MacGyver: Large Blade – New Boss (Review)

Lucas Till as MacGyver

You have to admire the teaser open of MacGyver “Large Blade” just a little. Jack and Mac are struggling to move a huge prisoner across a roof. The big figure, with a black hood on its head, repeated headbutts Dalton, so much so that he is getting dizzy.

Midway through their struggle, their package gets loose and Mac breaks off to manufacture a better means of holding their prisoner as Jack gets roughed up some more. Grabbing a blue tarpaulin and some cord, along with a handy bungee cord, and a couple of belts, and Victor, aka Elvis for this mission, is “Hannibal Lector’d.”

After this long handled process they finally get the prisoner onto the helicopter just as the man’s friends arrive with guns blazing. This entire exercise has been set up for a number of reasons.

To introduce us to the chopper pilot, show how tough Jack is, how resourceful Mac is and to give Riley a chance to triumphantly shout that “Elvis has left the building.”

One has to admire the effort that went into an episode open that ends on a joke like that. That is part of the reason this iteration of MacGyver is so popular with the punters.

Although the swift and unforeseen removal of Patricia Thornton (Sandrine Holt) has a number of fans rather upset. Many are questioning just what happened there. Was Sandrine fired? Did she have another job offer elsewhere? (Which might just be the case, the woman is impressively talented.)

Still, at least her character was mentioned at the start of the episode. But so too was Amy Acker’s character from last week’s episode although, rather interestingly, Nikki (Tracy Spiridakos) was not. While it is all too easy to mourn the loss of London born Holt as a strong female character, this show does have a great many positive role models in the show.

Show creator Craig Siebels may have a MacGyver lousy with team members who surround his every move, but Siebels is not backward about filling the screen with capable female characters. For example:

Acker’s Sarah is one tough, capable and recurring character as is Nikki. Series regular Riley may not be tough as in able to leap buildings with a single bound strong, but she has plenty to keep up her end of things.

Even guest starring roles feature strong women. Cynthia the chopper pilot was no shrinking violet and did not let a fractured tibia keep her down for too long. The new Phoenix boss lady, the diminutive in size but not in stature, “Matty the Hun” (as Jack refers to her) is a tough cookie ready to pounce on anyone who does not get the point.

(She also looks like one of those bosses who might just be a bit of fun to work for.  It should also be mentioned here that perhaps Siebels intended to replace the towering Holt (5’10” tall) with the 4’3″ tall Webber all along. As visual gags go it is amusing in a sort of Mutt and Jeff sort of way. Along with Jack’s build up as well, it made for an funny end to the episode.)

The main storyline has the chopper brought down in the most dangerous jungle in the world,  which incidentally has no wildlife whatsoever, and when the aircraft crashes, Victor escapes.  Cynthia fractures her tibia and Jack spends the entire episode with a red “circle” almost around his left eye.

(That red circle was another funny sight gag that brought back memories of Hugh Wilson’s 1985 comedy western Rustlers Rhapsody. A character who is the film’s sidekick, which Jack Dalton most definitely is in MacGyver, paints a circle around his mule’s eye. There may be no connection at all but with the “Mutt and Jeff” gag at the end and “Elvis has left the building” it feels right.)

Mac manages to make a crutch out of the chopper’s landing strip, make a battery with a plastic water bottle, some jungle water, a pair of chain handcuffs, a little root salt and some lightening. He also uses a satellite phone battery to start a fire and subdues the dangerous Victor all by himself.

MacGyver “Large Blade” turned out to be the funniest and best episode of the season thus far. The only characters who got the short end this week were Bozer and Riley. They were stuck at Phoenix plugging away at a laptop and worrying. (At least Riley got to worry prettily as that nasty hairdo did not make a reappearance in this episode.)

Those little subtitled montages have, apparently disappeared for good and while the V.O. has also seemingly been done away with, this change is for the better.  Till is coming into his own as MacGyver and proved once again in this episode that he really does not need Jack.

(This is not a “get rid of George Eads” bit of schtick. We like George it is just that apart from a bit of comic relief, his character is a bit superfluous.)

MacGyver this week added a lot of humor, and poking fun at Mac’s ability to make things out of practically nothing, on top of using the entire episode to build up Thornton’s replacement.  It will be interesting to see if Matty-the-Hun will cut Mac’s team down even further.

MacGyver airs Fridays on CBS.

Cast:

Guest starring Zulay Henao as Cynthia and Keith Jardine as Victor.

MacGyver: Screwdriver – Nikki and Her Mole (Review)

Lucas Till as MacGyver

MacGyver “Screwdriver” sees the return of not one but two former characters and the exit of a familiar face.  Not only does Nikki turn back up but so does Jack’s old flame, and ex-partner, Sarah Adler. The difficult bit is that Sarah is not only getting married but she is after Nikki as well.

The episode starts with Jack strapped to a chair and attached to a sodium pentathol drip. He is being questioned by a terrorist about Phoenix. The villain wants to know who works with Jack and he tells the man everything.

Including the fact that Mac is outside the door. This whole exercise appears to show that George Eads can do comedy, which is an understood, and that MacGyver does not really need Eads’ character for protection.

“Screwdriver” manages to do a number of things. It clears up the “Nikki” issue and gives Jack a bit of closure on the whole Sarah thing. Clearly Dalton and Adler still have feelings for one another and it seems that her marrying this other chap is meant to force Jack to come forward.

Nikki claims to be a deep cover CIA operative who is after a mole known as   Chrysalis. Sarah and Mac’s team join forces to first capture Nikki, which they do, and then to help Mac’s former girlfriend catch the mole.

Wilt and Riley go undercover as well. They work to find some proof of the mole Nikki claims to be after.  The noob and the computer expert go to see Murdoc in prison. There is a “Hannibal Lector” vibe to their short Q&A, which Wilt alludes to in the very short interrogation.

Murdoc actually delivers although it is doubtful that the assassin thought they could really use his information.

Jack believes that Nikki is lying about her mission and the mole. It looks like he may be right after they are jumped by an outside agency twice. The first time by two three men wet teams and the second time by Patricia Thornton.

The latter intrusion sees the Phoenix director telling Nikki that she is under arrest and that there  was no mole. Wilt and Riley prove that there is, in fact, a Chrysalis and it is Thornton.

Patricia is the mole and has been for some time. Nikki is really a deep cover CIA operative and Thornton is led off in handcuffs.

MacGyver has given back Nikki her “good guy” status and removed one member of Mac’s team.  “Screwdriver” also managed to give Tristan Mays a break in the hair department. Throughout the entire episode, her character’s “do” did not once look like a bird’s nest pulled through a hedgerow…backwards. Well done.

Something else missing in this episode were those annoying screen titles explaining what every little thing is that Mac is using to make his impromptu weapons, et al.  Of course in this installment very little time was spent explaining what he was making.

Lucas Till’s voiceover explanation was also missing. He does explain about the Cheetos used on Nikki’s phone but he remains silent about all the nifty things found in his ex girlfriends log cabin that he uses to make a bomb.

This episode was all about giving Nikki a chance to clear her name, Jack a chance to reclaim Sarah and getting rid of Patricia Thornton. It also gave Wilt his first bit of spy “street cred” and, as mentioned before, it allowed Riley to dump that “rebellious” hairdo.

MacGyver airs Fridays on CBS. Tune in and see if series creator Craig Siebels continues to trim Mac’s team down. 

Cast:

Guest starring Amy Acker as Sarah Adler, Tracy Spiridakos as Nikki Carpenter and David Dastmalchian as Murdoc.

MacGyver: Scissors – NSA Can You See – (Review)

Lucas Till as MacGyver

This all new MacGyver is all about family, and not the one where everyone is related by blood. “Scissors” is no exception.  Although the team in this iteration of MacGyver do have some familial ties; Jack and Riley have history. This from before the young hacker extraordinaire joined the team.

Episode 11 is, for all intents and purposes, the Christmas special. We can tell because Dean Martin opens and closes the show with songs associated with the season and Boze is preparing the festive meal; home-made pastrami.  Riley is not feeling the Yuletide buzz and Boze tries to cheer her up.

Whilst he is in mid-cheering mode, Davis disappears. Soon after, Thornton calls the team together and we all learn that Riley hacked the NSA, sent Chinese nuclear subs on the way to the American West Coast and has gone off the grid.

Jack who dated Riley’s mum “back in the day” never believes that his “honorary” kid committed the crime. Mac immediately thinks of Nikki, via a logical freewheeling thought process that equates to trusted females double crossing him and the team.

Boze is definitely with Team Riley and he is upset to be left out when the truncated team head to Singapore to re-hack the system. Before they head out, Boze helps Mac and Jack to track down Riley and it is revealed that the hack was done to save her mother’s life.

Jack’s old flame, Diane is now back in his life and the memories of his leaving her mother annoys Riley.

As episodes go, this holiday offering worked to mend some bridges that, to be brutally honest, never really seemed to be burnt or in danger of being destroyed.  Riley and Jack, for the most part, get on fairly well. There is a certain amount of banter between the two but it has never really felt mean spirited or angry.

They have had their moments but these have been far and few between. In essence, this episode, like the rest of this new series, feels a tad forced. The personal touch seemed to be as manufactured as one of Mac’s little scientific toys.

Although to be fair, the air warning device (two plastic pipes of different diameters set up on a cooling fan) was actually pretty cool. (No pun intended.)  Points off for lack of originality have to be awarded though for the automated garrotting machine around Diane’s throat.

A very similar device was used earlier in this season of Quantico and theirs looked a tad more impressive. It was much smaller and the wire actually looked damned tight on the FBI show whereas Diane’s looked quite slack while Mac was cutting  the cord…

All the  episodeal action takes place in Singapore, or whatever section of Los Angeles could be mocked up for the outside of a Chinese building, and the interiors were obviously on a set somewhere, (The interior looked a lot like the one used in Mr. Robot where a group of FBI agents are slaughtered bar Agent DiPeirro.)

All the nuclear warheads are stopped, except for one that has to be detonated high up in the atmosphere, because, you know, that is so much safer for everyone even though there is still radiation fallout…

It is a case of all’s well that ends well. Riley gives Boze the last two digits of her cell phone number while Jack and Diane seem to be thinking of becoming an item again.

MacGyver is still quite popular with its demographic. The show manages to pull in a hefty 7.7 million viewers on average and that is not including the + 7’s or streaming figures.  It is hard to understand why this version is so popular.

The things that made the 1980’s MacGyver (things like Richard Dean Anderson working alone) are missing this time around and while Till may be slowly filling in the shoes of Anderson’s Angus MacGyver the team concept weakens the show.

CBS have given MacGyver the go ahead for a full 22 episode season and presumably will okay the show for another season. We here at Mike’s Film Talk cannot quite understand the allure of this series but clearly there are enough fans to make this one run for a while longer.

MacGyver airs Fridays on CBS.

Cast:

Guest starring Michael Michele as Diane

MacGyver: Pliers – School Days (Review)

Lucas Till as MacGyver

MacGyver “Pliers” sees Angus as the prodigal student returning to the school he first began his life as a high-powered nerd. Boze relives the old days with Riley as MacGyver talks to his old science teacher’s class. The spy meets a young, female version of himself.

After the class the youngster; Valerie, is kidnapped and Mac is told she will die if he interferes again. Jack and Angus speak to the girl’s father who refuses to let them help. They realize that the man is lying to them.

The mission then becomes a fact finding exercise with Boze coming through with some important information. Jack and Mac chase down Valerie’s dad and then free the little science prodigy from the bad guys.

While this version of MacGyver features an Angus who works with a team, there are enough fans of the show that a second season has already been approved by CBS.  Purists, those who remember a time when Angus MacGyver worked solo, are not quite enamored of this new show where the show’s hero is surrounded by people on every mission.

Till is slowly become more acceptable as the scientific spy who does not rely upon guns to complete an assignment. The show’s producers have followed the familiar theme of making something from nothing.

In this episode, Mac makes a small bomb, and a directional microphone. He also amps up Jack’s mini-van’s speed with a gallon jug of hydrogen peroxide. Boze and Riley make Mac a directional antenna so he can avoid the cops.

Angus and Jack rescue the little scientist and she is hidden away in Mac’s old treehouse lab. On a sidenote: Valerie; the scientific prodigy, sports glasses and an earnest look on her little face and is socially awkward. In essence the kid is a walking trope.

Despite being trapped in a cliché, Miller makes the most of her role and the interaction between her character and MacGyver works well. We learn more about Angus’ backstory along with a good look into what makes Boze tick.

This episode uses the science experiment that Angus does for Ericson’s class at the beginning of the episode to foil the baddies. It is a nice touch, as is Jack’s dubbing MacGyver “Geekachu.”

Jack explains that if Mac were a Pokemon character that would be his nickname. “It was either that or nerdasaur…What about Brainmander?”

The criminals are caught, Thornton finds out that they have been on an unsanctioned mission and Mac gives his old treehouse lab to Valerie. The implication is that the girl will grow up to become the next MacGyver.

It would have been nice if the kid scientist was more involved with helping her father out. Clearly the eighth grade prodigy is meant to be a future “Mac.” For some reason, rather than approaching the story from that angle, the show’s producers opted to keep to the backstory and team plotline.

While Eads does a good job as Jack, the man is, admittedly, good at all this “action hero” stuff, it would be much better if Angus worked more on his own.  The show has been working overtime to turn MacGyver into a “buddy” show.

The concept works to a degree but despite the effectiveness of the team members, Angus MacGyver worked better alone. (And yes we realize that we have mentioned this twice.) Team Phoenix are slowly growing on us but all these people serve to water down the potential of the show.

MacGyver airs Fridays on CBS. Tune in and see what you think. With a season average of 8.152 viewers per episode, they must be doing something right.

Cast:

Guest starring John Heard as Arthur Ericson and Amiah Miller as Valerie Lawson.

MacGyver: Chisel – Bozer (Review)

Lucas Till as MacGyver

MacGyver this week brings us an oddly bloodless Embassy siege. “Chisel” also sees Bozer, Mac’s bestie still upset over being lied to about Phoenix and Mac’s real job. Walt is given a lengthy interrogation by Thornton now that he knows that Mac is a spy.

Bozer actually ties with Jack for the best line of the episode. Dalton, continually calls Latvian terrorist Janis everything but his name. At one point the bad guy threatens the group and Jack, in typical fashion  reacts physically.

He smacks Janis and says, “Shut up Jar Jar.” Dalton has never been more insulting that this. Calling anyone Jar Jar, as in Binks,  as in the most hated character in Star Wars history is pretty darned funny.

However, Bozer’s smart arsed reply to Thornton while in interrogation is a close tie to Dalton’s insult laden crack at Janis. Thornton shows Boze pictures of his prosthetics lab and he notices that his things are marked as evidence.

Bozer: “…Now you know the truth. I go briefs. Never boxers. Sometimes commando, but only when it’s laundry day.”

Thornton (dryly): “Thank you… for that imagery.”

In Latvia the bank manager tips off Jar Jar Janis, and he almost escapes. The team grab him and find that he sent out an SOS to every contact on his mobile phone.

Mack and his team then try to keep ahead of the terrorists and get to the airfield. They get cut off and instead head to the Latvian American Embassy. At first things are a bit dodgy as the four Marines on duty at the gate throw down on the group.

A quick call to Thornton sorts out the problem and Mac’s team get into the Embassy one step ahead of the terrorists. Mac and Dalton, come up with several plans to fortify the building and to hold off the terrorists who want to bet in.

Riley explains to Janis that his buddies out there are not going to save him. They believe he is now a snitch and they will kill him if they get the chance.

While holding off the bad guys, Mac makes up bullet proofing by using sheets of paper (possibly the coolest bit of the episode), uses kevlar vests to bullet proof a couple of doors and makes explosive with sugar and some other “household supplies.”

Meanwhile, Bozer gets a ringside seat and watches the mission play itself out. Dalton manages to get off a couple of good lines through the attack on the Embassy.

They draw the terrorist group into the building as the bad guys have reinforcements coming and the trapped party have to wait for their cavalry to arrive.  Once they trap the villains, the group grab a humvee  and a few cars and  evacuate the building.

Bozer learns that his interrogation is over and that Thornton has arranged for him to work at the Phoenix Organization in the lab; making prosthetics. Boze is happy to be spy but he is not too keen on going out into the field.

MacGyver “Chisel” feels like an episode of the 1980’s adventure series The A Team. There are more rounds fired in this episode than all the other episodes of this season added together.  Yet no one gets so much as a single scratch.

There is one somber moment that elevates things in this episode.  As the terrorist begin to storm the building the ambassador calls home. She tells her other half to keep the kids away from the television. She does not want them to see what happens to her.

For all the nonsensical fluffiness of this series so far, the writers managed to work in one touching and honest scene. Well done chaps.

Although the amount of supplies to be found in the embassy closets is laughable, when compared to the limited amount of staff who work in the building. One other questionable moment was the amount of gunpowder to be found in one nine millimeter cartridge.

Overall, not a bad storyline but the show still feels like a Saturday morning kid’s show. To be fair though, Jack does call Janis a son-of-a-b*tch. Not quite the stuff of children’s television but everything else was petty much ‘G’ rated…

MacGyver airs Fridays on CBS. Tune in for some light entertainment and mindless escapism. Fans of the original MacGyver may want to give this one a miss. So far, it does not quite measure up.

Cast:

Guest starring Tobias Jelinek  as Janis, Alicia Coppola as Ambassador Roberts and Andrew Ayala as Admiral Rodriguez.

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