MacGyver was an American adventure television series about a laid-back, extremely resourceful ex-special forces secret agent named Angus "Mac" MacGyver, played by Richard Dean Anderson. The series was created by Lee David Zlotoff and executive produced by Henry Winkler. more...
It ran from September 29, 1985 to May 21, 1992 on the ABC network. It was filmed primarily in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Two made-for-TV movies were produced in 1994.
MacGyver's main asset is his practical application of scientific knowledge and inventive use of common items – along with his ever-present Swiss Army knife and duct tape and the usual coincidence of being locked up in a room full of useful materials.
This allows him to create a variety of unorthodox solutions, usually to escape capture, avert disaster, or defeat the antagonists. The use of mundane items to build jury-rigged devices shows an influence from The A-Team (though MacGyver eschewed the use of firearms) and has entered U.S. popular culture and are referred to as "MacGyverisms".
MacGyver can also be used as a verb meaning to fix, repair, rig, solve, build, invent, or otherwise save the day, as MacGyver did.
MacGyver is a highly intelligent action hero who prefers non-violent conflict resolution wherever possible, and refuses to carry or use a gun due to a childhood accident with a revolver that resulted in the death of a friend.
He was born and raised in Minnesota, which explains why he speaks with a Minnesota accent. (Richard Dean Anderson himself was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.) He graduated from Alexander Ramsey High School in Roseville, Minnesota. His character is a graduate of a fictitious technical school called Western Tech where he earned a degree in physics.
MacGyver's first name remains a mystery until the final season; whenever he's asked about it, he says he dislikes his first name and changes the subject. The script for the series pilot gave MacGyver's first name as "Stace", but this information did not appear in the finished episode, although it was mentioned in promotional material for the series. His first name was finally officially revealed in "Good Knight, MacGyver", in which he learns of a seventh-century Scottish ancestor, Angus M'Iver, and admits that they share their first name; and repeated in the series finale, which introduces MacGyver's son, whose middle name is Angus.
Other notable recurring characters include:
- Pete Thornton (Dana Elcar)
- MacGyver's boss and best friend. Pete was an operative at the Department of External Services (DXS), which is where he was impressed by Mac's ingenuity while tracking down Murdoc, an international assassin. When Pete took the position of Director of Operations at the Phoenix Foundation seven years later, he brought MacGyver into the program.
- Pete has a son named Michael, from a previous marriage.
- In the pilot episode, actor Dana Elcar played a completely different character named "Andy Colson". The Pete Thornton character didn't appear until episode 1.10, "Nightmares".
- In 1991, actor Dana Elcar began to develop glaucoma, a degenerative condition of the eyes that causes blindness. This condition was written into the show, and Elcar's character also developed the disease. A number of public service announcements were composed and shown at the end of many of the later episodes, encouraging viewers to get checked early and often for the condition.
- Dana Elcar passed away on June 6, 2005 at the age of 77.
- Jack Dalton (Bruce McGill)
- An aviator and old friend of MacGyver's with a weakness for get-rich-quick schemes that invariably got him into trouble. He always wore a peaked cap and twitched an eye when lying.
- Murdoc (Michael Des Barres)
- MacGyver's most commonly recurring opponent, a master assassin who never failed--except when MacGyver got involved. His first appearance in the series was presented as his second run-in with MacGyver. Murdoc returned for revenge for their first encounter--to the surprise of MacGyver, as Murdoc had apparently been killed while escaping on that occasion. Murdoc's revenge scheme not only failed, but resulted in him being apparently killed again. This became a recurring theme: each of Murdoc's subsequent appearances ended in another "death", in which-- at the moment of his "death", he always screams "MACGYVER!" (Note the exception made in episode 89 "Halloween Knights", when he dies without screaming that phrase). Then, in a later episode, we invariably learn he had once again incredibly survived.
- Murdoc was associated with the Homicide International Trust (HIT), an organization of assassins, until being excommunicated for his failures at MacGyver's hands.
- Penny Parker (Teri Hatcher)
- Penny Parker and MacGyver met in line in an airport in Bulgaria ("Every Time She Smiles") when she tried to smuggle some jewels out of the country in his pocket. Of little talent but with big dreams, her pursuit of a show business career got her into trouble more than once; she was sometimes used by Murdoc as the unwitting pawn in his plans to eliminate MacGyver.
- The Coltons (Della Reese, Cleavon Little, Richard Lawson, Cuba Gooding Jr.)
- A family of bounty hunters, introduced one at a time - the only episode in which more than one appeared was their collective final appearance in the final season, on which occasion they took over the episode entirely, relegating MacGyver to a cameo appearance. This episode, called "The Coltons", was actually intended as a pilot for a spin-off which would star the Coltons, but nothing ever came of it.
- Harry Jackson (John Anderson)
- Harry Jackson, MacGyver's grandfather, became MacGyver's "father" after his grandmother and real father were killed in a car accident. Seven years later, he left MacGyver. After another sixteen years, Harry and MacGyver met again in the season one episode, "Target MacGyver", in which MacGyver and his grandfather worked together to defeat an assassin named Axminster (played by D'Mitch Davis). Sometime between the fifth season episode "Passages" and the sixth season episode "Harry's Will", Harry died of a heart attack.
- Nikki Carpenter (Elyssa Davalos)
- Nikki Carpenter joined the Phoenix Foundation in the third season. There was never any outward chemistry between she and MacGyver, but it was hinted at in some episodes. Her bureaucratic, SOP methods are always at odds with MacGyver's.
- Mei Jan (Michele Chan)
- Initially calling herself Sue Ling, the name of MacGyver's foster daughter, Mei Jan enlisted MacGyver's help in completing her mission for the Chinese student movement.
- Wilt and Milt Bozer (Robin Mossley, Robert Donner)
- Milt Bozer's brother, Wilt, was MacGyver's neighbor at the marina.
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