Saturday, October 29, 2016

MacGyver Reboot -- Episode 6: Wrench

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
A serial bomber (aka The Ghost) from MacGyver's past resurfaces in New York City to threaten peace talks at the United Nations.  While working to neutralize the threat, MacGyver is forced to confront the painful memory of losing his Commanding Officer in a wartime blast.

Memorable Quote:
Remember, you have feelings about the bomb.  The bomb doesn't have feelings about you.  ~Commanding Officer Pena

I liked the scene in the bombed out warehouse where everyone but MacGyver thought The Ghost was dead except for MacGyver who showed some moxie and emotion in disagreeing and in insisting that The Ghost had set the whole thing up. Admittedly it was a bad case of assumptions by supposed intelligence professionals, but I still liked MacGyver getting fired up and going against the team.

An odd and disjointed scene at The Ghost's apartment, which they only find due to some Riley computer magic.  MacGyver warns that the door may be booby trapped but proclaims it all clear after looking around under the door for just a few seconds with an improvised camera.  Then they try and kick the door down -- not a good idea -- should have called for backup to guard the outside of the building. Then after The Ghost gets away they discover that there's a bomb in the computer -- why wouldn't he just take his computer with him and blow something else up?  And then they all are pretty nonchalant when dealing with the computer bomb (e.g. Riley calmly asks, "If I plug in, will it blow?").  All in all this scene just didn't work.

Best MacGyverism:
Uses air bag, head rest, and car wiring to create blast and escape from buried car.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • They did a nice job resurrecting the Charlie Robinson character from Countdown, though it would have been extra cool if their shared history would have included 51 bombs defused like in the original (rather than the 127 that is mentioned here).  And even though Charlie doesn't die in this episode, the CO talking about his becoming a new father and then perishing in a bomb blast harkens back to the original.
  • This episode also echoes The Prometheus Syndrome in that there is a mysterious, unidentified bomber with a code name.
  • When MacGyver and Charlie are looking at the bomb in their protective suits, why not at least wear a pair of thin gloves?
  • "Has he always been like that?"  ~Patricia.  "Shouldn't she know her own man?"  ~Mrs. MacGyver Project.
  • "If talking about your imaginary football league helps you stay calm, then keep going. But maybe not so much of the boom-boom talk?"  ~Riley
  • Overall I like the scene with MacGyver defusing the truck bomb and saving Jack though I do wonder how The Ghost knew that someone would activate it in that manner (unless he had a backup plan), and I also wonder why MacGyver needed Jack to unscrew the vent (seems like MacGyver could have just gotten in the truck without stepping on the plate).

Final Analysis:
I like this one and would probably rate it as the best or second best.  I've said before that I like it when it's more serious and less goofy, and this one fit the bill in that regard.  They're also doing a good job of making the main character seem likable (e.g. the scene at the end with the little girl) and Lucas keeps getting better and better each time out.  Still a very long way for them to go, but overall the last two episodes have been a modest improvement over the first four (and also less reliant on guns), so that is a good sign.


  1. So far, I liked this episode the best (followed by episodes 4 and 5). The acting has really improved since the beginning, and I really liked that we get a better look at MacGyver's backstory.

    I feel like because this is a reboot, they all thought we knew MacGyver already and the writers focused too much on the "new" team. But since this is a complete reboot, not a remake and therefore New MacGyver is so different from the old one, it was important to introduce us to this character a bit more. I still think they should have made the pilot episode a two parter - not necessarily with part 1 ending in a cliffhanger, but so they had enough time to grant everyone on the new team enough screen time. I sure would have cared more about the Nikki storyline if we actually got to know her...

    And there were almost no guns, yay!

  2. I'm afraid I thought this one was a mess too. The beginning could have been cool when they were getting buried under the dirt and he used the airbag to blow an opening, but they didn't make it clear what he hooked it up to that produced such a it just seemed ridiculous that an airbag was capable of that kind of an explosion. I also expected more from the Charlie Robinson introduction. It seemed like he was gonna be a major character in the episode but after his introduction scene he had about two minutes of screen time in the warehouse for the rest of the episode...and the real partner/inspiration of MacGyver's ended up being the drill sergeant guy whose name escapes me. As you said, everything to do with the scene in the Ghost's apartment was pretty bad, from the trigger tracker thing he did with gum and his cell phone to pouring the gas all over it which somehow defused it.

    The high point for me was MacGyver's emotional response to the final words of (the guy whose name I can't recall)....words that MacGyver had never heard before since his audio hadn't been working at the time. It was the first scene this series has had with some genuine emotional resonance. Unfortunately after that things got pretty paint-by-numbers again, with extremely terrible CGI explosions and the complete gullibility of MacGyver's colleagues regarding the Ghost's faked death. The final scene with the truck was okay I guess, but we were led to believe the Ghost didn't anticipate them coming so it didn't really make sense that he had this elaborate bomb set up in there, complete with an easy escape despite the tidal wave of authorities bearing down on him. While I really liked the pulley bit MacGyver used to detach the secondary detonator, it didn't make sense logistically either. He didn't trust Jack's "unsteady hand" to simply pull the thing out of its socket....but he did trust Jack's unsteady hand to somehow rig together this pulley operation and hook it up to the end of the detonator pin which would have taken about five times as long?

    It was another shrug for me by the end of the hour. I didn't hate it, but as I said last week it isn't even as good as the "MacGyver" ripoff "Scorpion" on the same network. Six episodes in, I'm losing hope fast that this show finds its sea legs.

    1. Good point about the scene with the CO dying and MacGyver's emotional response -- I agree and as you said it was the first time the series has had some real emotional resonance. I haven't seen Scorpion -- would you say it's a good show?

      Also agree on the bad CGI. With some exceptions I generally don't find Five-0 to be overly reliant on bad CGI -- maybe the rushed schedule on MacGyver has contributed to that and also to the overall level of quality.

  3. "Hawaii Five-O" has its moments of crummy CGI too but none as terrible as the two explosion scenes were saw last night on "MacGyver". As for "Scorpion", there are lighthearted aspects of it I could do without and you likely could as well, but the stories and brain-power solutions certainly come through for some entertaining hours of television.

  4. Learned Something New:
    I obviously wasn’t paying attention to the credits and too busy running to through the commercials. But this week, while in a hotel room, I was forced to watch it in real time. I did not know that Henry Winkler was an executive producer of the show. So, he IS remaining connected to the show.
    Low Points:
    • Riley tracing the SIM card with just three numbers. Really? I don’t know if I’m ignorant of current technology or the show really stretches the truth.
    • I am not getting the titles for the episodes. Why the “Wrench?” Anyone care to expound?
    Favorite Line: [paraphrasing]
    • “As long as I don’t have to be Nixon.” I, along with the State of Massachusetts, voted for McGovern. I lived through the Watergate scandal and the resignation of Nixon. My favorite bumper sticker of the day was “Don’t blame me, I’m from Massachusetts.”
    • Jack’s “Jimmy Hoffa” and Riley’s “Who?”
    Recognizable Actors: None that I saw.
    • The Halloween pumpkins were very creative.
    • Paper Clip shaped palm tree. I am beginning to like the paper clip theme.
    • Getting Jack to talk about his Fantasy Football team while he was standing on a detonator.
    • Meeting Annabelle and having a tea party and fixing her doll. Now that is a true MacGyverism!
    • PETN is Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate, which is structural very similar to nitroglycerin. This is a highly explosive compound. And just like Nitroglycerin, it can be used as a vasodilator.
    • TATP is Triacetone Triperoxide, which is a very unstable compound. It smells like bleach. It was used in the Paris and Belgium attacks.
    • Dissolving the explosive with diesel fuel from the garbage truck. I am assuming it is diesel and not gasoline. It follows the basic solvent rule that “like dissolves like.” Nonpolar substances are dissolved by nonpolar solvents, i.e. organic liquids like diesel fuel. Polar substances are dissolved by polar solvents, i.e. water.
    Final Comment:
    This was my favorite episode thus far. But the show has got to improve. Dad has decided to stop watching the show. I recently read that MacGyver is the top 5 of the best new dramas of the season. Am I missing something? One of the others was Bull. While traveling this week and stuck in a hotel room, I watched Bull for the first and last time. TV needs better writers and has to stop pandering to the lowest common denominator of TV viewers. It’s time to be a smart show and raise people up!
    Project MacGyver Mom

    1. I don't think Henry Winkler or Lee David Zlotoff are doing much of anything with the new show -- I imagine LDZ gets a credit as the rights holder and Henry Winkler gets one out of respect and due to his name recognition.

      As for the episode titles, they're just picking random names of tools or parts of a Swiss Army Knife which don't have anything to do with the episode -- I don't know why they did that.

      I agree about TV in general now mostly pandering to the lowest common denominator. Take a show like West Wing which was incredibly smart and yet it did well because there's smart people out there and a market for smart shows -- would be nice to see more of that in the tv and movies today.

    2. If you liked West Wing, House of Cards is a pretty smart show. Most of the smarter shows these days are probably on HBO/Showtime/Netflix, not on the big networks.