WWMD: What Would MacGyver Do?

Technical whiz. Humanitarian. Mediator. Mullet fashionista... In the 1980s, MacGyver was many a teenaged girl's Renaissance Man.

At least, among my circle of friends.

I was reminded of this recently, as conversation with some of these same friends-- recently reconnected due to the Seven Degrees of Separation Known As Facebook Stalking-- drifted back to the Swiss-Army superman we'd loved so well.

It was really only a matter of time.

MacGyver had absolutely topped our list of 80s heroes. Michael Knight of Knight Rider wasn't bad, but somehow deep-down we knew any guy who'd wear a black leather Member's Only jacket every single day, and whose best friend was his car, was just not relationship material.

I'd had a mysterious crush on Mike Nesmith of the Monkees-- the sarcasm, southern accent, sideburns and green wool hat was an acquired taste, I'll admit.

Harrison Ford was a particular favorite, too-- at least once I overcame the Kid-Brain Observational Barrier that prevented me from realizing Han Solo and Indiana Jones were actually played by the same person. (I don't exactly recall why it took me so long to figure this out. I can only say it was the same inconsistent value-assessment issue that caused me to think that Roddy McDowall was the Greatest Actor Ever because he played Cornelius in the Planet of the Apes films. I couldn't understand why he wasn't earning Oscars for this.)

And Johnny Depp as Tom Hanson of 21 Jump Street was a perennial on that list, prized not just because of his innate Depp-ness, but because that show was actually preachy enough it got my mom's Stamp of Approval.

But MacGyver.... Among my friends and I, MacGyver was a unifier. Someone we could all agree on.

Discussions around the lunch table covered all the normal drool-drenched fluff that hormonally-charged teenaged girls would dwell on. But inevitably, we would linger on MacGyver's impressive problem solving skills.

Yes, while boys would debate who would win in a fight, Superman or Batman, we would evaluate how our favorite TV hunks would get out of various jams.

"Who would be able to break out of prison first, Michael Knight or MacGyver?"

"Michael Knight would just call K.I.T.T. who would roll through the brick wall and bust him out."

"Yeah, but then the cops would know he broke out and be looking for him right away. MacGyver would weave his paper napkin from his meals into a super-tight string, and use it to either get the keys to his cell, or fashion it into an elaborate pulley-winch system, which used physics to bend the bars enough for him to get through."

(Science class was always disappointing to us, and I blame MacGyver. We never did cover making a bomb out of chewing gum, a can of baked beans, an aerosol hairspray can and a lighter. He set an example our teachers couldn't hope to live up to.)

In fact, no one quite compared. The A-Team members needed the whole team, a blowtorch and large plates of metal that happened to be lying around once a week, 15 minutes from the end of every program.

Magnum P.I. had personal connections.

Remington Steele had luck and Laura.

The Six-Million-Dollar Man had superpowers and a price tag.

Yes, when compared side-by-side to our other heroes, it seemed MacGyver was the only one who could get by entirely on his own innate wit and mechanical skill.

If we were stuck on a deserted island with only one TV leading man, we all agreed, you couldn't do much better than being stranded with MacGyver.

Plus, he's the only character from my youth that's had the distinction of becoming a verb.

Note: this post is dedicated to my high school lunch table friends, and was MacGyvered together from Grape Fruit Roll-Ups, duct tape, Superglue and a lot of coffee.



Unfinished Rambler said...

As I already mentioned when I shared this on Facebook: instant classic.

However, I still liked the A-Team better, because they had B.A. Baracus. Plus the A-Team is being made into a movie, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z93AADd2Dpo, sadly without Mr. T, though. :(

Jenn Thorson said...

UnfinishedRambler- Ah, I was pro-Murdock during that time. Being half-insane, talking to a sock-puppet and flying a plane was big entertainment to me.

Melanie said...

Ah, I did not fully appreciate MacGyver until I was in my twenties and he was on cable in re-runs.

I was pro-Murdock as well. In fact he resembled a lot of the guys I hung out with at the time. Yes, I'm sure that says something about me as well....

But Mugnum PI is still my perennial favorite. And that car, oh my.... swooning off into a lovely daydream here. :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Melanie- Magnum was, unquestionably, a very handsome fellow-- still is, actually! My mother ADORED him.

Jaffer said...

Two words when I think of McGyver these days: Patty and Selma.

Beer Drinker said...

You forgot the Hulk. He could probably handle most situations on his own!

Oh, and I know you're probably too embarrassed to say Ponch since he's hawking real estate in the boondocks these days!

Jenn Thorson said...

Jaffer- Ah, I don't watch the Simpsons enough to know the detail on that one, but I'm assuming they have a thing for MacGyver, eh? :)

Beer Drinker- T'is true. The Hulk could, but David Banner couldn't. So that's a tough one there.

And no, I actually liked Jon way more than Ponch. Plus one of my friends in grade school liked Ponch enough for EVERYBODY. She liked him almost as much as Eric Estrada did. :)

I didn't know about the real estate ventures though. Heh-- not surprised.

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

Yes, Jaffer! Patty and Selma.

And now, of course, SNL.

What a fun post, Jenn!

Skye said...

Did you happen to grow up here in Manisnowba? Cause girlfriend, your description is exactly what our school lunch convo's were from what I remember. It's uncanny my dear, truly uncanny!

Jenn Thorson said...

NannyGoats- The spirit of MacGyver lives on! Wooooo!!

Skye- No, but you would have been more than welcome at our lunch table.

Jaffer said...

Well, they could have chosen any other show for Patty and Selma but they are shown to be so obsessed with McGyver - that perhaps it may even upset IRL Fans !

They even kidnap Richard Dean Anderson once and tie him up so he doesn't escape - he thinks otherwise ie. BDSM (Hello Googlers !)

But he escapes only to return and tell how he did it.


I never watched McGyver when it was airing but my class fellows were obsessed !
And at the same time they were showing reruns of Mission Impossible - so there was lots to talk about !

(We were not allowed to watch TV after sundown - Parents were strict about it)

Amy Mullis said...

Oh yeah, I liked Murdock, I'm a Johnny Depp groupie, and I realize my future security and happiness lies with George Clooney. But MacGyver is the coolest. guy. ever. I mean EVER.

Deray said...

My brother, sister and I love to watch McGyver just make fun of what the used to escape or to blow something up. It was quite hilarious. Now I love to watch the especial episodes of Mythbusters dedicated to disprove McGyver, just so I can confirm I was right, jajajajaja.

kathcom said...

MacGyver was great because he wasn't a clean-cut action hero. He was this smirky, smart aleck who could get himself out of any situation but didn't take his skills for granted. How hot is that? He's got that sexy smirk right on the VHS cover.

Beer Drinker said...

Sorry, Jenn. I've subscribed to the comments for this post and actually have been biting my tongue for days. But I sense a Nerd Alert!

Jenn Thorson said...

Jaffer- AH! Thanks for the helpful recap!

Amy- Have you told George? I'm sure he'd like to know, since it affects his future, too. :)

Deray- So they De-MacGyver things? As a kid I did kinda wonder whether there was any even REMOTE science behind the stuff.

Kath- He's held up pretty well over the years, too.

BeerDrinker-- My friend, you needed THIS post to tell you that? Oh for shame-- I mean, I write about zombies and Ghost Hunters and wanting to be Wonder Woman growing up... And THIS post tipped you off... (Shakes head sadly. :) ) Must be all the beer.

Beer Drinker said...

I've known for a while but this was the tipping point. I think back in HS you actually ate lunch during the same cafeteria shift that I did. I sat at another table, though.

Jenn Thorson said...

Beer Drinker- Yet you still talk to me... isn't that violating some rigid code of ethics or somethin'? I wouldn't want you to get in trouble with the union.

Berowne said...

Dear Friend: I got tired of the design, or lack of it, of my old blog. Since you’ve posted in “Savage Reflections” in the past, I wonder if I could prevail upon your good nature to check out my blog’s new face lift and post a comment. I’d love to have your opinion:

“The new design of your blog is a) good; b) acceptable; or c) a train wreck.” :-)

Thanks for your help. Yours, Berowne.

ReformingGeek said...

I wanted to be in Hawaii with Tom Selleck!

Beer Drinker said...

ReformingGeek, that's actually one of the coolest things said in all these comments.

Jenn. I talk to you because I am not 17 anymore. I'm the same age as you and I don't care about HS BS. But I still notice nerd-ism :). Wanna come over for the Super Bowl? I live 4 miles from Dolphin Stadium, not like that gets you tickets or anything, but still, close counts...

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

I just loved MacGyver...seriously...I had the biggest crush on him. I could have kissed those wounds away he got from all his daring escapes...had I known what the heck that crap was all about at that age.


Ooooh...just had one of those flashback things and the world around me got all dreamy like.

Well, anyhows...gotta go.

(Hated that one episode with all the ants though. It has lived with me for all time...given me nightmares!)

Jenn Thorson said...

Berowne- At least I know who you are, with the mass comments post. That sure beats Mr. "Hello Sun Shines" who is anonymous and seems to have a lot to say every day. :)

Reforming Geek- It was kinda like a big ol' postcard for why we should all go to Hawaii. Except with more bullets.

Beer Drinker- I'll bring the nachos and some Guinness. :)

Lisa- Heh, boy you sure ran the whole emotional gamot there in one comment-- lust, wistfulness... terror.

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

I'm a dude, so I won't admit to having crushes on any of these guys, especially Johnny Depp and Harrison Ford. I've never had any sex dreams involving either of them, I swear. The Bionic Woman, other the hand....oh, my! She was simply lovely, and unbelievably strong considering she weighed all of 95 pounds and had the biceps of a finger. I still think she's beautiful all these decades later and if I had the money, I'd buy a sleep number bed from her just for the erotic charge it'd bring me.

That wasn't too personal was it?

Jenn Thorson said...

Mike- Ah, and Lindsay Wagner still LOOKS like herself after all these years-- older, yes, but not over-stretched to the point of being unrecognizable, like some of the gals from that era.