MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson) is a modern-day "knight-errant," a person people turn to in a crisis. He has a penchant for arriving on the scene in the eleventh hour, when the clock is ticking ominously and innocent live... more »s often are at stake. MacGyver is a packrat, collecting ordinary items of seemingly little value and stashing them in his knapsack "for a rainy day." And it is these same items that he uses to improvise his way out of trouble. MacGyver's ingenius solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems may seem like "gee-whiz" science fiction but they are not - it's all based on scientific fact.« less
A seminal favourite of a TV show given shaky DVD treatment.
D. Mok | Los Angeles, CA | 01/27/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I grew up with MacGyver, watching him in two different households on two continents (one with subtitles!) as I was growing up. For about three years, after having watched shows like 24, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel on DVD, I wondered when they would release MacGyver on DVD. I raced out in my car this past week when this DVD set was released and prepared myself for a MacGyver marathon.
As I plowed through the first two discs, however, my enthusiasm began to wane a little. The first thing that made me wary was the DVD menu. This is without a doubt the single laziest DVD release I've ever seen -- no chapter selection menu, no commentary tracks, no appreciations, no cast/crew comments (even in written form), no interviews, not even episode histories or a booklet. See, MacGyver had existed for so long in my world that I had wanted to know exactly how the show began, when, and in what context. You will get *nothing* of the sort on this DVD. This DVD set redefines "no frills" -- each episode is divided into six chapters that aren't accessible by chapter menus, only by pressing track forward and back keys. Six chapters per one-hour episode! Do the math -- each episode is 46 to 48 minutes long, so each chapter is eight minutes. In TV terms, enough for four to six scenes.
The picture and sound quality are pretty bad as well. On some episodes this is not noticeable, but on others, I notice degraded sound quality, film scratches, and worse still, shots that look like compressed Avid outputs, where even colour correction appeared to have been skipped. Sure, it's an old show and some degradation may have happened to the original film and tapes, but geez, the Rhino releases of The Transformers, Celestial Pictures' release of even older Shaw Brothers films, and the Criterion Collection's restoration of Fritz Lang's M (a film over 70 years old) all had far more impressive restoration jobs. This MacGyver DVD set didn't seem to have any restoration at all. For a show like MacGyver, as close to my heart as a grade-school trophy, this was disheartening to see. Paramount Home Video seems to have taken the garage-sale approach to this release -- sell it like it is, warts and all, and with the show's loyal fan base, it'll probably get bought no matter what. I certainly bought it without batting an eye, but I'm not entirely happy with the product.
The content is fairly erratic. The pilot was exactly the MacGyver I'd remembered and loved -- fast-paced, enjoyable, with a lead character who's become a towering pop-culture icon, the ultimate boyscout, the most wholesome of action heroes, who despises guns, is not that great at melee fighting (sore fists after punching -- a MacGyver trademark), and relies on wits rather than brawn. Richard Dean Anderson is the lovable, boyishly handsome hero we remember, and his work holds up well; not too hammy, charming, quite subtle with both his comedic and dramatic work. I was also glad to see ubiquitous '80s actress Darlanne Fluegel in the episode, playing a sidekick who isn't just a wallflower, and the credits held two major shocks -- I had never known that it was Randy Edelman who had written the opening theme (one of my favourite TV themes), and the fabled Tak Fujimoto (The Silence of the Lambs) was the cinematographer on this episode!
A couple of things in this set of episodes, however, don't hold up well. One is the general acting. Especially in the first 10 episodes or so, I was shocked to see some of the worst acting I'd ever seen on TV, especially on the part of many of the villains and a few of the love interests. Most glaring are Peter Jurasik as Dr. Charles Alden in the episode "Trumbo's World" and Christopher Neame as maniac Quayle in "Deathlock". The directing, writing and editing varied wildly as well -- "The Heist" was often positively amateurish in execution. It's no wonder on this episode we find the DGA's long-standing pseudonym "Alan Smithee" in the director's credit, a rarity in television which happens when a director refuses credit on a film or show. Sometimes the acting and dialogue are almost cartoonish. These elements in combination suggested to me that maybe this show was better for younger audiences than myself, which may account for why it's held the imagination of so many of us years ago.
But a large part of the problem was because the first chunk of this first season was an anomaly among TV creations. For reasons unknown (this is where I wish they'd included some bonus materials to account for this), the pilot aside, the first shows just don't resemble the MacGyver I've known and loved. The MacGyver I loved has Dana Elcar as the indispensable Pete Thornton, the terrific villain Murdoc (Michael des Barres), and a certain kind of character dynamic that helped ground the central conceit of MacGyver as super-boyscout hero. Somehow, the first episodes of this season dispensed with what most TV shows call their "franchise", which is a core group of developing characters, familiar settings, and throughlines which extend beyond each episode to arc the entire season. Maybe the creators of the show were going for something different, but on the first third of the season captured on this DVD set, the only constant character is MacGyver. And I love the guy, but I couldn't watch just him, and having no other recurring character meant that there was little room for MacGyver himself to develop emotional relationships either. Gradually, however, the show's producers seemed to recognize this problem and Pete Thornton is introduced -- Murdoc wouldn't appear until Season 2, if my research proves correct. Dana Elcar is a very good actor and his perfect straight-man turn helped Richard Dean Anderson and the show immensely, and the show began to grow wings.
I feel bad giving this DVD set this low-ish rating, because MacGyver is one of the holy grails in my TV experience. There was no show I'd watched for longer, reruns and all, and rewatching something I'd first seen nearly 20 years ago is just mind-blowing. However, given the poor restoration job, the lazy packaging, the lack of bonus materials, and the story problems outlined above, I just didn't find rewatching these DVDs to be as much of a kick as I'd imagined it would be. However, there are still gems I remember from my MacGyver journey (Murdoc please! And who remembers a young Jason Priestley, playing as a youngster who tries to get a gun as protection?) that have yet to appear, so I'm hoping Paramount will still continue releasing MacGyver episodes from the vault. Even more so, I hope they will do a more comprehensive, in-depth job on the next batch of DVDs. This is a seminal show, a personal favourite of mine, and it deserves a royal DVD treatment, which it isn't getting right now."
MacGyver, the original do-it-yourselfer!
cyclista | the Midwest | 11/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"MacGyver is the original DIY: do-it-yourselfer. You never see him shoot a gun, he's afraid of heights, and he can work wonders with a rubber band and a paper clip. His esoteric scientific knowledge and ability to cobble together commonly available items for unique problem solving is one reason this show is so popular. Murdoc is his arch enemy who can't be killed. Jack Dalton is his self-centered pilot friend. MacGyver works for the Phoenix Foundation, a think tank headed up by his friend Pete Thornton. The Phoenix Foundation routinely gets called in to solve impossible situations around the world.
There are 21 episodes plus the pilot episode. I have read that all 22 episodes will be on the DVD but that the extras have not yet been announced.
1. Pilot: The famous episode in which MacGyver uses chocolate to stop an acid leak after a lab explosion. 2. The Golden Triangle: MacGvyer becomes involved with enslaved farmers in opium fields. 3. Thief of Budapest: A gypsy girl steals a watch containing microfilm. 4. The Gauntlet: MacGvyer tries to rescue a reporter trapped in central America. 5. The Heist: A casino owner steals diamonds belonging to a charity. 6. Trumbo's World: A mile-wide column of ants is moving through the jungle. 7. Last Stand: Mac and a group of people are kidnapped by thieves at a small airport. 8. Hellfire: Mac tries to put out an oil-well fire. 9. The Prodigal: A federal witness wants to visit his dying mother. 10. Target MacGyver: Mac visits his grandfather to hide out from an assassin. 11. Nightmares: McGyver is drugged, kidnapped and escapes. Without the drug antidote, he will die. 12. Deathlock: Pete and Mac are trapped in a booby-trapped mansion. 13. Flame's End: Uranium is stolen from a nuclear plant. 14. Countdown: An ocean liner is rigged with a series of bombs. 15. The Enemy Within: Mac is tricked into taking care of a Russian defector. 16. Every Time She Smiles: Penny Parker plants some jewels on MacGyver while he is on a mission. 17. To Be a Man: When wounded in Afghanistan, Mac is hidden by an Afghan woman and her son. 18. Ugly Duckling: A 15 year old genius hacks into a missile guidance system. 19. Slow Death: MacGyver tries to help a group of vigilantes find out how sold poison as medicine to their village. 20. The Escape: A woman asks Mac to break her missionary brother out of an African jail. 21. A Prisoner of Conscience: Mac goes into a mental institution as a patient to help a Russian dissident escape. 22. The Assassin: MacGyver poses as a known assassin purchasing a bomb."
MacGyver- the best television series ever!
MacGyver | United States | 11/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"MacGyver on DVD!!! (Officially!) This is awesome! MacGyver is my favorite show of all time. I grew up watching this show from beginning to end and it is so great to see it finally being given a full season by season release on DVD. For anyone who by some unfortunate chance has never gotten to see this show, definitely pick this set up. (Though I wish Amazon would spell the name right. The "G" is capitalized!) Here's a few reasons why I like this show so much. Well, okay, the first thing that drew me to the show was the great action and last minute escapes with MacGyverisms. Amazing what you can do with a Swiss Army Knife, duct tape, and your wits! :-) I really liked the fact that he was against guns, smoking, drugs, and drinking. All in all, MacGyver is a great show that provides plenty of action and entertainment, actual useful knowledge, and a positive role model who portrays good morals. He also was one of the most caring heroes on TV who took time to help others just because they needed help. He really had genuine compassion and kindness towards others. I also like the way that he shook his hand after punching someone. It really showed a human side to him, that it's okay to say "ow" when you hurt. He was definitely a cool hero and those are all the reasons why I still love watching MacGyver today."
Lord, I hope this is released in Australia
Naomi Tilley | Victoria, Australia | 11/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love MacGyver. It is undoubtedly one of my all-time favourite shows, and I am ecstatic to learn it is finally going to be available on DVD. I can only hope and pray it will be available in Australia, because only one of my DVD players is formatted to play Region 1 disks. MacGyver is a classic action show from the Eighties/early Nineties. It had just about everything - action, adventure, trauma, disaster, triumph, excitement, comedy and even the occasional touch of romance. We have the lead character Angus MacGyver (his first name was finally provided in one solitary episode, much to the character's displeasure), his best friend and boss Pete Thornton, who is head of the Phoenix Foundation, and his nemesis, Murdoch, who pops up every so often with one thought on his twisted mind - kill MacGyver. One of the highlights of the show was watching the title character get out of the tightest jams using seemingly mundane, everyday objects. As a friend pointed out, put a Swiss Army Knife, duct tape and a couple of wires in the guy's hand, and he could blow his way out of Fort Knox. Yes, the show seemed silly at times, but that was half the fun, and it made science fun for those of us ignoramuses who just weren't science-oriented. The beauty of a show like MacGyver was that there were endless possibilities for storylines. I recall a particularly exciting episode in which Mac was employed to break into a hi-tech building in order to test out the new central, sentient computer system. He got in, but then could not get out again when the computer went haywire and tried to kill him for real. In total contrast there was an episode in the same vein as the Harrison Ford film "Witness", where he is injured and finds himself recuperating in a small Amish community. Unlike so many shows at the moment that are restricted in their plots and end recycling the same monotonous drivel over and over, MacGyver encompassed such a broad range of subjects that, for me at least, the show never lost interest. It is a relief to know that someone has finally seen fit to put at least the first season on DVD. As I said before, I hope it will be available in Australia as well as the US, and hopefully the other seasons will also be released in time."
These DVDs are an injustice to the show!
J. Barde | NY - USA | 01/21/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I watched MacGyver for years when it was on, and continued to watch the re-runs on various channels as well. Then I got the DVDs for birthdays and holidays. I was psyched (yes, child of the 80's).
I got these as a gift, so I'm quite greatful, but so far (Season 1), the quality of the DVD is HORRIBLE.
I don't much care for the extra frills (behind the scenes, actor bios, etc.), but Paramound didn't even bother to fix any damage to the master film/tape that they were using. I agree with user D. Mok's review, they did a horrible and lazy job of putting this beloved series to DVD. Makes me think that at times I'm watching a film in class on the vintage high-school reel-to-reel projectors.
I bet if I go out and get the original 1979 Battlestar Galactica on DVD it won't be anywhere near this bad in quality.
For now, save yourself the money, buy a DVD recorder and record it on SpikeTV... it's probably better quality."