Paramount // 1987 // 920 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 6th, 2005
Saving the day is all in a day's work.
Richard Dean Anderson (Stargate SG-1), the most famous Boy Scout in television history, is back to thwart terrorist plots, mutated intergalactic organisms, trained killers, psycho rednecks, smarmy physics students, and Bigfoot.
MacGyver works for the Phoenix Foundation, a ubiquitous organization that the federal government apparently contracts to do everything. MacGyver's best friend Pete Thornton (Dana Elcar) runs the Foundation and is constantly sending MacGyver to tackle the missions nobody else can.
Each of the 20 episodes of Season Three finds MacGyver, along with a handful of regular guest stars, defusing everything from hockey grudge matches to nuclear threats. With his Swiss army knife in hand and a bottle of Clorox within reach, MacGyver boldly and confidently goes forth to do battle. And he has only one thing to say: Screw you, Mr. Wizard.
The 20 episodes are spread among six discs, arranged in the order that they originally aired in 1987. (Episodes will be rated with the "MacGyver-Household-Items-Turned-Into-Crazy-Inventions System" -- the cooler the invention, the better the episode; for this review, we will be using a hammer, some sewing needles, nine red thumbtacks, a bottle of seltzer water, an old Kit Kat wrapper, a faded poster of Bananarama, and a deflated volleyball.)
* "Lost Love (Part 1)"
MacGyver kicks off the season in style: battling Soviets! Along with perpetual guest star Bruce McGill, who plays the footloose and annoying Jack Dalton, MacGyver must prevent the Red Menace from pilfering a priceless Chinese artifact. To make matters interesting, an old flame is also involved.
MacGyver Makes: A rudimentary pair of vise grips.
* "Lost Love (Part 2)"
Jack and Mac are now faced with the impossible task of stealing the Chinese artifact to trade for MacGyver's ex-girlfriend. Jack acts like a jackass again.
MacGyver Makes: Fireproof toenail clippers.
* "Back From the Dead"
It's MacGyver versus the Mafia when an informant turns up and his family is soon targeted by the mob. What ensue are the antics of the most hapless Wiseguys in history.
MacGyver Makes: A semi-functional pasta strainer.
* "Ghost Ship"
Desperate for ideas, the writers pit MacGyver against Bigfoot. Before things turn into The X-Files we get the old Scooby-Doo plot twist.
MacGyver Makes: A lapel flower that squirts WD-40 (which is as silly as this goofy episode).
* "Fire and Ice"
A friend of MacGyver's is killed by a scummy diplomat, who then plays the old "diplomatic immunity" card. MacGyver crafts an elaborate setup to get the diplomat deported to whatever vague Eastern European country he hails from. We meet recurring character Nikki Carpenter (Elyssa Davolos).
MacGyver Makes:An orange peeler that tells time.
Not the new MacGyver fragrance for men, but rather the code name for a top-secret military stealth fighter that the Phoenix Foundation has been working on. The fighter has crashed near the East German border, and Mac must get to the wreckage before the dirty Soviets, who, thankfully, can be deterred by a smack in the face with a fishing pole. Nikki Carpenter returns.
MacGyer Makes: A Communist-face-smacking fishing pole.
* "Jack in the Box"
File this one in the "Sure, whatever" category. MacGyver races down South to bail Jack Dalton out of another tight spot, only to be tossed into a work camp for no apparent reason. Crazier still, he learns that Jack is also in the camp, voluntarily, to dig for a fortune rumored to be buried in a zinc mine. The most amazing part is that MacGyver doesn't hog-tie his friend and fillet him with his pocketknife for dragging him into the mess.
MacGyver Makes: A small box to store paper clips and assorted desktop items.
* "The Widowmaker"
Now we're talking. After a tragic climbing accident, Mac is left mourning his dead friend. As he closes himself off, Murdoc (Michael Des Barres), his arch-nemesis, shows up to terrorize him. The Murdoc episodes, no matter how preposterous (come on, buddy, if you want him dead so badly, slip a Copperhead into his bathtub or something), are my favorites, and always the most entertaining. This one is one of the better shows, as Murdoc goes crazy with land mines, a flamethrower, and a sniper rifle. This is the Mac I fondly remember!
MacGyver Makes: A nuclear-powered chainsaw.
* "Hell Week"
Another fun episode. MacGyver is brought back to his alma mater to judge a physics competition. Unfortunately, there's a dirty cheater willing to do anything to win, even if that means shafting the dean's high-strung, drug-addicted genius son. Sure, you'll have to endure some syrupy father-son proselytizing, but the barricade contest is cool. As an added bonus, there's a bomb to defuse!
MacGyver Makes: A robot that tells knock-knock jokes.
* "Blow Out"
It's been a while since MacGyver had to deal with a terrorist plot. Nikki Carpenter has been targeted for death, and Mac is on the case to find out why. A pretty slick climactic countdown/chase caps this decent episode.
MacGyver Makes: A portable refrigerator/rocket-launcher.
* "Kill Zone"
In this highly far-fetched (though fun) episode, MacGyver must track down a deadly virus that has fallen from space in one of the Phoenix Foundation's satellites (they have an aeronautic division too?!). But the virus's creator, a wacko scientist, is reluctant to part with what she believes to be the answer to all of humanity's problems. Pete and Mac must prevent the organism from escaping.
MacGyver Makes: Two solar-powered blenders.
* "Early Retirement"
Pete unexpectedly retires after a tragic explosion claims the lives of a few disposable Phoenix red-shirts. But as MacGyver digs deeper, he realizes that there may be an uninteresting conspiracy afoot.
MacGyver Makes: An umbrella.
* "Thin Ice"
Taking a break from saving the planet, MacGyver fills in for an old friend who coaches a hockey team. But negotiating the circuitry of a ticking warhead is peanuts compared with this challenge: reining in the talented, but misguided, star.
MacGyver Makes: A stainless steel blowgun.
* "The Odd Triple"
More Jack Dalton nonsense. MacGyver gets roped into yet another scheme, transporting a woman and her precious jewelry to France, but a big surprise awaits them: They are immediately arrested by a French investigator with the worst French accent ever. The highlight of the episode is a rocket-powered beer keg.
MacGyver Makes: Well, that would have to be the rocket-powered beer keg.
* "The Negotiator"
Love is in the air when a gorgeous woman suddenly enters MacGyver's life. But, unfortunately, she's been hired by a slimy developer (seriously, what developer isn't slimy?) to prevent MacGyver from nixing a major marina project that may have dire ecological consequences. The moral: The white guy in the suit is probably the villain.
MacGyver Makes: A Buddy Band.
* "The Spoilers"
Another ecological episode, as MacGyver, with the help of a disturbed Vietnam vet, investigates the illegal dumping of toxic waste into a river.
MacGyver Makes: A compass made of cheese.
* "Mask of the Wolf"
Jack Dalton convinces MacGyver to help out one of his old Native American pals and bring him to pray to a legendary ancestral mask. But a couple of lowlifes want the mask for the prime money it will bring. The race is on!
MacGyver Makes: A Styrofoam peace pipe.
* "Rock the Cradle"
Ugh. Not only do we have to endure another Jack Dalton episode, but there's a baby involved, too. With almost no coolness to be found (MacGyver's big invention: a cradle operated by a bungie cord), all that's left is Jack and MacGyver fumbling around with diapers and wrinkling their nose at the smell of poop.
MacGyver Makes: Nothing. He runs out of ideas.
* "The Endangered"
When MacGyver checks in on an ex-girlfriend working at an animal preserve, he crosses paths with a trio of rednecks illegally hunting bears. Now Mac and his former lady friend must survive the wilderness and bring these clowns to justice. Mac rebounds nicely with an entertaining episode.
MacGyver Makes: A George Foreman grill, before George Foreman even though of it.
* "Murderer's Sky"
MacGyver and the Phoenix Foundation investigate the assassination attempt on a wealthy Chinese businessman, perpetrated by smoking hot Tia Carrere (Wayne's World). They track down the businessman's grandson, Luke (Ernie Reyes Jr.), a brash little Shaolin monk. Now Mac and the ass-kicking little immigrant will have to combine their talents to defeat the bad guys, who are intent on taking over the business. This is a nice little capper to the season. Luke is twenty times more useful than any other MacGyver sidekick and way less irritating. Plus there's a gratuitous swimsuit shot of a very young Tia Carrere. Bonus points to the writers for having the audacity to blatantly recycle Asian actors from previous episodes. Eh, they all look alike -- right, Henry Winkler?
MacGyver Makes: A fuel-injected, water-cooled, heat-seeking spectroanalyzer.
So there you have it, all 20 episodes from MacGyver's third go-round. Overall, I enjoyed this season more than the previous one. The set certainly has its share of cheeseball shows, but the good ones are really good.
Richard Dean Anderson is as likable as always. Seriously, MacGyver is a flawless human (no wonder my wife was obsessed with him), mullet and all. What is so engaging about his character is Anderson's complete lack of pretension in his role. When MacGyver gets into fistfights, he throws wild punches that spin him out of control, after which he quickly nurses his hand. He's not Jet Li, but then again, can Jet Li fashion a rock façade out of paper, opium, and duct tape? Probably not.
Dana Elcar's Pete Thornton is just as easygoing, though as far as I can tell, his main schtick is to forcefully state the obvious: "THAT MEANS HE'S STILL LOOSE!" or "MACGYVER, THAT'S A BOMB!" or "I ENJOY A CHEF'S SALAD FROM TIME TO TIME!" As you can probably piece together from my episode capsules, I'm no fan of Jack Dalton. Bruce McGill is a great character actor, but his Dalton sucks. He's over-the-top stupid, and while it's clear that the writers wanted to fashion a foil for MacGyver, I don't think McGill was the right choice. For that reason, there are too many Dalton-centric episodes on this set for my taste.
In my review of Season Two I noted that MacGyver as a series hadn't aged well. This season, however, has softened me up, and the best compliment I can afford it is this: Seeing these episodes again was not like urinating on my childhood. Still, for fans only. Or parents looking for an utterly harmless adventure series for their little ones.
As is the norm for these sets, we get a bare-bones release from Paramount. Episodes are offered in their original fullscreen aspect ratio, and the video quality is adequate. Detailing is rather fuzzy, but that's to be expected for a nearly 20-year-old series. A potent enough Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix provides the sound, with little fanfare. Not an extra to be found, however, and that makes MacGyver grumpy.
A better experience than the disappointing, disillusioning second season, MacGyver: The Complete Third Season still sports a houseboat-ful of cheesy moments, but there is enough old-school fun here, bolstered by the hard-to-dislike Richard Dean Anderson, to keep the set roaming the street.
The accused is handed back to the Phoenix Foundation.
Review content copyright © 2005 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 920 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Not Rated