ByStephen Patterson, writer at
Verified writer at Movie Pilot. Follow me on twitter: @mr_sjpatterson
Stephen Patterson

Last year, fans of the original MacGyver series were shocked to learn that a reboot for the classic '80s drama was in the works. The Lucas Till fronted remake hit screens last September and unfortunately received somewhat of a mixed response. It seems that the new series divided audiences, with fans of the '80s action series disgruntled by the modern update, while general audiences found the updated MacGyver a welcomed addition to their Friday night line-up.

I was among the latter and, having viewed several episodes of the original series, I was pleasantly surprised by how well Angus MacGyver was adapted for the technological age. And clearly, I wasn't the only one because, despite the negative reception from fans of the original series, pulled in some incredibly high viewing figures during its first season. Premiering to an audience of 10.9 million viewers, the CBS reboot defied the odds and maintained an incredibly large audience week-on-week, which of course led to a second season renewal.

The hit CBS drama returned to screens for its second season this past Friday and maintained that audience, with the premiere episode garnering 6.69 million viewers. Not bad for a show that many predicted to fail before it had even begun. Having said that, it's no surprise that the show was predicted to flop. In a world that is growing tiresome of remakes, MacGyver's success was a shock to us all. Even now, I'm still shocked that it managed to keep afloat considering some of the harsh reviews it initially received. But alas, people are enjoying the updated version of the '80s action hero and, upon further analysis, it's easy to see why.

'MacGyver' Is Perfect For Friday Night Viewing

While we've all grown obsessed with hard-hitting drama and award winning storytelling when it comes to our choices of entertainment, nothing beats sitting back and relaxing with a good old-fashioned action flick. Unfortunately in the age of longterm storytelling, episodic action series are almost entirely a thing of the past. That's where MacGyver comes in.

Very much in the style of the '80s original, MacGyver follows the traditional plot-of-the-week set up, whereby Mac and his team are given an assignment from their boss (a bit like the classic Wonder Woman series) and the team head off to investigate. As expected, Mac's investigation gets him into bother and he encounters several obstacles along the way, which makes for plenty of heart-racing moments for the viewers. Mac is forced to use his wits and come up with a typical MacGyver solution in order to get himself (and his team) out of harms way. It's all very exciting.

'MacGyver' [Credit: CBS]
'MacGyver' [Credit: CBS]

It's a tough world we live in and, after working hard all week, we like to come home on a Friday, put our feet up and stick on the TV. Now don't get me wrong, I love HBO and Netflix's original programming as much as the next guy, but on Fridays I personally prefer a bit of light entertainment, and that's exactly what MacGyver provides. Remember, way before storytelling was television's primary objective, television series were invented as a form of escapism. While we prefer a little more substance in our TV these days, the escapism notion is still very relevant. MacGyver provides us with that escapism. It's full of humor, heart and more explosions than one could count (albeit featuring some dodgy CGI but that's a matter for another day).

Previous knowledge of the show isn't required, it's easy to watch as you please and, personal character journeys aside, there's rarely a storyline that carries over more than one episode. What better way to spend your Friday night then with some easy-watching TV? When you watch MacGyver you're guaranteed a fun-filled hour of entertainment and, personally, I've never been left disappointed by the hit series.

Clearly I'm not the only one that holds this opinion. In today's age of on-demand streaming, it's rare to for a network television series to pull in 6 million viewers — and to do so on a Friday night is almost unheard of. Television executives refer to Friday night airings as the death-slot. Why? Because not that many people watch TV on a Friday. Instead, hard-working individuals will go out to relax after a long week's work. Ghost Whisperer, which was also broadcast on CBS, is one of the biggest Friday night successes in recent memory and it appears that MacGyver is following in the Jennifer Love Hewitt-led drama's footsteps.

Finally, as much as we like surprise, we also like our safety blankets, and despite the unpredictable twists and turns that MacGyver has to offer, we are always assured that our protagonist is never in any real danger. Why? Because he can't die. If MacGyver were to die then there would be no MacGyver. It's hard to rely on anything in the real world these days, so at least with MacGyver we can rely on something: that our hero will always win. Good will trump evil. That some people can get their happy ending. MacGyver is predictable, but in the best way possible.

'MacGyver' Appeals To A General Audience Because It's A Family Show

Whilst MacGyver doesn't appear to have much of an online following, it appeals to a general audience. Some of you may argue with me on that one, but hear me out. Despite an occasional moment of threat (usually involving the villainous Murdoc), MacGyver is very much a family show and, let's face it, there are very few of those left in today's world of entertainment.

'MacGyver' [Credit: CBS]
'MacGyver' [Credit: CBS]

With the increase in sex and violence, far fewer shows have family appeal. In fact, I can't remember the last show I watched with my family and the main reason for that is the fear of sitting through an awkward scene involving gory violence or racy sex. However, this is not the case with MacGyver.

There is no sex or swearing and despite occasional gunshots, violence is kept to a bare minimum. The show is unlike anything on television today, and that's because it's a lot like the type of shows that were popular throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s. MacGyver is reminiscent of the classic action series from days gone by; it's a show that can be enjoyed by everyone and anyone, much like the original version on which it is based.

MacGyver is a throwback to the good old days when long-form storytelling wasn't at the heart of television, and hourly entertainment was the only objective that mattered. MacGyver is everything that we no longer see on TV, and it's the type of television that would have the entire family huddled around the screen each week.

Moreover, Angus MacGyver is the embodiment of the classic action hero, and perhaps that has something to do with the fact that the show is based on the iconic '80s series. Regardless, Till's MacGyver is everything we could possibly want in a protagonist. For parents, Mac is the kind of good-hearted role model we would want our children to look up to, and for kids, Mac is the coolest guy on TV. On a personal note — and I might get some hate for this — I would argue that Till's MacGyver is much more relatable than Richard Dean Anderson's iteration of the character ever was (sorry not sorry). This is because in addition to being an action hero, we get to see Till's Mac in his most vulnerable moments and Till conveys the character's inner turmoil beautifully.

'MacGyver' [Credit: CBS]
'MacGyver' [Credit: CBS]

There are many shows to choose from in today's day and age, but few are suitable enough for the whole family to enjoy. That's where MacGyver comes in. Much like the titular character does in a precarious predicament, MacGyver has fixed a somewhat broken genre. Sitting comfortably between action and drama, the series has become a Friday night event and that's something that even critics are unable to take away from it.

Friday nights may not have TV's greatest offerings, but having MacGyver filling the void is definitely a step in the right direction for good old-fashioned family friendly entertainment. And I for one hope MacGyver sticks around to fix up my Friday nights for many a year to come. Although considering it's pulling in 6 million viewers each week, I don't think that will be a problem.

Do you find MacGyver unmissable event television? Perhaps you preferred the original? Tell me your thoughts in the comment section below.


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