Add “MacGyver” to the lengthening list of Frankenstein shows -- those reborn classics, brought back from the dead with new stars, new energy, new ideas ... and in this instance, a new network. CBS formally confirmed Tuesday that the old ABC standard, coproduced by Henry Winkler, got a pilot order. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news last fall, adding that mega-action producer James Wan (“Furious 7”) will be overseer.
In fact, Malaysian-born Wan is the first and most obvious indication that this “MacGyver” won’t be your father’s, so to speak: He’s the man behind some of the rawest, wildest big-screen action stuff in recent history, including the “Saw” franchise, and the forthcoming “The Conjuring 2,” which (judging from the theater trailers) will be a quantum advance in gore/horror over “The Conjuring 1.” Wan is brand new to TV, so one can only imagine what kind of explosions/mayhem he will reconfigure for the new “MacGyver” -- which in its day was wild enough, but also genial and a wide open door to the parodies to follow, most notably “MacGruber.”
This is only a “pilot” order, but with Winkler and Wan behind it, you may rest assured this will go to series. No actors yet attached but, per reports, this does sound almost like a prequel: A look at the younger Angus MacGyver, and how he developed his genius for extricating himself from potentially catastrophic situations simply by -- for example -- taking a paper clip, empty soda bottle, stick of unchewed gum, and (if he really wanted to challenge himself) shoestring, then fashioning a device to defuse a low-yield atomic bomb about to destroy half of Los Angeles (or Vancouver where the show was shot in its final seasons).
Oh, right, he also needed that handy Swiss Army knife.
Always worked, too. Amazing! And this fun series – created by Lee David Zlotoff -- lasted 139 episodes from 1985 to ‘92 as proof.
But enough about “Mac.” What about Richard Dean Anderson, the beloved star who went to “Stargate SG-1,” and a few other sporadic series? The news there is not so good: Anderson, now 65, has been suffering from debilitating back pain for months, even writing about the ordeal on his website. The most recent entry from mid-January reads, “Who knows? Pain is ... dare I say, existential.”
Here’s hoping for a fast recovery. A new “MacGyver” without so much as a walk-on by the original is unthinkable.