MacGyver

From Academic Kids

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MacGyver main title screenshot

MacGyver is an American adventure television series about a laid-back, extremely resourceful ex-special forces secret agent named Angus "Mac" MacGyver, played by Richard Dean Anderson. The series was created by Lee David Zlotoff and executive produced by Henry Winkler. It ran from 29 September 1985 to May 1992 on the ABC network. It was filmed primarily in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Two made-for-TV movies were produced in 1994.

MacGyver's main asset is his practical application of scientific knowledge and inventive use of common items – along with his ever-present Swiss Army knife and duct tape and the usual coincidence of being locked up in a room full of special chemicals.

This allows him to create a variety of unorthodox solutions, usually to escape capture, avert disaster, or defeat the antagonists. The use of mundane items to build jury-rigged devices shows an influence from The A-Team (though MacGyver eschewed the use of firearms) and has entered U.S. popular culture and are referred to as "MacGyverisms".

MacGyver can also be used as a verb meaning to fix, repair, rig, solve, build, invent, or otherwise save the day, as MacGyver did.

Contents

Characters

MacGyver
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MacGyver

MacGyver

MacGyver is a principled action hero who refuses to carry or use a gun, is a vegetarian, and prefers non-violent conflict resolution wherever possible.

He was born and bred in Minnesota, which explains why he speaks with a Minnesota accent. (Richard Dean Anderson himself was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.) He graduated from Alexander Ramsey High School in Roseville, Minnesota. His character is a graduate of a fictitious technical school called Western Tech where he earned a degree in physics.

MacGyver's first name remains a mystery until the final season; whenever he's asked about it, he says he dislikes his first name and changes the subject. The script for the series pilot gave MacGyver's first name as "Stace", but this information did not appear in the finished episode, although it was mentioned in promotional material for the series. His first name was finally officially revealed in "Good Knight MacGyver", in which he learns of a seventh-century Scottish ancestor, Angus McIver, and admits that they share their first name; and repeated in the series finale, which introduces MacGyver's son, whose middle name is Angus.

Supporting characters

Other notable recurring characters include:

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Pete Thornton
Pete Thornton (Dana Elcar)
MacGyver's boss and best friend. Pete was an operative at the Department of External Services (DXS), which is where he was impressed by Mac's ingenuity while tracking down Murdoc, an international assassin. When Pete took the position of Director of Operations at the Phoenix Foundation seven years later, he brought MacGyver into the program.
Pete has a son named Michael, from a previous marriage.
In 1991, actor Dana Elcar began to develop glaucoma, a degenerative condition of the eyes that causes blindness. This condition was written into the show, and Elcar's character also developed the disease. A number of public service announcements were composed and shown at the end of many of the later episodes, encouraging viewers to get checked early and often for the condition.
Dana Elcar passed away in June 2005 at the age of 77.
Jack Dalton (Bruce McGill)
An aviator and old friend of MacGyver's with a weakness for get-rich-quick schemes that invariably got him into trouble. He always wore a peaked cap.
Murdoc (Michael Des Barres)
MacGyver's most commonly recurring opponent, a master assassin who never failed--except when MacGyver got involved. His first appearance in the series was presented as his second run-in with MacGyver. Murdoc returned for revenge for their first encounter--to the surprise of MacGyver, as Murdoc had apparently been killed while escaping on that occasion. Murdoc's revenge scheme not only failed, but resulted in him being apparently killed again. This became a recurring theme: each of Murdoc's subsequent appearances ended in another "death", which we later learn he had incredibly survived. Murdoc was associated with the Homicide International Trust (HIT), an organization of assassins, until being excommunicated for his failures at MacGyver's hands.
Penny Parker (Teri Hatcher)
Penny Parker and MacGyver met in line in an airport in Bulgaria ("Every Time She Smiles") when she tried to smuggle some jewels out of the country in his pocket. Of little talent but with big dreams, her pursuit of a show business career got her into trouble more than once; she was sometimes used by Murdoc as the unwitting pawn in his plans to eliminate MacGyver.
The Coltons (Della Reese, Cleavon Little, Richard Lawson, Cuba Gooding Jr.)
A family of bounty hunters, introduced one at a time - the only episode in which more than one appeared was their collective final appearance in the final season, on which occasion they took over the episode entirely, relegating MacGyver to a cameo appearance. This episode, called "The Coltons", was actually intended as a pilot for a spin-off which would star the Coltons, but nothing ever came of it.
Harry Jackson (John Anderson)
Harry Jackson, MacGyver's grandfather, became MacGyver's "father" after his grandmother and real father were killed in a car accident. Seven years later, he left MacGyver. After another sixteen years, Harry and MacGyver met again in the season one episode, "Target MacGyver", in which MacGyver and his grandfather worked together to defeat an assassin named Axminster (played by D'Mitch Davis). Sometime between the fifth season episode "Passages" and the sixth season episode "Harry's Will", Harry died of a heart attack.
Nikki Carpenter (Elyssa Davalos)
Nikki Carpenter joined the Phoenix Foundation in the third season.
Mei Jan (Michele Chan)
Initially calling herself Sue Ling, the name of MacGyver's foster daughter, Mei Jan enlisted MacGyver's help in completing her mission for the Chinese student movement.
Wilt and Milt Bozer (Robin Mossley, Robert Donner)
Milt Bozer's brother, Wilt, was MacGyver's neighbor at the marina.

Story

MacGyverisms

MacGyver's ever-present  was an important component of his unorthodox solutions.
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MacGyver's ever-present Swiss Army knife was an important component of his unorthodox solutions.

The spontaneous inventions have come to be nicknamed MacGyverisms and even led to the verb, 'to MacGyver' or 'to MacGyver-ize'. This word was used in Richard Dean Anderson's current project, Stargate SG-1, in a postmodern moment in the first episode, when a character – not Anderson's – comments on the time and effort that had been required "to MacGyver" a replacement for the Stargate's long-lost control system. However, the term was used long before that, in, appropriately enough, a MacGyver episode. It was used by Joanne Remmings (played by Pamela Bowen) in the second-season episode "Twice Stung," in which MacGyver must con a con man. (The episode title is a reference to The Sting, with Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and, strangely enough, Dana Elcar.)

Trivia

A few actors appeared on MacGyver multiple times, but playing a different character. For example, Gregory Sierra appeared in the season one episode "The Gauntlet", playing General Antonio Vasquez, the season two episode "Jack of Lies", playing Colonel Antunnez, and the season five episode "The Treasure of Manco", playing Captain Diaz.

Christopher Judge, who costars in Stargate SG-1 along with Richard Dean Anderson, appeared in the season five episode "Live and Learn" as a high school football player named "Darren".

Don S. Davis (also on Stargate SG-1) appeared on MacGyver multiple times, in the season three episodes "Blow Out" and "The Endangered", as a cement truck driver and Wyatt Porter, respectively. Additionally, he was Dana Elcar's stunt double.

MacGyver's Swiss Army Knife went through a few changes over the early episodes. His first and most often used knife was a "Tinker" model from Victorinox. In "Thief of Budapest" he gives it away; in the next episode he is using a "Traveler" model from Wenger. He is soon back to his "Tinker." At one point he uses an Orange Peeler blade; probably from a Victorinox "Executive." He may have used an older model "Explorer" from Victorinox later in the series.

MacGyver is also known well for his incumbent "mullet" (short on the sides, long at the back) hairstyle which has spawned many popular sites which humour this particular subculture.

MacGyver, Miami Vice, Magnum, P.I. and Knight Rider are still extremely popular in many third world nations such as Indonesia, The Philippines, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, and Argentina and are regularly aired on prime-time slots.

In an episode of Family Guy, Peter Griffin writes to MacGyver.

The theme song was written by Randy Edelman.

The series was heavily referenced in an episode of The Simpsons, The Black Widower concerning Sideshow Bob's plot to kill Bart's Aunt Selma. The plan was foiled when Bart realised Selma's post-MacGyver cigarette (her only cigarette of the day, as well as after meals, since "quitting" for Bob) would ignite the gas left on by Bob.

Episodes

Season 1 of the show was released on DVD on January 25, 2005, season 2 on June 7, 2005 and season 3 is scheduled for release on September 6, 2005.

Subsequent seasons are expected in the coming years.

See List of MacGyver episodes.

External links

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