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

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

Alas, I’ll give it another try.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Fanmade Opening Title Sequence (via Yahoo! TV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

German Opening Title Screenshot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will know soon enough.

BtS of the Opening Title Sequence (via Picturemill)
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MacGyver Reboot Update #4

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!

via Instagram

 

(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!

On the same day, Lenkov posted several pictures of George Eads in full military gear, looking like a sniper trying to take out the bad guys. Lenkov included a picture with “Aloha” written on the rifle; therefore sending a “little love letter” to his crew filming Hawaii Five-0. On the same day, he posted a short video of Lucas Till as MacGyver cutting some wires while wearing a protection suit. Looks like he just saved the day again by defusing another bomb!

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.

via Peter Lenkov

 

Tanks, Helicopters and Bikini Babes
On July 19, we got several pictures of a tank on set. A tank that soon got invaded by bikini-clad women in heels while carrying weapons. Hmm. SkyDroneCinema called it a “hot hot day on set” while Lenkov asks 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???”

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.

On the same day, Lenkov posted pictures of a helicopter on set while SkyDroneCinema shared a video back from the Estate Party Night Shoot at the Swan House in which we get to know New MacGyver’s fighting style.

via Peter Lenkov

 

MacGyver at Comic Con: Multitool and fun ride
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).

 

via CBS Watch! Magazine
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).

via Hollywood Reporter

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“.

In a video interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lucas Till repeated his earlier statement in the panel that he would be okay wearing a mullet in the next season.

via CBS

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.

Back Home
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.

MacGyver Reboot Update #3

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!)

via Camera Operator Tiko Pavoni

Getting Ready
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.

Aaaaaaand Action!
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.

He let us know about night shoots in a forest, on a boat, at the Swan House and about what the crew does while waiting for the rain to stop so shooting can resume. He also posted several short videos; e.g. of Lucas in character running towards the camera or of his stunt double jumping on a blue-screen-truck (masquerading as a plane). The crew even worked on the weekends on scenes involving helicopters, military trucks and trains.

One picture shows Lucas already shooting some ADR scenes, which might hint at the reboot keeping the MacGyver voice overs from the original show.

via Lucas Till

 

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.

So many Cars
Filming at the Swan House included a scene of an estate party with expensive cars and rich party attendees. Peter Lenkov posted a short video of MacGyver getting out of a beautiful vintage car while wearing a tux. Oh, we all remember MacGyver’s love for wearing a tuxedo (ahem), so fans are already curious what our hero is doing at this party (presumably taking place in Italy since all the cars have Italian license plates).

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).

Interestingly, Lucas Till’s father and his stepmom have a cameo in this scene. Lavonda Till tweeted a lovely BtS pic of the three in costume.

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.

via CBS

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).

Sightings
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).

via Peter Lenkov

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.