The Pilot Project ’16 – MacGyver (CBS)

The time has come again. The summer sun has set. The days grow colder and the nights grow longer and we fill those nights with new fall TV. As happens every autumn, the five major networks have unleashed a flurry of new programs to entertain us into these dark, frigid winter months and beyond. So many choices. So much risk! How will you know what to watch? That’s where I come in. I watch every new fall pilot episode so that you don’t have to. I take one for the team, so you can watch the… screen(m). It’s time for…

THE PILOT PROJECT (2016 Edition)

MacGyver (Fridays on CBS)


“30 seconds on the clock. DIY or die.”

That’s a line that Angus “Mac” MacGyver actually utters while he’s defusing a bomb. “DIY or die”. Yes, we get it. You’re ingenious. But don’t worry, in the off chance that you forgot what MacGyver is supposed to be about, the show will continue bashing you over the head with it. Everything MacGyver does is narrated, just in case you weren’t paying attention, and if that’s not enough, the show helpfully labels everything item on the screen so that there’s no confusion as to how exactly MacGyver’s going to get out of each predicament. I’m not kidding. While MacGyver makes himself a magnet out of a battery a wire, and a piece of iron, he actually explains what he’s doing and why it works, while words such as “power”, “iron”,  and “conductor” pop up on screen. And don’t even get me started on that “soot + adhesive = cloned fingerprint” equation. This sort of stuff happens all throughout the pilot episode. It’s hard to admire how clever MacGyver’s being when the show is so brazenly telling you how clever MacGyver is being. “Hey,” the show says, “did you see that? Pretty impressive what he did there, no? You understood why it’s impressive, right? Here, let me explain it for you!” Thank you MacGyver. Thank you for bringing your superior intellect down to my Neanderthal level.

If you haven’t figured it out by now based on my reviews of Kevin Can Wait and Bull, CBS is not the network for me. I find they’re blend of glossy crime procedurals, trashy reality shows, and lowest-common-denominator sitcoms to be borderline insulting. I still watch Big Brother and Survivor, and I enjoy Madam Secretary, but when it comes to me and “America’s #1 network”, that’s about the extent of it. The Amazing Race has been boring me for years. I watched Hawaii Five-0 for a number of seasons until keeping up with it started to feel like a chore. I even watched the first half of a season of Scorpion for some reason. Now, I will admit that I never became fully invested in The Good Wife or Person of Interest, so maybe I’m just depriving myself of CBS’ quality programming, but even those shows started from the same basic templates as most CBS programs. There’s just very little variety on the network, and anytime they do take a chance, it usually doesn’t work out (at least Supergirl is now airing on the right network).

So why do I say all of this? I bring it up to inform you that if you’re the kind of person who likes CBS shows, then you’ll probably like MacGyver. It’s… competent. It’s got an ensemble cast of somewhat engaging actors (Lucas Till, George Eads, Tristin Mays, Justin Hires, and Sandrine Holt). It’s got that same glossy sheen that covers all CBS procedurals, making them look as if they were shot through an over processed Instagram filter. It’s got a cheesy, generic opening. It’s got awful CGI explosions. It’s being run by Peter M. Lenkov, the man behind CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 reboot, which I’ve already admitted to liking for a number of seasons. It’s all fairly… standard, as far as CBS shows go (even director James Wan couldn’t elevate this pilot). You already know if that’s your thing or not. It’s not mine.

I’m the type of person who, under normal circumstances, would try to watch MacGyver, at least for the first season. I don’t give up on shows very easily, but I’m also learning that as time goes on, there is so much great content out there that I really don’t have time to waste on sub-par things that I don’t really enjoy. MacGyver is the type of show that I would watch out of some weird sense of obligation, but I’m not going to do that this time. I’ve already removed Kevin Can Wait, Bull, and Notorious from my schedule. MacGyver is next.

Recommendation: Skip it


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