‘MacGyver: The Complete First Season’ Hindered By, But Not Stopped By Content, Pricing Problems

Courtesy: CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment

MacGyver is officially back.  No, not the new, younger MacGyver, but the man, myth and legend played by Richard Dean Anderson.  Thirteen years after the original MacGyver series was last released on DVD, Paramount Home Entertainment/CBS Home Entertainment has resurrected the first season of the timeless action series on Blu-ray.  It marks the first time that the series has ever been released on Blu-ray, and while it is a welcome re-issue, due to the writing – which will be discussed shortly – it is not a perfect presentation.  That is due to a lack of any bonus material, which will be addressed a little later on.  The set’s average price point rounds out its most important elements, and will also be addressed later.  Each element noted here is important in its own right to the whole of MacGyver: The Complete First Season.  All things considered MacGyver: The Complete First Season is still a good offering from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment.

MacGyver: The Complete First Season is a good new offering from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment.  That is proven in part through the writing exhibited throughout the series’ debut season.  From the season premiere to the finale, Season One sees Angus MacGyver work taking on a wide range of scenarios around the world (although the whole season was filmed in Los Angeles).  The season premiere took MacGyver to the American Southwest in an attempt to stop a chemical leak at a secret military base, which threatened the whole region’s water supply.  Later in the season’s run, he is hired by a federal witness who is testifying against his own brother, who just happened to be an infamous drug lord.  A little later, it’s up to MacGyver to stop a mad bomber from destroying a cruise ship.  As if all of those adventures are not enough, the action and thrills continue even later in the season, as MacGyver and a young computer wiz have to work together to stop another madman from launching a pair of missiles on a California bridge.  Even closer to the season’s end, MacGyver finds himself having to avert a global crisis after a train is hijacked by Indian terrorists who want vengeance against two men who sold poisoned medicine to the terrorists’ family and friends.  Between these episodes and the 16 others that make up the rest of the season, the stories presented throughout the season offer plenty of variety for audiences, and in turn, plenty of enjoyment.  That variety in the adventures is just one aspect that makes the writing stand out.  The deeper elements of the writing deserve just as much note as the adventures that form the foundation of the writing.

The deeper elements of the seasons writing are, specifically, the seeming deeper messages presented in the adventures.  Case in point is the message of personal pride that the writers deliver in “Ugly Duckling.”  This is the episode in which MacGyver takes a young female computer hacker under his wing after a professor, respected by both figures, is inadvertently killed in an attempt to kidnap him by a group of domestic terrorists.  The young lady is extremely smart in the realm of computers, but has very low self-esteem at the same time, even calling herself ugly.  It takes MacGyver’s honesty and gentility for her to realize she should have every bit of pride in herself, both in regards to her looks and in regards to her talents with computers.  Considering the current feminist era in which Americans are living, this positive message is something that members of the MeToo movement will appreciate.  That is because it sends those messages to women in general, that it is okay to be smart and that they should not be made to feel a certain way about their bodies.  Kudos are in order to the series’ writers for this.

Staying in that vein, “Countdown,” which sees MacGyver working to keep a mad bomber from sinking a cruise liner, sees a female 1st Officer take over as the ship’s captain after the captain is killed by one of the mad bomber’s intricate devices.  This might not seem like much on the surface, but again, it is one of those deeper elements that deserves being noted.  Putting a woman in such a high position of power was not exactly something prominent on screen back in the late 80s and early 90s (and even before that span).  So seeing her taking control of the ship, and confidently so at that – even working side-by-side so to speak – with MacGyver to save the ship, gives her even more control.  Again, this is something that was before its time, and again is certain to appeal to today’s female audiences.

“Slow Death,” which sees MacGyver dealing with Indian terrorists, presents its own deep content as MacGyver tells the group’s head that killing someone else out of vengeance for the death of one’s own people is not justice, but in fact pride, and thus its own sin.  The sequence in which this discussion takes place is no more than perhaps about five minutes in length.  Yet, even in that short time, this deep discussion on ethics and religion makes for its own interest in this case, showing yet again why the deeper content in the writing is just as important as the season’s stories.  It is most certainly not the last example that can be cited in proving the importance of the writing’s deeper elements.  The very discussion in the season premiere on the military’s weaponization of so much technology, and the discussion on family loyalty in ‘The Prodigal’ brings even more proof of the importance of the intrinsic elements of Season One’s writing.  When this is considered along with the deeper elements of the season’s other episodes, and the stories’ primary elements, the whole is unarguable proof that the writing in Season One is the most important of its overall elements.  Of course for all the good that the writing does for MacGyver’s debut season, the lack of any bonus content, does just as much bad for the set’s presentation.

A close watch of Season One’s Blu-ray re-issue reveals that there is no bonus content included in the set.  It is not the first time that the first season has lacked any bonus content either.  Research into the most recent re-issue of Season One (a DVD release from 2005) revealed that the noted set also lacked any bonus material.  This is a negative in that there is so much that could be presented, not the least of which is that deeper material included in each episode’s writing.  It would have been interesting to learn how those elements were woven into each episode.  That is because it honestly added so much heart and overall substance to each episode.  That heart is something that is so sadly lacking in so many television shows and movies today.  Also that would have been welcome is some audio commentary talking about the variety in MacGyver’s adventures connected with select episodes.  What’s more, it would have been nice to have had some kind of discussion comparing ABC’s original series to the series’ recent reboot from the vantage point of lead star Richard Dean Anderson and the rest of the cast and crew.  One could even argue in favor of discussions on shooting locations, making places around Los Angeles and the rest of the west coast look like other parts of the world.  Simply put, there are so many discussions that could have been included as secondary items to the set.  They honestly could have also added so much depth to the set’s overall presentation, especially being that Season One’s previous DVD release also lacked any bonus material, too.  Presenting Season One again sans any of those discussions detracts noticeably from the set’s presentation.  In turn, it makes the set imperfect, despite the enjoyment offered through the writing.  It also plays directly into some concerns over the set’s average price point.

The average price point of MacGyver: The Complete First Season in its new Blu-ray re-issue comes to approximately $45.61.  That price is found by averaging prices from Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  A search of Books-A-Million did not turn up any sign of the set.  Keeping in mind what has been noted of the season’s writing and its lack of bonus material, that average price point is slightly questionable.  It is not money wasted, considering the enjoyment offered throughout Season One’s 22 total episodes.  However,  that lack of bonus content leads one to wonder if that price point could be less expensive.  Given, it is not the nearly $80 that consumers had to pay when The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete First Season and I Love Lucy: Season One and Two were released on Blu-ray, or even when each of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s seven seasons were originally released.  Those prices have long since been reduced dramatically.  Regardless, even with 22 timeless adventures featured here, complete with plenty of substance within each adventure, one would think a price perhaps $10 less would be more fitting since that bonus material is so lacking here.  To that end, PHE/CBS Home Entertainment’s new re-issue of MacGyver: The Complete First Season is a good offering from the companies, but it could have been better.

CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment’s recently released Blu-ray presentation of MacGyver: The Complete First Season is a good offering from the two companies.  It offers plenty of action and adventure that is, honestly, fun for most of the family, unlike so much of today’s television.  That is evidenced through the adventures on which MacGyver embarks in each of its 22 episodes.  The secondary content that ties into each adventure adds even more enjoyment to each episode.  It collectively gives audiences plenty to appreciate.  While the episodes and their writing do so much to make this set enjoyable for viewers, the set’s lack – once again – of any noticeable bonus material detracts from the set’s presentation.  In direct connection, the average price point of $45, considering that lack of any bonus material, creates its own concerns for the set, too.  If the bonus material that the set is lacking was present in the set, that price point would not be an issue.  However, not having it there means that the price point should be at least $10 less expensive.  Keeping all of this in mind, this latest re-issue of MacGyver: The Complete First Season is not a miss for CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment, but it is not a hit, either.  It is available now and can be ordered online at http://cbshe.com/MacG1.


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