Sunday, October 12, 2014

#95: Serenity

Season: 5

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
After having an argument with Pete, MacGyver takes a nap and dreams he is in the Old West in the town of Serenity, Montana.  In the dream, he buys a ranch to the chagrin of Pete, who hires Murdoc to scare him away.  Murdoc instead tries to kill MacGyver and shoots him near the heart, but MacGyver's old pocketknife absorbs the bullet and saves him.  
Memorable Quote:
Call me Jack.  ~Jack Dalton
First or last?  ~Penny Parker
Yep.  ~MacGyver

I like the scene in the bar where MacGyver is challenged by the Bozers and takes an entertaining, less violent approach - throwing a drink with a spider into Milt's face and shoving a cigar down Wilt's pants. 

The scene where MacGyver and Cuba Gooding Jr. are talking about emancipation falls a little flat and seems out of place, though we do get to hear MacGyver say "Can-ton-ESE."  Reminds me a little bit of "the Py-re-NEES..."

Best MacGyverism:
Uses the rope from a flag to repel from the roof of a building.  Slim pickings here. 

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • This episode was #95 in the series and also #95 on my list.  This calls for some kind of celebration!  
  • 1:50 mark - MacGyver admits that he needs a haircut.  Season 5 was the longest and craziest that his hair got - I've written about this before
  • Regarding the MacGyver/Pete argument, I can see it both ways.  On one hand, MacGyver, Pete is your boss and you should do what he wants.  On the other hand, Pete, MacGyver has done a lot for you and you should get his blessing when projects arise before just signing him up.  There, glad we got that settled. 
  • Our second Western episode (but the first chronologically) - the other is MacGyver's Women, which reader Mark rates as the worst MacGyver episode of all time (I have it 113).  
  • About 5 minutes in, the dream starts and we see the opening credits.  For the first time so far in The MacGyver Project countdown, we see a thrilling and very welcome sight: "and Michael Des Barres as Murdoc."  I started watching MacGyver when it was live with Season 6, so the first 5 seasons I saw for the first time on reruns on USA Network.  I didn't know what was coming when seeing these reruns, and my mother can vouch for the fact that when I would see the name Michael Des Barres (or Michael "Dez Bars" as I used to say), I would go absolutely crazy with excitement.  If MacGyver is the best show in the history of television, and MDB is the best recurring guest star on MacGyver (which he is, with all due respect to Bruce McGill who is #2), then that makes MDB the best recurring guest star in the history of television.  He was absolutely amazing as an actor, Murdoc was fantastic as a character, and he took the series to a higher, better place due to his presence.  I don't want to give away too much about my rankings, but let's just say that I love the Murdoc episodes, and we won't be seeing any more of them on our countdown for quite a while.  
  • As much as I loved seeing MDB appear in the opening credits as a kid, imagine if his name didn't appear there and he was a surprise to the audience when we first saw him. That would be a much better effect.  For instance, when Nina Myers appears by surprise in the Mexican desert in the middle of 24 season 3, we don't see "Sarah Clarke" in the opening credits. 
  • I like the Western MacGyver theme - kind of laid back and folksy.  Let's add it to the music list as an honorable mention. 
  • That's a sweet brown, wooden Swiss Army knife that he gets from the Swiss old-timer. This knife will pay big dividends later.  
  • 15:40 - a quick Claire Brown sighting.
  • Fun to see Pete get a chance to play the villain.  Probably the only episode where MacGyver punches him. 
  • Western MacGyver is pretty dopey.  Why does he want to buy land in a place where no one (save Penny) wants him there?  His goofy accent and monosyllabic speech add to his dopiness.   
  • On the scene with Pete and Murdoc in the barbershop, why is Pete surprised that his hired gun wants to kill rather than just scare away his target?  And if he's so outraged, why does he just let Murdoc leave?
  • Nice parallel to Cleo Rocks where MacGyver approaches a bound and gagged Penny while expecting something else. 
  • Somehow MacGyver doesn't think that Murdoc would hear him repelling from about five feet away.
  • Murdoc does what he should have done in all the other "real" episodes - just shoot MacGyver.

Final Analysis:
Not the greatest episode (as a I said earlier, Western MacGyver is a little too dopey for me), but it's an impressive production and fun cast of characters (including Pete, Murdoc, Jack, Penny, Cuba, the Bozers).  And I can't possibly have any episode with Murdoc lower than 100, even if he only appears in MacGyver's dream. 


  1. We're pretty close together on this one. It was an epic production and given that it combined the whole gang of semiregulars in a way no other episode has, it was definitely a lark that was worth following through on. Unfortunately, the script was just too ho-hum to match the "moment" the show was trying to create. And there were some narrative shortcuts that just didn't make sense, some of which you touched upon along with others that just jumped out at me where Penny from out of nowhere and with no credible context shouted out that "MacGyver doesn't even carry a gun!" which conveniently pivoted the plot and changed the conversation leading to Pete's bullying antics on the unarmed MacGyver. That's a minor nitpick but indicative of some of the episode's larger exposition problems.

    The bright sides included the music, the flashes of humor, Pete and MacGyver fighting, and the clever if predictable ending. And of course Murdoc who lit up the screen as always (I just love the scene where he pivots from a maniacal smile to a scowl in a matter of one second). Congratulations on the Twitter response from Michael Des Barres. I'm sure that made your day. Anyway, I was hoping for more from this episode but it mostly entertained. But I must confess the fact that was a precursor for "MacGyver's Women" probably serves as a not-quite-deserved black mark for me. I rated it #106 overall.

    1. Thanks, it absolutely did make my day to hear from MDB and to know that he was touched by what I wrote. I'll look forward to sending him future Murdoc episode reviews but that probably won't be for like another year or two at this rate.

  2. "Memorable Quote:
    Call me Jack. ~Jack Dalton
    MacGyver. ~MacGyver
    First or last? ~Penny Parker
    Yep. ~MacGyver"

    ROFL! I bet they are both thinking, HUH?!

    "MacGyver admits that he needs a haircut."

    No he doesn't!!!! :) I love his hair long and short! RDA is one sexy man. :)

    "Regarding the MacGyver/Pete argument, glad we got that settled."

    Glad we got that settled too! :) I can see both ways too, but poor Mac just needs a vacation!

    "Western MacGyver is pretty dopey."

    Hahahahaha! Macgyver dreams that he is dopey. That's funny. :)

    "the other is MacGyver's Women, which reader Mark rates as the worst MacGyver episode of all time (I have it 113)."

    Oh Mark I so agree with you!!!! What an awful episode! It should be lower than 113!!! Bottom of the barrel!!! UGH! More on that when I actually get to the episode hahaha.

    1. Nice to hear from a fellow "MacGyver's Women" critic. There are some people that really like that one. The whole thing seemed like a farcical parody to me. One Old West dream-themed episode is enough for a contemporary action-adventure series, thank you!

  3. At the 5:56 mark you can see a very out of place chain link fence. My wife remembers this one from her childhood having only seen it once could tell me beginning and end from memory.