In the new movie The Martian, Matt Damon plays an astronaut who is stranded on Mars and must use his science skills to survive. The film’s character has reminded more than one critic of MacGyver, the resourceful secret agent of the eponymous 1980s TV show who was also forced by script writers to use ingenious—and sometimes absurd—applications of science and engineering to save the day.
If The Martian made you actually miss MacGyver, good news: The series reportedly is being revived, presumably sans the mullet haircut of the original show’s star Richard Dean Anderson. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the reboot will run on CBS and visit MacGyver’s early years, when he was a 20-something recruited into a clandestine organization. James Wan of Furious 7 and Saw fame is said to be directing the pilot and segueing into the TV series.
Wan is longtime fan of the original show and had been slated to direct New Line’s long-planned MacGyver movie in 2012, but he got side-tracked by Furious 7. A movie is presumably still a possibility.
The original MacGyver was a source not just of entertainment, but also, at times, of practical tips for everyday life. Viewers could learn clever ways to organize cables and save closet space, for instance. And the show had a deep impact on many fans. In 2010, a Connecticut man reportedly asked himself “What would MacGyver do?” after his arm got stuck in a furnace boiler. He eventually amputated his own arm and survived.
The TV protagonist’s knack for coming up with solutions eventually led to his name becoming a verb, with people saying they would “MacGyver a solution” to some problem they faced.
In the Atlantic, writer Megan Garber recently reflected upon the original series:
My early childhood roughly coincided with MacGyver’s run on network TV; in my vague memory, MacGyver is the ultimate non-super superhero—ultimate because his superpower is, yes, his mind. MacGyver, ever resourceful and armed with a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of engineering and chemistry, can make dynamite out of … well, pretty much anything. He can save himself from an avalanche using a jury-rigged straw; he can track down a “Yeti” in the Canadian wilderness using only the ground; he can get himself out of pretty much any scrape imaginable…
Quartz has reached out to CBS for more details about the reported reboot, and will update this post as warranted. Meanwhile, for those who never saw the original—or couldn’t appreciate the ’80s vibe that infuses the reruns—here’s just one example of the protagonist MacGyvering his way out of a thorny predicament: