Looking Back at Season 1 (XX) – Early Versions of the Pilot Script

The rebooted Pilot Script for the MacGyver Reboot was written by Executive Producer Peter Lenkov. An earlier version of the script – the Revised Network Draft (June 20, 2016) – has been floating around for a while now. I have been looking at Deleted Scenes in that Draft in several of my blog posts.

Of course, a script isn’t written and “sold” within the first try. There are revisions; lots and lots of revision. There must have been several earlier versions of the script used for filming. On September 18, 2016 – only days before the Series Premiere – SpoilerNet posted a summary of the Pilot Episode Script online. After watching the episode and reading the beforementioned Revised Network Draft, it’s clear that the person posting these spoilers must have had access to an early version of the script that never made it into production.

I’m looking at some of the interesting story or character parts in there.

 

Scene: Lake Como

One big difference in this early script version: Patricia Thornton was never part of the Lake Como mission. It’s Nikki that gives MacGyver all the information he needs to know.

In my opinion, this makes a lot of sense. There’s no need for Thornton to be there. They obviously had enough information concerning the whereabouts and enough time to bring a team and surveillance. In the Pilot Episode, all Thornton does is descending the stairs looking all dolled up and telling MacGyver where the safe is located. Of course, she could have been part of a bigger scheme (e.g. infiltrating the scene days or even weeks before in an undercover mission to gather information), but logic suggests this would have been done by another agent, not by the boss.

Storytelling-wise, it makes sense to include Thornton, though: All the important “players” – aka the series regulars or the main cast – of the new show are introduced within seconds, tied together via MacGyver’s voice-overs. They would have needed another introduction scene for Thornton (see below how it was done in this script version).

 

Scene: Mac and the Gun

As we all now, the Lake Como Mission goes south and Kendrick (in this early script version still an unnamed villain) holds Nikki at gunpoint. What’s happening now might make you scratch your head (or make you searching for your pitchfork): MacGyver pulls his gun.

Uhm. Yeah. That happened. They crazy, no?

I think all Original MacGyver fans will agree here that this makes no sense at all. And if this had stayed in the script, the outrage would have been one of epic proportions.

I don’t know what Peter Lenkov has been thinking while writing this. Maybe he had an idea of a new backstory about MacGyver’s dislike for guns for another episode. Maybe he was high on caffeeine and in dire need of sleep. I don’t think I need to write any further comments on this.

 

Scene: Thornton’s Introduction

In the Unaired Pilot, MacGyver had a best friend from High School called “Gunner”, played by Joshua Boone. I don’t know if they were supposed to be room-mates as well, but it’s clear that Lenkov took that idea, transforming Gunner to Bozer very early on.

The introduction of Patricia Thornton is a nod to the Original MacGyver Pilot. In the Original Pilot Episode, MacGyver lives in the Griffith Observatory and spends time with his “little brother” when his boss arrives in a helicopter that lands directly in front of the observatory.

It doesn’t really make sense that Thornton takes a chopper just to show him a video. A chauffeur bringing her in a limousine would have been a fancy enough choice. I like that they tried to bring in another Easter Egg that only people knowing the Original Pilot would recognize, but I think the way it ended up being filmed worked much better overall.

 

Scene: Inside DXS

Reading the beginning of the next scene, it feels like Lenkov intended to have a big room full of techs bustling around. Of course, such a scene would need lots of Extras and staging and time, so it turned out smaller in the finished episode.

I think it’s a bit unfair that they tried to blame all onto Mac and Jack. The intel was either not sufficient (e.g. what kind of weapon was being sold) or all wrong (e.g. about the hand-scanner or the security detail) – so it was partially Thornton’s and Nikki’s fault as well. Of course, we can’t just blame the “dead” girl.

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