I’ll admit, I had very low expectations for the series premiere of MACGYVER, “The Rising,” going in. After so many Hollywood reboots, I’ve learned not to get my hopes up. And frankly, had my expectations been any higher, I would have been sorely disappointed. While there was a certain amount of surprise and intrigue, as well as plenty of action, the story itself falls flat. This isn’t to say that Lucas Till’s portrayal of Macgyver isn’t worth noting. While it’s difficult to live up to the iconic status of Richard Dean Anderson’s crafty science-man-and-secret-agent, Till makes the character his own, and for the most part, the show makes for an enjoyable (though shallow) watch.
Things are different in this new Macgyver world. Our beloved secret agent is no longer a lone wolf – he has three partners: Patricia Thorton, Director of Field Operations and Mac’s boss, Jack Dalton, former CIA agent who is more or less his bodyguard, and Riley Davis, computer hacker extraordinaire. Between the four of them, they take down the world’s biggest threats, all while the world doesn’t even know they exist.
The episode starts out as all action stories do: right in the middle of the action. Macgyver is out on a mission with his team – they’re undercover at an exclusive dinner party for some of the world’s wealthiest, in order to find a mysterious biological weapon that could kill millions. Jack stands guard and Mac’s girlfriend and expert computer analyst, Nikki, provides intel while Mac goes into recover the mysterious weapon. With a few hiccups, the weapon is recovered and we’re in the free and clear until surprise! Macgyver and Jack find that Nikki’s been taken at gunpoint by a thug who wants the weapon for himself. Macgyver hands over the weapon, but watches, helpless, as Nikki is shot and killed anyways.
Three months later, Macgyver is in Los Angeles, still trying to get over his now-dead girlfriend, when he’s called in by bosswoman Patricia. The weapon has been used, and there’s intel suggesting it’s going to go on the market soon. With much reluctance, Mac gets back into the game and, with Jack’s suggestion, recruits genius hacker Riley as the team’s new computer analyst. With some quick computer magic, they discover the weapon is in San Francisco, and head there to get their hands on it before some wealthy evil-doer can wreck havoc on the world.
But, surprise! When Mac reaches the site where the sale is happening, he finds Nikki, alive and well, working with the man who supposedly killed her. What ensues is an incessant number of action sequences, complete with Macgyver chasing down a plane (add superspeed to the list of items in his tool belt) and the ever-classic bomb-diffusing finale (but this one’s original because all the wires are green, see?). In the end, Macgyver saves the day in the only way Macgyver can: by Macgyvering his way out of every situation.
Besides the major logic-jump in Mac running down an airplane taking off from a runway, the major flaw in this new series is its heavy reliance on action scenes to keep it interesting. We hardly dwell on Mac’s emotions as deals with the loss of the love of his life, then the rediscovery of her, and the subsequent betrayal that she commits. We know practically nothing about who his friends are as characters, other than that Jack doesn’t like to talk about Cairo, for whatever reason (and we don’t even find out why!). And if the lackluster character development wasn’t enough, there isn’t anything particularly exceptional about Macgyver’s Macgyvering. The fingerprint stealing, the smoke creation, cutting wires – we’ve seen these tricks before. Where’s the excitement, the shock and delight from not being able to guess how exactly Macgyver is going to get himself out of each situation using, say, a paper bag and some duct tape? It just all feels too generic.
I have hopes that the series will pick up momentum in new episodes and actually give us some time to really get to know these characters. And I also hope we get some new and interesting situations we haven’t seen before, so that a new generation of Macgyver fans can get excited to find out how Macgyver’s going to get himself out this one, this time.
Season 1, Episode 1 (S01E01)
MacGyver airs Fridays at 8PM on CBS
Tasha is a freelance writer currently based in Los Angeles. Originally from Kansas, when she’s not writing about or watching TV, Tasha is searching for the best BBQ place in LA to fill the KC BBQ hole in her stomach.
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Tasha Cerny | Contributor