Spoilers MacGYVER reboot review thread

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Christopher, Sep 24, 2016.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Okay, so I gave the new MacGyver a chance. After the first few minutes of the cold open, I was starting to warm to it. It had the classic narration, it had the science lessons, it called back one of the original Mac's tricks with the palm scanner. I found it a bit incongruous that a character called Jack Dalton was described as someone you'd always want to have your back, but otherwise, it seemed promising.

    And then Mac caused a boat crash that killed a bunch of henchmen.

    No. Just... no. MacGyver should not be a killer. Overall, his characterization was okay -- smart, idealistic, maybe not as charismatic as Richard Dean Anderson and too implausibly brilliant at everything, but a fair approximation. But the casual willingness to kill and feel no remorse -- that's completely wrong for MacGyver.

    The rest just felt like a generic spy show. Character names were reused, but the characterizations were different. Patricia Thornton was just a cool, detached boss, not the best friend that Pete Thornton. Jack was your generic wisecracker -- and it's so obvious that Riley is his daughter, so it's disingenuous to delay that reveal. (At least, it seems obvious. I guess there's a chance the "guy who slept with her mother" story is the real explanation, but it totally felt like a father-daughter dynamic from their very first exchange.) The Chris Tucker-esque roommate is almost as obnoxious and unpleasant as the actual Chris Tucker.

    And the end bit where they revealed that the DXS had abruptly been shut down and had it renamed as the Phoenix Foundation was clumsy, rushed, and arbitrary. If it's just going to be doing the same hush-hush spy work as the DXS, why call it a foundation? Why even make the change? That's just homaging the form without the substance. What was cool about the Phoenix Foundation was that it was a philanthropic think tank involved with everything from government contracts to scientific research to environmental protection to crimefighting to inner-city outreach, so the range of storytelling possibilities was limitless. I don't like the idea of MacGyver being just a super-secret agent. Especially not one who kills casually.

    Even aside from the comparisons to the original, I just didn't find this very impressive as a series pilot. None of the actors wowed me (Vinnie Jones is very good, but he was given little to work with), the writing was mediocre, and the climactic CGI explosion was pretty badly done, which is kind of inexcusable given that this was a pilot and they must've had plenty of time to get it right. They certainly tried to pay homage to the original all they could -- reusing character names, staying fairly true to MacGyver's background (even the obscure bit about bomb disposal for the Army), recreating the title montage and several notable shots from the titles (although the one with Mac carrying a rocket on his shoulder was set up in a massively contrived way). They even featured a few shots of the Griffith Observatory, which was bizarrely used as MacGyver's home in the original pilot. But it's all just superficial, tacked onto a by-the-numbers spy show. I don't think I'm interested in continuing to watch.
     
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  2. darkshadow0001

    darkshadow0001 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I watched it tonight as well. I really liked it, I would of liked it if they kept the full original song at the beginning, and I thought it was kind of funny that they named everything that Macgyver was looking at. Are you sure Macgyver didn't kill anyone in the original? It's been so long since I've seen the original I don't remember. But I thought they did a pretty good job with the show, it seemed entertaining to me.
     
  3. Aragorn

    Aragorn Admiral Admiral

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    I thought naming everything Mac was looking at was kind of silly. MacGyver for dummies? Or rather, for CBS audiences?
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
  4. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I was hoping that this would be MacGyver Jr., as in the original's son. But, no, they decided to do a reboot by recycling all the old names. Speaking of names, I didn't like the reveal of Mac's first name, which we never heard in the original until the last season (last episode??). The effects & CGI might have passed the mustard ten years ago, but not today. We have tiny budget Trek fan-films with better effects. Too many clich├ęs and recycled plot devices. Too many things that don't work like that in real life. I think they hired the tech advisor from CSI-Cyber. Oh, and I immediately guessed, correctly, the deal with the blonde five minutes into the show.
     
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  5. Aragorn

    Aragorn Admiral Admiral

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    Unless the show explicitly showed the bad guys getting up like they did on The A-Team, there had to be some collateral damage from all the explosions and falling rocks MacGyver caused. I tried to look up an answer to your question, and on another board someone said MacGyver harnessed the power of the sun and used a ruby to create a laser which caused a cave in on the bad guy.

    The bad guys who died usually did something stupid or were clumsy while trying to escape.
     
  6. Romulan_spy

    Romulan_spy Commodore Commodore

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    Well, there is a difference between murdering someone and being the cause of that person's death. In the original, MacGyver was not a murderer. He never sought to kill the bad guys on purpose. He used science and clever engineering to save himself or his friends. There were instances where he might have been the cause of a death but it was because the bad guys were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
     
  7. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    This MacGyver was a soldier in the army.

    Killing is just something he has to do sometimes.

    Did not like.

    Meh.
     
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  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I actually liked that bit. It was presumably based on Sherlock's use of text and graphics to represent Sherlock's "mind palace" thought processes, though it was much simpler here. It was also reminiscent of Mythbusters's use of text labels in the final two seasons. It's a nice, efficient way of giving information and illustrating Mac's thoughts in a way that fits modern, fast-paced storytelling for the texting generation. The problem was that they also kept the vintage '80s-style voiceover narration that often relayed the exact same information as the text captions, so it was kind of redundant. (Heck, the original show dropped the narration after three or four seasons.)

    No, not intentionally, and certainly not without remorse. He was your classic '70s/'80s-style action hero who had a strong ethical code and preferred non-violent solutions when possible, and of course he intensely hated guns. He made a lot of bombs, but only to blow up walls or doors or the like, not to target human beings. He got into fistfights fairly often, since it was an action show, but he never enjoyed it; in early seasons, Anderson made a point of showing how much it hurt Mac's fist when he had to hit someone, which was a touch of vulnerability (and realism) I always really liked. Certainly there were cases where villains got themselves killed or Mac failed to save them; his recurring nemesis Murdoc made a regular thing of appearing to die at the end of an episode only to inexplicably return later, much like the Joker or Doctor Who's Master. But it was rarely as a result of Mac's actions, and never his actual goal.

    And that's good for a show like this. MacGyver has the potential to be educational, to incorporate interesting bits of science into its storytelling. So it should be accessible to younger viewers, and that means that, ideally, the violence should be limited.

    Not to mention that the boat thing didn't even make sense. He made the boat turn by tying its wheel in that position, so it should've just kept on going in a circle. But it came straight at the bad guys' boat. Also, I have trouble believing a boat collision at that low speed would cause an explosion of that magnitude, or any magnitude, even with a busted fuel line. So it wasn't only gratuitously violent, it was completely implausible.

    Oh, and I didn't like the bit with Jack beating and threatening to torture a prisoner, even if it was just a trick to get his voice print.


    It was revealed in the eighth episode of the 14-episode final season, "Good Knight, MacGyver (Part 2)," and then referenced again in the series finale. But really, what would've been the point of hiding it? This is a remake. Mac's first name has been public knowledge for 25 years. His Wikipedia entry is under "Angus MacGyver." There'd be no point in the remake trying to keep it secret. Better just to get it out of the way and then just go on with people calling him "MacGyver" and "Mac" like they always did.

    What surprised me more was that they named the traitor after Nikki Carpenter, Alyssa Davalos's recurring character who was introduced in season 3 as a partner and foil (and potential love interest?) for MaGyver. She didn't last long on the show, but I'm sure she has some fans, so having her namesake be a traitor doesn't seem like a move that would endear the fanbase (unless the fanbase has some deep-seated hatred for Nikki that I'm not aware of). Also, the actress is pretty weak. When Mac was confronting her at the end and she was saying nothing, that's the kind of situation where a performer needs to convey volumes with the eyes and body language, but she was just standing there like a mannequin.
     
  9. stardream

    stardream Commodore Commodore

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    The guy playing MacGyver is a bit too pretty and that comes from someone who likes pretty guys. Richard Dean Anderson was the right balance...looks wise. The new guy was a little bit too cocky for my taste. RDA's McGyver was confident but not arrogant if that makes any sense. However, characters can develop over time if the writers are on top of that so that is no reason to for me to write it off on that account and the actor can't help what he looks like. Maybe it's because he reminds me of an old high school boyfriend.

    The killing went right past me. I think I've become so jaded by modern TV that it ceased to make an impression until I read the online reviews. I guess this MacGyer has no qualms about such things. He was in the army....ok. I guess he doesn't have the distaste for guns the original guy had or for killing. He really didn't need to explain every little detail and the boat shouldn't have done what it did. I guess this is a 're-imagining' so it had to be gussied up for modern audiences.

    I give this one a firm...I don't know.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Male attractiveness is not an issue for me; I think he captures the look reasonably well, certainly better than in the rejected pilot where he had the longer, straighter hair. But I find his performance a little flatter and weaker.

    Yes, it makes plenty of sense. MacGyver's vulnerability and everyman quality was what made him so appealing. And he never seemed like he was showing off. This MacGyver is more of a showman, more boastful about his smarts. Maybe that was part of the overall metatextuality that often comes with a remake, the wink and nod at the audience, "Hey, look, remember that cool thing?"


    Which is a big "if." So far, the writing hasn't impressed me much.

    Actually the army bomb-defuser backstory is right out of a first-season episode of the original, though I think it was only mentioned once. I think maybe his character was more in flux in the first season, so the army backstory may have been quietly glossed over. This version seems to be playing it up more.

    To me, the willingness to kill is a deal-breaker. MacGyver's ethics were too important a part of what I liked about the original character. If they leave that part out, then all the mullets and Swiss Army knives and duct tape in the world won't make this MacGyver.
     
  11. Romulan_spy

    Romulan_spy Commodore Commodore

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    My quick thoughts:

    The team based spy missions, especially the opening scene, made me think of the Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible movies. This show seems to be a young M:I with bits of MacGyver shoe horned in. I can't help but think that the TPTB are simply using the MacGyver name to give the show more name recognition. Without the name MacGyver, the show is a very generic, run of the mill, "young, good looking 20-30 year olds running around doing cool action stuff" show. As such it would have to build an audience from scratch and compete with similar shows that already have a good following. With the name McGyver, the show might get a following from fans of the original or people who recognize the name.

    The entire premise of the pilot completely lacked plausibility IMO. I know that shows like this are unrealistic by nature and have to have the young, attractive actors because it plays well with certain demographic groups. But I just don't see any government spy agency, even one that is super "off the books", sending these "kids" on these types of super sensitive missions. They are reckless, unprofessional and don't seem all that well trained, frankly. If the government knew about an arms dealer with some type of WMD, they would send professional CIA agents or Navy Seals, not a young hacker, her clever boyfriend and a tough guy on a Mission Impossible type mission. And then when they botch the mission and the bad guys get the WMD, they team up with another hacker from prison and engage in reckless helicopter stunts to retrieve the bomb just in the nick of time. No way!

    On its own, the show could be a fun, mindless treat. From the perspective of a MacGyver fan, the show is not a good tribute or reboot of the original in any way. If they had wanted to do a faithful reboot of the original, the TPTB should have ditched the team spy premise and let McGyver be more of an agent working alone. And as Christopher pointed out, the show should have emphasized McGyver's no gun philosophy and made the show more about McGyver as the do-gooder that he was, going around helping people and using his resourcefulness and cleverness to do it.
     
  12. Aragorn

    Aragorn Admiral Admiral

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    The ratings were big for CBS's time slot, so if they can remain somewhat consistent, it'll likely be on Friday nights for years to come.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    To an extent, I suppose -- and that's not inappropriate, since M:I's Barney Collier often concocted MacGyver-like improvisations a couple of decades before there was a MacGyver. Still, as I said, I think it's a much more limited premise if spy stuff is all that they do.


    Well, I think they want it to be more than that -- something that balances the nostalgia value of the original with a "modern" storytelling format that would make it accessible for new audiences. But their approach to the former is too superficial -- they're copying the forms of the original (right down to recreating actual shots) but not capturing the substance.
     
  14. captain crow

    captain crow Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    They sort of tried to do that, it's his nephew rather than his son, in 2003.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
  15. Saga

    Saga Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    eh, this was ok. as someone else pointed out, it felt more like Mission: Impossible. as to Mac killing the guys in the boat... i'm ok with it since this isn't the original Mac. i do think they should keep his aversion to guns though. not sure if this is something i want to continue watching.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Isn't that contradictory, though? How can someone be against guns but not against killing?

    Also, aside from anything to do with the original character, it was a gratuitous and unrealistic scene. A collision like that would not have caused an explosion like that, and there was absolutely no reason to kill all those security guards simply in order to get away from them. It would've worked just as well for the collision to damage their boat just enough that they couldn't continue the pursuit -- or even just for them to find the abandoned boat circling around in the water. There was absolutely no reason for anyone to die in that scene. A show where the protagonists are willing to kill when they have no choice is one thing. A show where the writers toss in the completely pointless deaths of several people just for a gratuitous moment of spectacle is just crass and stupid.
     
  17. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    The boat scene made me think "they pulled a Panama!".
     
  18. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The theme song pissed me off.

    Two seconds of the original song, and then new made up clap trap.

    Was this an end around to steal the original song?

    Or did they have the original song and then they cleaned their but with it for no conceivable reason?
     
  19. Saga

    Saga Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    i dunno, Batman has been pulling it off for a long, long time.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's not true. Despite what certain movies have shown, for most of his career, Batman has been portrayed as adamantly opposed to killing. The early 1939-40 stories had him use lethal force, but that was soon enough retconned away and Batman was given an explicit policy against lethal force. And the versions that did show him as a killer did not make use of his aversion to guns. Indeed, both Burton and Snyder gave him a heavily armed Batmobile.

    If anything, Batman's refusal to kill was established long before his aversion to guns. Batman was often shown as an expert marksman and student of firearms, and the '66 TV series occasionally showed Bruce Wayne going on hunting trips. I don't recall seeing an aversion to guns established as a character trait of Batman until the '70s at the earliest, more like the late '80s. ("There Is No Hope in Crime Alley" showed Batman outraged that a criminal would dare to draw a gun on him in Crime Alley on the anniversary of his parents' murder, but that seemed more about the circumstances than about guns in general. I think later writers may have been inspired by that line when they gave him a more general aversion to guns, though.)