Season 1 Episode 11


Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Jan 15, 1986 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (7)

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out of 10
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  • After returning from East Germany with some secret information, MacGyver is captured by a German agent, and injected with a hallucinogenic poison that will kill him in 6 hours unless he hands over the info in return for the antidote. A series classic...

    This review contains spoilers.

    As reflected (hundreds of times(!)) in my previous episode reviews for the series, I'm ashamed to admit I'm a bit of a newbie to 'MacGyver', it being one of the very few US action-adventure series of the era that I wasn't into "first time 'round". But despite my relatively newbie status, I can still see that 'Nightmares' is surely a series classic.

    The "being injected with lethal injection and having just hours to find the antidote" plot idea had been done many times before this (see the popular 'Starsky & Hutch' first season episode 'A Coffin for Starsky' for just one of many examples), but seldom has a regular hour-long TV episode given the premise such a well-handled, exhilarating treatment.

    Of note of this episode is that it is the first to feature Dana Elcar as Pete Thornton, MacGyver's boss-of-sorts. Elcar had played a different character in the series Pilot, and Thornton would go on to be a heavily recurring character throughout the show's life.

    Anyway, Mac's whole predicament is executed really well, making you feel as if he is in real danger and must desperately find the antidote before it is too late. When he was first injected, for a few moments I feared that things would descend into either a "clip show", or a "dream sequence" episode – thankfully, we got neither, and instead were into an outstanding story.

    Robert O'Reilly is perfect as evil agent Curt Neilson, who has his henchmen inject MacGyver with the potentially fatal poison. In an already strong story, it is bolstered up even more by feeling that Neilson is a real threat.

    Tammy Lauren does well in the role of young runaway Lisa. Of course, after she has taken Mac back to the (temporary) safety of her shelter in the abandoned building, we get the rather obligatory sob story of her life; However, I found it to be reasonably well acted, did not go on for too long, and found it nowhere as much of a weak point as one or two other viewers seem to have done.

    Richard Dean Anderson gives a very good performance of the heavily drugged, hallucinating Mac. One slight niggle I did feel, was that Mac's condition came and went as the plot dictated – in the "quieter moments" of the tale, he was really tripping out and could hardly stand; yet when he was required to take care of Neilson and his thugs, he was suddenly back on form. This is only a very minor point though, and was probably necessary for sake of plot development, and I don't hold it against the overall episode at all.

    The climax, complete with Neilson throwing the tube with the antidote in down the drain, is both exciting and satisfying. Although they would have had to have come up with some top notch stories to equal this one, in many ways it is a shame that Robert O'Reilly never returned as the character, as he would surely have made a great recurring nemesis, as Neilson feels to be such a genuine threat to MacGyver.

    The episode is executed very slickly, far superior to a couple of those dodgy very early episodes, and special mention must go to the in-episode musical score. As commented on a couple of my previous reviews, some of the early in-episode scores sounded horribly cheap and synthesised, but (as reflected in my review for the previous broadcast episode, 'Target MacGyver'), the quality of the musical score was steadily improving, and in 'Nightmares', it almost sounds movie-like at many points.

    All-in-all, this is quite probably the best 'MacGyver' episode thus far, and although I've yet to see all of the episodes, I quite expect it to stand as a classic of the series. It also has definite "watch again" value, to relive Mac's grave predicament. I give 'Nightmares' a solid 10/10.

    (By the way, although I generally try not to criticize other's reviews, surely the review who points out all the episode's strong points, then knocks the episode down by calling it a weak "issues" storyline and gives it a 4.4 rating ... rather harsh, surely?)
  • Macgvver gets poisoned and drugged when a secret list he has must be protected at all times.

    See a lot of reviews here, so this episode is popular. I would say maybe the best episode out of the first season.

    MacGyver's adventures while enjoyable are over the top and at times silly. The writers presented a couple of different scenarios to make MacGyver look really human.

    Macgyver is to meet up with Pete to deliver a secret list. He and Pete notice trouble when a couple of hired men come out to kill him.

    Macgyver successfully hides the list but is captured himself. He is drugged and escape, but he has to come back to these lowiifes because they have the antidote to keep him alive.

    Like I said, this episode is a really great attempt to make MacGyver's adventures realistic and human.

    While MacGyver has displayed great intelligence and intellect throughout the series, he falls for a really cheap trick when he asks a policeman for help who turns out to be a villain.

    MacGyver is drugged and poisoned. He escapes but is a mess. MacGyver's hope hang on a young girl he made friends with Lisa.

    Beautiful young, Tammy Lauren, already having acted in shows like "Facts of Life" puts on a convincing performance as a teenage runaway.

    Lisa helps out MacGyver until he builds a plan to get the antidote.

    It's a different adventure for MacGyver, it's interesting to see him so battered and beaten. Richard Dean Anderson pulls of a convincing performance as well.

    I consider it one of the best episodes from early seasons.
  • Solid storyline and good villains.

    What makes this episode so good is we get to see Macgyver in a desperate, helpless state. Instead of helping everyone else like usual, he must rely on others to live. The "other" would be a practically homeless, poor teen girl but who has a heart of gold. In the opening Macgyver helps her out to make a fishing lure (for her dinner), and then, after being posioned, needs her help to live. The villians adminstering the poison to Macgyver are also a strong point. They are purely evil and are believable characters. In poisoning Macgyver, they hope to recover some classified documents he hid. This one is up there as one of the best season one episodes, don't miss.
  • Good music and good execution don't make up for a weak "issues" storyline.

    I wanted to like this episode. It introduced Pete, had easily the best music of any episode of the series up to this point, and was well-directed by Cliff Bole. Additionally, the plot (MacGyver is poisoned in an effort to get information out of him) was at least a bit more interesting than the typical "Mac helps a friend in trouble" fare, even if it was pretty bizzare. Additionally, this episode featured easily the best MacGyverisms since the very early first season.

    But the subplot with the runaway girl was melodramatic and unnecessary. To be sure, the actress and Richard Dean Anderson put on a decent performance, but the whole thing was really cheesy (girl runs away from abusive father, assembles nice apartment, reads schoolbooks, helps MacGyver outsmart Communist foes, gets government scholarship, lives happily ever after). All in all, not an awful effort, but dragged down by a weak subplot.
  • My third favorite MacGyver of all.

    This was MacGyver's first episode on Wednesday night and its highest-rated episode to date (15.9 rating and comfortably in second place in its slot), and it's easy to understand why ABC selected this episode to introduce to Wednesday viewers. Even though the lethal injection storyline isn't exactly an original, it's never been executed as well as it was here on MacGyver. Competent young actress Tammy Lauren was brilliant as Lisa, the intelligent teenage runaway whose desperate condition parallels that of MacGyver. Helping each other at their lowest points, MacGyver and Lisa are able to save each other from a devastating future. The stakes were high for both of these unlikely allies...and both delivered for one another. The acting was solid throughout, particularly by Richard Dean Anderson who shined for the first time in the series in "Nightmares", and even though some of his dialogue was cheesy, actor Robert O'Reilly (who played Curt Nielsen) has terrific sinister appeal as a nasty 80's bad guy and the scene where he administered the lethal injection was simultaneously funny and breathtakingly intense.

    The narrow escapes and MacGyverisms were terrifically executed throughout, with the retrieval of the antidote in the sewer standing out as one of MacGyver's all-time best scenes. One reviewer suggested the scenes with Lisa in the slum were a little slow, and that's a fair point...but I thought it helped raised the overall stakes of the story to develop Lisa's character and show that her situation was little better than MacGyver's (not to mention that it set the stage for the wicked cool TV tube explosion). Writer James Schmerer proved his value to the series with this script, which stands out for me as a masterpiece.
  • Awesome episode.

    Nightmares is one of my all time favorite MacGyver episodes. MacGyver is hired to get a list of terrorists and gets back in the country to give the list to Pete Thorton. Unfortunately, they get attacked by people and Pete is shot and MacGyver is taken captive. He is given a drug that gives him 6 hours to live. He is helped by a girl and he eventually gets the anecdote in time and lives, duh they can't kill the main character. Anyways, he had a few little macgyverisms and kicked some bad guy cutt. Overall, though, the reason this episode is pretty unique from the others is that his survival was based on a runaway girl and he has to depend on her. Also, we get to see him in a different situation, being halluncinating and such. Overall, great episode with a great plot, though a bit predictable.
  • MacGyver returns from a mission where he retrieved an important list of names and plans of terrorists. A terrorist from East Germany wants the list and drugs MacGyver with a lethal injecton which will kill him in 6 hours if he does not reveal where he hi

    MacGyver returns with an important list that he retrieved from a mission he was doing for the government. An East German terrorist wants this list and will kill Mac if he doesn't give it to him.

    Mac hid the list at the base of a light stand at the San Pedro Harbor before being kidnapped and then injected with a lethal drug. This drug will kill Mac in 6 hours if he doesn't tell them where he hid the list. An antidote has to be injected within 6 hours for Mac to live and the lethal drug has some serious side effects.

    He is aided along the way by a young female runaway which he helped her catch a fish by teaching her to use a silver wrapper for a lure.

    Enjoy this adventure as Mac tries to retrieve the antidote to save his life or in 6 hours he will start to die!
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