Season 3 Episode 9

Hell Week

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Nov 23, 1987 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
62 votes

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Episode Summary

MacGyver must help deal with his former mentor's son, who feels ignored and becomes distraught after losing a competition at a prestigious university.

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  • A true MacGyver original, featuring a festival for science geeks and one of the series' best-executed and most suspenseful ticking time bomb climactic sequences.

    A number of people felt this was the best MacGyver episode of all, particularly the science geeks who respected the clever barricades in the contest. I actually conned my high school physics teacher into showing this episode in class...and she liked it so much she made a copy to show to future classes. And there was much to like. Larry Dobkin and Andrew Sabiston played their respective roles as the hard-nosed workaholic professor and the burned-out college student amazingly well. The extent to which absentee parenting contributed to David snapping was overemphasized, but the building suspense of the episode's second half, in contrast to the fun of the first half which felt more like a really good afterschool special, really makes this episode shine. The attention to detail in regards to the science also shows that an impressive amount of research went into this episode before the first scene was filmed. A true MacGyver original that stands out as a shining example of how badly screwed this series was by the television industry which never recognized its quality come Emmy season.moreless
  • One of the most unique and best of the series as Macgyver judges a physics contest that ends up being more than he bargained for.

    This one starts harmless enough, Macgyver travels to his old college where he is to judge the annual physics "barricade" contest. He meets up with some of the contestants including David who is under immense pressure from his father, the physics professor, to do better in school and win the contest.

    Quickly we find winning the contest is everything to David. He has been working on the project for months and has resorted to drinking and drugs to help cope with the pressure. His girlfriend, Janice, lets Macgyver know he needs help but his father will not heed the warnings...and is a believer that "pressure turns coal into diamonds".

    Unfortunately for David, all his work is in vain as another student cheats and gains a huge advantage on him. The loss brings David into a further mess and leads to a final scene where the whole campus and neighborhood are threatened by a bomb he made. The episode does get a bit preachy, hammering the themes of "being there for your kids when you need them." A minor annoyance, and it's still clearly the second best season 3 episode after Widowmaker.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • The fictional Western Tech's "Fizziks Follies" barricade contest is based on Caltech's annual Ditch Day, which began decades before when the senior class ditched classes for a day to go to the beach. Resentful underclassmen set up practical jokes in the seniors' rooms in their absence. Seniors took to barricading their rooms each Ditch Day, originally with brute force obstacles then later with ever more elaborate puzzles. The college approves of Ditch Day as a way of stimulating thought while letting students blow off steam.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Professor Ryman: Come and see the next generation in action. You can be depressed along with me.

    • David: You sure haven't changed much. That's the same jacket you had ten years ago, isn't it?
      MacGyver: Yeah, I'm kind of attached to it.

    • Professor Ryman: I would like to introduce you to Mr. MacGyver, who will be observing today.
      MacGyver: Hi.
      Students: Hi.
      Professor Ryman: Mr. MacGyver is a former student here, though of course, not in your league. He was gifted.

    • Professor Ryman: Nothing worse than an physicist stupefied by the obvious!

    • Professor Ryman: Physics is about truth, not tact.

    • MacGyver: David, what do you say you lighten up a little bit? How about if I come over there and we talk about it?
      David: Oh, will you bring a six-pack?
      MacGyver: Oh, you know me. Carrot juice is about as heavy as I get.

    • MacGyver: Pressure turns coal into diamonds, is that it?
      Professor Ryman: Well, that's a physical fact, MacGyver.
      MacGyver: It can also crush it to dust.

  • NOTES (1)