A staple of the ’80s, MacGyver ran for seven seasons before finally going off the air in 1992. The show played up the trope of the know-it-all troubleshooter being able to do almost anything with little more than a paperclip and some old chewing gum, establishing themes that are still parodied to this day (especially in movies like MacGruber and guest spots involving star Richard Dean Anderson.)
Now, it seems that MacGyver is coming back to television, albeit in a younger form. CBS has ordered a pilot for a new MacGyver series that will serve as a prequel to the original, following a mid-20s Angus MacGyver as he develops his skills and is first recruited by the Phoenix Foundation.
The new MacGyver series will be produced by James Wan, most famous for his work on Furious 7, Saw, and Insidious, with original executive producer Henry Winkler returning in that role. Writer R. Scott Gemmill (JAG, ER) is also attached. Though CBS only ordered a pilot so far, the network will likely be quick to issue a full-season order if the pilot is well received, given how popular the MacGyver character still is.
If the new MacGyver goes to series, it will serve as not only a prequel, but also a reboot of sorts. Not only will it feature a younger actor, but it’s likely that MacGyver’s backstory will be updated a bit as well. He was a bomb technician during the Vietnam War in the original series, so unless CBS plans to set the prequel in the ’70s, it will need to update the character’s history (perhaps placing him in Afghanistan or some other recent conflict). Other changes may come as well, depending on how much the creators want to mess with the original canon.
MacGyver is one of those shows that seems so firmly rooted in the ’80s and early ’90s that it’s hard to imagine how it would fit into modern TV. If Wan and company aren’t careful, the show could just about become a parody of what the original was, or they could go too far in the other direction and have a show that takes itself so seriously it completely misses out of the fun of the original. Still, there’s a little bit of wiggle room right there in the middle where they actually might be able to get the new show right.
This is a project many people are going to be torn on. On one hand, it would be great to see MacGyver back in action (so long as the new actor captures the uniquely ’80s charm of Anderson), but on the other hand, such prequels/reboots often leave much to be desired. Additionally, too much action or focus on the outlandishness of Mac’s solutions (as ridiculous as some of them were, they never stretched too far beyond believability) could mean the new series just won’t work. All one has to do is look at the attempt to bring Knight Rider back a few years ago to see what happens when you have all of the pieces, but don’t quite get how they fit together.
No start date has been announced on the MacGyver pilot. Screen Rant will keep you updated with any developments.