In the teaser of MacGyver’s (CBS, Fridays, 9/8C) premiere, The Rising, Angus MacGyver brags about his accomplishments and kills three bad guys.
This is clearly not your daddy’s MacGyver!
The rising opens with Department of External Services (DXS) team MacGyver (Lucas Till), Jack Dalton (George Eads) and Nikki Carpenter (Tracey Spiridakos) attempting to breach a high-tach vault – during a huge party – to spirit away a biological weapon.
In making their escape, Dalton piloting a fast boat and Mac turning that boat into a guided missile with a paperclip (or something like that), the men in the boating chasing them couldn’t possibly have survived the (overly) huge explosion when the two boats collide and explode.
There’s a death and Mac gets shot. Roll credits (the new theme music builds off the intro to the original theme and the credits themselves are an updated take on the original and conclude with a very similar explosion – over which the title appears).
Three months later, a new assignment turns out to be to track down the man who stole the biological weapon (Vinnie Jones – in full-on thug/henchman mode).
The new team replaces Nikki with a hacker named Riley Davis (Tristan Mays) and heads off to San Francisco (Riley found him with her computer wizardry). Her incentive to join the team? Reduced sentence and the chance to do the right thing; which makes sense in an hour that doesn’t always.
Despite the awkward writing (Mac reeling off a list of his accomplishments via narration comes off more braggart than charming, for one example) Till is pretty engaging right up until he blows up those guys on that boat. After that, his ingenuity seems less charming than creepy – though he does make use of the original Mac’s weapons of choice (paperclip, tin foil, jack knife, etc.) in interesting ways.
Dalton is a tough guy variation on Eads’ CSI character, Nick Stokes. Basically, he’s muscle and weaponry. Meanwhile, Davis is yet another punk hacker who did something bad for a good reason – with an awkward, very forced connection to Dalton.
Instead of the original show’s Pete Thornton, DXS is run by Patricia Thornton (Sandrine Holt) – the only character who is played dead serious while the other kids are playing light and breezy (explosive deaths aside).
Written by Peter M. Lenkov and directed by James Wan (Furious Seven), the premiere of MacGyver is slick as a pig in… Well, it’s slick. Really slick. Too slick, really, with its chirons that appear every time Mac does something ingenious (‘Paperclip’ ‘Electronics’ ‘Tin Foil’), calling attention to things that don’t really require it.
Basically, MacGyver looks great but is wa-a-a-ay less filling. It’s hard to believe that CBS rushed this onto its schedule instead, say, giving the infinitely more inventive and fun bubble show Limitless a second season.
MacGyver is a huge, mostly mindless disappointment (and I say that as someone who has the complete original series – including the TV-movies).
Final Grade: D
Photos courtesy of CBS.