During the mid-eighties, MacGyver was somewhat literally a household name for the ABC network. The cultural impact of the show was far reaching (it aired in over 70 countries), and even spawned the use of the word "MacGyvering" - which meant to find simple solutions out of everyday objects to solve complex problems. In fact, the show's producers just missed out on having the word "MacGyverism" entered in the Webster's Dictionary.
The action/adventure show starring Richard Dean Anderson (Stargate: SG-1) eventually ended after seven seasons and two made-for-TV movies, but not before leaving an indelible mark on society. After a campaign to make a big screen version of MacGyver stalled in development (Lionsgate is currently working a new adaptation), CBS picked up the property and decided to reboot the once-popular television series. They then hired director James Wan (Insidious, Saw) to oversee its development.
The new show stars Lucas Till (X-Men: First Class) in the titular role of Angus MacGyver, George Eads (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) as former C.I.A. operative Jack Dalton, Sandrine Holt (House of Cards) as Patricia Thornton (gender-changed from the original series), Justin Hires (Rush Hour) as Mac's best friend Wilt Bozer and Tristin Mays (The Vampire Diaries) as the computer hacker Riley Davis. Original show creator Lee David Zlotoff and Henry Winkler (Happy Days) return as producers for the reboot series.
For those unfamiliar with MacGyver, here's the official synopsis:
MacGyver is an action-adventure drama about 20-something Angus "Mac" MacGyver who creates a clandestine organization within the U.S. government where he uses his extraordinary talent for unconventional problem solving and vast scientific knowledge to save lives. Joining his team on high-risk missions around the globe is maverick former CIA agent Jack Dalton. Under the aegis of the Department of External Services, MacGyver takes on the responsibility of saving the world, armed to the teeth with resourcefulness and little more than bubble gum and a paper clip.
According to CBS, they weren't completely happy with the first cut of the new MacGyver, so in June, they asked Wan to step in and direct a completely retooled version of the pilot ahead of its upcoming September premiere - a move that may or may not be a bad sign for the property. A modern reboot of any television property is sure to come with updated situations and technology (the original series featured corded telephones, 5.25" floppy disks and other now-outdated items), and while it appears that the new MacGyver will be influenced by the original in appearance and problem solving know-how, the rest has been heavily modified.
The original soul of series was about a "troubleshooter" who generally worked alone, loved hockey, hated guns, and avoided conflict when he could - a well respected, laid back vegetarian with a knack for coming up with creative, science-inspired solutions to many problems. Based on this most recent trailer, it would appear the new MacGyver is an overly-confident super spy, who prefers to work with a team, though he still has his trusty Swiss Army knife and a penchant for physics and chemistry.
That's not to say the new series won't be entertaining. CBS successfully rebooted Hawaii 5-0 a few years ago, so MacGyver could turn out to be just as successful. Unfortunately for long-time fans of the franchise, they won't see Richard Dean Anderson return to the show, though CBS did try to get him to sign up. Anderson said this on his website in July:
And all I can say is, I’m not considering being a part of a project that has overlooked the insanely LOYAL FANS of the original character and has proceeded without considering how and why they all became and STAYED loyal fans… Yes, I was asked, but no, I won’t be involved in the MacGyver reboot.
Sadly, Dana Elcar, who played Peter Thornton in the original series died in 2005. However Bruce McGill, who originally played the opportunist/pilot known as Jack Dalton, or Michael Des Barres, who played Mac's arch-nemesis Murdoc, could easily make a cameo or two in the new series, as both actors are still working.
MacGyver premiers Friday September 23rd on CBS.