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.
“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.
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