The famous (or infamous) Challengers Club for underpriviliged youth was introduced in this episode...a precedent that many fans cringed at given the increased prevalance of preachy urban themes that the setting would ultimately produce, thus diluting MacGyver's adventure show origins. While that may be a fair point, I can't discredit this outstanding episode merely for the precedent it set. The gritty and intense urban imagery felt fresh and innovative for this series, and the story unfolded in a satisfying manner. It was certainly reflective of MacGyver's character to volunteer at this place, and to have the deepest respect for the couple who helped to open it. Booker's brutal death was heartbreakingly dark and intense, and generated the best acting ever seen on MacGyver, both by MacGyver himself and the outstanding performances of Roxanne Reese and Cuba Gooding, Jr. The "angry white man" bigotry of Larson was effectively portrayed as festering throughout his testimony in front of the City Council, culminating in a final scene that can only be described as shocking, particularly to today's audiences where the "n-word" has grown much more taboo than it was in 1989 when this episode originally aired. Also intriguing was that this was the first episode where MacGyver lost his cool, which he would only do a couple other times during the course of the series, but never as clearly as he did here. A great deal was learned about the character in this very well done episode, and despite setting the precedent for lesser urban social drama stories in the seasons ahead, stands out as a pivotal hour in the tenure of this series. Audiences agreed, handing MacGyver a 15.0 rating, its highest so far in season four.
I know gang problems, drugs, and racism are serious issues, but when we look back at Season 1 MacGyver, this episode was very dark. We saw no MacGyverisms, no fancy tricks, no Pete. We saw a murder, which honestly surprised me!! Well we didn't see it happen, but there was enough shown to let us know it was nasty, and it really did upset MacGyver. And it wasn't someone bad who died - it was the good guy. It was an interesting premise, but not a storyline I like to sit back and relax in front of. I love to watch MacGyver use his clever skills to solve problems.
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