will be back soon because, with a much reduced role for Pete in season 6 so far too, MacGyver's real friends are hard to find.

    1. That's a good point -- it would have been nice to see some of Jack in Season 6.

  7. I think Id seen this episode twice before the current viewing and it was stronger than I thought. Its a good critique of the "justice" system and has a good trio of characters.

    The sudden friendship between Dent and MacGyver is a bit odd considering the last episode. Why would Dent know that MacGyver is so forgiving and helpful? It seems to imply that they had an intermediate encounter, but they both act like they havent seen each other since the last episode.

    Regarding the jail continuity, Earl has a long record, so he had a stint with Kluge, was paroled or released, and then presumably jailed after the Harrys Will incident (were charges ever pressed?), and then released.

    Such a stupid move by him to just put the gun in the dumpster. At least roof it.

    I think the "mixing stuff" was cute. He doesnt do voiceovers when hes with other people and I dont think he always explains what he does. Perhaps they couldnt reveal much about the process. On that note, I think I know what the compound is. I remember a friend in junior high telling me about this very touch sensitive explosive you can make at home. He claimed to have pranked his sister with it. It was called triiodide something or something triiodide and concentrated hydrogen peroxide was a main ingredient. AHEM! upon googling, it looks like Nitrogen triiodide. There is a youtube video that comes up showing how a feather can set it off. Dangerous stuff!

  8. "Dent - my God, what a wingman. This is all I ever wanted for MacGyver's wingman - a big, strong guy who just beats the heck out of people. Imagine if he was by MacGyver's side all the time - a perfect team combination of brains and brawn. And I love Butkus - awesome personality and does a great job with the character."

    Yeah!!!! Butkus is perfect to play the role of Dent!! :) Love Dent! :)

    "3:53 mark - Pete putting eye drops in his eyes, and MacGyver asks what's wrong. I guess this must be the first time that Pete's eye problems are mentioned."

    Yeah it is. :(

    "35:30 - Wow, Montana is dumb. Very dumb."

    Hahahaha yeah she is! :) But she was pretty funny at the end of the episode with Dent when they were arguing.

    Montana: Oh give me a break. Oh please! Oh come on!