‘MacGyver’: Creating a TV Series With Tinfoil and Chewing Gum

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large
MACGYVER, a reimagining of the classic series, 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. It premieres Friday, Sept. 23 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Lucas Till Photo: Jace Downs/CBS ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Lucas Till (Photo: Jace Downs/CBS)

If I were 10 years old, I’d probably love the new version of MacGyver. It’s got a lot of the spirit of the 1985-92 Richard Dean Anderson-starring original, full of tips about how to lift fingerprints from a glass and how to get out of handcuffs. As I am not 10 years old, alas, I have to say that the MacGyver reboot is that rare thing: a likable bore.

Related: Locked in a Room With MacGyver: Can Lucas Till Live Up to the Hype?

It’s 2016, baby, so Lucas Till’s MacGyver is a shaggy-haired boy toy who says things like, “Thirty seconds on the clock: DIY or die!” His team includes a wild-haired hacker (Tristin Mays) who solves a knotty computer problem and then calls out, “Secret agents, gather round — I got your jam!” But villains still talk the way they did in the 1980s. The one in the premiere points a gun at our hero and gives MacGyver a lot of time to plan his escape by chortling evilly, “Well, I guess this is the end of your silly game of hide-and-seek, MacGyver!”

CSI’s George Eads is along, playing MacGyver’s old pal, constantly admiring the way Mac solves problems with tinfoil and chewing gum. You know this because he says things like, “My man is serious about his tinfoil.”

The pilot was directed by one of the new show’s producers, James Wan (Saw; The Conjuring), and it has a certain visual flair — the action keeps moving. The reboot gives you onscreen equations that explain MacGyver’s cleverness: When Mac wants to lift a print from a champagne flute, the TV screen shows us “soot + adhesive = fingerprint.” Got it?

As I said, it’s fun but tedious. The extent to which you enjoy MacGyver is in direct proportion to how excited you get when a character utters a line like this: “All right, guys, we’ve got some serious bad-assery in here tonight!”

MacGyver airs Friday nights at 8 p.m. on CBS.