A MacGyver Community
ABC (ended 1992)
And another "So what?" episode of MacGyver with "CD-ROM + Hoagie Foil".

Okay, I suppose that's not entirely true. Or rather, it's just true as far as the main plot is concerned. The team (which is primarily Mac, Jack, and Sam) are sent to recover a stolen canister of nerve gas. When they get the canister from the unseen tech who stole it, some mercs show up working for an unseen terrorist mastermind. Matty decides to have them put the canister back, have the mercs steal it, and hope that they lead them back to the terrorist.

The plan goes awry because Sam is horrible at her job. At least, they spot her tailing them from the 50' down the highway that she's following them in plain view in daylight. They capture her and Sam tries to bluff her way out, claiming that she's a freelance merc and the mercs stole fake gas. She offers to give them the real gas (when they already have the real gas). Instead of just ordering her to bring them the canister, the merc turn her loose. Mac MacGyvers a fake canister of nerve gas filled with tear gas.

Although like with the passive bugging device a few episodes ago, is it really Macgyvering if Mac has a fully-stocked lab to work with?

Sam takes the fake gas to the mercs, including their head merc Dev Singh. He's decided Sam is lying (duh!) and is going to dump both canisters into a NYC water treatment plant and wipe out a big chunk of the population. Mac and Jack run in backed up by a SWAT team (no sign of Shemar Moore & Co.), but the real canister gets breached. Mac is holding it at the time, dives into a conveniently airtight office, injects himself with some adrenaline, and pumps the gas into a sewer line using the title-mentioned CD-ROM and Hoagie foil. He has to go to the hospital, and him and Sam make goo-goo eyes at each other. And once again the day is saved.

That leaves us with the subplots. And we get four--count'em, four!--subplots this week. This isn't even in the penultimate episode: two more gives us the mid-season finale. So that probably means we're going to get some big cliffhanger reveal on the 12/15 episode before they go on mid-season hiatus or whatever they call it. Sam and Mac will kiss, or Elwood gets killed, or Mac's father is revealed.

Subplot #1: The aforementioned "Mac and Sam" hinted at romance subplot. Mac tells Sam they've got her back. Later she's really really grateful that he exposed himself to nerve gas partially for her sake.

Subplot #2: Creepy Baldwin is back as Elwood, Riley's father. Riley tells Jack about Elwood coming back into her life. That means despite Jack saying he won't get involved, he immediately goes behind her back and gets involved by threatening to beat Elwood up. Because ignoring women and threatening to beat up people is cool!

Then Elwood goes to Phoenix to give Riley a photo album of her childhood photos. And invite her to dinner. And just when you think this seems to be kinda Baldwin-creepy, we see Jack watching Riley and Elwood have dinner. And a gunman shows up and tells Jack to not kill Elwood because the gunman (or his employers) want to kill Elwood. The gunman also knows Jack by name, which admittedly I'm not sure if Jack's identity is supposed to be a secret or not. Jack works for Phoenix, but exactly what job position is he listed as? Janitor? Punch-Drunk Boxer? And how can Elwood casually walk into a top-secret whatever-the-hell-it-is posing as a think tank?

Subplot #3: Mac is still looking to his father. He finds some old film at a burned-down cabin where his father was last seen. He and Jack have at least one "We're driving, and driving, and discussing our subplots" conversation. Mac has Phoenix tech Jill restore the film, and when Mac plays it on a MacGyvered projector, he sees a window shot of Little Mac n' Cheese building a toy rocket with a carefully shot-from-behind Big Mac. It's apparently shot through a window, because Matty's scowling face can somehow be seen reflected in the lower right. I don't think surveillance footage works that way, but oh well.

So apparently Matty is somehow tied in with Mac's missing-father backstory. For some reason, Mac is watching the film on an improvised projector, so when he freezes it, it burns up before Mac can take a picture of the picture with his camera or otherwise get any useful evidence.

Oh, and the silhouetted Big Mac doesn't look like anything like Richard Dean Anderson, Bruce McGill, or Michael Des Barres. Or even the 20+ years younger version we're supposed to be seeing here. Blowing my three theories for who they'll bring back to pay Big Mac. And yes, I like referring to Mac's father as "Big Mac". Blame the credits people, who call little Mac "Little Mac".

Subplot #4: Wilt is still undergoing academy training. This week it seems to be an excuse to give us some backstory. First he gets to interrogate Leanna into giving up a code word. Then after a three hour break, she had to switch places and get Wilt to give her a code word. She plays a 911 recording of Little Bozer (yes, they call him that in the credits, and yes, it seems vaguely obscene) reporting that his brother Josh shot himself with their father's gun. Wilt begs her not to do it and breaks into manly tears, but refuses to give her the code word.

Other than as an excuse to give us some backstory on Wilt, this doesn't make sense. For one thing, giving Leanna a three-hour break after a twenty-four-hour interrogation, to interrogate another classmate, doesn't seem particularly fair. Unless Wilt was kept awake for 24 hours and got a three-hour break before he had to interrogate her first. Wouldn't having a fresh-as-a-daisy interrogator handle the interrogation of each student be better?

Second, there's no stakes here. We get told that if Wilt gives out the code word, he will get flunked out of the spy academy. But what happens if Leanna fails to get the code word from him? Nothing, apparently.

Third, Wilt knows this is a test. All he has to do is ride it out. I'm sure it's tougher when you're actually going through it. But knowing it's a simulation seems to again take a lot of the stakes out of it, and render it useless as a meaningful test.

Fourth, where did Leanna get the 911 recording? It's kinda creepy knowing that Nameless Government Agencies have copies of 911 recordings you made roughly 22 years ago (Justin Hires, who plays Wilt, is 32).

Fifth, what the hell is Leanna doing? Basically she just plays a recording of Wilt's 911 call to get him to break. I'm sure it's traumatizing and all, but is it really going to make someone break and endanger national security--not that it actually is national security, and everyone involved knows it, but let's play along--just to avoid hearing it? Her "Let's get kobe burgers and have sex" ploy seems more effective.

This all ends with Wilt getting sick of the whole thing and preparing to quit spy school. And Leanna asking him to stay because he's such a great spy (while proving she's a lousy interrogator), and getting mildly flirty with him for real.

So other than learning that Wilt has the aversion to guns rather than Mac, and finding out that Wilt's father was a policeman, the whole thing seems kind of meaningless and pointless.

In fairness, we didn't get a cold open with Mac and Jack getting into trouble and Mac MacGyvering up something to get out of it.

So overall, "CD-ROM" was a way to dump on the family subplots. Mac is looking for his father, Riley is dealing with her father, Wilt has to deal with his father's death again, and Jack is a creepy stalker father-figure. I sense a theme about fathers developing here. The plot's basically an excuse to hang all of this on, along with giving us the budding Mac + Sam romance.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think


Speaking of Richard Dean Anderson, has he weighed in on the new version of MacGyver? I keep imagining him as Jack O'Neill, making some kind of snide comment. Look at what Robert Conrad thought of the Wild Wild West movie.
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