Season 1 Episode 18

Ugly Duckling

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Mar 12, 1986 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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out of 10
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  • Lots of clever science helps to overcome the gag reflex of the poor-me melodrama.

    Even though the acting had notably improved over the course of MacGyver's first season, the most cringeworthy aw-shucks moments of the first season nonetheless came in this episode, with "ugly ducking" teenage brainiac Kate lamented her reputation as a nerd. If Kate was 10 years old rather than 15, MacGyver's "you are special, Kate" consolations may have been more constructive, but as it stood, the banter between them was a blemish in an otherwise impressive script. As mere senior and junior eggheads, MacGyver and Kate had some good chemistry, and the energy was clear as they tried to figure out the other's ingenius escape plans (Kate explaining to MacGyver how she short-circuited the federal building's control systems and MacGyver nudging Kate to comprehend his plans to triangulate radio frequencies via cactuses and turn harnessed sun into a high-temperature laser beam). The scene with MacGyver's college professor dying in his arms was touching as well. Aside from the self-pity party that Kate kept throwing for herself and MacGyver kept-indulging (and of course the lame stock footage used to represent the marathon), this was a very well-done episode that would trigger a late-season ratings surge for MacGyver at exactly the time it needed one to secure a berth on ABC's fall schedule for season two.