MacGyver returned to our screens on Friday night, and that’s reason to celebrate, right?
WWWWWRONG! In the 24 years since the original series ended, the world of spy-thrillers, political espionage, technology, television making and attitudes towards race and gender have moved on, but for CBS’ MacGyver reboot, it’s as if Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer, 9/11, the digital age and THE NINETIES never happened.
Hell! it’s as if Rosa Parks, the contraceptive pill and sexual revolution never occurred…
The opening scenes see a white-tuxedoed Angus MacGyver emerge from a classic silver sports car and enter a lakeside Italian mansion just outside of Pasadena. Why cast twenty-five-year-old frat boy and Jamie Oliver look-a-like, Lucas Till (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Hannah Montana: The Movie) to play a hardened war hero when I could take him in a fight?
MacGyver is after a glowing phial of super virus, so disguises himself as a waiter, fends off bullets with silver trays and bypasses a state-of-the-art biometric hand scanner with some wall plaster before making his escape in a physics-defying speedboat ride before Brit Baddie, Vinnie Jones kills MacG’s field analyst girlfriend Nikki (err, Bourne anyone?) … or does he?
Bypassing a billionaire’s high-tech hand scanner with dust is just one example of how one of the laziest scripts I’ve ever come across cuts corners and ends up as nonsense. A couple of split-screens and on-screen gfx later (stolen from the now 15-year-old 24 & 2010’s Sherlock) together with a voiceover to try and disguise the laws of physics might have worked in Richard Dean Anderson’s day but it doesn’t wash now.
This risible spy thriller also forgets that it’s not 1958 anymore. Modern audiences require more than cocksure heroes chasing down phials of super viruses or women in evening gowns stealing diamonds from high-class mansion soirees – they want their spies broken and vulnerable… rough, rugged and realistic. Even the James Bond franchise had the self-awareness to reinvent itself to keep up over a decade ago. But worse, MacGyver doesn’t possess Bond’s suave and confident demeanour; he’s just smug and smarmy.
Save for sidekick, Jack (George Eades) having MacGyver’s back in one twenty-second flashback, none of the characters seem to own a backstory before the opening titles. Where are the dead parents? The childhood inciting incident? Snuffleupagus has a more interesting history and more motivation than this!
A “gritty” female hacker, Riley (Tristin Mays) tenters the fray, we know she’s straight off the streets because she’s wearing State Penitentiary Orange and her hair is tousled. Only trouble is, while the camera never stops lingering on her water-sprayed arms and cleavage, she’s not straight off the streets at all; she’s straight outta The Ford Modelling Agency via High School Musical.
While Netflix’s Luke Cage and Fox’s 24: Legacy will both feature black protagonists, MacGyver has a black actor playing a previously white character. Which should be progress… you’d think!
While the rest of society evolves, actor Justin Hires’ (21 Jump Street) M.O. seems to be to set Affirmative Action back eighty years by portraying best friend Wilt Bozer as a wide-eyed 1930’s house servant – and props to him; he achieves this goal with such embarrassing aplomb that I half expected him to announce “Boss! Boss! Da Indians are comin” before being shot by an arrow.
Here is Justin Hires’ official character poster from the CBS promotion material. For a drama series. Set in 2016.
A Head of Department at CBS signed off on that. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?
Back to the “story”… Nikki (now using the name Eliza Pittsinger) shows up and steals the virus back because she’s not only alive, she’s also the supervirus supervillain. After Jack’s supernaturally accurate ears inexplicably track her to an airport and MacGyver RUNS alongside her plane as it’s taking off, he jumps aboard the undercarriage and…
brings the plane down with his trusty Swiss Army Knife and the aid of on-screen text reading HYDRAULICS (for any retards in the audience.) Which, if you haven’t switched channels yet, is about 98.8% of America. And me.
In a contrivance so bad I threw up in my mouth, MacGuyver works out that San Francisco is the target for the dirty bomb, ONLY BECAUSE MACGYVER REMEMBERS NIKKI’S ALIAS ELIZA PITTSINGER IS THE AUTHOR OF AN OBSCURE 1907 POEM ABOUT THE SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKES, he gets on a military truck, which seems to be traveling at 6mph on a completely empty highway. When he can’t diffuse the bomb, he makes a parachute out of a tarpaulin and some cable ties and everyone goes home for a beer and a fucking good laugh.
At the network.
For paying for this shit.
Everything about this show is cheap and inferior, the script was turned in by writers who just didn’t care about their craft. The ideas and set pieces are laugh-out-loud bad; roads are empty, airports are empty, pick-up shots have been forgotten, the effects are not even close to broadcast quality and there’s even one foot-chase where the handheld camera appears to have no gyro-stabilization (controlled chaos is a skill – this looks like it’s been shot by toddlers) making me think it was shot on a Samsung Galaxy 5.
We live in a decade where technological advances mean I can walk into a store and buy a 4K DJI Osmo (with 3 axis gimbal) for $600 yet James Wan, uber-talented director of the highly effective The Conjuring and Insidious and DC’s upcoming Aquaman, can’t shoot a foot-chase?
CBS – Did you spend the entire budget hiring a Hollywood director who then had to make your TV show with tin foil, a Swiss Army Knife and shoot it on quarter inch audio reel-to-reel tape? Because that’s what it looks like from here.
Every senior crew member, from both a creative and technical standpoint, should be ashamed of their involvement.
This McGuyver reboot has no business on the airwaves in 2016. It’s offensive, especially in its attitudes towards race and gender which should last have been seen on the cotton pickin’ slave plantations, in minstrel shows or in early Sean Connery’s ass-slapping Bond.
In summary… Middle America will fucking love it!
Jog on, MacGyver. You’re not welcome in this century.
Episode 2 of MacGyver continues Fridays on CBS…
so make sure you’re doing something more rewarding…
like pickin’ peanuts outta poop.