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MacGyver Pilot Review (2016)

Name: MacGyver

Genre: Action, Adventure

Air Date: September 23rd, 2016

Executive Producers: Henry Winkler, Paul Downs Colaizzo, James Wan, Lee David Zlotoff, Michael Clear

Actors: Lucas Till, George Eads, Tristin Mays, Justin Hires, Sandrine Holt


When I was a young kid, I remember watching this show on Thursday evenings. My family and I would look forward to it and we enjoyed every second of it. I actually watched it again recently on Netfilx and I can understand now why it was so popular. Richard Dean Anderson had charisma to spare and each episode had a lesson. This was not limited to the science and engineering aspect of it. There was a lot of chemistry between Pete Thornton (Dana Elcar) and Jack Dalton (Bruce McGill). I will admit that the last few seasons were a little difficult to watch, but in the end we would look forward to the adventure with Angus MacGyver.

So when I heard that this classic series is coming back to the little screen, my first reaction was oh no. I know that a revival has been in the works for years. Especially after the 2006 Super Bowl mini episode with Richard Dean Anderson.

Commercial and Interview

So let us see if the pilot was as good as the original.


The idea of the first episode appeared to be a lot more spy than what we are accustomed to with MacGyver. It starts with a team of 3: Angus MacGyver, Jack Dalton and a female hacker Nikki. They are part of the DSX (Department of External Services). She is also the love interest of MacGyver. Basically in short, it is a recovery mission gone wrong and Nikki and MacGyver get shot.

You are then brought 3 months later when MacGyver seems to be jogging and has flashbacks of the incident. MacGyver is recovering from the tragedy of losing his girlfriend, but work awaits. There is a potential virus being sold to bad guys and they have to stop it. Essentially, the same virus they could not stop in the opening sequence.

In the midst of working on this case, they lost their data analyst. Jack Dalton has someone in mind and they interview Riley Davis. She is in jail for a murder, however has great technological skills which impresses MacGyver. This is when she becomes part of the team.

So while trying to find out who is behind everything, MacGyver learns that Nikki is not really dead. She has been helping the bad guys. McGyver and the team end up disarming the weapon that would have made this virus air born and catch the bad guys.

After the events, Patricia Thornton advises the team that the DSX has been disbanded and will not exist anymore under that name. However, they will continue under a new name, The Phoenix Foundation.



When looking at the first episode, I really tried to have an open mind and knew that some things would be different and they would put in a few things in for the older fans. However I really think that they miss the mark with the pilot.

The one thing that I mentioned in the introduction one of the ingredients that made the original awesome was the chemistry. This is almost non existent in the pilot. It did not help that the pilot had been reshot and they changed some of the characters. The characters felt stiff. The relationship between Thornton and MacGyver in the original felt more like a friendship. It feels like Thornton is the boss and it feels cold.

Lucas Till is a pretty boy that does not being much else. I will admit that the script is not great but he did not convince me that he was MacGyver. When he is about to pull a MacGyver, it does not feel genuine. The original used to make this feel like it was just part of who he was. Here there is just something missing.

I will give kudos to the George Eads portraying Jack Dalton. The character has little in common with the original, other than they seem a little off their rockers. However he brings a necessary energy to an otherwise flat cast all around. Jack Dalton did do this in the original, but he was not a regular, only a recurring character.

The shooting style for this is nauseating. It is filmed in the style of the Bourne films during the fight or action scenes.

The plot seemed to be rushed. I know that this is only the pilot, but they should have worked on developing the characters a little more and provide more background. It felt like the viewer was just thrown into the plot and hope the audience like it.

Although I had all the above negatives about the show, there was a few things that I found were good ideas. Bringing in a third member as a hacker and data analyst modernizes the show in a good way, Also nice to see that the role is played by a woman. The same would go for Patricia Thornton, Pete Thornton's equivalent in this iteration.

Some people did not like the fact that when MacGyver is thinking of what to do, they write the ingredients on the screen. Although it is not needed, it did not bother me. It adds a little something to the narration.


This iteration of an old classic feels very closely to the remake of Knight Rider in 2008. The old fans were looking forward to have that nostalgia feeling, while the new viewers were to discover a new hip show. Knight Rider was starting to come into its own at the 12th episode and it was then cancelled.

I am not sure if Richard Dean Anderson was approached but, I think this could have gone a long way if the new MacGyver would have been his son and not a full remake. Would have satisfied the older viewers and they would not have been as picky on the differences.

Although I am not a big fan of the pilot, I would give this a season to see if they tweak the formula and make the fans engaged. I would be happy to tune in every week. I hope to see stronger writing and acting in the next few episodes but only time will tell.

Rating: 5 lock picks out of 10

For those who want to see the original series, you can get it on digital download here:

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