I put my neck on the line back in 11th grade when I strongly recommended this MacGyver telefilm to skeptical friends in the week leading up to its airing. The previews didn't make it look like one of the best MacGyver adventures of all-time, but how could I have possibly imagined how disastrously bad it would end up being. The best part of the entire two hours was the British instrumental music that laced the opening scene as MacGyver journeyed the cities and countryside of England in a red sports car. From there, a film that started out so-so with the terrorist attack at the Moran mansion would grow steadily worse with each passing segment. MacGyver's infiltration into the seedy underbelly of London's organized crime apparatus was poorly done, particularly with the dreary and incomprehensible scenes in the sewer. Natalia's character was poorly drawn from the get-go, with the ultimate revelation of her identity (a Communist patriot attempting to reverse the coup that destroyed the former Soviet Union) being eye-rollingly preposterous.
With each commercial break, I kept telling myself it was gonna get better.....it had to. But each scene disappointing, ranging from the uninspired and unimaginative subway chase scene to the boring and overly dark sewer scenes to the 5-10 minutes wasted showing MacGyver turning corner after corner at Frederick's castle/nuclear plant before climbing inside and discovering the magnitude of the subterfuge. It wasn't until the last 20 minutes that the film officially transitioned from boring to horrendous with idiotic dialogue ("Before you kill me, Natalia, can I just tell you that you're a big phony?") and the aimless, meandering narrative in which MacGyver randomly flipped switches to shut down the nuclear lab...and then just happened to find a tennis racket with which he defused the armed nuclear bomb. When MacGyver punches out Natalia after she arms the bomb, I was half hoping somebody else would punch MacGyver out to put him and this terrible film out of their misery. Even the dark production values seemed hammy in the sewer scenes where the viewer could barely see what was going on, and the British-centric feel of the production that partially impaired "The Lost Treasure of Atlantis" was even more annoyingly omnipresent in "Trail to Doomsday". Never again was I able to recommend a TV show/movie to my friends after this embarrassment of a film. There were only four MacGyver outings I rate as complete howlers. This was one of them.
Thankfully, few people were watching. The Thanksgiving night time slot was a step up from the Saturday night slot given to "Lost Treasure of Atlantis", but even fewer people tuned in. The film got an 8.9 rating, small enough that not a peep was heard from ABC about ordering more MacGyver films. If this movie was really the best they could do, that's probably for the best. What a sour note to end the MacGyver legacy.