Friday night saw the debut of one of television's most anticipated Fall season premieres with the debut of CBS's MacGyver, a modern day reboot of the '80s classic. Unfortunately, much of that anticipation stemmed from people waiting for the series to flop. MacGyver never had the odds in its favor, with many fans of the original anticipating a failure and pretty mixed reviews from critics. On top of that, CBS put the show in a Friday night timeslot which, as any television fans know, doesn't spell success.
However, if anyone could make the best out of a bad situation it's MacGyver, and despite all the odd the rebooted series premiered last Friday to a whopping 10.9 million viewers, making it CBS's strongest Friday opening since Ghost Whisperer premiered 11 years ago.
Get a first look at the new MacGyver below:
This year has been quite the year for reboots and remakes, both in movies and TV. Fox premiere TV takes on Lethal Weapon and The Exorcist last week, while director Antoine Fuqua's remake of The Magnificent Seven rode to box office success. Of course, this has all happened the same year that Sony's Ghostbusters brought reboots to the forefront of Hollywood, generating controversy among fans that ultimately affected it's success. MacGyver may have received some negative buzz from fans and critics, but the premiere soared to success because unlike others, this series has all the right tools for a successful reboot.
MacGyver 2016 Is Faithful To The Original
When the first trailer for MacGyver was released at the CBS upfronts back in May, it previewed a show that was a far cry from the '80s classic. Series star Lucas Till — already years younger than the original MacGyver — looked nothing like what fans expected, rocking long brown hair and casual clothes. Since then, the team behind the series rewrote and reshot the entire pilot, an unusual thing to happen after the release of a first look trailer. After retooling the show, Till sports a shorter hairstyle similar to Richard Dean Anderson's famous mullet from the original show, along with a brown leather jacket that reminds us of MacGyver's most famous look. It might not be a big change, but it indicates one thing — producers want this show to remain faithful to the original.
I've seen several episodes of the original series and I have to say that the first episode of CBS's revival is incredibly faithful. The new MacGyver looks like the original, and he's still able to create all the gadgets and gizmos you'd expect to see. And we even see the return of the slightly cheesy one-liners and jokes that helped give the original its charm. The newer series is a loyal interpretation of the original, even if it makes some changes along the way.
It's Fresh, Funny and Original
MacGyver succeeds where so many reboots have failed, maintaining the essence of the original while appealing to a modern generation. The 2016 version of the title character may share many traits with the '80s version, but he's also pretty different. This MacGyver is more down to earth and relatable to a younger audience than Anderson's version ever was. Casting a younger actor like Till allows viewers to see what MacGyver would be like in his early years. He may be a pro at what he does, but he's still learning how to use his skills, and that makes for some great television.
The reboot almost feels like an opportunity to see the character transform into the MacGyver the we've come to know. Producers have the opportunity to tell the story of his transition from a talented agent into a globe-trotting, world-saving super-agent. And there are even some superheroic elements to this MacGyver. One of the pilots better action moments sees Till run the length of an airplane runway before latching onto the bottom plane lifting off, feeling like something out of a Batman movie or the Mission: Impossible series instead of the old school MacGyver.
The fact that the protagonist has a squad of teammates at his disposal also sets the remake apart from the original. The team shares a great bond and together they help prvent disaster. The title of the show may be MacGyver, but make no mistake, this is very much an ensemble show. The new group brings enough heart and humor to make the show worthy of a family viewing, helping CBS capture a huge audience.
Ready for more remakes and reboots? Check these out:
- 5 TV Remakes That Challenge Their Originals
- Here Are 36 Remakes Currently In The Works In Hollywood
- 6 Movies That Are Begging For A Reboot
MacGyver For The Technological Age
MacGyver was known in the '80s as the guy who could come up with solutions in even the bleakest of situations. But in today's day and age, any one of us can solve a problem with a quick Google search, so why do we need MacGyver in 2016? Thankfully, the creators of the CBS reboot clearly took this into consideration and, just like MacGyver would, solved the problem with a great solution. They introduced a computer-hacking genius that to become the action hero's aid.
The character of Riley Davis (Tristin Mays) sorts out everything tech related that our hero needs by using her impressive computer skills. From hacking security cameras to tracking down criminals, Riley saves MacGyver a lot of time and energy but also brings the series into the 21st Century. The new MacGyver needs to take on more advanced threats than his '80s counterpart, and Riley helps him do that in a believable and realistic way.
Characters like Arrow's Felicity Smoak or Smallville's Chloe Sullivan have proven that the computer whiz sidekick is not only a great addition to a story, but can help get younger generations interested in shows featuring recycled lead characters. They help a classic hero deal with a brand new set of problems while adding a new element to a revived property.
The Network Had Its Back
CBS seems to have a lot of faith in this reboot, even if they gave the show a potentially lethal Friday night timeslot. The earlier pilot may have been good enough to score a series pick-up from the network, but it wasn't necessarily the MacGyver it wanted to bring audiences. The pilot was retooled and reshot with director James Wan at the helm, and the final results were a hit.
Wan was supposed to direct the pilot from the start, but had to back out due to other commitments. But bringing him back proved a smart move for this more action-oriented treatment of the character, and reshooting the first episode highlights just how important MacGyver is to CBS. The network knew it could have a hit if it made some changes, and decided to make the risky investment of going back to the drawing board to make sure the reboot was perfect.
Watch co-stars Lucas Till and George Eads talk MacGyver 2016 below:
In an era where reboots are generally associated with failure, MacGyver stands out from the crowd. The series premiere was definitely a success, one that many didn't see coming but nevertheless, a success. The viewing figures highlight that enough people were curious to see if Mac could transition into the modern era and it appears that he can. MacGyver has all tools a reboot requires, with new characters and a fresh tone that stays faithful to the original series. But more importantly, it has the support of CBS to become another long-lasting hit. We can only guess if subsequent episodes will be able to live up to the pilot's success, but for now MacGyver reigns over Friday night television. Well done Mac!
You can catch MacGyver Friday nights on CBS. What do you think this reboot needs to succeed? Let us know in the comments below.