Season 1 Episode 9

The Prodigal

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Dec 08, 1985 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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out of 10
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  • A Federal protection witness needs Mac's help to keep him safe as he plans to testify against a drug pushing mobster – his own brother. Things are complicated by the fact that the brothers' mother is dying in hospital. Slightly filler-feeling episode...

    This review contains spoilers.

    To be honest, I didn't think much of "The Prodigal". Although a couple of the very early episodes were trying to find their footing (the most notable being the weird "Thief of Budapest", chunks of stock footage from 'The Italian Job' et al), I would probably say that "The Prodigal" is my least favourite 'MacGyver' instalment thus far. The plot just seems rather thrown together and not overly interesting, and beyond anything else, this one just really had a "filler" vibe to it for me.

    Of course, 'MacGyver', especially being in its first season, liked to try and tackle a different staple settling each week – and here it is the turn of the Mob. Now I don't *hate* Mob tales, but in the various action-adventure series I grew up watching, I'd much rather stories about armed robbers, or various terrorist groups, religious cults, or whatnot.

    Brothers Joey and Frank Bennett are played by real life actor brothers Richard and Robert Romanus. Although Robert is slightly lesser familiar, Richard has put in many TV guest roles, many Mob-related, over the years.
    But also of note with this episode to me personally, being a huge 'A-Team' fan (I even run my own detailed fan site, shameless plug!), is that FBI contact Andrew T. Wiley, is played by Carl Franklin, a.k.a. the recurring Captain Crane, Colonel Decker's aide, in seasons 2-4. In that series, Franklin didn't often have much more to do than deliver lines such as "cars ready, sir", or "no sign of The A-Team, sir", so here in this episode, it's nice to see him given a bit more to work with. (Franklin has since gone of to be a screenwriter and director.)

    The plot itself is so-so, but hardly up to the standard of the stories have we seen previous to this. Although there are a couple of 'makes', it doesn't give scope for Mac's usual rig-ups and creations (the whole saw/sawdust thing in the first act beginning, I barely even understood, let alone know if it would work!). As another reviewer has commented, Mac's smart-aleck mechanic is pretty painful to watch though. Sorry for mentioning that series twice in one review, but a show like 'The A-Team' would have had great fun with such a scene, but here, it felt pretty naff.

    Part of me feels like this was a pre-existing storyline merely adapted to fit the series (as sometimes was the case with first seasons of shows, 'Starsky & Hutch' for example, to bump up the episode count), as it just doesn't seen to have 'MacGyver's usual flair or interest. It does feel like there's a decent plot in there somewhere, but to be honest, in some places I found it a bit dull. Although I haven't seen later episodes, I dare so it's better some of the later "social message"-heavy tales, though!

    All-in-all, I'm afraid I didn't really care for this one much. It has a few good moments, but also some weaker ones; I can only give it a 6.5.
  • Some good scenes help out a fairly routine episode.

    After two Sunday nights off of the schedule, MacGyver returned on December 8 to abysmal audience response, sinking to an 11.6 rating, its second lowest to date. The fact that this episode didn't quite live up to the standards the series had set for itself in its first three months didn't help matters. Some goofy dialogue and hammy acting hampered this episode's enjoyability (MacGyver as a smart-mouthed tow truck driver was really weak), but the creativity holds up well with the multiple escapes and an effective brother vs. brother dynamic. The early scene with Frank and Joey at the lumberyard was particularly well played by real-life brother Robert and Richard Romanus. In the end, the episode was a perfectly competent MacGyver episode that pales only in comparison to the high standard set by the series' incredibly ambitious early outings.
  • Macgyver has a job to make a a drug lords brother "disappear" as he has given informaton to the Federal Marshall about his brother's illegal operations. When he is wanted dead by his brother, Macgyver has to come up with a plan to save the day !

    It starts off with Macgyver back at his home town in Minnesota. Frank Bennett has to see Macgyver about some upcoming business.. to help protect him from his brother, Joey Bennett, who has taken over there fathers illegal drug business and is out to kill him.

    A friend of Frank's was killed by these drugs and he doesn't want anything to do with the family business and gives the Federal Marshall's all the information they need to put Joey behind bars. This is where Macgyver comes in, to give Frank a new life and new identity.

    It doesn't go all to plan and Frank and Joey's mother is in hospital and hasn't got long to live. Frank desperately wants to see his mother one last time before she passes away, but Joey has discharged her from hospital and taken her to the family house.

    Now, Frank has to visit the house in order to see his mother... He does, his mother dies and Joey wants him dead, but Macgyver is there to save the day and help him get out of the family house alive and put Joey where he belongs, behind bars!