Looking Back at Season 1 (XI) – The Opening Title Sequence

I’ve been planning to write this post for ages, but somehow I kept procrastinating this specific topic. Maybe because I’ve written already so much about it way back when in the MacGyver Online Forums?

Alas, I’ll give it another try.

Back in February 2016, when news outlets like Deadline announced CBS had ordered a pilot for a MacGyver Reboot, the social media buzz was intense. The questions most often asked were probably these: Who will be the new MacGyver? What will he look like? What will his hair look like? Will he still have his SAK?

Besides MacGyver’s hair (about which I’ve also written a blog post recently), the Opening Title Sequence has always been something “holy” that isn’t to be touched upon; especially the Opening Title Theme.

Even people who have never watched a single episode of Original MacGyver recognize the theme. Together with the Opening Title sequences, TV shows can form a memory in people’s minds that they will always associate with that specific show, even if they don’t watch it regularly. Think about Baywatch. It’s basically just people in red swim suits running along the beach and smiling at the camera. Not that exciting, isn’t it? You get used to it after seeing it for more than one season. But still – think about what would have happened if they had changed the music or the opening sequence too much…

So it wasn’t a surprise that after the first hubbubb about Lucas Till’s casting as the main hero had ebbed down, the next questions being discussed were: Will they keep the iconic title music of the Original Show? What will the Opening Credits look like?

Back in April 2016, I wrote following statement in one of the MacGyver Online threads: I wouldn’t mind the old theme back or a variation of it. But I don’t think this will happen; I think they will go with something new… 

I’ve changed my mind a few days later; especially after comparing the original and the rebooted version of the Opening Title Sequence for Hawaii Five-0, Executive Producer Peter Lenkov’s other show.

 

I was convinced the opening theme would be a recognizable reincarnation of the original – in the same way it’s been done for Remakes and Reboots in the past.

Of course, there was the risk of not having an opening sequence at all – because most modern TV shows don’t. The newer CBS shows (e.g. Limitless, Pure Genius, Code Black, Bull) don’t have one, either. But we all agreed that they surely wouldn’t dare to do this with a Reboot of a TV show like MacGyver that had such an iconic Opening Title Theme.

I didn’t think about the scenes themselves that much, to be honest. I just assumed it would be the actors in some action scenes. Probably not MacGyver eating ice cream like in the original, but maybe jumping over things and running from the bad guys, surely? The Original Opening Title Sequence is over a minute long, although there’s only two actors being credited (Richard Dean Anderson and Dana Elcar). So the rebooted sequence would have to be as long as the original one if they had to fit at least 5 people in there?

On September 13, the official MacGyver Reboot Facebook Account by CBS uploaded a video of the Pilot Episode set where the Opening Theme was playing. I liked the music, but it was not really what I had expected.

 

 

For one, it was too short – just about 40 seconds. Second, the part with the Original Theme wasn’t that recognizable. Not at all like the rebooted version of H50 which sounds just like the original version.

Five days later, Peter Lenkov uploaded a video of the orchestra recording it onto Instagram. I was very happy it was still played by a real orchestra and I thought it sounded great, just… not what I had hoped for. It didn’t affect me in the same way as the original theme, but I was ready to accept it.

It’s difficult to judge a theme without the Opening Title Sequence that goes with it. It sounded more dramatic than the original version, as well; so I was curious if the tone for the show had changed. Also, I was happy that it didn’t sound like the promo videos they had made for the premiere of the pilot, because those had featured mainly Hip Hop.

On September 20, Yahoo! TV uploaded a “fanmade” version of the rebooted Title Sequence. It features scenes from the first two episodes plus from the Unaired Pilot Trailer while recreating the Original Main Titles and using the Original Theme. Because people had tweeted about it without sourcing it correctly, many fans (and News Outlets) had assumed it was the real one.

I have to say it’s a well-made version of an Opening Title Sequence for the Reboot – probably one of the best I’ve seen so far!

Fanmade Opening Title Sequence (via Yahoo! TV)

Only a few hours later, Entertainment Weekly finally released the new Title Sequence. This time, it was the real deal. The reactions were – varied. Some loved it, some hated it, some were disappointed.

I don’t remember exactly anymore how I felt about it back then, but I remember that I would have preferred the one by Yahoo! TV. On the other hand, I don’t think you necessarily have to see the characters’ faces in the Opening Title Sequence.

I actually liked that you see MacGyver doing MacGyverisms (even though these are not Lucas Till’s hands which is a missed opportunity). It gives an inkling to new viewers what MacGyver is about.

I’m not sure if the MacGyverisms could have been appointed to the characters in a better way – like cutting up the bullet in the Screenshot below would maybe make more sense if it was George Eads’ name appearing with it (since he’s the gun-wielding sidekick).

The Opening Title Sequence Shots were done by Picturemill. Sadly, they never shared more than one single collage of BtS shots on Facebook. I hope we get to see some kind of Making-Of one day.

They could have gone the “easy” way and just edit scenes from the Pilot Episode together – but they did something new for it, so I think it could have been promoted as some kind of “Extra” that could have been posted onto YouTube and other social media accounts by CBS.

They also solved the problem of changes in the main cast beforehand – they didn’t need to cut anything new together. They just had to exchange Sandrine Holt’s name – for one or two episodes, the slot stayed “empty” before it was replaced with Meredith Eaton.

Overall, I think they chose some good everyday objects – a battery, a paperclip, a lightbulb and so on. I like the colors as well. The texts appearing are also interesting – although they dropped the descriptions after the first five or six episodes (which I think was a necessary step), it works actually pretty well in the Opening Title Sequence.

Also, they made adjustements for other countries; e.g. in Germany (see below) or France they appear in German or French (while e.g. Italy kept the English descriptions).

One puzzling thing that I’m still wondering about: The “logo” is different. It fits better with the Original Show, but they use a different one for the official social media accounts and on Official Stills.

 

German Opening Title Screenshot

On Premiere Day (September 23rd), SlashFilm released an interview with Peter Lenkov and James Wan. The interview – done at the TCAs back on August 11 – also featured questions about the Theme Song:

Are you able to use the theme song in an age where they’ve cut theme songs out of shows entirely?
Lenkov: One of the big things in television these days is there’s no main title sequence anymore. One of the things that I was really adamant about doing the show, and they signed off on it, was doing a main title sequence and actually having a theme song. Incorporate some of the original theme from the original show and a little bit of a new theme. So it’s a combination of the two but I didn’t want to do the show without a main title sequence. I feel like this show needs that. Very much like that original show.

On Hawaii Five-0 you got the theme song down to 30 seconds. Similar thing for MacGyver?
Lenkov: I think right now it’s 21 seconds. It keeps getting shorter every time we do a redo, but I’ll tell you one thing. That’s a big battle to win, to be able to do a main title sequence and a theme song these days. That’s not something network television does anymore.
Wan: Because it eats up ad space?
Lenkov: Yeah and they feel like maybe it’s a little retro but I like that.
Wan: It sets the tone.

That sure sounds like we should be happy we got a Theme Song and an Opening Title Sequence at all, huh?

So… what’s coming for Season 2? I’ve been wondering today if they might change the Opening Title Sequence, but I doubt they will.

It’s not like CBS will grant us more time for the Opening Title if Peter Lenkov already had to fight to even have one. There will be more recurring characters next season, but there’s enough space left to fit in more actors’ names.

So far, it’s 33 days left until the premiere of Season 2 but there’s no indication that Picturemill or Composer Keith Power are working on something new. On the other hand, there’s been no promo so far.

We will know soon enough.

BtS of the Opening Title Sequence (via Picturemill)
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Looking Back at Season 1 (VI) – The Promo (Part 3: The TCA Portraits)

Note: I apologize for mainly using watermarked pictures in this blog post, but I couldn’t find non-watermarked pictures in decent quality. (Any non-watermarked pictures are screenshots I made myself.)

The Television Critics Association (TCA) is a group of approximately 200 journalists and columnists in the USA and Canada who cover television programming.

TCA Summer Studio Photoshoot (via Getty Images)

The Press Tours allow the major television networks, cable networks, online streaming services and the Public Broadcasting Service to present their slate of upcoming programs through panels and interviews.

TCA Summer Studio Photoshoot (via Getty Images)

On August 10 in 2016, the main cast plus Executive Producers Peter Lenkov and James Wan attended the TCA Summer Press Tour Event for CBS.

TCA Summer Studio Photoshoot (via Getty Images)

Before the panel, the main cast took part in a photoshoot for the so-called Summer Studio Portraits.

I have to say that I REALLY like them – more than the official portrait photos by CBS, actually. Each cast member did some portrait pictures plus additional photos alone or in pairs.

TCA Summer Studio Photoshoot (via Getty Images)

Despite the lack of sleep they must have had after a month of filming, they all look refreshed and happy. Also, the portraits don’t look overly photoshopped.

TCA Summer Studio Photoshoot (via Hollywood Reporter)

It looks like “Team Phoenix” did some color-coordination – mainly wearing blue, black and white – but it’s not that obvious that it feels staged. In fact, the clothes seem all very complimentary to everyone, so I’m not sure if they had a stylist’s help for that. (In fact, most other attendees have been wearing blue, grey, white and black as well.)

TCA Summer Studio Photoshoot (via Getty Images)

It’s unclear if they also did some group pictures – it would have been nice to see them all together. (Maybe we’ll get to see some outtakes one day because there must be many more pictures.)

TCA Summer Studio Photoshoot (via Getty Images)

Lucas Till, Tristin Mays and Sandrine Holt changed their attire before attending the party after the panel. The women changed into dresses, but stayed color-coordinated in black and white. Lucas chose a brown suit for his blue shirt.

TCA Summer Studio Photoshoot (via Getty Images)

It’s sad that the photos haven’t been used that much. I know that one of Lucas Till and one of Justin Hires were used for articles that appeared in CBS Watch! Magazine, and one of Lucas was used for the image series of “New Faces of Fall TV” by the Hollywood Reporter.

TCA Summer Studio Photoshoot (via Getty Images)

Because I’m not in the US and don’t have access to American Magazines, I can’t say for sure, though. And I dare to say it here because I thought about it many times since I started blogging about the MacGvyer Reboot: Lucas Till seriously lacks fan sites. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)

TCA Summer Studio Photoshoot (via Getty Images)

Maybe I’m just spoilt after being in the Twilight Fandom for more than five years. Because as a Twilight Fan, you were sure to find any printed article ever published anywhere in the world being scanned (in good quality), translated into English (if necessary) and made accessible on several fansites – usually on the same day an article was published.

TCA Summer Studio Photoshoot (via Getty Images)

Many Twilight-related fansites aren’t active anymore – but the ones that still are continue to update their galleries if new outtakes or pictures in better quality are available – sometimes even from photoshoots done years ago. I guess we’ll see if people looking for pictures related to the MacGyver Reboot have the same luxury one day.

Tristin Mays during the TCA Summer Studio Photoshoot (via CBS)

If you’re interested, you can see a BtS video with Tristin Mays of the photoshoot here.

MacGyver Reboot Update #7

Disclaimer: My original guest-post was first published on The MacGyver Project on August 14, 2016. I made some minor changes (e.g. grammar or source corrections, link corrections, additional pictures) before re-posting it on my own blog for safe-keeping.

Filming continues while the cast does the interview and photoshoot cycle at the TCA Press Tour in LA. Also, we got a brand new trailer, new stills and huge billboard ads!

via Getty Images

(Spoiler Alert: To avoid spoilers, I won’t post any revealing pictures, but you will get spoilered by reading this post or by clicking on the links provided!)

 

Work, work, work
Cast and Crew were still filming for Episodes 1×02 and 1×03 last week; shooting on the Historic Oakland Cemetery, in Midtown Atlanta and Downtown near Hardy Ivy Park. Several bypassers caught them filming while walking through the park or were able to watch the set from above. The reboot also got some impressive new lighting installations for the interior sets. For the rest of the week, production seemed to move onto higher grounds. A sky scraper setting for New MacGyver’s work place, maybe?

We finally got some more information about the Ninja shooting, gun-wielding bikini babes on the tank. Turns out they’re actually The MacGyverettes! Of course, we still don’t know what this is all about – Opening Gambit? Mac working undercover on a movie set? Who knows. Seems we’re up for a big surprise (hopefully a good one).

While cast and crew are working long days and weekends, they still find the time to pose for fan pictures or joke around a little bit. Two lucky kids even got to meet the cast on set.

Let the Promo begin: Interviews, Stills and Billboard Ads
On August 9, IndieWire posted an interview with Executive Producer Peter Lenkov about rebooting beloved shows. Lenkov revealed his rules of remakes: 1) Honor the original property. 2) Dive even deeper into the characters that fans love. He said: “The secret sauce is what MacGyver does, and I’m hoping that becomes a thing where people the next day are talking about, ‘Can you believe he did that?’ I think the characters are different, and the original show was very plot-driven. Nowadays, we have to really look at why people are tuning in. They’re tuning in for the characters.”

On August 10, SpoilerTV released more promotional pictures for the Pilot Episode and the main cast.

via SpoilerTV

On August 11, someone spotted a new billboard ad from afar – which didn’t look very promising to me. The up-close-version of a new poster provided by Peter Lenkov on the same day revealed the new tag line: “No man has done more with less“. It looks slightly better up close, but this poster wouldn’t spark my curiosity enough to watch the pilot if I didn’t already have a clue what the show was all about. It also reminds me of the first poster for the Unaired Pilot that shall not be named.

via Peter Lenkov

On the other hand, it’s not so different from other posters for movies or TV shows. Some people might think it’s a little cheesy, but that only fit’s into some of the cheesier episodes of the original show. My problem is mainly that it doesn’t seem to bring across what Original MacGyver made him our favorite TV hero in the first place.

It seems they did invest quite some money for the upcoming promo, though. Besides another version of a huge billboard ad, there are Sightseeing Busses driving through Hollywood announcing the “New Fridays” on CBS. I’m already curious what else is coming.

Let the Promo begin: MacGyver at TCA
On August 11, the cast travelled to LA with Peter Lenkov and Pilot Episode Director James Wan to do the promo rounds at the Television Critics Association (TCA). The visit included a short interview panel, photoshoots, live video interviews (streamed on the official MacGyver on CBS Facebook page), press interviews and posing for pictures with the interviewers.

via Twitter

The panel wasn’t aired, but we got almost everything live on Twitter and shortly afterwards via Online Articles. Peter Lenkov started with a MacGyverism consisting of trying to power up his smartphone through a lemon. Apparently, he should have brought more lemons to make it work. (Or maybe a cactus from the Ugly Duckling episode? Maybe I should try this with my old-school cell phone since it’s not smart and only needs to be charged once a week anyway.)

We had already heard a lot of what was said at the San Diego ComicCon panel last month: It’s “Team MacGyver” now; MacGyver get’s a family and a “bromance”. Also, there definitely will be guns (although it won’t be MacGyver using them.) 

Thankfully, they also shared some new information: Since MacGyver’s first name is not a secret anymore, it will be used frequently in the reboot. They will incorporate the original theme, with a new theme in the main title sequence. They already have a role in mind for Richard Dean Anderson and (still) hope he says yes. Lucas Till admitted he cut his hair because of the negative reactions after shooting the Unaired Pilot (we probably won’t ever know if he wanted it cut or if the bosses made him do it). There’s a nod to Hawaii Five-0 in the pilot and Lenkov hopes they get to do a crossover eventually. The cast still does its homework and watches the MacGyver reruns in their trailers between takes.

via Getty Images

After they made everyone sing “Happy Birthday” to Lucas Till, the cast hit the TCA After Party before travelling back to Atlanta to pick up filming.

Let the Promo begin: The Trailer
On August 12, CBS unexpectedly dropped a new trailer. While it’s again restricted on YouTube for an US-only-audience, CBS TV Studios was nice enough to put it up on their Twitter Account and on Facebook so everyone can see it.

I’ve watched it several times now, but I’m still not sure what to think of it. For the reboot itself, I’m still hovering between excitement, annoyance and bracing myself for disappointment. As for the trailer, there’s a lot of action and we get to see every crew member of “Team MacGyver” – The Brains (MacGyver), The Muscle (Jack Dalton), The Boss (Patricia Thornton), The Best Friend (Wilt Bozer) and The Hacker (Riley Davis). Sadly, the introduction of the whole team in such a short time is why we don’t see very much of New MacGyver himself and what makes him tick. The trailer does peak my curiosity, but it doesn’t “feel” like MacGyver yet.

Cast and Crew News
TVLine provided more information about Amy Acker’s role; revealing her character’s name (Sarah Adler). They also confirmed our suspicions that she’s no damsel in distress that needs rescuing. According to Lenkov, she’s a “female version of George Eads’ Jack Dalton, and she’s pretty badass!”. 

via Proper Sightseeing

Sarah Mays shared a picture on Instagram that revealed her being part of the Make-Up-Departement. Several extras shared their excitement online; e.g. Aina Dumlao (as a character named Andie Lee), Steven Stokes (Background Actor) or Tyler Ellstein (StandIn). Also, the IMDb page is slowly filling up with more names for the first three episodes.

Filming, writing, cutting
Still many more episodes to shoot until December, and the premiere is only six weeks away. SpoilerTV has revealed that Episode 1×04 will be called “Wire Cutter”.

While the writers spend the nights on the studio lot working, Peter Lenkov apparently has had a long weekend of cutting to do. It’s good to see that everyone is so dedicated to this project; their energy sure adds to the curiosity and excitement for the fans of the old show.