Every time I dig through my stash of MacGyver-Reboot-related folders, I stumble over material about the Unaired MacGyver Reboot Pilot, filmed in April/May 2016. I have written about it before, but it was usually a few bits and pieces here or there. I’m trying to put all the necessary information together for interested readers – especially since many of you accidentally landed on my blog after looking for information about it by using search engines.
If you missed Part 1 (about the Unaired Pilot’s Origins), you can read it here.
Rebooting the Reboot The Unaired Pilot was filmed in April/May 2016. Production wrapped on May 5, only two weeks before the CBS Upfronts – THE event for the networks to announce their TV schedule for Fall and to provide more info about the upcoming TV shows.
On the 13th of May, Variety confirmed that the Reboot had been picked up and ordered to Series by CBS – with Peter Lenkov as an Executive Producer. The Hollywood Reporter hinted that the script might be tossed out and stated that the secondary cast members were “unlikely to return”. Deadline added that Lenkov would write a new script with the general premise of the series remaining the same; confirming that the supporting cast was not coming back.
Of course, this was exciting, yet also concerning news. What had exactly happened, and was this project doomed now that they rearranged everyting, but still wanted the show to premiere in Fall? What would this mean for the quality of the show, if the showrunner had to not only find a new cast, but also a new crew and new locations in time to start filming in Summer? Why had CBS picked up the show for Fall if they didn’t like the pilot, the script or the cast in the first place? Did they care for MacGyver at all or only for the promise of making money with a well-known brand that had the potential to be turned into a franchise? And wasn’t Peter Lenkov already busy enough with Hawaii Five-0?
The move also left a bit of a bitter taste since it looked like the secondary cast members got the news at the same time as us – via the internet.
Official Stills that were not meant to stay
Despite the Pilot Episode being scrapped and just days before the CBS Upfronts, we got the first Official Still of Lucas Till and George Eads in character on May 16 via NY Times. (The article itself was not about the Reboot per se, but about the nostalgia leading to resurrecting old TV shows.)
The reactions were mixed. Many felt that MacGyver looked too young, but were quite happy to see that both chemistry and physics still seemed to be an important part of the show. Others made fun of rebooted MacGyver’s hairdo; deeming him as one of the “Hanson Brothers”.
On May 18, they released two new Official Stills just before the Upfronts. The tweet by Eric Goldman reveals that a lot of the talk revolved around MacGyver’s hair again:
MacGyver 2016 has no time for haircuts! He’s gotta make a thing out of a thing!
The third Still had rebooted MacGyver walking to his next mission. About the same time, CBS revealed the new social media pages for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; revealing another look at the pilot and the new logo. (Little did we know that only hours later, the Stills would be deleted; alongside all material on the social media pages.)
The logo – featuring an SAK forming the letter “v” in the show title – was very well received among the fans. Even 30 years after the original series, everyone associates the SAK with MacGyver, so the logo was pretty clever and easily recognizable.
The description for the show provided by CBS read as follows:
A secret agent unlike any other, MacGyver escapes perilous situations with nothing but a paperclip, his trusty Swiss Army knife and his wit. A dynamic reimagining of the hit television series, this action-packed origin story follows the young MacGyver as he returns from war, a hero with an idealistic vision of saving the world. He and his late father’s best friend partner to form the clandestine Phoenix Foundation. Using his scientific know-how and resourcefulness, MacGyver – alongside his intrepid team – undertakes missions to save lives and change the world.
CBS also revealed that the show was scheduled to air on Fridays, which had some fans worried since Friday used to be a “death slot” for years until CBS had managed to turn it around for them.
The Teaser Trailer that disappeared At the Upfront Events, usually both Art Work and Teaser Trailers for the new Fall shows are being released. This not only to tease the potential audience, but also to attract international buyers. Since we already knew that the Pilot Episode would be scrapped along with most of the cast, we were wondering if CBS would even dare to show a trailer.
The trailer soon hit social media accounts all around the world. To watch it, the fans had to do a bit of MacGyvering themselves since the trailer was geo-blocked outside the USA. It didn’t take long for other countries to post and revierw it as well, though. Let’s just say it wasn’t that well received – or the positive reviews got buried under the amount of negative comments and down-votes. Many Original fans found rebooted MacGyver too cocky or too violent and not very distinguishable from any other action show. And of course, the comments about his hair were never-ending.
Some of the fired cast members (e.g. Addison Timlin) were not happy either; tweeting statements like “I wish network television would quit firing me but putting me in their promotions anyway”.
In the Teaser Trailer, they created the tagline that they would later use for the rebooted Pilot Episode again: Mac is Back. The trailer clearly marked the show as a one-man-show like the Original, with MacGyver as the lead hero in the centre.
According to Deadline, a 20-minute-cut-down of the pilot episode had sparked a lot of interest among international buyers. Nonetheless, CBS declared the trailer soon to “promo non grata” and erased all their former tweets, posts and Official Stills concerning promo for the discarded pilot from their social media accounts.
The LA TV Screenings
A few days later, Peter Lenkov posted a photo on Instagram that showed a promo poster in form of a character portrait with Lucas Till. Interestingly, they used yet another font for what seemed like the new MacGyver logo, but the writing style was used for posters for other CBS shows as well. Since Lenkov was on holiday, he didn’t attend the event and neither did the (remaining) cast members.
Usually, there are cast photos and interviews being made at the LA TV Screenings, but with the imminent rebooting of the reboot, we didn’t get to enjoy any of that.
Every time I dig through my stash of MacGyver-Reboot-related folders, I stumble over material about the Unaired Pilot. So, since you’re not getting one of my usual Updates today, why shouldn’t I write a blog post about the Pilot Episode that – according to CBS, at least – shall not be spoken of?
I have written about the Unaired Pilot every now and then, but it was usually a few bits and pieces here or there. I’ll try to put all the necessary information together for interested readers – especially since many of you accidentally landed on my blog after looking for information about it by using search machines.
About that Unaired Pilot The idea of rebooting MacGyver has been around for a while – not surprising, since MacGyver is a well-known name all around the world. The Original Show has sold very well overseas and is still aired on TV in many countries. There is actually a Pilot Episode for a spinoff series called Young MacGyver (filmed in 2003, starring Supernatural’s Jared Padalecki as MacGyver’s nephew Clay), but the show never went into production. You can head over to MacGyver Online for more information (including news items, photos and a cast list) about Young MacGyver.
In October 2015, the Hollywood Reporter announced that MacGyver would be brought back as a TV Show for CBS. R. Scott Gemmill (NCIS: Los Angeles) was set to write the script with James Wan (who had been attached for a MacGyver movie in 2012) directing the pilot.
The character descriptions – released (or rather leaked) by SpoilerTV – sparked heated discussions among Original fans since they confirmed the rumours that the Reboot would be indeed a Reboot and not a Remake, and also some sort of a Prequel and not a Sequel.
Doing a sequel wouldn’t have been that difficult, especially since the Reboot was meant to be set in present time: In the Season Finale of the Original Show, MacGyver’s son Sam (Sean Angus Malloy or S.A.M.) of about 20 years is revealed. Because the series ended in 1992, MacGyver’s son would would have been about 45 years in 2016. Why not make S.A.M. having a son of his own – or maybe even a daughter? This would have quenched the public thirst for a female MacGyver and also would have opened the doors for several cast members of the original show coming back for cameos as their original character.
Also, MacGyver’s background story didn’t quite fit with the Original Show. Many commenters mentioned the story being a bit too similar to Arrow or Homeland and the storyline including the characters not being very original or exciting.
Further details were announced in March by the Hollywood Reporter: George Eads (CSI) would co-star in the show as a character named Lincoln; with David Von Ancken (Code Black) directing the pilot and James Wan (Saw) as Executive Producer. The Pilot was set to start filming by the end of March in Portland.
Finally, Deadline reported Lucas Till being cast as the new MacGyver with Brett Mahoney co-writing the script and Joshua Boone playing MacGyver’s best friend Gunner. A week later, Deadline revealed Addison Timlin (Californication) and Michelle Krusiec (Hawaii Five-0, General Hospital) as additional cast; the former playing a computer nerd with the latter portraying a secret agent.
In April 2016, a few BtS pictures, tweets and short videos from the set finally emerged on social media – only to be deleted soon after fans had shared and discussed the “treasure” online. As it’s the usual procedure during Pilot Season, CBS tried very hard to keep the production under wraps. While we soon realized that the Pilot was being filmed in LA and not in Portland, there was still not a single BtS picture of Lucas Till (of course, everyone wondered what he would look like; especially what hairstyle rebooted MacGyver would be wearing).
Of course, trying to keep a production under wraps doesn’t stop the curiosity – and inquiring people combing through social media for more. A first glimpse of the new logo font (provided by the director’s assistant Meg London-Boche) and a picture of the pilot script title page kept the discussions going on for days. (I remember most fans of the Original Show liking the font.) A few set pics (e.g. shot in the abandoned Hawthorne Plaza Shopping Mall) promised some interesting action sequences.
The Pilot Script review by Season Zero didn’t read very promising, but it’s difficult to judge a new TV show by a single script review of an episode that hasn’t been finished yet. On the 5th of May, Meg London-Boche tweeted about the pilot being finished. Little did we know back then that the Pilot would be scrapped and reshot, earning the title of being an Unaired Reboot Pilot that got rebooted.
Rebooting the Reboot After that, the Waiting Game started – because as Young MacGyver had taught us: in Pilot Season, a filmed Pilot Episode doesn’t guarantee that the show will be picked up. On the 13th of May, an Instagram post by Peter Lenkov confused us quite a bit. Only a few hours later, Variety confirmed that the Reboot had indeed been picked up and ordered to Series by CBS – with Lenkov being added as an Executive Producer.
Surprisingly, the Hollywood Reporter hinted that the script might be tossed out and stated that the secondary cast members were “unlikely to return”. Deadline stated that Lenkov would write a new script with the general premise of the series remaining the same; confirming that the supporting cast was not coming back.
While quite a bit surprising for us people not involved in the TV Show Industry, this isn’t so uncommon during Pilot Season. Sometimes, Pilot Episodes are redone with some cast members being “exchanged” (this happened e.g. with Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well with Charmed), but this seemed quite a surprising move and made us ask a lot of questions: Why ordering a pilot without a script in the first place? Why pick up a show if you don’t like the pilot? Do they care for MacGyver at all or only for the promise of making money with a well-known brand with the potential of turning it into a franchise? Isn’t Peter Lenkov already too 0busy with Hawaii Five-0?
Understandably, former cast members were not happy because some of them actually hadn’t known about this development until the press release.
On May 16, we got the first Official Still of Lucas Till and George Eads in character – despite the Pilot Episode being scrapped and just days before the CBS Upfronts. This was going to be interesting.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.)
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 Timesabout 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Disclaimer: My original guest-post was first published on The MacGyver Project on September 30, 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.
The Premiere of the MacGyver Reboot generated negative comments and reviews, but also great ratings and heavy traffic on social media. It also inspired people to create fan art.
(Spoiler Alert: To avoid spoilers, I won’t post any too revealing pictures, but you will get spoilered by reading this post or by clicking on the links provided!)
Working on four Episodes
While promo continues and reviews and ratings are piling up, cast and crew are filming episodes 6 and 7 while working behind the scenes for episodes 4 and 5.
An Instagram picture by James Grabowski revealed information for Episode 7 – it’s titled “Can Opener” and will be directed by Omar Madha (Scorpion, Grimm). According to IMDb, the still untitled Episode 6 is directed by Alec Smight (CSI: Las Vegas).
Premiere of the Pilot Episode
Despite the many negative and critical reviews of the pilot episode beforehand, people sure were curious to check it out for themselves. Almost 11 million people had been watching the premiere; making it Friday’s most watched show. Another 5.4 million had been tuning in for the rerun on Sunday.
Let the Promo continue: Stills and Press Releases
SpoilerTV provided us with official stills and/or press releases for Episode 2 (Metal Saw), Episode 3 (Awl) and Episode 4 (Wire Cutter). The stills and press releases don’t reveal too much, but they sparked interest. It seems the reboot will continue to resemble first season storylines of the original show.
Let the Promo continue: Sneak Peeks and Previews
We got several previews and sneak peeks for Episode 2 – the official preview that aired after the pilot episode, one by TVLine, one by The Wrap and another one by MSN. I guess the last one has the scene where George Eads accidentally got punched for real (as had been revealed during promo cycle).
Someone at CBS had been a little over-excited and uploaded the first preview for Episode 3 on the official YouTube-Account on September 29. The video was deleted only hours later, but not before some fans had already seen and shared it.
Let the Promo continue: Interviews
During the days before the premiere, several interviews had been posted online. An interesting interview by Slash Film had Peter Lenkov and Pilot Episode Director James Wan talk about the new theme song. Most modern TV shows don’t have opening sequences anymore and Lenkov revealed that they practically had to fight for an opening sequence and a theme.
Another old aquaintance from the original show will make his appearance on Episode 6: Charlie Robinson from Episode 1×14 (Countdown). Emerson Brooks tweeted a first picture of him on September 28, wearing a bomb defusal suit.
Girls Rock Science
Will Riley Davis do more than just hacking in later episodes? Tristin Mays visited the “Girls Rock Science” weekend at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Science Center. Besides learning more about water pollution at the exhibits, she also posed for fan pictures.
Disclaimer: My original guest-post was first published on The MacGyver Project on July 24, 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.
The MacGyver Reboot has been filming the pilot episode for its second week – and stopped by for a visit at the ComicCon in San Diego!
(Spoiler Alert: To avoid spoilers, I won’t post any revealing pics, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get spoilered by reading my posts or clicking on the links provided!)
Aloha from Set During the second week of shooting, Executive Producer Peter Lenkov and several crew members continued to grant us a look inside the production. On July 18, Stunt Coordinator Jeff Wolfe posted a video of a stuntman climbing on a military truck driving along the highway with a helicopter following behind the truck. Pretty cool!
Peter Lenkov introduced us to “Team MacGyver” by posting a picture with Lucas Till (MacGyver), George Eads (Jack Dalton), Sandrine Holt (Patricia Thornton) and Tristin Mays (Riley Davis). Composer Keith Power has started scoring – and apparently needs lots of coffee while doing it.
Chris Payne Gilbert sure had fun with this scene, as did George’s StandIn 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). While some fans were as happy as Lucas and George snagging Ninja-Shooting Bikini Babe India Batson for a picture, others were either confused or disappointed; stating that “Baywatch With Tanks” wasn’t the image the show should be going for. I’m still guessing at what this scene should be. Opening Gambit? Weird Dream? Fantasy? Music Video for the Soundtrack? We’ll see in September.
CBS had announced before that they would hand out a new version of the “MacGyver Multitool” and that fans would have the chance to take free rides in electric cars. Lucas and George got to enjoy a ride while doing interviews. It didn’t take long for visitors at Comic Con San Diego to share pictures of their paperclip, most of them complimenting the advertizing.
Interestingly, the MacGyver logo on the electric cars and on the shirts of the Multitool-Promo-Crew is different: The SAK is gone. In the meantime, it has also disappeared from the logos on the official social media accounts. Let’s hope it doesn’t get replaced by a paperclip somehow, because I really liked the old logo. To be honest, I’m a bit disappointed about the change – partly because THIS is the only tool MacGyver really needs, but mostly because being from Switzerland, I was always very proud of a Swiss product so prominently featured in the most favorite TV show of my childhood. Thanks to MacGyver, until my former male classmates had to join the military service at the age of 18 I believed that the official SAK at that time was red (it was actually silver until 2008; now they’re handing out a very different model in green).
MacGyver at Comic Con: Panel and Roundtable Interviews
Besides Lucas Till and George Eads, both Peter Lenkov and James Wan attended the panel and did several interview rounds.
Watching the 30-minutes-panel, the team seems to work very well together and the chemistry between Till and Eads is great (they already turned the people behind the Keysmash Blog Twitter Account into shippers). If you’re interested in the video, you can check it out here. (Sadly, the additional two short video clips they showed have not been made public yet.)
Especially Peter Lenkov and James Wan managed to ease a lot of the worries weighing on us fans. Wan acknowledged that MacGyver is “such a different hero from what we see on TV these days” and stated that they want to retain that spirit of a great role model blessed with intelligence and humanity.
Lenkov promised to include lots of Easter Eggs for fans of the old show. He revealed hoping to involve cast members of the original version and reaching out to Richard Dean Anderson. This admission led to dozens of online articles popping up even before the panel ended; e.g. by Variety, Deadline or the Hollywood Reporter. While it is still unclear what kind of role they would offer to him, an appearance of RDA sure would draw in many fans still wary of a reboot.
While the producers want to honor the legacy and won’t turn Angus MacGyver into some kind of Jason Bourne or James Bond, Lenkov also said that they will update some of the techniques, meaning different shooting styles and editing techniques. Additionally, MacGyver won’t be a “lone wolf” anymore but more of a team player (which has become a standard in almost every modern tv show, but I’m still not sure if this is always a good thing).
In the Roundtable Interview posted by Seat42F, Lucas Till admitted having catched some reruns in his youth, but not being an avid fan back then. He’s currently on Season 2 for research purposes. George Eads stated feeling the pressure and the tiring shooting schedule, but also feeling very proud being part of this project. Seat42F shared another Roundtable Interview with Lenkov and Wan, where Lenkov confirmed that they would keep the Opening Gambits. Regarding the challenges about setting the reboot into 2016, Wan and Lenkov stated that while today’s world is very much digital and so many problems are solved with computers,MacGyver still thinks in analog ways. Wan always liked that MacGyver only turned to violence as a last resort; and while the show is set “in a modern world that is so violent“, he wants the hero to keep using his brain for creative problem solving.
In the press junket interview posted by sandwichjohnfilms, Lenkov promised that we will see why Lucas Till is the perfect MacGyver. Lenkov is aware that people are very sceptical of this reboot and wants to retain the soul of the old show while introducing it to a new audience. For Wan, it doesn’t matter what type of film he’s making (action, horror or comedy; low-budget or blockbuster), because for him it’s all about the characters and if the chemistry is right, then “the action and the set-pieces are just the cream on the cake that makes it all the more tastier“.
The article by USA Today confirms that the show will keep the voice-overs. During a video interview with ET Online, Lucas had joked about his stunt guy sitting on the sidelines – and he already paid the price for it, as the article reveals: Till (…) has persuaded producers to let him perform a number of MacGyver’s tricky stunts. He sports a band-aid on his finger from a cut suffered grabbing the side of a serving tray at the end of a complicated kick-and-catch move. Let’s hope he realizes that having a stunt person is actually a good thing, no matter how much fun it is to do the stunts yourself – otherwise, RDA might explain (and show) it to him.
Cast and Crew News During last week, Central Casting Georgia has made several casting calls; e.g. for Ninjas, Korean workers and soldiers, Caracas guards or Asian hackers. They’re also looking for old cars and mopeds and for a hand double – judging by the provided picture, probably for Lucas Till.
Singer George Lott announced on July 19 that he will have a featured cameo role in the show – maybe even for the episode called “Baywatch with Tanks”?
Peter Lenkov shared the information that it’s only 5 more days with James Wan until moving forward onto the next episode. So far, we don’t know yet its title or its director – but the casting calls indicate an Asian setting. Brian Durkin is back on the studio lot writing new episodes, so there will be more casting calls soon.
Several times, Peter Lenkov had already posted pictures of the Griffith Observatory back in LA – MacGyver’s home in the original pilot. The speculations and hopes of many fans turned out to be true when Pilot Episode Director James Wan posted a picture on July 23 of the crew shooting at Griffith Park in front of the observatory. New MacGyver is definitely going back to his roots.
Disclaimer: My original guest-post was first published on The MacGyver Project on July 17, 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.
Shooting for the Pilot Episode 2.0 has officially started. Contrary to the unaired pilot episode that shall not be named, we’re getting TONS of goodies; even official ones! The days of lurking the internet for a tiny glimpse of the set or the cast (or even a prop or location) are finally over.
(Spoiler Alert: To avoid spoilers, I won’t post any revealing pics, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get spoilered by reading my posts or clicking on the links provided!)
On July 9, Executive Producer Peter Lenkov shared pictures on Instagram of some bonding time with Lucas and Justin. The next day, he gave the fans more reasons to speculate and discuss by posting pictures of a call sheet, a sign with the words “cover blown” and one of a leather jacket. THE brown leather jacket of our favorite hero. How great is that?
Big Shanty Antiques posted on their Facebook page on July 10 that their parking lot was used as the crew base camp. On the same day, Lucas “showed off” by posting a picture of his “ostentatious” character name plate on his trailer door. Good to know that MacGyver 2.0 also likes to keep it simple.
Lenkov kept posting appetizers for the whole week. He shared several pictures of the main cast on Instagram; mainly pictures of Lucas and George, but also from their stunt doubles and other cast members, e.g. Tristin Mays.
One picture shows Lucas already shooting some ADR scenes, which might hint at the reboot keeping the MacGyver voice overs from the original show.
Other crew members like Set Lighting Technician Mike Collins also posted very nice set pics (although they are much harder to find); e.g. by “Mike J Neal” from the boat scene in Stone Mountain State Park or by Location Scout Gonzo Rey from a night shoot in the forest.
Grounding a Plane
Eric Heaf had already shared a picture of the crew shooting at McCollum Airport. On July 12, CBS posted a first Behind-the-Scenes-Video from this set; including Lucas and George giving short statements and Lucas acting a scene by hanging off an airplane while trying to ground it with his SAK.
In general, fans were very happy about MacGyver’s improved look with the new haircut and the brown leather jacket. Also, George and Lucas seem to get along very well, hinting at an established “bromance” between Jack and MacGyver.
Understandably, crew members and extras couldn’t get enough of posting pictures of the set; especially the cars (or themselves in front of the cars). Several crew members referred to James Bond for this scene; e.g. Gonzo Rey (James Bond? Or MacGyver? Who knows…) or Meghan Lyvers (#macgyvermeetsbond).
Cast and Crew News
Peter Lenkov had already shared a picture of possible new cast members on July 12. Besides Tristin Mays, also Vinnie Jones and Tracy Spiridakos were on set (we still don’t know what characters they will play).
Stunt Coordinator Jeff Wolfe (who recently got an Emmy nomination for his work on the CBS series Rush Hour) tweeted his involvement in the Reboot on July 10.
While several more casting calls were made (e.g. for hotel patrons and pool ladies), the IMDb page slowly filled up with some minor roles of guards and pilots, with extras and crew members. It seems like Keith Power (Hawaii 5-0) will be the composer (at least for the pilot episode). Since the music played an important part in the original show, expectations are very high and fans are still hoping for the original theme and musical cues to make an appearance.
On July 15, Variety announced Sandrine Holt (House of Cards) being cast as series regular. A lot of fans are not happy about this – not because of the choice of the actress or the decision to turn a former male into a female character, but because Holt was cast in the role of MacGyver’s boss, an ex-field agent turned director of operations named Patricia Thornton. It seems that Pete Thornton is being replaced and won’t show up at all in the reboot. We all know that Pete wasn’t just some series regular and that his relationship with MacGyver was an important part of the show, so we’ll see how this change will hold up and how different the dynamic will turn out. It probably also depends on how they’ll construct New MacGyver’s background story (e.g. losing his father at a very young age and the age gap of more than 20 years made the father-son-type-relationship with Pete in the original show very plausible and played into many story plots).
Peter Lenkov doesn’t get much rest between set days and night shoots. He shared a picture of his laptop screen, showing a page of the script for Episode 1×03. But a hard working crew needs a break every now and then. Between night shoots, they got to enjoy a ball game together before filming again on Sunday morning (July 17).
They probably have to shoot some scenes in advance as Lucas, George, Lenkov and pilot episode director James Wan will attend the MacGyver panel at ComicCon SanDiego on July 21, where the fans get to enjoy an exclusive sneak peek.