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

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

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

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

 

Scene: Lake Como

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

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

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

 

Scene: Mac and the Gun

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

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

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

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

 

Scene: Thornton’s Introduction

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

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

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

 

Scene: Inside DXS

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

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

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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)

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 (VIII) – The Curious Case of the Yellow Rubber Duckies

On July 27 in 2016, Executive Producer Peter Lenkov posted a picture of himself; shouldering a certain missile prop on the MacGyver Reboot set.

BtS of Season 1 (via Peter Lenkov)

He deleted the picture a few hours later; maybe aware that he had just given a HUGE Easter Egg away – although it was still two months before the Season 1 Premiere. (Even Non-MacGyver-Fans know about the famous missile shot with Richard Dean Anderson that still serves as the probably most famous Promo Picture for the Original Show.)

Interestingly, the online conversation and speculations between fans of the Original Show soon shifted to something that was on the table behind Lenkov – the Yellow Rubber Duckies.

Why? It’s a fact that Original MacGyver Richard Dean Anderson has an affinity for Rubber Duckies. Back when RDA was still active on Twitter, he had posted pictures of him with/or of Yellow Rubber Duckies several times.

Rubber Duckies in the Wild (via Richard Dean Anderson, 6th of July 2012)

In an article about RDA’s Malibu Home from 2009, rubber duckies are mentioned living in the bathroom of Richard’s daughter Wylie.

There is a photo of RDA napping with a yellow duck on his chest. The picture was taken in July 2000, on a trip with Bobby Kennedy for an expedition to Headwall Canyon, a very remarkable wilderness 60 miles outside Vancouver. The 7-day excursion was filmed as part of the “National Geographic Explorer” series and aired in October 2000.

Richard Dean Anderson (National Geographic Explorer, July 2000)

On BtS set pictures of the original show, you can see a single Yellow Rubber Ducky in MacGyver’s kitchen on the Houseboat Set.

MacGyver Houseboat Set during Hiatus (August 1990)

 

Back to the present. (Well, the recent past.)

A few weeks later after Lenkov’s vanishing photo, there was an Instagram Post by one of the set decorators – consisting of a picture with LOTS of stranded Rubber Duckies; waiting for better things to come.

Lots of Rubber Duckies (via citykitty)

Was it just a coincidence instead of an hommage? One of the set decorators stumbling over these homeless duckies for a bargain, and thinking they would make a great prop?

Fun Fact: Inserting interesting props as a visual signature is nothing new. If you’ve seen RDA’s other longtime-series “Stargate SG-1”, you might have noticed that in almost every episode directed by William Waring, there’s a pineapple in one of the scenes.

Some of these battered-looking Yellow Rubber Duckies had quite the career. On September 23rd last year, the Duckies had their prominent premiere in the Pilot Episode (The Rising). It’s quite the important scene, because the Duckies are present when the Phoenix Foundation is born.

Screenshot of Episode 1×01 (The Rising)

On October 26, Stand-In Briana Lamb posted a close-up of the Duckies “swimming” in the empty bowl.

BtS of Season 1 (via Briana Lamb)

They made another appearance in Episode 1×03 (Awl), in the scene where Jack gets MacGyver to finally reach out to his father and write a letter.

Screenshot of Episode 1×03 (Awl)

The “career high” was probably in Episode 1×05 (Toothpick), when the Duckies were featured in a longer scene between Bozer and Riley.

Screenshot of Episode 1×05 (Toothpick)

(Is this Rubber Ducky Cruelty, by the way?)

(Note that there is another Easter Egg plainly visible on Bozer’s sweater.)

Screenshot of Episode 1×05 (Toothpick)

Interestingly, they used another set of Duckies for Justin Hires and Tristin Mays to hit with the racket. This might have been a decision purely for aesthetic reasons since these Duckies have a richer yellow color and therefore more visibility in the shot. They probably bought them brand new.

Screenshot of Episode 1×05 (Toothpick)

In the swimming pool, it was the “old” Duckies having a swim.

Screenshot of Episode 1×05 (Toothpick)

Still Photographer Guy D’Alema captured both sets of Duckies in this BtS picture (January 2017).

BtS picture of Season 1 (via Guy D’Alema)

In Episode 1×08 (Corkscrew), we get to see where the Duckies hibernate: In Bozer’s bedroom.

Screenshot of Episode 1×08 (Corkscrew)

In Episode 1×11 (Scissors), the Duckies are almost hidden. Look closely!

Screenshot of Episode 1×11 (Scissors)

More cruelty against innocent Rubber Duckies happens in Episode 1×16 (Hook). When Riley is playing “Truth or Dare” with Team Phoenix, Jack lobbs the Duckies at her; trying to disctract her and win the game.

Screenshot of Episode 1×16 (Hook)

The most secret appearance of one single Ducky probably happens during the Crossover-Episode with Hawaii Five-0. Look on the right side, under the chair. Sneaky!

Screenshot of Episode 1×18 (Flashlight)

The last appearance I noticed was in the Season Finale, when MacGyver tells Jack about the letter. During the scene, the Duckies are partially hidden – either by the credits or by the MacGyvered prop on the table.

Screenshot of Episode 1×21 (Cigar Cutter)

It’s possible I missed some more appearances, of course. (If you know something I don’t – that’s what the comment section is for.)

It’s still not entirely clear to me what the Yellow Rubber Duckies are about. I do think they might be an hommage to RDA, but who knows. They could be an hommage to CBS and its show “Big Brother” (because a yellow rubber ducky has been a regular in Big Brother houses for several seasons and you can actually buy a yellow rubber duck with the Big Brother logo at the CBS Store).

We might hear about it on the DVD Extras. We might see them again in Season 2. I hope we do, actually. They’re cute.