I think I might be slowly coming around to MacGyver. Don’t tell Brian I said this, but I may have misjudged the man. Last night we watched several episodes back-to-back, and by the end of the third one, when MacGyver and his lady friend of the hour parachuted out of a plane inside a sports car with a trunk full of stolen diamonds, I must admit, I was grudgingly impressed. I am also impressed that Microsoft Word’s dictionary corrected my spelling of the word ‘MacGyver’. Not just anyone gets into the Microsoft Word dictionary, my friends.
Don’t get me wrong here– the road to my heart is all not that easy; it takes more than a roll of duct tape and a bag of kettle corn to win me over (although it didn’t in college). I was extremely skeptical during the first episode or so. The synthesized music, the high-waisted jeans and off-the-shoulder shirts of the ’80s, MacGyver’s suspiciously mullet-like hair-all of these things added to my discomfort and my certainty that I was not going to watch more than an episode or two. Brian would be just fine watching the remaining 39 episodes of season one by himself, I thought. But gradually, I began to relax. I stopped snickering every time a female character fawningly repeated MacGyver’s name to him over and over again. “Oh, MacGyver! You’re so reckless. That’s just like you, isn’t it MacGyver? What am I going to MacGyver with you, MacGyver?”
After a few of snide remarks about the unlikelihood of MacGyver’s jury-rigged contraptions actually working, I decided to shut up and enjoy myself. After all, no one likes the killjoy who says things like, ‘He better hope there’s no wind, or that candle is going to blow out before it burns through her purse-strap and sets off those fireworks as a diversion.’ Likewise the wet blanket who sneers, ‘Can you really deflect a laser beam with plastic tubing?’ or ‘Those guys are two dunes away with automatic weapons, they can’t hit a frickin’ air balloon?’ That person is no fun. No one wants to watch MacGyver with them.
Of particular enjoyment to me was the refreshing lack of violence. I am what my mother would call ‘a delicate flower’– too faint-hearted for the gruesome scenes in most modern movies and television shows. Is it just me, or did there used to be less grisly stuff on basic cable? Now there is a CSI for every major city, and it is safe to assume that one of the actors in the first five minutes of any crime show is about to be shot, strangled or thrown off a roof. In contrast, during episode two, MacGyver and a plucky female journalist were discovered taking undercover pictures of a secret Central American terrorist organization. I figured they were about to be beaten to a pulp, or at the very least threatened with electrocution; instead they got yelled at. And the journalist’s camera film got exposed. But that was it! And then MacGyver and plucky journalist foiled their captors and disappeared into the jungle to spend the night together in a tent he rigged out of underbrush, but you know they only went to second base, because he is a gentleman.
Speaking of which, MacGyver also managed to earn high marks with me for his undisguised surprise each time the female lead in the episode threw herself at him. It happens in nearly every episode– and yet, each time, he appears unabashedly delighted that he’s actually going to get some. I like that in a man! Maybe I’m just weird.
I think my favorite part about the experience, though, was watching this show with Brian and realizing that this MacGyver was a big part of what made him want to study engineering. I imagine this was the case for a lot of children of the 1980s. It was exciting, feeling as though I were watching history in the making; that every jury-rigged explosion or home-made periscope was at one time encouraging young viewers to love science. Probably also mullets, but fortunately the science part had the most staying-power.