MacGyver withstands the test of time
Itís profoundly ridiculous to give an actual critique of MacGyver, but that isnít stopping me, nor does it stop the thousands of bloggers who have felt the need to do so online. On countless websites, youíll hear self-appointed critics labeling MacGyver as any combination of dumb, far-fetched, ridiculous, or just a good old-fashioned joke. Unless Iím mistaken though, isnít that exactly the point?
These are the same people who deride James Bond movies because Bond never misses his target while his enemies couldnít throw a bullet into the ocean while standing on the beach. Now, Iím not necessarily a Bond fan, but the films demand that 007 be unequivocally the coolest English dude in the history of the world. And that means surviving against all odds, always getting the girl and staying so cool under pressure that heís thinking more about one-liners than his own survival. To deride something like MacGyver or James Bond for pulling off Ė pretty nicely, I might ad Ė exactly what they set out to do from the start, is counterproductive and pointless.
Now thatís not to say that MacGyver, as a show, doesnít have its faults. Everything about it is a fault, in a way, but thatís what most fans have embraced about it, and Iím no exception. The often laughable dialogue, the absurd MacGyverisms that would work one time in a million, the cookie-cutter characters, the epitome of virtue that is MacGyver himself Ė all of it comes without a shred of believability. But a suspension of disbelief is necessary in every film, television show or theatrical play, and to say that MacGyver is a failure because it embraces this idea is entirely against the point.
The particular episode I sat down to review was picked at random from my personal collection (letís just ignore the fact that I have a personal collection); arbitrarily, I chose The Heist, the 5th episode of the 1st season. It really doesnít matter what episode weíre talking about, though, as pretty much the same things can be said about the MacGyver series as a whole. Itís cheesy, ridiculous, full of impossible luck and insanely impractical machinations and anybody who takes it any deeper than face value is going to be sorely disappointed.
But MacGyver is also a mildly clever show that gives mostly young boys Ė really the target demographic here Ė a hero whose morality is actually an extremely healthy one, even if it is improbable as all get out. In The Heist, for example, MacGyver safely parachutes out of a charter plane in a convertible and itís such a natural thing in the context of the show that there isnít a single second where you think it might not work.
A lot of people seem to enjoy MacGyver on an innocent and nostalgic level, so itís kind of stupid of me to rail against the few bloated idiots that over-analyze a well-loved childhood icon. The point is simply that MacGyver sets out to be an entertaining and moral (though simple) tale of wits and adaptability in a sugary adventure coating. Any shortcomings that come out of it - and there are many - are simply irrevelant when the modest goals they set out to accomplish are achieved handily.
6 Degrees of Separation
Just for fun, weíre connecting our Reel Review to our Bottom Shelf in Six Degrees using common actors, absurd logic and vague associations:
1. Babel stars Brad Pitt
2. Who was also in what we consider the defining film of the current 20-something generation with Fight Club
3. Which co-starred Meat Loaf
4. Who may or may not be in the upcoming horror flick Urban Decay with Dean Cain, to be released next year
5. It was rumored that, during taping of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Cain was sleeping with Teri Hatcher
6. Who had repeat performances as the completely insufferable but undeniably good-looking Penny Parker in several episodes of MacGyver