Season 3 Episode 18

Rock the Cradle

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Apr 18, 1988 on ABC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

After returning from a flight, MacGyver and Jack Dalton find an abandoned baby in Jack's hangar—bearing the name tag "Jack, Jr." and atop a fortune in counterfeit money.

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  • Good lighthearted fun, with some character development for Jack Dalton and some genuinely funny banter with MacGyver. Unfortunately, the primary story doesn't stand among the series' best.

    Writer John Whelpley seemed to have a flair for above-average dialogue, whether it be dramatic such as in the episode "Early Retirement" or lighthearted/comedic as is the case with this "Three Men and a Baby" takeoff. The opening scene with MacGyver making midair repairs on Jack's bargain-basement cargo plane was exciting and wonderfully filmed, and the banter among the characters once the baby was introduced holds up well. Jack's restrained disappointment upon learning that the baby is not his stands out as one of Bruce McGill's best acting performances on this series. What doesn't work so well on this episode, aside from the occasional crossing of the line from lightheartedness to goofiness, is the primary crime drama storyline involving counterfeiters held up at some random bar in the city (anyone else notice that this is the same bar where Jack meets his mother in season four's "Ma Dalton"?). The counterfeiters are thinly-drawn are their ultimate capture seems to be little more than a distraction from the "Three Men and a Baby" theme. This is a fun episode and I think the series was better for having made it, but at least for me, MacGyver works better as an adventure show than a quasi-comedy.moreless
  • MacGyver and Jack Dalton, narrowly escaping another terrible ending, find themselves serrogate father's to an abandoned baby that may or may not be Jack's son.

    “Rock The Cradle” finds MacGyver on yet another insane adventure with Jack Dalton, his devil-may-care friend who is constantly scheming for a quick buck. Out of loyalty (or stupidity), MacGyver time and time again subjects himself to Jack’s get-rich-quick schemes. As evidenced in previous episodes, I believe it is MacGyver’s intention to protect Jack from the potential fallout and not to profit himself.

    In this particular episode, MacGyver and Jack barely land a ramshackle plane, only to return to the hanger later and find a crying baby nestled in a basket. Previously in the episode, a thin plot had been introduced involving a low-level mobster and the theft of some counterfeiting plates. The mother of the baby was romantically involved with the man at the center of the plate heist, and was therefore a target herself. She hid the baby in the plane because she knew it belonged to Jack Dalton (a former love interest) and the baby would be safe there.

    MacGyver and Dalton playing “My Two Dads” is quite amusing, as Mac later finds that duct-taping a diaper on is NOT the best way to keep Junior dry. Meanwhile, Dalton struggles with the possibility of his paternity and the dynamic duo eventually unload the little tike on Peter Thornton, who flashes back to his days as daddy and does quite well with the child.

    Eventually the mom is found and confesses to Jack that despite being named after him (Jack can’t be all that wonderful) he is NOT the father. By this point Jack has gotten used to the idea of being a daddy and is a little crestfallen by the news. In the end all wrongs are righted and everyone appears pretty happy…a standard MacGyver ending complete with freeze-frame finale.


Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • When MacGyver is hanging from the landing gear, the movement of the ground below him makes it appear as if the plane is flying backwards.

  • QUOTES (19)

    • Jack: It doesn't look like me, does it?
      MacGyver: "Him", Jack, not "it". "Him". And as a matter of fact, with a little mustache, a forked tongue, a twitching eye, there's a strong possibility.

    • MacGyver: So you pick up the phone. Who do you call?
      Jack: My telephone's been temporarily disconnected for the last year or so.

    • MacGyver: You've been in a coma all your life. Even when you are awake, you don't do anything right. I send you to the store for a few necessities, and you come back with chips and beer instead of talcum powder and diapers.
      Jack: They were sold out. In case you haven't heard, the yuppies are breedin' like guppies in these parts.

    • Jack: I'm not wild about havin' a baby dumped on us, but at least it was darn decent of her to leave some child support.
      MacGyver: What, ninety-five thousand dollars' worth? You said she was a waitress at the Officers' Club. Call me skeptical, but I don't think her tips were quite that good.

    • Pete: You guys are pathetic, you know that? Where did you learn to diaper a baby, in a fish market?

    • Pete: You building this for the kid or yourself?
      MacGyver: Little of both.

    • Jack: I think this little fellow could be my kid. Well, I mean, he loves to fly, he's got a great belch, and I can tell by the gleam in his eye he's gonna be dynamite with the ladies.

    • Pete: This little boy's going to need a family. Some family.
      MacGyver: Yeah, like uncles. Lots of uncles. Three. Three uncles.
      Jack: Yeah. Somebody to take him fishing. Throw him a football. Fly him to Panama...

    • (At MacGyver's place, the baby cries)
      MacGyver: Jack, it's your turn.
      Jack: I'm sorry. Captain Dalton is currently in a coma and unavailable.

    • Jack: What do you think a kid like this eats? You know about these things, Mac.
      MacGyver: What, do I look like Dr. Spock?

    • MacGyver: It's a baby, Jack.
      Jack: What's it doing here?
      MacGyver: You're asking me? It's your airplane.
      Jack: Okay, it's my airplane. But what's that got to do with me?
      MacGyver: Am I supposed to believe that whoever abandoned this baby picked your hangar and your airplane by pure chance?

    • Jack: If you don't help me get her airborne, I'll lose the contract. Which means I won't be able to make rent on the hangar. Which means I'm going to have to ask you to let me move in for a while...
      MacGyver: I've got tools and a welder in storage, and I know where we can scrounge for parts.

    • Jack: Look, MacGyver, it's a legit contract! Legit cargo. No drugs or alcohol, no toxins. No chemical cheese. No endangered species for slaughter. Nothing you could possibly object to on moral, ethical, or scientific grounds.
      MacGyver: All right, I'll bite. What's the cargo?
      Jack: Portable potties for Panama.

    • MacGyver: have this recurring nightmare. I'm on a gameshow and the hundred thousand dollar question is, "What's the opposite of Swiss Air?" And before I can think I answer, "Dalton Airways." Jack Dalton's dream. My nightmare. And at the moment, we were both living it. He picked up this lame duck at a drug enforcement auction in Mexico, at a bargain basement price, of course. Even drug-dealing desperadoes draw the line on what they'll fly. But not Jack. Oh no.

    • Jack: I know it got a little harem-scarem up there, but you don't ever have to fly with me again if you don't want to.
      MacGyver: That's good, Jack. That's perfect! I really don't want to fly with you. Ever!
      Jack: Fine. (A piece of the plane falls off) I do, however, have an opening on my ground crew for a person of your imminent qualifications...

    • Jack: We made it! We defied gravity! We defied the gods! Yeah!
      MacGyver: I don't know why I'm mad at ya. I already knew you were nuts. The question is, how touched am I to keep gettin' hooked up with you!

    • Jack: The airfield's just ahead. I figure you've got about four minutes to come up with an ingenious plan - preferably one that works.

    • Jack: Where are you goin' with that? We've only got one parachute.
      MacGyver: And whose fault is that?!
      Jack: Okay, okay... but what about me?
      MacGyver: Jack, we all know the captain goes down with the ship. I'm just the engineer!

    • MacGyver: It didn't work!
      Jack: You're absolutely right, But you've got to look at the bright side of these things, Mac. We're still airborne, we're close to home...
      MacGyver: ... and we're fallin' like a rock!

  • NOTES (1)

    • The German episode title is "Ein millionenschweres Baby", meaning "A Baby Worth Millions". The Finnish episode title is "Kaksi miestä ja beibi", meaning "Two Men and a Baby". The French episode title is "Deux hommes et un couffin", meaning "Two Men and a Bassinet". The Italian episode title is "Una culla per caso", meaning "A Cradle for a Case".