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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action TV > MacGyver - Complete First Season

MacGyver – The Complete First Season


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Episodes: C+



Hoping to cash in on the following for Indiana Jones, Henry Winkler co-produced an hour-long action show created by Lee David Zlotoff, about a Mr. Science-type who was very able-bodied for action.  Before Martha Stewart put things together in ways no one could have ever expected, here was Richard Dean Anderson in the title role of MacGyver, who could stop nuclear reactions with chocolate bars and was a walking encyclopedia of science knowledge.


I always thought the show was very contrived, and now looking back at The Complete First Season, I can see that only the Cold War made this feasible to viewers.  The show launched in 1985 and was a moderate hit for a very troubled ABC Network.  They stayed with moderate hits when cable and NBC were killing them.  With Capital Cities having bought them, budgets were cut to nothing and the network barely got by until Disney bought them up.  The show had a troubled start, as the pilot show and later show The Heist had the pseudonym of Alan Smithee used where the director’s name belonged.


These are the following shows from the first season, including key stars and directors, plus airdates:


1)     MacGyver Pilot (9/29/85, guest stars Michael Lerner & Dana Elcar)

2)     The Golden Triangle (10/6/85, directed by Donald Petrie)

3)     The Thief Of Budapest (10/13/85, guest stars Michael Constantine)

4)     The Gauntlet (10/21/85, guest stars John Vernon and Robin Curtis)

5)     The Heist (11/3/85)

6)     Trumbo’s World (11/10/85, directed by Donald Petrie)

7)     Last Stand (11/17/85)

8)     Hellfire (11/27/85)

9)     The Prodigal (12/8/85, directed by Alexander Singer)

10) Target MacGyver (12/22/85)

11)  Nightmares (1/15/86)

12)  Deathlock (1/22/86)

13)  Flame’s End (1/29/86, guest stars Robert Englund)

14)  Countdown (2/5/86)

15)  The Enemy Within (2/12/86, guest stars Lynn-Holly Johnson)

16)  Every Time She Smiles (2/19/86, guest stars Teri Hatcher)

17)  To Be A Man (2/2/6/86, guest stars Persis Khambatta & Sid Haig)

18)  Ugly Duckling (3/12/86)

19)  Slow Death (2/26/86, directed by Don Weis)

20)  The Escape (4/2/86, guest stars Kristine Wayborn and John DeLancie; directed by Don Chaffey)

21)  A Prisoner Of Confidence (4/30/86)

22)  The Assassin (5/7/86)



Terry Nation, a veteran of Dr. Who and The Avengers, wrote some of the early “gambit” segments that opened the show to see if “Mac” as he was known, could get out of trouble and how.  This was enough of a hook to get the show to run for seven seasons, but it was never that good a show and meant for younger audiences, though not too young.  The show never had any edge, and Anderson always slept-walked through his dialogue and was the George Lazenby of U.S. action TV, even if he survived better.


The show somehow survived the fall of The Cold War, but these episodes sure don’t, especially when “Mac” goes in and out of The Middle East at will.  At times, it is almost insulting, though not intended that way.  Also, to spoon-feed the audience, “Mac” over-explained everything too much, which always held back any potential action edge.  Anderson himself ended the show, knowing he would have pushing it too much and went on to the bizarre TV version of Stargate that was also inexplicably a big hit on cable TV.  This is at least a good nostalgia piece for fans.


Tak Fujimoto, who remains Jonathan Demme’s main cinematographer on his feature films ranging from classics like The Silence Of The Lambs to disastrous remakes like The Manchurian Candidate and horrid Charade remake The Truth About Charlie, shot the full frame 1.33 X 1 image early on for the show.  The color is not great on any of these prints, but the show was never very colorful.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is not bad, better than usual for Paramount’s recent releases.  The Randy Edelman theme is cheesier than ever, though maybe that is part of the appeal of this show to fans.  There are no extra, but maybe something will surface on later boxed sets.  For now, MacGyver - The Complete First Season is a basic set that should make fans happy.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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