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TV Series Review

I'm just like MacGyver.

Oh, don't give me that look. I totally am. Every day, what do I do? I take random letters from the alphabet, moosh 'em together and make things! Watch and learn, young Padawan: I'll just grab a "t" and a "y" and maybe a couple of "o's" and, oh, just for a challenge, an "x." What do I have? "tyoox." Which means, um, absolutely nothing. Or "yotox," which means … also nothing. Maybe it's not the best example. But hey, throw in a few more letters, and you can spell "tyrotoxism," which means, "To be poisoned by cheese." See? Have I impressed you yet?

OK, so perhaps it's not quite as impressive as taking a couple of paper clips, a dryer sheet and crumbs from under the sofa and making a fully functioning satellite dish. For that, you'd need the real MacGyver.

Duct Tape Can Save the World …

The original MacGyver was a 1980s and early '90s television fixture on ABC. Richard Dean Anderson starred as Angus MacGyver, an everyman hero whose ingenious use of household scraps saved the free world in less than an hour every week. He made everything from (I kid you not) a defibrillator (with a microphone cord, rubber mat and some candlesticks) to a lie detector (from a stethoscope, an alarm clock and a blood pressure cuff). He was a little like Batman. But instead of spending quadrillions of dollars on nifty gadgets, MacGuyver simply made them himself with stuff from the Dollar Store.

ABC's MacGyver went off the air in 1992. But in today's entertainment climate, good shows—or even just OK ones—never really die. They just hibernate until another network resuscitates them. (I'd like to think that CBS resurrected MacGyver with that authentic MacGyver defibrillator.)

This version of Angus MacGyver (Lucas Till) is younger than the original—so young-looking, in fact, you wonder whether he's graduated from middle school yet. Boyish looks notwithstanding, he's got a doozy of a job, working for a super-secret government agency called the Phoenix Foundation. He's obviously a skilled operative, and he never leaves home without his trusty Swiss Army knife. But even though MacGyver can craft bombs from stuff found in the standard fast food joint, he doesn't particularly like to use violence against his adversaries. He has friends for that sort of thing.

While Mac crafts his zip lines, bear traps and air raid sirens, former Delta force soldier Jack Dalton beats up anyone who might interfere. That pair is often joined by Riley Davis, an expert hacker whom Mac and Jack recruited right out of Supermax prison (and who, coincidentally, was practically raised by Jack when she was a little girl). Meanwhile, Wilt Bozer (not to be confused with Wolf Blitzer) is the team's official prosthetic mask creator/comic relief guy, and boss Patricia Horton tries to keep the whole team in line.

… But Can It Save This Show?

This new MacGyver isn't just predicated on an old series. The program feels pretty geriatric itself. While there's still a certain charm in watching MacGyver MacGyver a new gadget together, the program's cadence feels a bit moldy, its budget fittingly shoestring, and its writing even more illogical than one might expect from a rebooted show like this.

Take, for instance, a recent episode in which MacGyver and his team to jet off to Shanghai to stop a Chinese nuclear missile from hitting the United States' West Coast. They're successful, of course: The missile veers off course and explodes harmlessly (though nuclearly) in the stratosphere near Baja, Mexico. The team celebrates as they watch detritus from the missile fall from the sky … while in Shanghai. Hmmm.

Moments like that were part of the original MacGyver's DNA, too. The 1980s were not exactly television's golden age. But even if the show feels a bit old, it also ported in new problematic content. While MacGyver's meant to be a flyaway diversion, some scenes get surprisingly bloody. Language is harsher than you might expect, too.

You might say that CBS tried to MacGyver MacGyver itself: It rescued an old, creaky show from a trash bin, gave it a new, younger protagonist, infused it with some ancillary content issues and then wrapped the whole works in duct tape.

The result? Maybe it just proves that there's only one real MacGyver.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

MacGyver: Dec. 15, 2016 "Scissors"



Readability Age Range



Lucas Till as Angus MacGyver; George Eads as Jack Dalton; Sandrine Holt as Patricia Thornton; Tristin Mays as Riley Davis; Justin Hires as Wilt Bozer






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

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