MacGyver kicks off the 1990's with a gimmicky time-travel episode that many would consider to have "jump the shark" qualities. Generally, this episode was decent enough to avoid a loss of credibility, and I'm really surprised to see how many fans it has. Nonetheless, it peaked early for me with the opening scene in which Mac and Pete are engaged in a rare fight. Mac's ensuing response to the phone messages from Jack and especially Penny were hilarious, but I can't say as though that energy transferred as well to the dream sequence. While it was nice to see the cast joined together for this epic and well-produced period piece set just after the Civil War in Montana, the flow of the narrative and various storytelling shortcuts annoyed me. The acting was generally good, but the story got silly in the second half with Mac and Pete becoming fast buddies and Pete getting shot at by the guys who called him boss only hours earlier. And I would think that an 1867 MacGyver prototype would be smart enough not to fall for the amateur stunt where Murdoc propped Penny up with a rifle to make her look like the shooter. Even at age 12, I could see coming the Swiss army knife deflecting the bullet at the end of the dream sequence. Overall, this episode was decent fun and a nice change of pace for a veteran adventure series, but it doesn't hold up well to repeated viewings. Not a jump-the-shark episode, but also not one of my fonder MacGyver memories.
Ratingswise, this episode was the latest example of MacGyver waging a comeback following after the football season. Mired with marginal ratings in the season's first half that may not have even warranted a spring renewal had the ratings not improved, MacGyver immediately perked up to a season-high 13.7 with this outing (the previous high for season five was a 12.8). And best yet, the competition was only about a month away from a serious viewership meltdown that would crown MacGyver king for his timeslot for the first extended period in the series' history.