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.
(More about the BtS photos of the Unaired Pilot in Part 3.)