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MacGyver 3.19 – The Endangered

As you might expect from any adventure show, the hero has a lot more incredibly important old girlfriends than anybody in the real world. In Peter Filardi’s “The Endangered,” MacGyver has such a close call on an assignment, only saved from death by the gunman’s pistol jamming, that he decides he doesn’t want his old college sweetie Karen to be the one that got away any longer. Oblivious to the reality that she moved on long ago, he drops in / imposes on her in extreme upstate Washington, where she works as a ranger in a huge national park that borders Canada. They run afoul of three poachers who shoot Karen and then start tracking them through the wilderness to finish the job.

Typically, the usual TV adventure hero isn’t shown to be as downright wrongheaded about his old romances as MacGyver is here. He says that he wouldn’t have come to the park had Karen told him about her current boyfriend. You can find plenty of examples of a character looking up an old flame to find that she has married or has a strong relationship, but there’s something a little awkward and different about the way MacGyver just pathetically tries to tell himself that this can’t be true. I liked the honesty. The character feels more like a real, dumb human than a superhuman TV character here.

Karen is played by Moira Walley, who racked up a few dozen guest star parts in the eighties and nineties. Credited today as Moira Walley-Beckett, she’s principally a producer and writer, and worked on ABC’s Pan Am, which I enjoyed more than you did, along with Breaking Bad and the CBC’s current “Green Gables” adaptation Anne. Don S. Davis plays one of the poachers. This is Davis’s other acting part in the third season of MacGyver, and it’s a much meatier role than the one we saw previously.

I was more impressed by the production of “The Endangered” than the script, because the story requires the villains to be tactical but not strategic. There is no way in any universe that such intelligent and resourceful men could possibly expect to get away with the absolutely idiotic decisions they make. I just didn’t believe in them, but I enjoyed watching the story unfold in this glorious, rain-soaked location. As for our son, he has lots of questions about hunting and poaching and conservation, and I hope we can assure him that nobody who enjoys the sport of hunting is anywhere near as ruthless and/or stupid as these guys.

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MacGyver 3.10 – Blow Out

“Blow Out” is a considerably more interesting installment of the show than the last one we watched. It’s a more traditional heroes versus terrorists story, building up to a hidden bomb and no time to defuse it. It’s the fourth appearance of the Nikki Carpenter character played by Elyssa Davalos, but despite coming on board as a full-time employee / operative of the Phoenix Foundation, she’d be written out a couple of months later.

Right at the end, in a very small part, eagle-eyed viewers might catch Don S. Davis as the driver of a cement truck. Davis was also Dana Elcar’s stunt double this season, and it turns out he plays another character in another episode that we’ll watch in a couple of weeks. Ten years later, Davis and Richard Dean Anderson would star together in Stargate SG-1, which was also filmed in Vancouver.

But the most memorable moment watching this one with our son came with a little trick that MacGyver does to keep track of a truck while tailing it from a safe distance. Yesterday, as regular readers know, we watched The Avengers for the first time, and our son first saw the cute scene where Captain America recognizes what somebody means when they mention flying monkeys and then enters meme immortality:

MacGyver’s trick involves a can of paint with a hole punched in the bottom, allowing Nikki and him to “follow the yellow brick road.” Our son said, “Hey! That’s a thing from The Wizard of Oz!” We paused the show and reminded him of the bit in The Avengers. The cute character moments were kind of lost among all that movie’s mayhem, but I couldn’t resist. But he kept paying close attention. The trail leads them to the “industrial sector,” and MacGyver says that it’s not quite the Emerald City. “That’s also a reference to The Wizard of Oz,” he said with a huge grin.

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