Season 4 Episode 1

The Secret of Parker House

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Oct 31, 1988 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

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out of 10
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  • A not so convincing ghost story to start season 4.

    Not a bad episode but the whole premise of mixing the supernatural with a show like Macgyver, based on science, doesn't really work. Teri Hatcher at least is slightly less annoying in this episode. It's pretty obvious she has outgrown her little role on Macgyver both from her beauty and stage presence, but at least they tried to make her character a little less immature.

    As for the story, we never really felt any fear for Mac or Penny despite some lightning strikes and rumblings in the house. The whole idea of a certain townsperson covering up a murder by using the house was not believable. Nor was mac being able to recreate Betty Parker's face from a skull. Still, it has some entertainment value just nothing special.
  • Mac and Penny have a Scooby Doo adventure.

    All of the typical Scooby Doo elements are there: Supposedly haunted house? Check. Noises in said haunted house from an unknown source? Check. Creepy supposed villain turns out to be someone who is a bad guy? Check. Real villain turns out to be someone they thought they could trust? Check. The storyline to this episode seems to have been pulled straight from an episode of Scooby Doo. It wouldn't take MacGyver to solve this mystery, only the gang in the Mystery Machine. The upsides to this episode are few, but they are worth mentioning. MacGyver's reconstruction of Aunt Betty's face using putty and pencil erasers was interesting. Teri Hatcher's performance of Penny Parker was the least annoying it has ever been. And Mac's creation of a steam powered torpedo was classic Mac in action. Not top notch MacGyver, but what can one expect from a Halloween special?
  • I had long waited for a MacGyver Halloween special, and was pumped to see the fourth season unofficially begin with a haunted house tale.

    The writers' strike of 1988 delayed most hourlong dramas' fall return to late October or later, and MacGyver sat it out until Halloween night when the fourth season unofficially kicked off. There was a great deal to like about this episode, which was cleverly scripted, featured the always-beautiful Teri Hatcher doing her thing as Penny Parker (although in this case probably a little more annoyingly than usual), and some intensely executed scenes. The scariness factor wasn't exactly off the charts, and I didn't expect it would be given the age demographic of MacGyver audiences, but there were nonetheless an impressive amount of thrills and chills in the episode's middle stages as the mystery unfolded. The revelation of Sheriff Howels as Betty Parker's killer was predictable, but the revelations to the bizarre mysteries of the house and Betty's lapse into derangement were very clever. This episode always gets mixed reviews from MacGyver fans, but it was one of the better Halloween episodes done for TV adventure shows over the years.

    The tone of this episode was actually an excellent indication of what was ahead in season four. The stories, attitude, and look became very dark on many of the fourth season episodes, and I'm guessing this transition was useful to the series in a number of ways. The fourth season is typically a "crossroads" season for most action shows, and the shows that don't diversify their content abruptly lose their audience (think "The A-Team"). While the number of traditional adventure episodes declined in MacGyver's fourth season, the new material proved to be more engaging than would a recycling of plots from past seasons. Beyond the new direction of storytelling, the darkness also helped with production in dark and dank Vancouver, where the weather hampered the production of the outdoor adventure episodes that were more commonplace in earlier seasons. Even MacGyver's clothing went dark in season four, pitching his Indiana Jones-style leather jacket for black leather. The overall result of this transition: the fourth season of MacGyver was my personal favorite.
  • What will Mac do in a "haunted house"?

    Mac is asked by Penny Parker to accompany her to a mansion she's apparently inherited from her Aunt Betty, who mysteriously died thirty years ago. Penny has the notion that the house is haunted, due to the talk that has been circulated about the house in the town. MacGyver has a tough time convincing Penny that "there are no such things as ghosts" as a result.

    When they get into town, they meet a woman in a shop who knew Betty, and told Penny that she was crazy, not the good kind of crazy, mind you.

    The first night they are there, a lightning storm hits the gazebo, knocking out the power. MacGyver rushes outside with Penny in pursuit to find out what exactly happened. When Penny finds a human skull, she becomes convinced that evil powers are at work in the house. Soon Penny starts to feel watched, and MacGyver's explanations for the sounds in the house seem feeble in contrast to the skull. Nonetheless, MacGyver, determined to solve the mystery of Aunt Betty's disapperance, creates a plaster model of what Betty would have looked like - exactly like Penny.

    While upstairs, Penny starts hallucinating and a mysterious man comes from a panel in the wall and takes her downstairs. MacGyver rushes upstairs after hearing her scream. He finds the panel after some searching. Mac follows down the stairs and gets knocked out after finding Penny.

    I won't reveal the ending, but I thought it was a decent episode of MacGyver. It certainly wasn't my favorite.
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