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MacGyver Ratings

MacGyver Review: With Paper Clips, No Chewing Gum (Yet!), CBS Reboots Mac

grade_B-When we first laid eyes on Don’t-Call-Me-Angus MacGyver, he was sporting a ridiculous pom-pom hat while scaling a cliff to track down a stolen missile, which he proceeded to defuse using, yes, a paper clip.

Jump ahead almost exactly 31 years, and paper clips prove as handy as ever, as demonstrated multiple times in CBS’ higher-octane reboot (premiering Friday, Sept. 23 at 8/7c).

With Lucas Till (X-Men: First Class) inheriting the role immortalized by Richard Dean Anderson, Mac remains averse to guns, though now he has some pistol-packing muscle at his side, in the form of Jack Dalton (CSI’s George Eads), beefed-up here as former CIA. Along with a requisite computer whiz, MACGYVERthey answer to Patricia Thornton (House of Cards‘ Sandrine Holt) as agents with the Department of External Services (or DXS).

The CBS reboot promptly establishes Mac as a guy who can dress up as well as get down and dirty, fending off baddies with fisticuffs or Frisbee’d drink trays. Akin to the original series, there is much voiceover to open the pilot, as Mac schools us on his particular mission as well as talks us through hacks he employs with along the way. (In 2016, “MacGyverisms” now come with on-screen call-outs, in case you want to shop online for hexamethylene diamene.) It’s almost shameless how quickly Mac plows through the “classics,” including using soot and packing tape to lift a fingerprint, and I’m still unsure of what principle he uses exactly to outwit a biometric scanner. But these quick fixes remain a good part of the fun.

As Mac,MACGYVER Till rightly comes across as effective and never intimidating, charming in an unassuming way. He enjoy an easy chemistry with Eads, who brings a well-modulated intensity and unquestionable physicality to his role (though Dalton’s ability to bed anything that moves is noted one too many times). Holt is well-cast as Thornton, but gets too few notes to play in the pilot (with almost all of them in response to Dalton’s “bro” antics).

Displaying swagger as well as glimpses of genuine warmth, Tristin Mays (The Vampire Diaries) brings something fresh as Riley Davis, an incarcerated hacker the team springs from the clink to replace the tech analyst (Revolution‘s Tracy Spiridakos) they lose to an obvious plot twist. Fresh from his Rush Hour run, Justin Hires again is doing Chris Rock Lite as Mac’s roommate Bozer; oblivious to his best bud’s true occupation, and spending his own days as a chef, the character screams “dead end,” with storyline momentum screeching to a halt each time Mac stops home.

The new MacGyver of course had a wild ride to the airwaves; CBS greenlit the series in May, only to jettison almost all of the original pilot (save for Till and Eads) and ultimately bring on Hawaii Five-0′s own “rebooter,” Peter M. Lenkov, to give it a retooling. Centered around a full-time team of operatives, it deviates from the comparatively “lone wolf” nature of the original, though that’s not necessarily to its detriment; it simply makes it more familiar, CBS procedural-y. And while some are carping that Eads’ character in essence arms Mac with a gun, I’m pretty sure Dalton didn’t fire a single bullet (to kill or maim) in the premiere.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: Purists won’t dare call it an upgrade, but the new Mac is definitely a slick (and fun) “Version 2.0.”

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46 Comments
  1. Whatever I read about the reboot isn’t McGyver anymore. MyGyver was never only about action, it was about mind over matter with heart and mind !

  2. GraeLeigh says:

    I’ll give it a try since I grew up with the RDA version. Let’s hope we get more brain than muscle … and wondering if the rebooted Mac still hurts his thumb when he tries to punch someone in the face :p

    Episode 2 features Amy Acker and that only will make me stick with MacGyver 2016 for at least 2 episodes :)

    • jg says:

      I like the Five 0 reboot so I’ll watch the reboot.

      I want Murdock to turn up in this reboot.
      Should have made the reboot about Macs son.

  3. Kevin K says:

    The new MacGyver is going to be CBS’ biggest disappointment. Should watch the first two episodes only even though Amy Acker is guest starring in the second.

    • Danny says:

      I recognize you, oh hater of the Acker. It definitely you I saw posting as HarryOhHarry on ksite couple of minutes ago. Your style. Tsk tsk.

  4. wrstlgirl says:

    I’m giving it a shot but not holding my breath.

  5. Susan says:

    We’ll see………It’s going to be had to live up to the original. Richard Dean Anderson made that show!

  6. I want to be fair, but it doesn’t seem as if this remake will have the same heart as the original. I think we’re going to have to take this one (if we take it at all) as its own entity, and try not to compare it too much to the original. It may turn out to be a perfectly good show, even if the MacGyver name might not seem to fit it.

  7. Andrea says:

    Matt, thanks. I’m a MacGyver purist. Loved the original series back when I was in my teens. Everything I’ve read about the reboot puts it anywhere from “OK” to “Awful.” I still put it on my DVR, hoping that it had captured something from the original. Based on this review, and the fact that you were the one who wrote it, I just kicked the reboot off the DVR. IIRC, Jack Dalton may have had a way with the ladies, but Bruce McGill gave the character a lovable quality. He wasn’t a sleeze. Not gonna waste my time.

  8. arial2 says:

    I would love to see Richard Dean Anderson show up as his father or uncle. That would be a nice nod to the original show.The new Mac does look a bit like the old Mac.

    • Andrea says:

      If you go to RDA’s website, you’ll find some information in the Note from Rick section. He was asked to participate in the reboot (July 24 and 25, 2016 Notes from Rick), but he declined. Seems like he disagreed with decisions surrounding he reboot.

  9. #AckerIsBack says:

    I’ll just watch episode 2 with Amy Acker because she’s a cool CIA operative and stuff. Other than that I’m not interested in the new Mac. Sorry, Lenkov&co.

  10. DavidJ says:

    I’ll give it a try, but as expected it sounds like they’ve turned the show into just another generic CBS procedural, with yet another computer whiz in yet another high-tech command center. Glad to hear they’re keeping the voiceovers though. That was always my favorite part of the original (along with the catchy theme tune of course).

    • J. Jones says:

      After watching half of season 1, I think you are right. Very Hawaii Five-O in feel, but with one of the scorpion characters on the team to solve problems in an unconventional way. And I think it is getting worse with all the non-stop unrelated chitchat back and forth between the characters every time there’s a lull in the explosions and gunfire. What is it with having to put whiny motor-mouth characters in shows recently?

      In the original Macgyver, Jack Dalton and Penny Parker sort of fit that bill, but at least they only made an appearance a couple times each season. With the new MacGyver we have both Jack and Bozer wasting our time and generally lowering the quality of the show with their dialog in every single episode.

      If the writers can’t get things cleaned up by the end of the season I won’t be following it into Season 2.

  11. Aimee says:

    I realize it’s hard to judge a show fairly when you’ve only see previews and not full episodes but…what I’ve seen so far does not interest me. The #1 reason why is this McGyver seems a bit too full of himself. Mac was never about bragging or being cool or showing off. This kid comes across as cocky. Maybe he will seem different in a full episode but right now the chances of me checking it out aren’t looking good.

  12. Will D says:

    I’m not too sure of a show that needs so much promotion will be that good. Watch the NCIS trio and every third commercial break has a promo for Mac not to mention almost every break has a promo for Bull. Same holds true for many other breaks on other shows – CBS This Morning to The Late Show – almost nonstop promos for Bull and Mac.

    If the programs are as good as the network thinks they are they should be able to generate their own buzz instead of the network heads trying to beat the time and date to watch every 15 minutes.

    I’ll watch both and reserve judgement but will watch with a bias eye.

  13. Diane Townsend says:

    More importantly what do Patty and Selma Bouvier think of a remake of their beloved show?!

  14. carl says:

    rediculous
    no new ideas, just reboots n remakes…

  15. QYW says:

    If something interests me, I’ll give it a shot. Saw all of the original McGyvers–many times, and it has left me with a soft spot for anything McGyver. If I enjoy it, I’ll continue to watch it–anything, and I mean ANYTHING is better than reality TV or stupid, unfunny attempts at humor, so it appears pickings are very slim this year. I never judge a book by it’s cover–I’ll check it out first…

  16. Mr. Smith says:

    Looking forward to watching this show.

  17. Cat says:

    Jack Dalton was neither a “lady killer” nor “muscle” in the original. He was a teddy bear of a guy (played by Bruce McGill) who was always trying to make a big score and always having to call on Mac to get him out of the dilemma he got himself into. Saw an episode last week called “Jack of Lies” where Jack took all of Mac’s furniture/appliances out of his house and left a note saying “If you want to see your refrigerator again, meet me at this place”. As always, Jack downplayed the danger of the predicament he was in and Mac had to save both of them.

    Don’t see this being like the original at all…but will give it a try. Should’ve named it something else instead of trying to hoodwink us original fans of the Show.

  18. killermery says:

    Watching it for Amy

  19. Diana Fyre says:

    I grew up with MacGyver. How awful that they replaced him with a long-haired punk that looks like he’s about 16. Won’t be watching.

  20. HAP says:

    Don’t have the slightest interest in this show.

  21. B says:

    Jeez you made Dalton alot older…he and Mac were contemporaries. Sounds like your making Jack kind of sleazy…he was fun (Bruce McGill was fantastic) he was EX-ACT-LY what MacGyver needed not some gun toting ladies man to handle situations for him. What happened to using brains and MacGyverisms. Can’t the new writers do that. Or has it all been done?

  22. the trailer song is a great track…i am surprised to see this show coming back but sort of makes since..vintage tv ..and lack creativity ….

  23. Tiffany B says:

    Have no interest whatsoever in this ridiculous remake. Richard Dean Anderson was, & will ALWAYS be MacGyver. He gave the character EVERYTHING he had to make him & the show legendary. I just don’t see this remake of such a classic, fun, suspenseful, creative, & memorable show, being anywhere remotely close to the original! I can go on & on about my disgust of this idea, & how disrespectful I find them being to the original show. No one can ever replace the characters of the original MacGyver…Angus MacGyver, Pete Thornton (who sadly passed away), Jack Dalton, Murdock, & Penny, who made special appearances. The original cast members will always be the ones to make MacGyver the incredible show it was, & still is. NO ONE WILL EVER BE ABLE TO FILL THEIR SHOES!

  24. Lola says:

    I liked the story line, albeit a bit predictable, but the acting was horrible! I’ll check out one or two more episodes, but I think I know where I’ll be able to free up some space on my TiVo….

  25. Manon says:

    I liked the first 2 episodes. There are many differences with the original. For starters, Mac was monstly a “lone wolf” and rarely worked with a team. Except when he wanted to help someone. In this, he has a whole team with him. Still, I can accept this change. I can also accept the fact that he seems a bit younger than the original Mac. It is hard for me to imagine someone else playing the character (Richard Dean Anderson was amazing and gave life to MacGyver, just like he gave life to Jack O’Neill). I can see this show as a new take on the concept, just like Nikita was on La Femme Nikita. However, why change the theme song? I know it might sound silly, but that is what upset me the most. It is not MacGyver without the catchy theme song!

  26. Jeff says:

    The best way to describe the first two episodes is it feels too chaotic and cluttered, or something.

  27. Mike says:

    Bring Stargate back! lol
    This show might be good. Two episodes in and I am not sure about it yet.

  28. lif3 says:

    How it´possible to make such a bad remake! really disapointing… It´s almost disrespectful to use the macGyver title.
    How can they go from something that marked a generation to something wrong… jesus!!!!

    • Hank Ford says:

      They destroyed this show, and more recently, they added a terrible acting, awful character, little person actress. Just a joke.

    • Jeff says:

      I agree. If they wanted to change the characters and personalities around until it’s a completely different show they should have named it something different. Or alternatively they could have created the new character as a son that Angus MacGyver he never knew he had. Then they could create new side kicks until their hearts were content and probably cameo Richard Dean Anderson and other members if the old cast.

  29. Marple says:

    Watched the original and was worried about the reboot. They kept the real spirit of the original.
    I am so sick of all the gloom and doom on TV and in real life. If you are looking to watch a fun escapist show this is it. My new guilty pleasure.

  30. Linda says:

    Meridith Eaton as Matty is just not cutting it. I hope she is temporary.

    • J. Jones says:

      The character seems very unprofessional to me. Not like someone who should be in a directors position at a government think tank. In the last episode she seemed more interested in ragging on Mac and Jack instead of trying to “lead” and direct them into completing the mission. Patricia Thornton was a lot more believable in that respect.

  31. Lize says:

    I want the old song. Hate the new theme song!!!