An official trailer for CBS’s MacGyver reboot has been released. Because yep, CBS has decided that it needs to reboot MacGyver. Here’s the trailer.
And I gotta say, you guys, I’m not impressed. Here’s a bit of a roundup of thoughts I’ve been having on Facebook and Twitter.
I adored the original show. Every last cheesy mullet-y duct-tape-and-Swiss-Army minute of it. I’ve rewatched a lot of my favorite episodes multiple times. Everybody always talks about how MacGyver’s thing was that he solved problems in such off-the-wall and brilliant ways–and sure, yeah, that was awesome. But it wasn’t even necessarily why I loved the show so much. It was more that it was just a focus in general on a hero whose first instinct was to think his way out of a problem rather than shoot his way out. And, I also always loved that MacGyver in general was a very down-to-earth, laid-back kind of guy. In the early seasons in particular, when they still did Mac’s voiceovers for narration, we particularly got to see this characterization of him in play.
What I’m seeing in this trailer is not that.
What I’m seeing in this trailer is a smart young guy who’s a bit too aware of–and arrogant about–his own brilliance. Now, I’m grudgingly willing to allow for the possibility that Angus MacGyver might have been more of a douche in his 20’s. People who are assholes when they’re young do sometimes pull their heads out of their asses as they get older and wiser; it’s been known to happen! But I’m not really buying it for this character. It feels wrong.
(Also, while I have no particular beef with the actor they’ve cast, even if my only prior experience with him being as a member of the X-Men plays a little weirdly in trying to get me to buy him as MacGyver now, I will also say this: this kid has no mullet. HE COULD NOT POSSIBLY BE MACGYVER WITHOUT A MULLET. I’m just SAYING.)
Second problem: the trailer’s trying way, way too hard to play upon MacGyver’s place in popular culture now. It’s assuming that its potential audience knows about the character and respects what made him so popular, and that therefore, we’re all eager to see him come back. To wit: not so fast there.
For one thing, I’m very, very, very tired of Hollywood’s current trend for rebooting every goddamn franchise on the planet. Even the ones I adored when I was growing up. That I adored MacGyver as a younger woman doesn’t necessarily mean I want to see a second version of that same show now. (Particularly if the newer version doesn’t really capture the aspects of what I loved about the first one to begin with.) Honestly, I’d much prefer to see more emphasis on exploring series ideas (or in the case of movies, franchise ideas) that haven’t been done before.
For another thing, if you’re going to return to a previously established franchise, I want to see you do something actually new with it. And rebooting the original storyline so that “now it takes place in the 2010’s rather than in the 1980’s” doesn’t really count as “new”.
Y’know what I would really have loved to see them do? A new MacGyver show that goes the “sequel” route rather than “reboot”–and has a female lead character rather than a male lead. We’ve seen the “quirkily brilliant guy solves his way out of crises” thing. But I would have adored seeing “quirkily brilliant woman solves her way out of crises” thing.
Particularly if she happened to be Mac’s granddaughter. The original series established in its final episode that Mac did have a 20-year-old son. This much later, it would be totally plausible for that son to now have an adult daughter. Who inherited Grandpa Angus’s smarts. And his Swiss Army knife. I would watch the ever-living fuck out of that show.
Angharad MacGyver. I can see it now. I even whipped up an intro paragraph for her on Facebook, in the vein of those aforementioned voiceovers the original show used to do.
A lot of girls, when they’re eight years old, get dollhouses or Barbies for their birthdays. My Grandpa Angus gave me a Swiss Army knife. Okay, yeah, I also got a dollhouse. Three hours later, after I took that sucker apart with the knife, my mom tried to explain to me that that wasn’t how you played with a dollhouse. Grandpa Angus just smiled, handed me a roll of duct tape, and told me to see what I could make by putting the pieces back together.
It was also pointed out on my Facebook thread that Mac’s son from the original show could have a whole passel of children by now, too. And I just giggle and giggle imagining four or five MacGyver grandchildren who all inherited Grandpa Angus’s smarts. Thanksgiving at their house would be EPIC. It would be an exercise in “how can we cook the turkey this year and NOT make everything explode?”
Sadly, CBS did not see fit to consult me on the matter.
Dara says that the acting in the trailer is not impressing her, but then again, she never was a fan of the original either; she flat refuses to be in the room if I’m watching it. And I’ll say straight up, I will cheerfully grant that the original wasn’t exactly a masterpiece of acting genius! It’s also possible that this newer edition of the show will establish its own brand of cheesy, quirky charm.
But I’m dubious. The bombastic fanfare this trailer’s got, with the HUGE! FONT! CHOICES! and the Inception-style blaring horn strikes, just doesn’t match what I think of when I think of MacGyver. And “I’m so awesome” smirking doesn’t match, either. And another of my Facebook commenters also justly points out that the whole core concept of MacGyver, i.e., “quirky genius who solves crises with everyday items” has been followed up on a lot in shows that came after it. So it’s not as fresh an idea now as it was back when the original series aired.
I’ll be keeping an eye on this. But before I commit to actually watching it, I will be paying VERY close attention to reviews. And right now, I’m thinkin’ that if I want to revisit Mac, I’ll just break out the original show again.
(Though I may have to write me an Angharad MacGyver fic, too.)