Season 1 Episode 6

Trumbo's World

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Nov 10, 1985 on ABC
out of 10
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102 votes

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Episode Summary


MacGyver comes along on a expedition to Brazil with his friend, ornithologist Dr. Alden. They meet with a landowner and recluse, Trumbo, who is initially hostile. However, when they realize that a two-mile-wide column of army ants is moving through the jungle, they team together to mount a defense.


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  • Indians? In South America?

    Did people in 1986 refer to South American indigeonous folks as "Indians"? I kept getting confused when the plantation owner kept calling them. Also, the callous disregard for sending a young kid like Luiz out on his own and then seemingly not caring when he died seemed out of character. Yes, the plantation owner for a split second seemed like he'd go out there to help him, but then he let that pass. Even at the end when they were celebrating their victory, there was no mention of his sacrifice. Luiz should've left with the others when he had the chance. His loyalty was not appreciated.moreless
  • MacGyver travels to the Amazon to help an ornithologist friend investigate strange wildlife occurrences on a small island. They must join forces with a reclusive local plantation owner to combat a bizarre natural threat. A surreal, so-so episode...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    Well, this is certainly one of the oddest 'MacGyver' episodes that I have experienced yet. As I've said (like a broken record) on my reviews for previous episodes, 'MacGyver' is one of the few action-adventure shows of the era that I wasn't into "first time around", only watching it for the first time now on DVD. So with this one... I think it's kinda one of those where you had to be there, and many of those who were hail it as a classic.

    First things first, the gambit, of Mac rescuing a kidnapped scientist from captors in the Pyrenees Mountains. It was okay, nothing special as the show's opening gambits go – and the woman was so moany that I wouldn't have minded if Mac had decided not to rescue her!

    That out of the way, we're onto the main story. And what a surreal one it is. In short, MacGyver must put a stop to a horde of everything-eating mutant ants!

    The acting in this one, to be honest, isn't the best. With all due respect to those involved, part of the charm with the series is the corny acting, but even so, this episode has some pretty hammy performances. Throughout we expect David Ackroyd's wealthy landowner, Trumbo, to be revealed to be behind some dastardly plot, which never happens, and eventually the mutant ants are revealed to be the menace of the episode.

    One thing I have noticed watching 'MacGyver', is how it reminds me of those classic text and point-and-click adventure games I enjoyed playing on the PC so much as a kid. Not only the "combine everything in your inventory to find a solution" notion, but also the general structure of the stories. "Trumbo refuses to help > Look at faulty machine > It has a broken piston > Combine coins with leads and generator to arc weld piston > Replace piston > Machine will now work; Trumbo will now help". It plays just like one of those games.

    Anyway, we're halfway through the episode, and it slowly becomes apparent that Trumbo maybe isn't the big villain after all. And then we get... the ants! For all of us expecting the revelation of some power-mad plot by Trumbo, it comes out of nowhere. If the episode has any faults, it is maybe that this whole ant plot was introduced too late into the episode; I felt it could have been laid out much earlier, and the episode presented as a more direct spoof of the many 1950s & '60s monster bug movies that obviously influenced it (and indeed, it uses chunks of footage from the 1954 film 'The Naked Jungle'!).

    Beyond the maybe awkward outlining of the plot, the production values didn't strike me as too good in this episode. There were numerous uses of blue screen (using a blue background on characters to lay in another image / background), not only with the ants but also in a scene with Mac and Charlie on the boat. Add to this numerous stock footage shots even before those lifted from 'The Naked Jungle', and awkward frame speeding up / slowing down trickery with other shots... it did seem a bit "cheap and cheerful" to me.

    It comes as a quite a surprise when Charlie dies, eaten alive by the ants. But it does add to the feeling of hopelessness, as the zombie ants swarm everything in their path.

    Of course, Mac does eventually get rid of the ants by brute force (he floods the area), but I liked the feeling of sheer desperation that was built up.

    Through most of this episode, with the noticeable stock footage, shaky picture effects and dodgy acting, I had this episode ranked in the sevens. But towards the end, I kind of warmed for what they were going for; a nice change from the usual "power mad villain of the week" in both this show and its contemporaries, part of me likes the sheer outlandishness of this story. It isn't one of my favourites of the series, but I'll give it a reasonable 8/10.moreless
  • Really awesome.

    Macgyver is so awesome. This episode is my favorite, macgyver against killer ants. This episode have action, suspense and mystery. The ants are the bad guys in this episode, they will eat anyone who gets in their way. But Macgyver has a plan, he always have one and saves the day. This is classic Macgyver, it never gets better than this. This is the reason why I love watching this show. There's an element of horror, but this is not a cheesy horror flick, it's Macgyver, and it means it's going to be a fun show and it delivers, this episode is the best.moreless
  • MacGyver battles a marabuta invasion of army ants!

    Another amazing episode of MacGyver as he uses his wits to stop an ant invasion to a plantation. Thise is one of the most unordinary episodes, where MacGyver has to fight off an ant army destroying everything in its path! He shows in this episode how to make a welder out of jumpercables and a quarter, make a flamethrower, a bomb, and a anti ant suit!
  • Not your normal MacGyver ep.

    "Trumbo's World," though it may sound like some bizarre nature show, but it is actually one of the more original episodes of MacGyver. Killer ants taking over an island is not your typical post-Berlin Wall communist villain. Mac's innovative hand made fixes to overcome the ants' advancement are simply ingenious, and the lush island jungle is neat to look at. The supporting actors are only okay, as usual, but, of course, RDA is charismatic enough to carry the show. The opening gambit is alright, but not enormously exciting. All, in all, this is an entertainingly original episode, executed well enough.moreless
David Ackroyd

David Ackroyd

Lucien Trumbo

Guest Star

Peter Jurasik

Peter Jurasik

Dr. Charles Alden

Guest Star

Will Gotay

Will Gotay


Guest Star

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