A MacGyver Community
ABC (ended 1992)
With "Skyscraper – Power" we have three good episodes in a row. Will wonders never cease!

Don't get me wrong. It wasn't a "great" episode. I'm not sure that nu-MacGyver can produce "great" episodes. But it was entertaining, moved along, hit all the right dramatic beats, and gave three of the main character stuff to do.

Let's recap. One of the other things that makes the episode a little above average is that there's no DIY. You know, that annoying little pre-credits bit where the characters do something that nothing to do with anything. And seems to be present just to remind us that yes, MacGyver is a guy who MacGyvers things. I'm not sure what the point is of reminding us of that after practically two full seasons. Maybe the creative team realized that it was redundant as well. It seems even more redundant when they're doing a reboot/reimaging/homage/whatever.

Admittedly, we get Mac nattering away about his missing father instead of a DIY. And there will be mentions of his daddy issues throughout the episode. But it's still better than a pointless DIY.

Another advantage of the episode is that it moves. old-MacGyver wasn't a globe-trotting adventure, at least in any given episode. But the team here jumps from LA, to Seoul, to an airplane en route to Shanghai, to Shanghai. And they're usually doing story-related things while they're moving, which means there isn't much time for the story-grinding in-transit subplot conversations. Yes, there's a little bit of a subplot with Riley angsting about the EMP that she lost a while back, and how now the bad guys have it and Riley blames herself for losing it. But her doing so doesn't slow the story down too much.

It also helps that the characters act like they're having fun. old-MacGyver often had a "why does this crap keep happening around me?" sort of attitude about him. it isn't quite like that here. But at least Mac and Jack don't seem too worried about the danger and the plot here. Enough to take it seriously, sure.

It also helps that it's one of the times when the team's constant cultural allusioning actually has something to do with the story. Jack and Mac know that they're in a rip-off/homage of Die Hard, and start riffing on it. It culminates in a vaguely funny gag when Wilt pretends that he's never heard of the movie just to get a rise out of Jack.

Back to the plot. Jack and Mac go to Seoul where the EMP has been traced. They soon find out that the thieves, i.e., the sellers, were trying to sell the EMP. The buyers kill them and take off to the airport. Jack and Mac follow, and when the buyers escape in an airplane, the agents commandeer a private jet belonging to an elderly couple, Saul and Edith. And hey! It's Edward Asner and Piper Laurie, who have been featured in the promos. I'm not quite sure who CBS is trying to appeal to here with their casting. Mary Tyler Moore and Twin Peaks fans, respectively?

But the couple is pretty much in their brief appearance. Ed Asner's Saul gets to strut his stuff as a former Army Ranger. he tosses out a useless piece of knowledge Basically, "Ooh, look, I can tell they're going to parachute out of their plane" right before they... parachute out of their plane. So no harm, no foul.

The mercenaries go into a skyscraper and the agents think that the thieves are going to EMP device on rich-guy owner Ralph Jerico's super-safe. It turns out they're not, and that they're there to abduct Ralph's son Ethan. Then they'll use the son as leverage to force Ralph to free the leader's brother from a Nigerian prison. This seems like an overly complicated plan--why not just break the brother out, or take the warden's wife/son/daughter/aunt hostage--but let's roll with it.

Mac eventually rescues Ethan, who isn't that impressed with Mac's MacGyverisms or Jack's age. In the end, Mac builds a Faraday cage and a makeshift electrocution device off of the city's power lines, shocks the mercenaries unconscious, while he, Ethan, and Jack hang out in the Faraday cage. Riley gets the EMP back, and Mac advises Ralph to spend more time with Ethan based on his experience with his father. The end.

It's all pretty harmless fun, and nobody puts their eye out. Wilt doesn't have much to do, but he rarely does. Matty doesn't have much to do. Even if the Mac/Sam romance wasn't working, I can see why the creative team dumped Sam. What the heck would she have done? Either added another gun to the proceedings, or... interrogate someone? Who? When? The character was kind of redundant with the team.

So overall, a decent episode of nu-MacGyver. Nothing too momentous, nothing too serious. Just a fun romp.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Comments (2)
Apr 15, 2018
If by globe-trotting you mean going from an L.A. backlot to another L.A. backlot, with a title card telling you that they are in Calcutta or Timbuktu, then sure, that's really worth it. Alias was doing that all the time and after a while it's totally meaningless. This series is a generic action series by-the-numbers with guns blazing every 10 minutes. Why it's called MacGyver is beyond me.
Also: Daddy issues, please give me a break.
Apr 15, 2018
Except Macgyver doesn't do it within an episode, so it's not totally meaningless on the show yet.

I don't think I ever said that it's "worth it", whatever that means. But it helps to shape up this show, and that's the one I'm reviewing. I try to avoid directly comparing the show to any other show. Except old-MacGyver, because that's the show they're "borrowing" from. It's right there in the title.
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