A MacGyver Community
ABC (ended 1992)
So we're halfway through the season. Or a CBS season. Or something. I don't watch enough CBS to know. (Disclaimer: Tv.com is owned by CBS, in case you didn't know.)

So with "Screwdriver" on the one hand... they pulled a Mission Impossible! By which I mean the first movie, when we find out that someone we knew and trusted, before they got "updated" or remade or homaged or whatever, is actually a bad guy.

However, it was kind of... eh. For one thing, we're already one step removed from the original Pete Thornton, because Patricia is a woman, baby. So they turned the Thornton character from a lovable guy to a traitorous woman. Girl power!


There was also the lack of a Chunnel helicopter vs. train chase. I miss Chunnel helicopter vs. train chases. Instead, we get a dull-as-dirt exposition. Lots and lots of exposition. Also, maybe I missed something but there was no lead-up to Patricia being the traitor. Yes, there were things that Patricia did that could look suspicious, like keeping Mac off of the Nikki investigation. But there was never any "Patricia really sent them on this mission to secretly help the Organization." At least, they didn't reveal it tonight. Maybe they will in the future. More likely they'll drop the whole thing.

And maybe Patricia was just leaking information and not really doing any bad. But that just lessens how traitorous of a traitor she was. Ditto with the fact that they already had someone on the team turn traitor. This was more of a long con, but one of the tricks to pulling off a traitor long con on TV is to let the audience have a chance to figure it out before the characters do. Tonight they were dropping "clues" in the exposition just as they said they were clues. Like Mac saying that Patricia knew that he and Nikki got together at the cabin. They didn't mention that earlier like when they arrived at the cabin.


So the A-Plot of the episode was Nikki revealing that she's actually a CIA deep-cover undercover agent who shot Mac and stole the WMD to make her look good to the Organization. And she convinced the CIA to let her steal the virus because she assured them that Super Secret Agent Mac wouldn't let it get released. Which seems to mildly mess with the concept of MacGyver as a gifted amateur who does work for a government think tank, like in the original series. I keep griping about the differences between the old show and the new because... I'm still not seeing why the new one is an improvement. Mac as a superspy is just kinda eh. If the producers want to tell a story about spies and international intrigue, great, more power to them. But why do they need the spirit of MacGyver (for lack of a better term) to do that?

So Nikki and Mac get back together. Which I guess is a good thing. Because what the show needs is recurring romantic subplots for the two main male leads. And wait until you see what Mac MacGyvers out of a baggie and a rubber band!

The romantic subplotting brings us to the B plot, which is that Jack's former partner Sara (Amy Acker) is getting married. And they have issues about it. And they bite. And fight. And bite. Fight fight fight, bite bite bite. The Jack and Sara Subplot! Both actors are fine at this, and I like George Eads. His bit in the cold open is cute, too, where he's dosed on sodium pentothal, sings, and spills his guts about Phoenix.


But the bit where Mac MacGyvers a bomb out of a stove, spaghetti, and assorted household chemicals is kinda where the show loses me. Because he needs Jack (and Sara) to shoot the stove to set off the bomb. Really? It's almost a pure example of how Mac is portrayed as both remarkably gifted but somewhat inept. Old-MacGyver would make a timer out of a matchstick and a piece of thread. Nu-Mac needs his buddy with the gun to shoot things to set off his devices.

What else? Riley and Wilt (wasn't he supposed to be in a lab somewhere?) get their own C-Plot dealing with Murdoc. Who is acting more Hannibal Lector-ish (by way of Dr. Z from old-MacGyver), than Michael Des Barres-ish. Wilt even lampshades lava beans and chianti. They get Murdoc an old book, he gives them the bank account # that was used to pay him. He laughs maniacally, says that they shouldn't have trusted him, and the guards take him away holding his Precious... book. Can't they have the guards take the book away? I like David Dastmalchian as Murdoc, but they don't give him much to do here. Get him out of jail and keep him as a maniacal assassin, rather than B-Grade Lector.


Anyhoo, Wilt and Riley manage to get some useful information from the bank account # by going to NYC in a fast jaunt that makes the Winchester brothers and their cross-country in five minute road trips look like the turtle in those old Warner Brother cartoons. It turns out Wilt worked as an assistant accountant, makes up some masks to let them get past the facial recognition scanner, finds the hard copy of the financial records, and that's what leads them to Patricia the Traitor.

So at the end of the episode, Patricia is in jail, Murdoc is still in jail, Nikki is no longer a wanted felon, and the team is otherwise operating normally. Where do they go from here? Will Patricia, Murdoc, and Sara return? Probably. And hopefully, in Sara's case. a) Amy Acker seems to be having fun., b) she has good chemistry with George Eads, and c) if she doesn't come back, this whole subplot has been a waste.


So overall, it was an okay episode. It seemed more like a mid-season finale, what with the reveal of the traitor and Nikki's name being cleared. But the show so far doesn't have strong enough internal continuity to make it that impressive or finale-ish. And the mid-season finale should have been before the holidays anyway. Instead we get a new episode next week and then a repeat the week after that.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
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Jan 12, 2017
I wanted to throw something at my TV when Murdoc screwed them over and they still let him have the book! You have to wonder how dumb those two are (or at least the writers are portraying them) that they would let him have that book no matter what info he gave them. Maybe I too am guilty of sometimes thinking back to the original series and remembering how dangerous Murdoc was portrayed. Riley and Wilt or whatever his name is are so cavalier about handing over a “stinky book” that they seem like teenagers instead of government agents. Mac and Jack wouldn’t have done that imo.

I remember Nikki mentioning to Mac in the diner a few eps back that Thorton wasn’t on the level or something to that effect. Mac shrugged it off, but I started wondering if there was something going on with her. Unfortunately, the writers didn’t drop any hints that I picked up on.

With Nikki’s handler being dead was Oversight able to clear her name when the brought down Patricia? It seems like they cleaned that up pretty quickly. It might have been interesting for her to still be trying to take down the organization while trying to find a way to verify her standing as a CIA operative.

I definitely don’t know what to do with the whole Sarah sub-plot; especially since they just went through the whole Riley issue with Jack being the closest thing she had to a dad, and her mom saying Jack still might have a chance a few episodes back. That seemed to get thrown out the window this week.

I’ve found that if I just shut down my brain I can enjoy the episodes as they come and not focus on the lack of continuity or anything like that which is definitely missing.
Long live the Chunnel helicopter vs. train chases!! And I definitely don’t want to think about what Mac does with a plastic bag and a rubber band. Ouch! :)
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Feb 26, 2017
There is no continuity, nu-MacGyver is basically a show like CSI, you can watch episode in any season at any time, and it wont "hurt" the story, each episode is like a mini-movie with very few, non-relevant associations to previous and future episodes.

Compared to the original, the show is just pathetic, but i really do love the "Mac and Jack" friendship and the way they talk to each other, their friendship and my love for their "attitude" towards eachother, is pretty much the only reason i keep watching, they make me laugh, and as an IT expert, i truly enjoy Jack's ignorant remarks, Mac and Jack, in nu-MacGyver is actually one of the very few shows that makes me laugh out loud, while im alone.

For your Murdoc theory! You got to remember that WE know how dangerous Murdoc is from the original series, but we have seen so far that the show is really not following the original story in ANY way, and they do exactly as they want, the only resemblence is the names they use. A good example is how they made Thornton a criminal, MacGyver's best friend over decades.

I love the Carter and Riley duo! I really hope they end up together, Riley seems like the person that wants someone more masculine then Carter, but he's constantly charming here with his witty remarks and complients in every episode, making her more and more interested. BUT; They are teenagers, don't forget, their not super-spies or agents, Carter is a burger-flipping hobby-chef while Riley is a hobby-hacker with extreme skills. Both of them have been hired by a secret agency based on their hobbies, not their line of work, i'm pretty sure their going to grow, but yes, for now, they should remain the teenagers they are.

I'm 27 years old, if i was recruited by a super-secret organization tomorrow, i'm pretty sure that i would look and act like a teen compared to the dedicated veterans. And specially if i was sitting across to a person that just show my boss, tried to kill me and everyone i work with, and i know, has every intention of killing me, and everyone i work with as soon as he gets the chance. I am after all, not an super-agent, i am burger-flipping Carter with real-life halloween masks as a hobby.
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Jan 12, 2017
I don't think we have the fully story yet on Nikki having her name cleared. If nothing else, I'm sure she'll be off-screen "answering questions in DC" or wherever. She's not in this Friday's episode (isn't it a reshoot of the pilot?), and the next episode is a repeat.

And have I mentioned, that's one of the reasons I don't like nu-MacGyver? I hate Phoenix as an actual government organization. Setting aside that it makes Mac a secret agent instead of a gifted amateur troubleshooter, it's just another bog-standard TV-style "secret government organization."
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Jan 13, 2017
Yeah, I don't think the series will let Nikki and Mac have a lot of time together. She even mentioned that with Patricia captured she still had to take down the organization, so that in my mind indicates she won't be onscreen much.

I agree with you on the Phoenix Foundation, organization, whatever it's called. On the original series I thought DMX (or the military organization Mac worked with) before it was turned into the Phoenix Foundation shifted away from a military focus and worked om various scientific avenues with some military issues thrown in occasionally. He doesn't seem like a "secret agent". Maybe the writers thought that having the Phoenix agency would include people like Riley and even Jack better than a scientific one would. I say that only because of her hacking skills and Jack's weaponry skills and fighting knowledge.
The original series usually followed Mac doing his own thing or on a mission alone or sometimes with Jack. It never seemed like an ensemble cast to me; outside of of Jack, occasionally Penny Parker, and maybe a few others. Whereas this reboot seems much more of an ensemble since there is an actual team. But I'm sure they could have done that without turning Phoenix into a secret organization.
Maybe the show runners thought a secret organization type show would fit into CBS better. Who knows.
I always appreciate your reviews and comments, I feel like you're saying what I'm thinking-but much more eloquently!
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Jan 13, 2017
One of my regular complaints is that the nu-show is an ensemble. Not because it's "not old-MacGyver" or pays obeisance to the show it's borrowing from. But at least to my mind, it makes Mac less of a unique character.

As I've noted, the whole point of the whole character disliking guns is lost if he has a buddy with him who is more than glad to use guns.

By the same token, Mac doesn't seem to know much about computers beyond the basics. So he has Riley.

So Mac is just a guy who has a knack for... well, MacGyvering things. It's like Ichabod on Sleepy Hollow just being a guy from the 18th century.
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Jan 16, 2017
@Tamsin90: Dana Elcar as Pete Thornton, yep.

Mac always ended up alone, but that's more the nature of episodic TV. Not a whole lot of continuity overall. They tried to make Nikki Carpenter a semi-regular for one season, which worked about as well as bringing in two female regulars on Supernatural. The original show was mostly a guy's show (it came... before? Monday Night Football for a lot of its run), and the guy viewers in the 80s wanted a love 'em and leave 'em male hero.

There were several recurring characters on the show: Jack Dalton, Penny Parker, and his grandfather Harry were the most prominent, but there were a few others like the Dalton family and Earl Dent. And lots of one-shot guest stars from his past. So Mac had lots of friends, but his life was just one that didn't allow him to settle down.
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Jan 16, 2017
Oh, please say it isn't so; after what happened to Abby on Sleepy Hollow I stopped watching even though I enjoyed Ichabod! :)

I understand what you mean though. The original show had Pete- I think that was his name using guns, but he wasn't with Mac in every episode. I actually enjoy this group of characters that Mac works with.
While I enjoyed the original series-via Netflix, I was kinda sad that Mac was alone for the most part. I remember a show they had where many of the people Mac had saved showed up for a surprise party for him and it just made him feel more alone. While I didn't finish watching the last half of S3 (the '80s hairdo was too much for me-lol) I had the sense the Mac always ended up alone. While he had his people at the Phoenix Foundation & his grandpa it seemed like the trajectory of his life had him on a one-way street, alone for the most part. Maybe the ending of the show included a romantic interest & I missed that by not finishing the series.
However I see your point of view; Mac's uniqueness in this series isn't as defined. Like you mentioned, he relies on people with guns to protect him when needed, Riley deals with the computers, and Bozer is supposed to be in a lab dealing with various prosthetics & masks. So, in that sense Mac is just kinda" MacGyvering" things. Although it does seem like the team depends on his abilities/brains more so than he relies on them, at least when they're actually in a situation with the bad guys. I think the group dynamic has to do with the "secret government organization". Mac is never alone doing his "MacGyvering" the way he was in the original series when the Phoenix Group was more of a scientific think tank or whatever. I do find it a little weird that Mac is so young in this series (the whole team is). Maybe that has to do with the demographics the network is trying to reach.
I guess we'll see how everyone responds & find out whether the show will get a 2nd season.
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Jan 12, 2017
I still don't trust nikki never will.
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Jan 11, 2017
"Can't they have the guards take the book away?" LOL that was exactly what I thought when watching it!!

The reveal was so weirdly boring. They didn't even seem properly angry or anything, just smug that they got her. I expected at least more yelling. And no, I didn't think we'd ever seen signs that she was a full-on bad guy. It made me wonder if this was something they thought of after the first episodes where Nikki almost killed a bunch of people...
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Jan 07, 2017
My apologizes for the lack of "refining", but the edit button isn't available right now. That's why you have the Aaaaa## lines: they're placeholders for the images once I can edit the review. Ditto for the low-res intro image and so on.

As soon as I can, it'll be fixed. It probably wont' be until Monday, though.
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