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.