MacGyver: Can Opener – Just…No (Review)

Lucas Till as MacGyver

Sometimes a show will get something so completely wrong that the viewer just has to shake their head and say, “Just…No.” MacGyver, “Can Opener” fits that bill perfectly. Somewhat annoyingly the episode does feature a “cute” in-joke by having Mac go to prison under the name Frank Morris.

Morris was one of three men who allegedly escaped from Alcatraz and lived, but not to tell the tale as none of the escapees were ever heard from after their escape.  This touch was the only good thing about the whole episode.

But we digress…

For a show that we so desperately wanted to love, MacGyver keeps missing a step, dropping the ball and committing unforgivable mistakes. In this episode it was all down to Jack’s smartphone in prison.

“Can Opener” takes place in a prison. Mac has to escape with drug lord, El Noche. To help him out, Riley attempts to hack the establishments computer system and Jack Dalton poses as a Corrections Officer, aka prison guard.

There are references to Shawshank Redemption  of course and MacGyver uses his technical know-how at least twice on camera and several more times off camera.   Impressive as his moves are, the entire episode shot itself in the foot by having Jack talking on his smartphone in front of everyone, inside the prison.

Having worked in Her Majesty’s Prison Service, the United Kingdom’s versions of Correctional Services, this writer can attest to one basic fact that applies to staff in both countries.

No staff are allowed mobile (cell) phones inside those walls.


Fair dues, there may be some private prisons that do allow such a thing (Yet another reason why farming out correctional facilities to private companies is a horrible idea.) but it would not be the norm.

Granted, this is a television show…but, any series should refrain from fictionalizing something like the mobile phone issue.  There must be some semblance of reality to any plot that deals with real life situations. Like the staff in a prison for example.

Any interest in this episode of MacGyver went straight down the toilet once that phone appeared.  Sure the show is meant to be escapist fun and not to be taken seriously but, as any game designer or animator will tell you, fictional situations have to be faithful to the source and be logical.

Ergo, no smartphones being used by the staff inside a prison, unless it is one of those, “special” nicks that the upper class members of society  get sent to.

There have been many things wrong with this new updated MacGyver. For example: Too much emphasis on the team; more often than not the original, Richard Dean Anderson’s MacGyver worked alone.  There is also a change in the purpose of his sidekick Jack Dalton and a frivolous disregard for facts, logic or how entertainment should at least mirror real life.

All these infractions make the new MacGyver, not MacGyver at all. As pointed out by HitFlix, and Mike’s Film Talk in earlier reviews this is more Burn Notice than MacGyver and not as well done as the Jefferey Donovan vehicle either.

We hate to pan any project that someone sweated over to bring their vision to life. However, if the project is all wrong it has to be pointed out. The cell phone issue, or smartphone, took this viewer right out of the story the second Jack Dalton walks past several guards and the camera talking into his phone.

This latest episode, “Can Opener” makes it seem like the show’s creators have given up.  Take the flying nitrogen bottle at the end  of the episode. That would have felt more at home in a Three Stooges slapstick comedy than in an action adventure series.

MacGyver airs on Fridays. Tune in if you are a Lucas Till or George Eads fan. Turn the channel if you are not.


Guest starring  Raoul Max Trujillo  as Joaquin ‘El Noche’ Sancola.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

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

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