MacGyver 5.1 and 5.2 – Legend of the Holy Rose (parts one and two)

Since our son really enjoys MacGyver, Marie and I picked eight more episodes to watch from the show’s fifth season. We’re still watching these deeply disappointing DVDs that look like their source for “digitally remastering” was a third-gen copy on a crappy BASF tape recorded on EP speed, but if you enjoy MacGyver, help is on the way. Season one was released on Blu-ray in October and the results are absolutely amazing. Seriously, look at this. I don’t care enough about the show to invest right now, but if you’re a fan, these new editions are a must.

And speaking of not caring… “Legend of the Holy Rose” was the two-part season premiere, shown across two weeks in September of 1989. Richard Dean Anderson needed a haircut in the worst possible way, but part two of this adventure isn’t bad at all. It’s a treasure hunt story, with Lise Cutter as yet another old friend of MacGyver’s that we’ve never heard of before. Interestingly, she’s also an old friend of Jack Dalton’s as well. Cutter went on to star in one of my favorite guilty pleasures when I was in my twenties, a CBS PI show called Dangerous Curves, but I picked this one because Christopher Neame plays the villain, and he’s great fun.

Part two is pretty good, but this really doesn’t start off very promisingly. After an amusing little throwback to the “opening gambits” from season one, things go on with Cutter’s deeply annoying character for ages, and then the producers pretend that they’re overseas in the “merrie olde England” variety of London. You may recall that in the mid-eighties, it was briefly fashionable for American dramas to do the obligatory episode set in the UK. Or maybe it wasn’t all that fashionable, because I can really only remember Magnum PI and Remington Steele actually going to the UK to make episodes. MacGyver didn’t have the budget to do this, but they tried pulling it off with some stock footage and two of the most screamingly, hilariously poor performances I can remember. This one actress wouldn’t have been less believable had she turned to the camera and shouted “It’s a jolly ‘oliday wiv you, Murry Poppins!”

But eventually, we get to another part of British Columbia that’s pretending to be a rural area in France for the last big treasure dig and it’s really entertaining. And part two has an incredibly novel and amusing resolution to a memorable cliffhanger where MacGyver’s chained up underneath a big “pit and the pendulum” machine in a chamber of horrors. You’d have thought the museum’s insurance agency would have told them they can’t have an actual giant axe swinging from the rafters. Our son was a little annoyed with us for making him wait about four hours between episodes, but the way MacGyver shut the axe down was clever enough that I think he forgave us.

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