Looking Back at Season 1 (XIX) – The Pilot Script: Deleted Scenes (Part 5)

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 – has been floating around since October 2016.

There was a Production Draft from June 29 and several revisions (Blue, Pink, Yellow and Green) when they did the first table read on July 8.

I’m taking a look at the Revised Network Draft of the Pilot Script from June 20 (2016).

 

Scene: In the Van

This scene takes place when Mac, Jack  and Riley try to catch Nikki before her plane takes off. While Jack is driving the Handyman Van, he and Mac have a conversation:

 

This is the second time in the script that MacGyver states he loves Nikki. In the finished pilot, the L-Word is never mentioned at all.

Episode 1×01: The Rising (via SpoilerTV)

In the Pilot Episode, MacGyver speaks Italian while posing as a waiter at Lake Como. Nikki seems quite impressed:

NIKKI: When did you learn to speak Italian?

MACGYVER: When you said yes to Rome.

I’m pretty sure in all these years, MacGyver had been in Italy before for a mission with DXS, but never felt the need to learn Italian. The next snippet of the conversation in the van kinda reveals what the mention of Rome was all about:

Somehow, Jack strikes me as the romantic type, despite not having much luck in the love departement. I don’t think he would believe in the concept about all women being liars.

Also, it’s not clear if Rome was just a destination for a romantic holiday or if “more” had been meant to happen. Considering that MacGyver and Nikki had been dating for two years and apparently have known each other for three years, it’s possible that maybe he would have asked her to marry him? Seems like a convenient little plot bunny that in case Tracy Spiridakos’ Nikki came back for another episode, there would be some kind of big previously-planned-marriage-proposal-revelation (e.g. Bozer or Jack finding the ring that was meant for Nikki).

 

Scene: Back home

This scene takes place when Riley and Jack come visit MacGyver, who sits at the campfire, watching the photos of him and Nikki burn. Riley admires some of MacGyver’s handywork before she finds the amulet that leads to the first notion of Cairo and sparks the idea of re-naming DXS after the bird rising from the ashes:

It’s possible this scene was filmed and edited out or cut together. I always felt the scene was a bit weird; the dialogue whileRiley snags the amulet from the chair never made much sense to me.

Episode 1×01: The Rising (via SpoilerTV)
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Looking Back at Season 1 (XVIII) – The Pilot Script: Deleted Scenes (Part 4)

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 – has been floating around since October 2016.

There was a Production Draft from June 29 and several revisions (Blue, Pink, Yellow and Green) when they did the first table read on July 8.

I’m taking a look at the Revised Network Draft of the Pilot Script from June 20 (2016).

 

Scene: At DXS

This scene takes place when Mac and Jack return to DXS after Mac was informed by Patricia Thornton about the bio-weapon being back on the market and Mac collecting Jack who was working on a movie set.

In voice-over, MacGyver talks a bit about DXS and what they do:

It makes sense they shortened the voice-over because revealing too much about DXS (or Phoenix) would have limited the possibilites for upcoming storylines – at least in case they wanted to change direction during the Season while still figuring out what worked for the audience and what didn’t.

After pushing in on the main heroes, Jack tries to enter the building:

To be honest, this snippet puzzles me a little bit. It does nothing but paint Jack being a bit incompetent at times. In the script, it’s mentioned that they haven’t seen each other in about 3 months and haven’t been at DXS either, where there is no mention of that in the episode.

 

Scene: Meeting Riley

This scene takes place right when MacGyver, Jack and Thornton go visit Riley in prison.

Again, it makes sense they didn’t reveal too much about the reasons for Riley’s imprisonement since this would have limited the possibilites for an upcoming Riley-centered Episode (which we got in Episode 1×11: Scissors).

 

Scene: Tinfoil

Mac, Jack and Riley travel to San Francisco to find Kendrick and the bio-weapon. They debate how to find him in the hotel:

Again with the bikini-clad babes. Someone must be fond of those *lol*.

This scene might have been re-written for budget or location reasons. It wasn’t necessary to film a scene that calls for a swimming pool and several extras; escpecially since the bikini beauties were already needed for the “Baywatch With Tanks”-Scene (you can find more about that one in this blog post).

1×01: The Rising (via SpoilerTV)

In the Pilot, the scene is set within a storage room. Sure, the scenery isn’t as nice, but it keeps the focus on the MacGyverism instead of the surroundings and the banter that happens beforehand.

 

Scene: Chasing Kendrick

In the chase for Kendrick, we are robbed of an extended MacGyverism:

We got a bola for Episode 1×14 (Fish Scaler), though.

Episode 1×01: The Rising (via SpoilerTV)

It’s possible that the next scene had been filmed and was cut out in the editing room. On the other hand, it makes sense that in the finished scene, Kendrick stays unconscious. In fact, it would have made more sense if he had been dead after the “incident” with the ladder.

 

Looking Back at Season 1 (XVII) – The Pilot Script: Deleted Scenes Part 3 (Baywatch With Tanks)

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 – has been floating around since October 2016.

There was a Production Draft from June 29 and several revisions (Blue, Pink, Yellow and Green) when they did the first table read on July 8.

I’m taking a look at the Revised Network Draft of the Pilot Script from June 20 (2016).

 

On July 19 in 2016, we got several pictures of a tank on set. A tank that soon got invaded by bikini-clad women in heels or boots while carrying weapons. Hmm. SkyDroneCinema called it a “hot hot day on set” while Lenkov asked the same question that fans have been asking on the MacGyver Online Forums and on the MacGyver Online Facebook Page: What does this have to do with MacGyver???

BtS picture on set of Episode 1×01: The Rising (via Tiko Pavoni)

As more pictures turned up, we realized the scene also featured Ninjas. There had been a Casting Call by Central Casting Georgia looking for Ninjas on July 18, but seeing them together with gun-wielding “bikini babes” just made this even more surreal.

Casting Call from July 18 (via Central Casting Georgia)

Pictures of the Ninjas posing with the bikini girls would have fit for movies along “MacGruber” or “Sharknado”, so of course we weren’t just puzzled about this, but also concerned – because the material we had gotten the days before looked so much different. It felt like the quality of the production had just dropped a notch.

BtS picture on set of Episode 1×01: The Rising (via Chris Delfin)

Crew member Chris Payne Gilbert sure had fun filming this scene, as did George Ead’s Stand-In Mikey Leo and model Teresita Vicente (although she later deleted her Instagram picture stating she had been shooting Ninjas all day with a machine gun while wearing a bathing suit).

BtS picture on set of Episode 1×01: The Rising (via Chris Payne Gilbert)

While some fans were as happy as Lucas Till and George Eads snagging Ninja-Shooting Bikini Babe India Batson for a picture, others were either confused or disappointed; stating that “Baywatch With Tanks” (thanks for this label, Miasma!) wasn’t the image the show should be going for.

BtS picture on set of Episode 1×01: The Rising (via India Batson)

We kept guessing at what this scene should be for days. Opening Gambit? Weird Dream Episode? Music Video for the Soundtrack? Promo Video for Comic Con San Diego? Maybe another production filming on the same studio lot and Lucas and George posing for fun during a break?

As it turned out, all the excitement and chatter was for nothing because the scene got cut in the end. If you’re lucky enough to have gotten a DVD copy (Season 1 has only been released in Australia and the UK so far), the scene made it onto the DVD Extras.

A look at the DVD Extras for Episode 1×01: The Rising (UK Version, via Attila Vass)

FunFact: A tiny shot of the scene actually had made it into one of the Official Trailers, so it must have been cut in the later stages of the editing process.

Screenshot of one of the Official Trailers (via CBS)

Looking at the script, this scene takes place after Patricia Thornton had recruited MacGyver back into DXS, stating his “vacation” was over.

So while MacGyver was healing (both physically and emotionally), Jack was working as a tech consultant on a movie set. Interestingly, the script never describes much of the movie besides having a young and good-looking starlet with a machine-gun, playing a character being a spy working undercover. I’m curious to know who actually came up with adding Ninjas to the “Baywatch with Tanks” concept.

I don’t think it was hinted at in the Pilot Episode that Mac and Jack didn’t stay in close contact after Lake Como. I’d think that Jack would have stayed at Mac’s side while being treated at the hospital, but it’s quite possible that Jack felt responsible for MacGyver’s girlfriend and valued team member Nikki getting killed and tried to deal with this guilt on his own.

In the version that aired, Mac and Jack are simply reunited without ever talking about the events at Lake Como. While I’m aware that the scene was probably cut for time, this just again made me think that it would have been nice to actually get a two-parter for the Pilot Episode or maybe an episode longer than the standard 40-and-something-minutes.

Scenes like this would definitely have helped to implement the friendship between these two and why they’re still working together. On the other hand, I’m totally fine about dropping the next scene:

The role of “Tiffany” was played by India Batson. I feel bad for her the scene got cut, but besides painting Jack as a bit of a ladies man, it doesn’t do much for moving the plot forwards.

BtS picture on set of Episode 1×01: The Rising (via Lucas Till)

Me being one of the “unlucky” ones without access to the DVD Extras, I can only speculate that the scene was cut for time. I don’t know much about filming budgets, but I’d say this was a rather expensive scene to let go of.

I’m fine with dropping it, though. I’s not really relevant to the plot and rather slows it down. It would have been nice to have Mac and Jack talking about the mission and their guillt, but it wasn’t necessary to do it here. Also, since Bozer is the one being interested in movies and being a director, it would have made much more sense to me if Bozer worked on movie sets (e.g. as an Extra or in catering) to earn some experience in the field. They could have worked that into an episode with MacGyver having an adventure outside of Phoenix like in the Original Show – e.g. there’s weird stuff going on at Bozer’s work place aka the film set he got a little job at; similar to “Cleo Rocks”.

Looking Back at Season 1 (XVI) – The Pilot Script: Deleted Scenes (Part 2)

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 – has been floating around since October 2016.

There was a Production Draft from June 29 and several revisions (Blue, Pink, Yellow and Green) when they did the first table read on July 8.

I’m taking a look at the Revised Network Draft of the Pilot Script from June 20 (2016).

 

Scene: In the helicopter

This scene takes place when Mac and Jack are in the helicopter, chasing the bad guys transporting the bio-weapon in the truck to its destination.

The vial of morphine won’t be mentioned again until towards the end of the episode – you’ll see why further down.

 

There is some more banter and action first before Riley informs them where the (blue) truck is headed:

Original MacGyver was often annoyed by some of Jack’s comments. This scene here doesn’t feel very MacGyver, though. Original MacGyver might have thought Jack was naive and and gullible, but I don’t think he would have ever implied that Jack was mentally impaired.

Also, rebooted Mac and Jack have known each other for years. It seems weird that Jack suddenly finds MacGyver’s fear of heights inconvenient and something that Mac should overcome right now, even though it might have been a topic before.

 

Scene: Siberia

This scene takes place right after MacGyver and Jack secured the bio-weapon and before everyone meets at MacGyver’s and Bozer’s place; choosing a new name for DXS.

 

This scene was actually filmed, but got dropped in the editing room – probably for time. I don’t think they had already the idea of “recycling” this for a later episode.

BtS of 1×01: The Rising (via Peter Lenkov)

They reshot the Siberia Scene for the Season 1 Finale (1×21: Cigar Cutter), but without any voice-overs because the trip to Siberia happened under different circumstances. I would have actually preferred to see it here in the Premiere Episode. It feels very Original MacGyver; more than the version filmed for the Season Finale.

It shows the rebellious side of MacGyver; the side that is willing to breaking the rules to prevent potential disaster. In the Season Finale Version, Jack and Matty knew what MacGyver was about to do; this was probably even sanctioned by Phoenix and Oversight.

BtS of 1×21: Cigar Cutter (via Peter Lenkov)

Looking Back at Season 1 (XV) – The Pilot Script: Deleted Scenes (Part 1)

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 – has been floating around since October 2016.

Judging by social media pictures by cast and crew, we know this wasn’t the final version. There was a Production Draft from June 29 and several revisions (Blue, Pink, Yellow and Green) when they finally started the table read on July 8.

I’m taking a look at the only version of the Pilot Script that’s available to me at the moment – the Revised Network Draft from June 20 (2016).

 

Scene: Lake Como

This scene takes place at Lake Como, after MacGyver entered the villa and donned his camera glasses, right before he meets up with Patricia Thornton.

I think this is an interesting little snippet. Many viewers complained on social media that MacGyver came off as too cocky and James-Bond-like. And I think that was the main reason that many fans of the Original Show stopped watching. I think more scenes like this one could have helped preventing that.

Interestingly, this is a theme in most of the Reboot-FanFiction as well – MacGyver is not a ladies man; usually clueless when women flirt with him.

 

Scene: MacGyver running

This scene happens right after the Opening Credits.

There are no voice-overs in the finished scene. I don’t know if they ever made them and decided to take them out or not. They’re not necessary for the scene in my opinion. On the other hand, I never really felt the love and betrayal between MacGyver and Nikki. Maybe something like this would have helped.

 

Scene: MacGyver taking a shower

This scene happens after MacGyver’s run and talking with Bozer and before the shower scene.

This little snippet isn’t that important to the story, but it gives us a bit more insight into who MacGyver is. Also, the set of MacGyver’s house is really interesting. I would have liked to see more of it – especially since we saw Bozer’s room in Episode 1×08 (Corkscrew), but never got to see MacGyver’s room.

 

After the Flashback comes this little snippet:

I’m curious if this was written with another specific storyline in mind. It could also be some “leftovers” from the Unaired Pilot Script written by Paul Downs Colaizzo. The Unaired Pilot Script had MacGyver rescuing himself after being held prisoner for five years in Pakistan by the Mazzari, a terrorist group. It’s possible that Colaizzo’s script implied MacGyver being tortured.

If this was added by Lenkov, it could have been part of MacGyver’s childhood story; e.g. how his mother died. I’m thinking car accident – and the idea of MacGyver being with her when she died. But I guess this might have been too dark as a backstory – the most recent episodes proved again that the show is seen as light entertainment for a Friday evening.

Looking Back at Season 1 (XIII) – Guns and Violence

MacGyver doesn’t use guns and only resorts to violence when necessary. He uses his brains – mainly his vast science knowledge – to solve problems and catch the bad guys. This was established by the Original Show. It’s also one of the reasons why the show was so successful in the first place, especially overseas.

Original MacGyver Ad (ABC/Paramount)

A Reboot is always tricky. It’s basically a new show that still has to honor the original to a certain extent. There are some things that can’t be touched while some things are a “nice to have”. Of course, not everyone feels the same about these “nice to have”s.

I was happy they put Lucas Till into the brown leather jacket as a nod to the original. But if they had decided that it was too hot in Atlanta to let Lucas run around in it all day and had to let go of it, that would have been fine by me. No need to make an actor collapse due to a heat-stroke just to have another Easter Egg to cross off your list. I love the voice-overs, but I can understand why they stopped doing them after a while. I know others were very vocal about the lack of rebooted MacGyver’s love for hockey, but I got over that pretty quickly.

For me, it would have been nice if the Reboot (and especially the Pilot Episode) had implemented more of the subtleties of Original MacGyver’s character – e.g. the fact that he doesn’t drink alcohol or that he cares deeply about the welfare of animals and the environment. On the other hand, it was very important to me that they keep MacGyver’s aversion toward guns and violence.

Guns, violence and nudity
There is a time and place for guns, violence or nudity in movies and TV shows. While I don’t think it’s necessary tho have this “holy trinity” in a movie or a TV show to entertain me, I don’t mind it if it happens in the right context and serves a purpose. I don’t need it just for the sake of entertainment – because if there’s a good storyline and great acting, you don’t need the big kabooms or naked shenanigans.

Like most fans of the Original MacGyver show, I believe that there’s no need for guns, violence and nudity in a MacGyver Reboot.

The nonviolent aspect is more than a subtlety, it was the core of the show.

(Nicholas Sweedo, blog-owner of The MacGyver Project)

Original MacGyver was famous for being a family-friendly show. It was different than its counterparts airing at the same time (e.g. The A-Team). Paramount (who owned Original MacGyver back then) used this also for advertizing, e.g. with he statement in the ad above (You don’t need a weapon when you’re armed with imagination) or for the DVD Cover of Season 2 (His Mind is the ultimate Weapon).

Original MacGyver Season 2 DVD Cover (USA)

Of course, CBS and the showrunners were aware that they couldn’t dare rebooted MacGyver using guns and too much violence. MacGyver is a well-known TV show and a bankable Franchise; they didn’t want to lose Original Fans as potential viewers. Problem is: They wanted rebooted MacGyver as the secret agent of the Original Season 1, not the preachier PSA version of the later seasons. They wanted the big kabooms and car chases and bazookas. They wanted the action. So what did they do? They gave rebooted MacGyver combat experience and a gun-wielding sidekick in the character of Jack Dalton.

I don’t need Jack (or Team Phoenix) to handle it
From a production standpoint, writing Jack Dalton as the character he is was kinda brilliant. Also, George Eads is a delight to watch. (Yes, he’s nothing like Original Jack Dalton played by Bruce McGill, but that’s a topic for another blog post.)

My main problem: Bringing Jack in as a gun-wielding Ex-CIA-Agent and Ex-Sniper with Delta Force makes MacGyver’s unique way of problem-solving kinda void. If Mac can’t do it, there’s always Jack who can get him out by shooting at the bad guys. In the end, Mac didn’t really manage to solve the problem without guns (and unnecessary violence) – he just let Jack (or someone else, e.g. Sarah Adler in Episode 1×02) do it.

Episode 1×01: The Rising (via SpoilerTV)

There is a specific scene in the Pilot Episode that was the main reason for fans of the Original Show turning their backs on the Reboot early on. It was also one of the main reasons for the massive amount of backlash on social media while the episode aired (not only in the US, but also in Germany, France or Italy): MacGyver is trying to defuse a bomb (presumably in Afghanistan) with the bad guys closing in. He asks for Jack’s help who promptly shoots them. Sniper-style. Funny quip (Who loves you, baby?) included.

The scene was partially written as an Easter Egg for fans of Hawaii Five-0 and to establish the possibility of a future crossover episode: In a deleted shot of this scene, the word ALOHA can be seen on Jack’s sniper rifle. It’s a nod to the shared history with H50 main character Steve McGarrett (played by Alex O’Loughlin).

Deleted Shot of Episode 1×01: The Rising. Photo by Guy D’Alema (via TVLine)

If the show wasn’t a Reboot of MacGyver, this scene wouldn’t be a big problem, I guess. There is not much to say against the realism of it. The problem is, as Kate stated in the RDA forums:

[MacGyver] didn’t have a back-up team – he WAS the back-up team.

(Kate Ritter, creator and host of the Official Richard Dean Anderson website)

It’s a fine and difficult line to turn the lone-wolf-character of the Original Show into a member of a team without making him appear helpless at times. So far, the Reboot hasn’t quite mastered it yet; especially in the first episodes of Season 1. Since the show is named after a main character, this character should be able to do a mission without having others to bail him out all the time – especially with the help of over-the-top technology (via Riley) or guns (via Jack).

Regarding Mac not using a gun in this — It sometimes ends up just making him look like the least efficient member of the team. 

(Forum User Miasma in the MacGyver Online Forums)

In the Pilot Episode, Mac uses a MacGyverism to create smoke to trigger the fire alarm. So why not just activate the fire alarm by hitting the button? Why not just burn a piece of paper in a bucket? There was no MacGyverism (and therefore no MacGyver) needed here because anyone else could have thought of that and done it. The MacGyverism was just for show.

Episode 1×01: The Rising (via SpoilerTV)

To be fair, this happened in the Original Show as well sometimes. But now that MacGyver is surrounded by a team, such unnecessary MacGyverisms are even more obvious. They needed a distraction that could have been delivered by Riley or Jack as efficiently – and faster, without wasting any chemicals.

Also, the fact that CBS chose to send MacGyver on missions as a secret agent instead of traipsing around and finding himself in trouble while trying to help others creates another problem: If they are sent on missions planned in advance with Riley bringing her laptop and Jack bringing his gun, whey don’t they take their spy-kits (with night-vision-goggles and other useful stuff) with them as well? They would still need to improvise every now and then, but they wouldn’t need to start from scratch every time.

The reason that MacGyver takes on missions by the government without any gear can’t be explained that easily in the Reboot as in the Original where he didn’t have a team.

I don’t need no guns
You might remember Original Episode 5×06: Halloween Knights, where Murdoc enlists MacGyver’s help to rescue his sister from former employer HIT (Homicide International Trust).

It would have been an easy and lazy way for the writers to let Murdoc bring his deadly tools. But MacGyver made following deal with Murdoc: No guns or I don’t help you. Of course, Murdoc found a way to cheat on the deal, and yet MacGyver still didn’t use the deadly tools in the way Murdoc had intended. It was the core of the episode (and the original series) to catch the bad guys without the help of guns and bombs (or only using them as distraction devices).

Episode 1×01: The Rising (via SpoilerTV)

In a video interview with ET Online (September 29, 2016), Lucas Till said about the role of Jack Dalton: “He uses the guns, because MacGyver famously doesn’t use guns.” Yes, that’s right. But the writers didn’t really get the point, did they?

See Episode 1×02 (Metal Saw) for example: What’s the point using a MacGyverism instead of a gun if there’s a gun (or two, maybe even three with Thornton on board) at hand anyway? Instead of throwing the net onto the bike to stop the bad guy, they could have kept shooting at the tires with the same effect. Original MacGyver is known for using guns as a tool; but if rebooted MacGyver accepts a gun-wielding posse around him anyway, he could have just asked them to shoot at the tires. Or shoot at the tires himself.

There is a reason why MacGyver avoids guns. And it’s not because it looks way more interesting if he doesn’t use them.

Back when Executive Producers Peter Lenkov and James Wan attended ComicCon in July 2016, I was actually pleasantly surprised that they really intended to keep Mac not using guns. I never expected the Reboot to be as strictly anti-gun as the original; and I’m pretty sure we’ll never see episodes like “Blood Brothers” or “The Gun” like we did in the Original Show – but those interviews back then gave me hope.

So of course after watching the first few episodes, I was very disappointed how this topic was handled. Fact is: Original MacGyver doesn’t just not use guns (unless it’s as a wrench or another tool) – he condones them. He hates them with a passion. And he insists on people leaving their gun behind if they want him to help. As soon as they made Jack a gun-wielding Ex-CIA-Agent, they kinda eliminated one of the core points (or maybe even THE core point) of the original.

I don’t need the bad guys to get killed
The other problem I have with the ALOHA-Scene: Original MacGyver would never work with someone who regularly kills people to protect him. Knocking them unconscious or incapacitating them in another way yes, but not kill them. He also wouldn’t tolerate said someone to be so cavalier about it.

Let’s be honest: The Original Show was cheesy and quirky and not very realistic when it came to bad guys getting knocked on the head. John Kendrick (played by Vinnie Jones) in the Pilot Episode of the Reboot is a bad guy who would have fit in well in an original episode – especially the way he’s captured: MacGyver drops an Escape Ladder on him. Realistically, Kendrick should have been dead. But he doesn’t even appear concussed, and that’s fine with me.

Episode 1×01: The Rising (via SpoilerTV)

So why didn’t they do this for other bad-guys-scenes as well, e.g. in the boat chase: The goons see the empty boat coming at them. Why not let them jump off the boat before it crashes into them and explodes? It’s exactly what would have happened in an Original Episode.

The Anti-Handgun-Stance of the Original Show
The Original Show was very anti-gun, specifically anti-handgun. I wasn’t aware that this was kinda unique for an US TV-Show until I grew older. As a kid, in my opinion only bad guys carried guns – unless they were police officers or soldiers.

Growing up in Switzerland, I never came in contact with guns until my first boyfriend had to join the military service at the age of 18. And it wasn’t until I started watching TV shows in their original language that I realized how the use of guns, violence and sexuality differentiates in the US compared to Europe.

Sean Wohland and Richard Dean Anderson in a Promo Photo for Original MacGyver Episode 4×02 (Blood Brothers)

Original MacGyver Episode 4×02 (Blood Brothers, 1988) had impressed me back then when I first watched it as a kid – and it’s still one of my favorite episodes. In Blood Brothers, MacGyver returns to his hometown to find himself haunted by the memories of a fatal shooting accident when he was a kid. (Mac had brought a gun to make shooting excercises at beer cans with his friends. When Neil tried to shoot at a bird, MacGyver prevented him from doing so, ending with Jesse getting accidentally shot in the chest and dying.)

On November 18 in 1988, Richard Dean Anderson talked about the story behind this episode on Good Morning America and how the NRA (National Rifle Association) had managed in Paramount making the producers drop the message they had wanted to add at the end of the episode.

In Episode 6×03 (The Gun, 1990), a gun used to assassinate a presidential candidate years ago is found, leading investigators to accuse MacGyver’s friend from the youth center of shooting a cop.

Before the episode aired, Co-Executive Producer Stephen Downing (an ex-officer in the LA Police Departement) talked with the Los Angeles Times about the problems they had been facing two years ago:

“The result of that story was a lashing out of us by the NRA. Since that time, we have been on their hit list. They have been encouraging people not to watch us and boycott our sponsors. We try to do a decent job of really saying why a gun is dangerous and they choose to boycott us and put us on their hit list.”

(Co-Executive Producer Stephen Downing for LA Times, October 1990)

Don’t get me wrong: I’m aware that opinions in “TV Show Life” and real life aren’t always the same. Original MacGyver Richard Dean Anderson and many of the cast and crew were very anti-handgun themselves. It’s one of the reasons why episodes like “Blood Brothers” or “The Gun” exist. That doesn’t mean that all people working on the show had the same opinion about this topic.

I also know that this doesn’t reflect the opinions of everyone working on the Reboot. I’ve seen pictures of crew members showing off their gun collections (and no, they weren’t always prop guns) on social media. I’ve seen pictures of Lucas Till going hunting with his extended family and I’ve read interviews with George Eads stating he had gone hunting with Lucas on the weekends.

This is all BtS stuff that we probably wouldn’t even know about if not for social media. But that doesn’t mean they can’t address the topic in the Reboot and handle it in a similar way as the Original did. After all, they knew that a certain amount of expected anti-gun and anti-violence stance would come with the package; no matter if they made a reboot (instead of a sequel, a prequel or a remake).

It’s getting better…
I’ve been complaining a lot, haven’t I. I have no problem to admit that the show DID get better concerning the use of guns as the series progressed.

It’s just a pity that within the first episode, they had already lost a lot of potential viewers – mainly fans of the Original Show. And mainly due to the fact how they had handled the use of guns and violence.

Overall, the show felt a bit like a compromise to me: They had the order by CBS to reshoot the Unaired Pilot and to keep the Ex-CIA-Agent as the bromance-buddy. There wasn’t much time left because the premiere date wasn’t to be changed. So Peter Lenkov turned Lincoln into Jack Dalton; therefore keeping the action-buddy AND an Easter Egg (and the chemistry between Lucas Till and George Eads that had already been established). But that also meant there would always be a gun present in MacGyver’s vicinity and that turned out to be a problem.

After watching the first few episodes, I had made following statement in the MacGyver Online Forums:

The story still has to work if there wasn’t a gun involved. Let Jack’s gun disappear (lost, taken by the bad guys, running out of ammo) and see what happens. Does the storyline hold up? Do the MacGyverisms still work? If not, that’s not a MacGyver story.

It’s interesting that storywise, two of my favorite episodes are actually episodes where Jack doesn’t have immediate access to his gun. In Episode 1×10 (Pliers), Mac and Team travel to Mission City in their free time to accompany Mac who’s finally agreed to give a chemistry lesson at his old high school. As far as I know, Jack hadn’t taken his gun with him since this wasn’t an official mission.

Episode 1×13: Large Blade (via SpoilerTV)

In Episode 1×13 (Large Blade), Jack loses his gun right at the beginning. He gets it back later into the episode, but never really gets to shoot it.

…but there’s still some work to do.
While the writers sure will honor MacGyver not using guns in the upcoming second Season as well, I think they really need to address the reasons more explicitly soon.

There’s actually an easy way to explain rebooted MacGyver’s aversion towards guns: When it’s revealed in Episode 1×02 that Mac’s mother died when he was 5, I immediately thought she had been shot and that this would turn out as the backstory for a flashback episode.

BtS with the prop gun for Episode 1×08: Corkscrew (via Lucas Till on Twitter)

Problem is: In Episode 1×08 (Corkscrew), rebooted Murdoc invades MacGyver’s home. Bozer asks MacGyver why he didn’t have a gun like Jack. If Mrs MacGyver had died at the hand of a gun, wouldn’t Bozer as Mac’s best friend know that? And shouldn’t he already know that MacGyver would never want to carry a gun, despite him being in the military for several years?

Personally, I would hate this backstory for rebooted MacGyver. Because it would make MacGyver a victim only. In the original version, it’s revealed that it was a young MacGyver that had brought the gun that killed one of his friends. He was partially a complice in Jesse dying and never got over feeling guilty about it. Which might have formed and festered the need in MacGyver to help others and save other people’s life.

Guns should also be a controversial topic between Mac and Jack – or at least they should have been when they started working together. There’s no way that MacGyver was able to join the military and a secret government agency without having to fight about his right not having to handle guns in the past.

 

So please, dear MacGyver writers! Take on this hot topic and turn it into something fruitful. This shouldn’t be ignored and I think there’s a big possibility to add even more value to this show by finally handling it properly.

 

Author’s Note: I wasn’t trying to make a political blog post here, but as you maybe noticed: I’m strictly anti-gun. Always have been. I’m willing to discuss this topic in a civil manner, but you won’t change my mind. And I won’t try to change yours. Just saying what I think about the use of guns and violence in the first Season of the MacGyver Reboot and why it should have been handled differently.

Looking Back at Season 1 (IX) – The Official Stills (Part 1)

I was always a bit puzzled about the release of the Official Stills for the MacGyver Reboot. (But maybe that’s just how it works with TV shows in the US – it’s not like I’m an expert on the subject.)

Sometimes we would get 20 Official Stills for an episode – another time only 3. Sometimes we would get 9, but all of them looking very similar. Or 6 out of them showing people standing around, looking at something we can’t see. The quality seemed to vary as well.

Overall there weren’t many in the bunch that would actually spark my interest, but it’s fun to look over them again, now that it’s been many months since I’ve seen the episodes for the first time.

I’m looking back at the Official Stills for each Episode; picking my favorites and writing down some of my thoughts. (Because I just can’t keep quiet, as you all know by now.)

Episode 1×01: The Rising (Still Photographer: Guy D’Alema, Jace Downs, Ron P. Jaffe)
It’s necessary to release a bunch of Official Stills for a Pilot Episode, of course. We got about 19 Official Stills via SpoilerTV and a few more via Getty Images. It’s difficult to judge stills when you don’t know all the characters yet, but I thought they had a good variety of different scenes – there was team bonding, running, disarming bombs, kissing and MacGyvering.

Episode 1×01: The Rising (via SpoilerTV)

MY FAVORITE: Probably the one with Mac and Jack doing some MacGyvering.

NOW THAT’S DISAPPOINTING: No Still where we get to see the SAK? What a missed opportunity. Also, the only Still with Bozer in it seemed to be a weird choice.

Episode 1xo2: Metal Saw (Jace Downs)
For the second episode, we got about 12 Stills via SpoilerTV. Interestingly, 3 of them seem to be BtS pictures dressed as Stills.

Episode 1×02: Metal Saw (via SpoilerTV)

MY FAVORITE: MacGyver hanging out of the car window, holding a bottle. You just want to know what he’s going to do, right?

NOW THAT’S DISAPPOINTING: The Stills are all taken from only two scenes – the Opening Gambit and Bozer talking with Riley. Again no SAK. And why didn’t they release a Still of guest star Amy Acker? She was mentioned in articles and used in the previews, so her appearance wasn’t exactly a surprise anymore.

Episode 1xo3: Awl (Guy D’Alema, Erika Doss, Jace Downs)
The third episode had about 13 Stills via SpoilerTV. Lots of them are close-up portraits pictures of the cast – except for Bozer, who’s nowhere to be found.

Episode 1×03: Awl (via SpoilerTV)

MY FAVORITE: Mac and Jack walking through fire – there must be something symbolic about that, no?

NOW THAT’S DISAPPOINTING: The cast is very pretty to look at, but for such an action-heavy Opening Gambit, there’s only a single Still explicitly hinting at any action.

Episode 1xo4: Wire Cutter (Guy D’Alema, Erika Doss)
The episode with the first guest star that had also appeared in the Original Show. We got 9 Stills via SpoilerTV and an additional one (featuring the big Russian bomb) that was used in articles.

Episode 1×04: Wire Cutter (via SpoilerTV)

MY FAVORITE: One with guest star Elya Baskin of course.

NOW THAT’S DISAPPOINTING: The Stills are a variety of different people and different scenes. So not disappointing at all. Although I still haven’t seen that SAK…

Episode 1xo5: Toothpick (Guy D’Alema, Jace Downs)
On the set of the fifth episode, they did many video interviews for regional TV promo and for print interviews that were released during the next few months. Yet, we only got 7 Official Stills via SpoilerTV.

Episode 1×05: Toothpick (via SpoilerTV)

MY FAVORITE: Not much to choose from. Probably the one of “Main Team Phoenix” standing there with Jack looking all banged up.

NOW THAT’S DISAPPOINTING: I don’t like this episode all that much. Sadly, the Stills aren’t all that interesting, either. And there’s no SAK, but a phone. Hm.

 

(More coming soon.)