MacGyver For Kids? CBS Premiere a Bit Simplistic (Review)

Lucas Till as MacGyver

In terms of ratings the new MacGyver reboot was a smash hit. Viewing the season one premiere, however, was a bit of a mixed bag. This was a show that was either going to be a massive hit or face plant early on.

Overall, after watching the pilot, it feels a bit like MacGyver for kids. A tad simplistic with its onscreen prompts reminding the audience about the ingredients our hero is using in this CBS re-imagining.

The original show, also created by Lee David Zlotoff, featured a MacGyver who did not look quite so young as the new protagonist.  Not to say that Till is a bad choice though.  Co-creator Peter M. Lenkov seems to have shaken the show’s format up a bit by losing the narrative homilies. 

MacGyver “2.0” does seem to be sticking with the “middle of a mission” theme from the original and this works nicely.  The pilot episode, “The Rising” starts with Angus in a tuxedo getting ready to steal something from a party.

His girlfriend and colleague Nikki is on comms as is Jack, MacGyver’s backup and escape driver.  The theft shows Angus’ ingenuity at solving problems twice. Once by getting a required thumbprint and again by using plaster dust to trick a five-finger lock into opening.

While these are fun and clever, they are  nothing that has not been seen before. (Even the 2002 film Scooby-Doo showed Daphne doing the “plaster dust” trick with face powder.) It is here is where the series infers that the audience is comprised of children who might have problems following along.

Each item used by MacGyver points out, ever so helpfully, what they are. Subtitles with plus signs indicate the ingredients in the device that Angus creates.  A tad intrusive and not altogether necessary. It feels a little like “Action Adventure for Dummies.”

Still despite this,  the episode moves along at a cracking pace. Not giving the viewer too much time to overthink the plot or the storyline.  This is, despite the trappings of clever creations to bypass almost any problem, a pretty simplistic series.

This case involved a “30,000” year old virus that will kill millions.  Nikki, who is shot presumed dead, turns out to be a greedy wench who throws over MacGyver for a cool $5 million.

She is aided by Vinnie Jones  who can surely just phone these evil henchmen performances in by now. Jones can do these villainous roles in his sleep and has specialized in played baddies for years. Another example of the simplicity of the pilot.

Till is a convincing MacGyver, even if he does, from certain angles, look about 12.  Eads fluctuates between being annoying and funny as Dalton and Holt makes a good boss-lady.

Mays may also look a bit young but she does bring a certain amount of believability to her role of computer hacker extraordinaire. It appears that Spiridakos will return as Nikki later on. She may be Angus’ achilles heel which could  make her the  perfect nemesis.

Overall, the first episode was action packed and entertaining, even with the “idiot cards” telling the audience what each item was.  Seriously chaps, a paperclip, even one straightened out, still looks like a paperclip.

MacGyver was fun to watch, although it did tend to hop about plot wise.  Till’s Angus is not quite so “nonviolent” as Richard Dean Anderson’s spy was in the ’80s but he works pretty well regardless of this small change.

The series airs Fridays on CBS. Stop by and check it out.  If you have watched it, what do you think. Is Lucas Till  as good as Anderson was?  Answers on a postcard please, or in the comment section below.


Guest starring  Vinnie Jones  as  John Kendrick 

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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