Season 3 Episode 9

Hell Week

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Nov 23, 1987 on ABC
out of 10
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61 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
  • Crushing Preasure

    This episode I'll admit once again is a bit guilty of being a little preachy with the lesson it's implying but that didn't get me down. Other then that everything else is pritty good, it's once again an exercise in building up suspense.

    From the first half we get information about a troubled collage student suffering common burn out. One of the signs of this we see as Macgyver is observing a physics class in progress the professor is presuring him on how to solve an occuring problem imediately, and I couldn't help but sense the student could of came up with the answer if the professor was more patient with him but of course the professor cut him off and just showed him the solution in front of the class and the student afterward felt bad and a bit humuliated. I can easily emphisize with the students dilema since I myself had to endure an overwelming degree of preasure, some presure I can handle but when theres too much of it I can't always work well, let alone think straight. Part of that preasure is the fact that the student is the son of the top physics professor. The student doesn't feel like he's meeting his father's expectations and is failing him in some way since the professor hasn't shown him a sign of satisfaction. This sort of gets at a common subconcious fear a lot of kids have toward their parients. It also doesn't help that there is a slimy rival in the class that is up to no good to cheat at the contest and sabatosh the student's efforts at winning. Basically the lession isn't just on parients being more careful on how they handle their kids but also just simply the fact that too much preasure is bad for a person's health. As Macgyver said, a great amount of preasure could create a dimond but it can also create dust. The contest scene in the first half is great, I really loved the creative locks that were constructed and of course the tools and methods used in opening them, like in all physics problems the answer is really simple if you just think about it throughly and carefully. That contest really showed the student at his best I knew he could and was about to win but when he didn't win when that rival pulled a slimy trick I felt bad for him and knew he's going to blow. And it all winds down to probably the most intesnse part of the episode which is the second half where Macgyver and the Physics Professor have to defuse an undisarmable bomb the student constructed himself to blow up the physics building. One mistake and well you get it, I was litterally at the edge of my seat in that part of the epsode and even though this was a brief amount of minutes they were the most intense since it felt like time stretched as the minutes were ticking away and the stakes got high and the sittuation got worse. So all in all good and intense episode.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)