MacGyver: Corkscrew – Nikki (Recap/Review)

Lucas Till as MacGyver

MacGyver managed to keep from making any glaring errors this week in “Corkscrew.” The storyline was all about Nikki putting a hit out on Mac and his entire team, including her replacement, Riley.

This episode lost those maddening screenshots of Mac’s ingredients when he builds something and it did make the action go that bit faster.  However, this was more about trust, lies and knowing your enemy than anything else.

For a change, Riley was allowed to “let her hair down,” literally, and losing that bird’s nest hairdo made a world of difference.  Without that “dragged backwards through a hedgerow look” the computer genius could have been  contestant on “America’s Next Top Model.”

The plot had to do with a super assassin, who goes through most of the episode without a name. Instead the killer has a case file number. Murdoc, the name he supplies at the end of the episode, is clever, resourceful and very, very good at what he does.

Of course the guy will be no match for Mac who shares all the same traits as the killer for hire.  The team go after the hitman and he escapes. He does leave behind a picture of his target.

It is MacGyver.

Mac’s boss Patricia tries to keep her agent out of harm’s way by locking him into a room without furnishings of any kind. She also makes him give up his Swiss Army knife.

Patricia then locks him in the room. However, his safe place has a magnetic lock on the door. MacGyver manages to get out in record time as his boss managed to underestimate her top agent.

(Somewhat stupidly, she does not change the password to the door making it all that much easier for Mac to unlock it.)

While Mac and his team are scrambling to catch the killer, he is moving in on MacGyver’s best friend and roommate Wilt.  His clueless pal learns from the assassin that Mac is not what he claimed to be. Needless to say, Bozer is more than a little upset to learn that his best buddy has been lying to him for years.

Murdoc escapes after a shootout with Jack, who runs out of ammo, and Mac makes a wine “bottle rocket” with little fanfare and paper towel rolls. Once again, Patricia leaves MacGyver behind while the rest of the team go after the killer.

However, this guy is really a quite clever and he gets the drop on them via remote control sniper rifles. Murdoc calls Mac and tells him to head on down to the salvage yard or his team will all die.

MacGyver shows up and in short order shuts down the transmitter to the guns, escapes the killer by throwing his knife into some sort of steam hose (Pipe?) and stalls Murdoc long enough for Riley to take control of the sniper rifles.

The killer is caught and Mac manages to placate Wilt but realizes that his best friend may never really trust him again. Nikki drops in on Mac at a diner and tells him she did not send Murdoc.

His ex also tells him that he needs to lay low as the people she works for will not give up. This all takes place while Nikki holds a gun on Mac. He threatens her family and she leaves, with all her extra agents.

MacGyver has managed to pull ahead of mediocre reviews and numbers that took a drop initially, to be given a full season greenlight from CBS. Clearly this new version of MacGyver is popular with enough people that the network is more than happy to continue with the show.

If the series can keep those infuriating explanatory screenshots away from viewers and maybe allow Till a bit more “alone time” without his ever present team, the show will get better.

MacGyver airs Fridays on CBS.

Cast:

Guest starring David Dastmalchian as Murdoc.

MacGyver: Awl – Body Bags (Review)

Lucas Till as MacGyver

It is somewhat fitting that the first “adventure” that MacGyver and Jack experience in “Awl” has them utilizing body bags as portable air bags. At the rate that ratings are falling for the show, it seems somewhat prophetic.

The drop may well be due to the fact that this has all been done before. Most recently the voice-over “let me explain what I’m doing” format was done in FOX’s Burn Notice. Plus, that show had  none of those annoying as hell subtitles explaining what every item was.

Although to be fair there were less subtitles in use in this episode.  There was a explanatory one for the body bag and not for the fire extinguisher.  Well done. (Admittedly the whole body bag thing was pretty cool.)

Lucas Till is slowly filling the shoes of Richard Dean Anderson, the original MacGyver, but the show is letting the side down in terms of plot and storyline.

The whole Dalton talking to his dead dad is beyond cliché but at least it is his father and not his wife which would have been unforgivable.   There is also the issue with Nikki’s hair.  She is an ex-con computer hacker extraordinaire and to show her rebellious side they give her clown hair.

Come on chaps.

This week in MacGyver the target of the mission is Ralph.  The role is one that Jonah Hill could play in his sleep and it has all been done before. In fact had this series come out around 10 years ago, Hill would have played Ralph.

Their target, aka Ralph,  is the money man for a group of terrorists who are called D-77.  After Mac and Dalton grab Ralph, a sniper shoots him in the chest pinning them down outside his house.

The sniper appears to have gotten incredibly lucky putting a bullet in Ralph as he clearly cannot hit the side of a barn.  The round nicks Ralph’s lung and MacGyver does some emergency triage on their target.  Later he performs impromptu surgery with the help of a local Malaysian doctor.

“Awl” is amusing but once again, it feels out of place on a Friday night. The level of violence and the storylines would feel more at place on a Saturday morning.

There are some fairly impressive creations in the episode, Mac’ construction of a smoke bomb from a car headrest is eye catching, although not was good as the body bag stunt.  Perhaps the highlight was the windscreen wiper pump that sucked blood out of Ralph’s chest.

Later Mac makes gas mask’s out of plastic bottles and bicycle tire. He also mentions that the gas powering your air conditioner can kill you after knocking you out in under two minutes.

The impromptu inventions of MacGyver have always been the backbone of the show; old and new. These work well and Till has a voice made for narration, or voice-over if you prefer. This part of the show works well enough, but once again, it has been done before.

It is all too easy to see this new MacGyver as “MacGyver Light.” Or, like the multicolor breakfast cereal Trix, this show is really meant for children.

In other words, “Silly CBS, MacGyver is for kids.”

MacGyver airs Fridays on CBS.  Tune in for a look and see what you think.

Cast:

Guest starring  Oliver Cooper as Ralph

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.

Cast:

Guest starring  Vinnie Jones  as  John Kendrick 

Wolves (2014): The Eater of the Pack (Review)

Lucas Till as Cayden Richards

Written and directed by David Hayter (best known for voicing Solid Snake for years in the Metal Gear Solid video game franchise) Wolves was released  in 2014 and promptly panned by most critics who saw the film.  While the idea of “hillbilly” cannibal werewolves was unique some felt the film took itself too seriously.  The idea that the leader of the pack was also the “eater” of the pack may not have helped either.

Starring Lucas Till and the iconic Stephen McHattie (this prolific performer has 195 credits under his belt) and the equally prolific John Pyper-Ferguson Wolves follows adoptive son Cayden (Till) who suddenly starts going all werewolf when things get interesting. Get angry? Wolf out. Sex? Wolf out and so on.

He wakes up to find his parents murdered and strewn about the house. He goes on the run and learns where he might  find more “people” him from Wild Joe (Pyper-Ferguson). He heads to the small backwoods town of Lupine Ridge where he meets Angelina (Merritt Patterson)and  her beer loving sister Gail (Melanie Scrofano from Wynonna Earp).

Cayden also meets farmer John Tollerman (McHattie) and the alpha male of the tiny burg, Connor (Jason Momoa). Tollerman hires Cayden to work on his farm and trouble soon hunts the young man down. 

The main problem with Wolves is that it feels wrong on many levels.  Although it does entertain, which means that Hayter did his job properly, it works too hard to push past a young adult setting to play to the grownups.

There is sex and brief nudity which no doubt earned the film its R rating. There is also too little time spent on drawing Cayden as the classic “white-hat” good guy. It is hinted at with the old black and white Lone Ranger show on the telly, but the message is lost.

Wolves has a fairly cool premise.  A small burg in the middle of nowhere populated mostly by lycanthropes is an interesting concept. So too is the “pure blood” line and the “mongrels.” (Created by infecting the humans rather than being born with the “ailment” as the pedigree werewolves are.)

Till does  a good job as Cayden  and  McHattie does what he does best and adds a little gravitas to the proceedings. The story, where Connor is about to rape the last purebred female in the town, is a tad distasteful and it does deviate wildly from classic werewolf  lore. (No silver bullets needed here…)

One annoyance has to do with the werewolf “makeup”  (or more accurately the CG werewolf effect) used for the film.  The filmmakers have opted for the old fashioned “Larry Talbot” look for the transformation of the protagonists.  The film also does not spend any time on the actual change itself.

The running time  of  91 minutes feels much faster and Hayter keeps things moving at a brisk pace.  This speed of delivery may be to the film’s detriment though as it does not feel that much time is given to Till’s character in terms of development.

With a reported budget of $18 million the film looks, rather curiously, like a low budget effort.  While the  special FX are fairly well done, they are not spectacular. The stunts were impressive, although not  a lot of wire work was done.  It does beg the question of where that $18 million went.

Wolves is a solid 3 star film. It entertains, but is nothing to write home about. While all the actors acquitted themselves quite well, the story did not live up to their performances. It is streaming on US Netflix at the moment and is worth a look or two  for Stephen McHattie alone.