Flashback TV: MacGyver stops acid with chocolate
MacGyver, starring Richard Dean Anderson, was an 80s television show, and featured a man creating a bomb from a stick of chewing gum. This show was essential 80s television, and everyone I know has heard of this show, and I think everyone enjoys the star’s pension for impromptu inventions. That was the only real reason to watch the show. The basic plot is that MacGyver goes on a mission, sneaks around, creates some stuff and wins in the end. That formula repeated itself for 139 episodes.
The pilot is the perfect platform for audiences to learn about MacGyver and the whole thing is a brilliant vehicle for the show. After watching again for the first time in years, I can see why ABC picked it up. MacGyver begins the episode already on a mission, an introductory pattern that would continue for seven seasons. In China, he climbs a vertical rockface, rescues a prisoner of war, and then uses a flare gun to propel them both off the cliff. They parachute to safety. It’s a great opener.
The thing about MacGyver is that it doesn’t really rely on relationship drama or dialogue, although there is some of that. It’s an action show and the best part are the different situations for MacGyver, as well as his pals. Dana Elcar shows up in the pilot episode, but later returns in episode 11 as Peter Thornton, MacGyver’s trusty advisor. He’s a great actor and his dialogue delivery is spot-on, even as a different character in the pilot.
MacGyver is called in to rescue some scientists from a subterranean lab, which has partially caved in due to an explosion. He crawls through rocks and dirt to get there, and races to beat the clock, as the explosion has cracked a giant vat of sulfuric acid, which is leaking into the ground. In the most amazing scene in the episode, Mac uses some sticks of chocolate from a vending machine to plug the crack. Apparently, the acid reacts adversely when it comes in contact with sugar, or something like that. Although some of MacGyver’s exploits are exaggerated, they are the highlight of the series. This one in particular is true, and I liked it.
All in all, the MacGyver pilot is a great starting point for the series. It has good action, a great pace, and the characters are decent. The series would have even more scientific impromptu inventions, and lots of other great stuff too, like a villain, Indiana Jones style travel, and entertaining storylines. MacGyver’s talents are now part of the American culture, although nobody I know stops leaky acid barrels with chocolate. It’s entertaining when MacGyver does it, though.