There was a February 1985 episode of "The A-Team" with an uncomfortably close story as this November 1985 MacGyver episode, but "The Heist" nonetheless stands up as a classic early MacGyver worthy of the series rising fortunes. This was the first episode where MacGyver proved it could be a contender in the tough Sunday night time slot against "Murder, She Wrote" and "Amazing Stories" (both in the top-20 at the time) by scoring a 14.3 rating, impressively higher than the 10.9, 12.2, and 13.0 it had scored in the previous Sunday installments. Substantively, this episode features an overabundance of hammy acting that takes away from the fun, but the fun was so constant that it was hard not to enjoy the craziness that transpired. Perhaps this isn't the best MacGyver episode to introduce a newcomer to the series to 20 years later, but I still hold it in high regard for its creativity and energy.
In the Virgin Islands, MacGyver aids a Senator's daughter recover $60 worth of diamonds intended for famine relief, that have been stolen by a ruthless casino owner. Mac plans his own little heist of the casino to recover the jewels. A great episode...
As I commented on my review of the previous episode, ('The Gauntlet'), I had noticed a pattern of bad / good / bad / good with these very early episodes. Well, I'm delighted to find that, after liking 'The Gauntlet', that 'The Heist' breaks the pattern, and is another top-notch episode!
As my reviews for previous episodes of the series cover, 'MacGyver' was one of the very few 1980s action-adventure shows that I wasn't in on "first time 'round". It is only now that I am watching the series for the first time, on DVD. As such, after a couple of shaky early instalments, about this point with great episodes such as this, I am finally starting to get the real flavour of the show, and loving it.
The episode is directed by "Alan Smythee" – a pseudonym famously used by writers / directors who don't want their name used on the final product. I can only assume that whoever did direct it wasn't very pleased with it, which is surprising, because I found this to be one of the very best 'MacGyver' episodes I've watched thus far.
There is no Opening Gambit to this one, which is fine, as it gives more time over to the main story.
I really like the plot of this one – it shows Mac to be at his most ingenious, and I really enjoyed watching his various jury-rigs and creations (I love the thread-and-paperclip trick used to unzip a woman's dress as a distraction).
There were only a few points that didn't quite work – most notably, Mac recreating villain Catlin's security lock which unlocks with four certain audio pitches, using glasses of wine (this element of the story was the only thing that didn't really work for me), but on the whole, a top-notch tale, with an impressive finale, of the car on the parachute.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed this one. A couple of minor niggles aside, this is a great episode; I give it 9.5.
(BTW, another reviewer comments on a similar February 1985 episode of 'The A-Team'. I'm a huge 'A-Team' fan, I even run my own detailed website on it(shameless plug; see my profile for more), but I cannot think of an episode from this time that was similar. It is possibly the third season's 'Waste 'Em!', but the single comparison there is a similar ploy covering the lens of a security camera; I wonder if they are actually thinking of the late fifth season episode 'The Spy Who Mugged Me', which is also set in a casino like this episode?)
This is another awesome episode of Macgyver. It is definitely one of the best episodes in the first season.
The episode starts when a guy named Jack Catlin shoots a accountant who helped him steal 60 million dollars worth of diamonds.
Now we cut over to Macgyver,who's in Washington DC,talking to a Senator Rhodes. He (Rhodes) knows the diamonds are missing. They were supposed to go towards famine relief in Africa. And it seems that his daughter Chris Rhodes is down in the Virgin Islands investigating this guy Catlin. So,it time for Mac to head down there to help.
Mac lands on the island (which I don't recall they ever gave a name for),and meets up with Chris. After talking with her a little bit,Macgyver finds out that Catlin is the owner of a Hotel and Casino on the island,and used to be soldier of fortune. In this scene,we witness Catlin giving a martial arts "demonstration" where he beats up three men in process. (This shows again how brutal Catlin is)
We now go to Chris's house where she and Mac are ready to work out a plan to recover the diamonds. Chris says that the diamonds will either be hidden in Catlin's casino vault,or his private vault in his hotel suite. This gives Mac the idea for his first move: He'll go in to the casino as a high-roller,and attempt to win big at the crap table to gain entrance into the casino vault while Chris goes in as a normal casino patron. So,that night they execute the plan. Mac enters the casino,and shaves off two dice using a shoe polisher to make sure he gets 7 each time he rolls them. It works,and Mac keeps on winning. When he gets up to the big jackpot level though,he switches dice (he hides the fixed dice in drink of his) and then pulls out two normal ones. He doesn't roll again under the pretense of-"I don't want to be greedy". But in reality,he already accomplished what he needed to: He now has permission from Catlin to store his newly won money in the casino vault. Once he gets there though,he discovers the diamonds are not in this vault. Right before he can leave though,Catlin confronts him: He says-"We noticed,you forgot your drink". This exposes that Macgyver cheated because the dice were in the drink. There's only one thing to do now: Run. Mac makes a break for it,and after several close calls,escapes with Chris.
Next day: Mac gets up,and is ready to start his next plan: break into Catlin's personal vault,which he now knows the diamonds must be in. The new plan is this: Chris goes in as a gambler (since Mac obviously show his face in the casino again),and will do several things to accuse the casino of cheating,thus causing a small riot. While all of this is going on,Mac will set a timer to the casino's power system (to make the lights go off for minute),and will then attempt to break into the vault. That night the plan goes into action: Chris goes in,and starts gambling at the roulette wheel. Mac sets the timer,and it's off to toward the top of the building to break in. He hangs a mirror on top the the security camera so he'll have time to pick the lock. It works,and Mac is now in Catlin's suite. But now there's another problem: Catlin has laser beams running across entrance into the main room. Mac soon figures away around this: He takes a plastic tube from a fiber-optic lamp he finds; "captures" the beam inside the tube,and this allows him to slip under the beam. But now,there's problem yet again: The vault is locked with a solid steal door,there's no key pad,and no way to break in. But,this gives Mac another idea. He sets Catlin's pet bird loose in the room,and it trips the security beams. Catlin is notified by one of his guards of the alarm has gone up,so Catlin and two guards race to the suite. When they get there,they discover it's only the bird (Mac is hiding in a closet),but Catlin says he should check everything while he up there. It is then shown that the way to open the vault is by using a remote that sends high-pitched noises to the wall receiver to open the door. Now Mac knows how to get in: He takes 4 wine glasses,and fills them with different levels of wine. He then runs his finger on the edge of the glass to create the high-pitched noises. Mac is now into the vault!
Back to Chris: She has already created a scene at the roulette wheel by using a magnet hidden in her shoe to make it look like they cheated,and also by marking the card at the blackjack table using a sharp ring. Then,Mac's power timer goes off; and the lights,and slot machines start going crazy in the casino.
Back to Macgyver: He has the diamonds,but how is he going to get them out? Luckily he and Chris have worked that out: Mac funnels them into the drainpipe outside the suite window,and the drainpipe leads right to the trunk of Mac's car. Mac's job is now done,and he makes a run for it. He makes it out of the building,and makes a clean getaway. Chris isn't so lucky. Somehow Catlin figures out she's in on the strange things that have been going on and captures her right before she drives away.
Next day: Mac gets a call from Catlin. He tells him they've got Chris,and to meet them at the airport and to bring the diamonds. When Mac gets there,he is loaded aboard a cargo plane with Chris and the car full of diamonds,and they take off. Chris scratches Catlin with her sharp ring,and Catin locks them in the Cargo hold,and plan to take the plane up far enough where the lack of oxygen will kill them. Mac has other plans: He straps a parachute to the car and drive right out the cargo door into the air. The parachute opens,and Mac,Chris and the diamonds,are safe.
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