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.