The breathtakingly ambitious and well-produced opening gambit helped to solidify "Thief of Budapest" as a great episode. The horse-lifting stunt didn't get the attention it deserved back in 1985, but in many ways stands out as the point where the series proved it was no flash in the pan creatively. The main story was entertaining and showcased some credible acting by Richard Dean Anderson for the first time in the series (too bad they couldn't have found a more competent child actress than the girl who played Yanna). In retrospect, however, the use of stock footage from "The Italian Job" keeps the episode from holding up very well. At least a third of the episode was lifted from "The Italian Job", which was clear to me even as a young boy. A fun hour, but definitely not the strongest episode of the first batch, save for the opening gambit, which was my favorite of the early episodes.
In Budapest, MacGyver is due to meet a double agent who has important information hidden within a pocket watch. But before they can meet, the agent is killed and the watch is stolen by a young street gypsy. A rather bizarre episode...
As my reviews for the first two episodes cover, 'MacGyver' was one of the few 1980s action-adventure shows that I wasn't on-board with first time round, so watching the series now on DVD is my first real exposure to it. As such, with this only being the third episode, I'm still getting a feel for the show. But even so, with 'Thief of Budapest'... what a strange feeling episode!
The opening Gambit, with MacGyver duelling with sheiks and both him and his horse being airlifted away, is quite impressive (though I did feel slightly sorry for the poor horse). But after that, after the opening credits (now in a slightly shorter, more compact version), the main story kicks in… and while it has some good bits, it feels to be all over the place and somewhat "thrown together".
The young gypsy is enough to get many viewer's backs up straight away, but I decided to stick with it and watch the episode. The story section where Mac must rescue the gypsies from the prison camp isn't bad (though definitely not outstanding); after which we get some standard scenes of Mac encountering some rather stereotypical European gypsies as he tracks down the missing watch. When that's found, the gypsies suddenly decide that they want to defect to America. Hence some seriously contrived plot that is an excuse to recycle huge chunks of footage from the classic 1969 British film 'The Italian Job'.
Quite why they decided to do this, other than obviously as a huge cost cutter, is anyone's guess. But it wasn't particularly done in a clever way, just reams and reams of 'Italian Job' footage with a few close ups of Mac / gypsies driving identical cars patched in.
This is just about the only episode of 'MacGyver' that I can ever really remember watching when I was a boy; I remember my Dad moaning then about how they had ripped off huge chunks of 'The Italian Job' (which is one of his favourite films, and I have since come to love too).
I enjoyed this episode more than the Pilot, but much less than 'The Golden Triangle'. It does have some reasonably fun moments, but the excessive stock footage use and rather thrown together plot result in this one being nothing special in my book. I give it a maybe generous 8 out of 10.
Enjoyable episode. Again you have like many MacGyver episodes an episode where Mac has his mission. The mission is simple but other things get in the way like people. People that need help out of their terrible situation. MacGyver can just ignore this people and go on his merry way but as a true hero MacGyver can't just these people's pleas for help.
So MacGyver meets this thief Yanna played Kelly McClain (thus the name of this episode The Thief of Budapest). A very decent child appearance. I was surprised when I browsed her bio, and she didn't get any other roles other MacGyver. Shame. Yanna tries to pick the pocket of any guy who just happens to be Mac's contact. The guy dies as his cover is blown. MacGyver tries to look for a watch he had that contains the names of KGB agents.
It's revealed that Yanna stole the watch, but she later gave it to her brother.
Yanna's family happens to be put in a camp to be used as slave labor. MacGyver seeing no other alternative gets involved in trying to break them out and discover where the watch is.
An entertaining episode. There are a couple of neat gadgets that MacGyver makes on the fly. The story is great. The acting is solid. A memorable episode.
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