MacGyver (2016 TV series)
by Lee David Zlotoff
|Developed by||Peter M. Lenkov|
|Theme music composer||Randy Edelman|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||94 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||43 minutes|
|Distributor||CBS Media Ventures|
|Picture format||HDTV 1080i|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original release||September 23, 2016 –|
April 30, 2021
|Related shows||MacGyver (original series) (1985–1992)|
MacGyver is an American action-adventure television series developed by Peter M. Lenkov that ran on CBS from September 23, 2016 to April 30, 2021, comprising five seasons and 94 episodes. The series stars Lucas Till as the title character, an undercover government agent who prefers to fight crime with ingenious feats of engineering rather than lethal force. It is a reboot of the original series of the same name created by Lee David Zlotoff, which aired from 1985 to 1992. In May 2020, CBS renewed the series for a fifth season which premiered on December 4, 2020.
In April 2021, CBS announced that the fifth season would be the series' final season. The series finale aired on April 30, 2021.
MacGyver takes place in the same fictional universe as two other series, both also developed by Lenkov and both also reboots of earlier police shows: Hawaii Five-0 and Magnum P.I. The three shows have been collectively referred to as the "Lenkov-verse".
Angus "Mac" MacGyver is an operative of a secret U.S. government organization (cloaked as a think tank) where he uses his extraordinary talent for problem solving and his extensive knowledge of science to save lives. "With skills that are only limited by his creativity, Mac saves the day using paper clips instead of pistols, birthday candles instead of bombs, and gum instead of guns."
The episodes make frequent use of second-person narrative in the form of voice-overs provided by Lucas Till as Angus MacGyver. The commentary usually provides instructions or "tricks of the trade", as if for a training or orientation film.
Cast and characters
- Lucas Till as Angus "Mac" MacGyver: A highly intelligent and incredibly resourceful U.S. operative who works for the Phoenix Foundation, a covert agency operating under the guise of a think tank. Trained as an EOD technician for the Army, Mac prefers to use non-lethal means to stop his enemies; he is never without his trusty Swiss Army knife and has the uncanny ability to use anything in his environment to his advantage. At the end of Season 2, Mac leaves the Phoenix due to his lack of trust in its leadership, but eventually returns when he realizes how much his skillset is needed.
- Tristin Mays as Riley Davis: A tough-as-nails, sarcastic hacker who is hired by the Phoenix Foundation as their cyber specialist. Riley was originally in prison for trying to hack the NSA in order to save her mother from a reclusive hacktivist group. She had a strained relationship with Jack because he vanished from her and her mother's lives after an altercation with her abusive father, but now views Jack as a father figure.
- George Eads as Jack Dalton (seasons 1–3): Mac's partner in the field and a former Delta Force operator. Jack's history with Mac goes back to his days in the Army and, unlike Mac, he is not afraid to use guns in the field. He also has history with Riley, because he was once in a relationship with her mother and had an altercation with her deadbeat father. While mostly easy-going and laid-back, Jack can get serious when the situation calls for it and often calls upon his special operations training to help the team get out of a tight spot. Midway through season 3, at the end of "Father + Bride + Betrayal", Jack leaves the Phoenix to track Tiberius Kovac, a terrorist thought to have been killed years earlier. In season 5's "Jack + Kinematics + Safe Cracker + MgKNO3 + GTO", it was revealed that Jack had been killed in action while trying to apprehend Kovac.
- Sandrine Holt as Patricia Thornton (season 1): Initial Director of Field Operations at the Phoenix Foundation and, in Mac's own words, the most successful clandestine operative in U.S. history. By the book and serious most of the time, Thornton regularly assigns the team their missions. In the 12th episode, "Screwdriver", she is discovered to be a mole working for the Organization and arrested.
- Justin Hires as Wilt Bozer: Mac's best friend whom he has known since childhood. He is initially a struggling film director possessing several artistic talents. His ability to create lifelike masks and facial prosthetics gets him hired at the Phoenix Foundation. Bozer is a source of comic relief and, in the 1st season, helped Riley in exchange for earning the digits to her phone number. When Bozer undergoes training at the Operative Training Center, he falls for fellow recruit Leanna Martin.
- Meredith Eaton as Matilda "Matty" Webber: Thornton's replacement as Director of Operations at Phoenix Foundation and Jack's ex-boss from the CIA. It is revealed in season 3's "Scavengers + Hard Drive + Dragonfly" that she is married, but has not worn a wedding ring since her husband, Ethan Reigns, went on a deep undercover assignment.
- Isabel Lucas as Samantha Cage (season 2), CIA officer and formerly of SASR 4th Squadron. After she is discharged from the CIA for her unsanctioned actions in the second season premiere, Matty recruits her into the Phoenix Foundation. In the episode "Bullet + Pen", she is ambushed and shot by Murdoc, an assassin who is one of MacGyver's main enemies, in her apartment, but survives and returns home to her native Australia to recover.
- Levy Tran as Desiree "Desi" Nguyen (seasons 4–5; recurring season 3), Desi is a new recruit for the Phoenix Foundation who takes over for Jack after he leaves. Though she does things differently than Jack, she seems to be equally effective. She is skilled in six martial arts, and very adept at hand-to-hand combat. The fourth season premiere reveals that Desi and Mac had a brief romantic relationship that ended badly. Their romance is rekindled in season 5.
- Henry Ian Cusick as Russell "Russ" Taylor (seasons 4–5), is an Ex-MI6 Agent. Before joining the Phoenix, he worked as a Private Military Contractor and managed Spearhead Operations. Described as a master manipulator and salesman, Russ is skilled in propaganda and lie detection, and boasts an extremely high emotional intelligence. He is also very wealthy, and thus is used to both getting his way and enjoying the spoils of war (including expensive suits, fast cars, private jets and a house in Monte Carlo). The events of the fourth season portray Russ as being obsessed with destroying Codex, with him later revealing that Codex approached him for recruitment several years ago.
- Tracy Spiridakos as Nikki Carpenter (season 1), an undercover CIA operative who formerly worked as a hacker for DXS until she faked her own death. She is also Mac's ex-girlfriend.
- Amy Acker as Sarah Adler (season 1), a CIA operative and Jack's ex-girlfriend.
- David Dastmalchian as Murdoc (seasons 1–3 & 5), an assassin who described himself as one of the best in the world. When he was first introduced, he was referred to as Suspect 218, which is a nod to the original series. Originally, Murdoc was hired to kill Mac, but frequently targeted other members of the Phoenix Foundation. He is at first thought to have been sent by Nikki, but is later revealed to have been sent by Thornton.
- Aina Dumlao as Andie Lee (seasons 1–2): Andie Lee was the personal assistant of Patricia Thornton (Sandrine Holt), Director of Field Operations for the DXS and the Phoenix Foundation during the first half of season. She was present when Thornton’s successful career and highest respect in the governmental ranks abruptly ended when she was revealed to be the mole known as ‘Chrysalis’ and arrested for treason in Episode 1×12 (Screwdriver). Thornton was later replaced by Matty Webber (Meredith Eaton) whom Andie continued to work for into early season 2.
- Kate Bond as Jill Morgan: A forensics expert at the Phoenix Foundation. The team members occasionally ask her for help on personal missions. She is seen leading a task force to help capture Murdoc in the third season premiere. Murdoc kills her at the end of the episode.
- Lauren Vélez as Cassandra Glover (season 2), a coordinator for Operative Training Center.
- Reign Edwards as Leanna Martin (seasons 2–3), a recruit at the Operative Training Center. Bozer meets and becomes good friends with Leanna, later leading to a romantic relationship that they try to keep secret. In the season 2 finale, Leanna is hired by the Phoenix Foundation. In the fifth season episode "Diamond + Quake + Carbon + Comms + Tower", it is revealed that she was killed on a mission six months prior, a fact that Russ had hidden from Bozer.
- William Baldwin as Elwood Davis (seasons 2–3), Riley's estranged father.
- Lance Gross as Billy Colton (seasons 1–3), a member of the Colton bounty hunting family who becomes a love interest of Riley's. Riley breaks up with him after she discovers, on a mission, that Billy was cheating on her.
- Sheryl Lee Ralph as Mama Colton (seasons 1–3), Billy's mother and the head of the Colton bounty hunting family.
- Emerson Brooks as Charlie Robinson (seasons 1–3), Mac's old war pal who is now a bomb squad specialist. He was killed by Elliot Mason in Season 3.
- Tate Donovan as James MacGyver/"Oversight" (seasons 2–4), Mac's father who had mysteriously disappeared from his life. He was first introduced in Season 2, and he and Mac slowly developed a relationship again. In Season 3, it was revealed that Oversight had cancer. Oversight was killed after he manually detonated an explosive at Codex headquarters in Season 4, just after he revealed his cancer had returned.
- Sibongile Mlambo as Nessa (season 3), Mac's ex-girlfriend whom he met in Nigeria after briefly leaving the Phoenix Foundation.
- Brendan Hines as Ethan Reigns (season 3), Matty's husband who went deep undercover for eight years shortly after their marriage. It's revealed in season 3 that, to keep his cover, Ethan married another woman and had a young child with her.
- Peter Weller as Elliot Mason (seasons 3–5), a former military special ops officer and former FBI agent who holds a grudge against James MacGyver for supposedly causing the death of Mason's son.
- Leonardo Nam as Aubrey (season 4), Riley's brief love interest, who breaks up with her after Riley reveals where she really works.
- Jeri Ryan as Gwendolyn "Gwen" Hayes (season 4), MacGyver's aunt (his mother’s sister); an ex-DXS agent who was presumed dead, but is now a high-ranking official within Codex.
- Amber Skye Noyes as Scarlett (season 4), a Codex soldier.
- Zach McGowan as Roman (seasons 4–5), a Codex soldier.
- Alexandra Grey as Parker Phillips (season 5), the newest engineer at Phoenix Foundation.
- Daniel Dae Kim as Lieutenant Chin Ho Kelly: Crossover character from Hawaii Five-0. A member of the Five-0 Task Force
- Grace Park as Officer Kono Kalakaua: Crossover character from Hawaii Five-0. A member of the Five-0 Task Force
- Taylor Wily as Kamekona Tupuola: Crossover character from Hawaii Five-0. An entrepreneur and confidential informant for the Five-0 Task Force
- Michael Des Barres as Nicholas Helman, a hitman who is also Murdoc's mentor. (Des Barres played Murdoc in the original MacGyver series.)
- Sarah Sokolovic as Amber, Murdoc's ex-wife and mother of their son, Cassian
- Sean Cameron Michael as The Ghost Bomber
- Presilah Nunez as ATF Agent Maria Ramirez, MacGyver's friend from their time in the Army and the handler of ATF K-9 Cody.
- Brian "Q" Quinn
- James "Murr" Murray
- Salvatore "Sal" Vulcano
- Joseph "Joe" Gatto
- Scottie Thompson as Ellen, Angus’ deceased mother who appears in a dream sequence and a flashback
- John Ales as Nikola Tesla
- Mark Boyd as Alexander Graham Bell
- Tom Thon as Thomas Edison
- Cuyle Carvin as DXS Agent Charles
- Sean Blakemore as President Danny Linson
- Tobin Bell as Leland
- Jorge Garcia as Jerry Ortega, Crossover character from Hawaii Five-0. A former member of the Five-0 Task Force
- Bojana Novakovic as Anya Vitez
- Deepti Gupta as Priya Chanani, Ministry of Defense
- Ernie Hudson as Milton Bozer, Wilt's father
- Wendy Raquel Robinson as Lauretta Bozer, Wilt's mother
- Ben Wang as Eli Brown, a young genius-level intellect & inventor who is a new agent at The Phoenix Foundation. (Was the protagonist of Season 5 Episode Banh Bao + Drill + Burner + Mason)
In October 2015, the original series' executive producer, Henry Winkler, signed on to produce a remake series with James Wan and R. Scott Gemmill for CBS, which owns the rights to MacGyver through its acquisition of the original Paramount Television. In February 2016, it was announced that CBS had greenlit production of a pilot episode written by Paul Downs Colaizzo and directed by Wan. Wan pulled out from directing due to scheduling conflicts and was replaced by David Von Ancken.
In May 2016, the network picked up the series. Co-creator and executive producer Peter M. Lenkov will serve as the showrunner. On May 18, 2016, CBS released a first video trailer for new series. In June 2016, the network scrapped the original pilot, with Wan to direct a new pilot episode. On June 21, 2016, that the series would premiere on Friday, September 23, 2016.
On October 17, 2016, CBS ordered a full season of 21 episodes. On March 23, 2017, CBS renewed the series for a second season, which premiered on September 29, 2017. On May 9, 2019, it was announced that CBS renewed the series for a fourth season, which premiered on February 7, 2020. On November 6, 2019, it was announced that CBS had ordered an additional nine episodes in this fourth season, which would've brought the total to 22 episodes. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this total was reduced to 20 episodes, with six additional episodes being completely filmed before the production halt. However, producers and CBS later chose to conclude the season with the final episode of the CODEX story arc, which was scripted to fit within the original 13 episode order. This decision came after MacGyver was renewed for a fifth season on May 6, 2020, allowing the final six episodes filmed for season 4 to be moved to season 5. The fifth season premiered on December 4, 2020.
In March 2016, Lucas Till was announced as the new MacGyver, Joshua Boone as Gunner, MacGyver's best friend from high school, alongside former and longtime CSI star George Eads as Jack Dalton, who was originally named Lincoln, a man who could easily be written off as an eccentric conspiracy theorist but is a legitimate government employee with great capability for compassion. Later cast were Addison Timlin as Mickey, an app developer who is aggressively progressive in her political views but who has a soft spot for MacGyver, and Michelle Krusiec as Agent Croix, Dalton's sister who works for the Department of Homeland Security. However, the original pilot with this casting was scrapped by CBS in June 2016—a new pilot episode was ordered with only Till and Eads from the original cast continuing on to the revised version of the show.
Around the same time the new pilot was ordered, Justin Hires was cast as Wilt Bozer, MacGyver's roommate who is an aspiring filmmaker. In July 2016, Variety reported that Sandrine Holt had been cast as Patricia Thornton, an ex-field agent who was the director of operations for the Department of External Services, and that Tristin Mays was cast as Riley Davis, a highly unpredictable computer hacker with a chip on her shoulder.
On November 26, 2018, it was announced that George Eads was set to depart the series midway through the show's third season. According to creator Peter M. Lenkov, Eads had asked to be released from his contract for some time so he could spend more time with his young daughter who resides in Los Angeles; the series is filmed in Atlanta. Producers ultimately agreed with Eads being written out of the show but left the opportunity for him to return as a guest star in the future. His final episode aired on February 1, 2019. Eads' character was killed offscreen in the fifth season episode "Jack + Kinematics + Safe Cracker + MgKNO3 + GTO", ruling out any further opportunities for Eads to reprise the role.
On July 7, 2020, it was reported that Lenkov was fired from his role as executive producer and showrunner following an investigation into allegations that he created a toxic work environment. Lucas Till later told Vanity Fair about being verbally abused and body shamed by Lenkov, stating, "I've never worked this hard in my life, and I am fine with hard work. But the way Peter treats people is just unacceptable. I was suicidal that first year on the show, because of the way he made me feel. But the way he's treated the people around me — that's just my breaking point." Executive producer Monica Macer replaced Lenkov as showrunner.
On April 7, 2021, with only three season 5 episodes remaining, CBS made the surprise announcement that the fifth season would be the show's last, setting the series finale for April 30, 2021. Viewers and longtime fans of the show were left unhappy, particularly by CBS's lack of response over the reason for cancellation. The season 5 ratings for MacGyver have been relatively high for its Friday 8PM/7PM CT time slot, with averages of 0.5 demo and 4.8 million viewers. CBS did note that, of its 14 scripted dramas airing in the 2020–21 season, MacGyver ranked ninth in the 18–49 demo and tenth in overall viewership, but did not cite this as a reason for cancellation.
Series regular Justin Hires thanked CBS for "employing me for 6 years" in a Twitter post following the cancellation, but then got in a possible dig, adding "We're still #1 in our time slot." While confirming Hires' claim, author Jessica Rawden of Cinema Blend noted that MacGyver had seen a steady drop in viewers since George Eads exited in season 3.
|Authors||Dr. Rhett Allain|
Peter M. Lenkov (foreword)
Lucas Till (introduction)
|September 17, 2019|
The Official MacGyver Survival Manual: 155 Ways to Save the Day is a book that gives instructions on how to "MacGyver" things as seen in MacGyver. The book was written by Dr. Rhett Allain, the show's resident physicist. The foreword was written by Peter M. Lenkov, and the introduction was written by Lucas Till. The Official MacGyver Survival Manual: 155 Ways to Save the Day was released on September 17, 2019.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||21||September 23, 2016||April 14, 2017|
|2||23||September 29, 2017||May 4, 2018|
|3||22||September 28, 2018||May 10, 2019|
|4||13||February 7, 2020||May 8, 2020|
|5||15||December 4, 2020||April 30, 2021|
|Crossover between||Episode(s)||Type||Actors crossing over||Date aired|
|Series A||Series B|
|One-part crossover||Appearing in Series A: Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park, Taylor Wily||March 10, 2017|
The Phoenix Foundation team of MacGyver gets rerouted to Hawaii after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hits the coast of Hawaii. While aiding Detective Chin Ho Kelly and Officer Kono Kalakaua from Five-0 task force, they also have to deal with Chinese intelligence soldiers who use the earthquake to steal top-secret weaponry that the scientists are currently developing.
|MacGyver||Hawaii Five-0||SOS+ Hazmat + Ultrasound + Frequency + Malihini
|Guest appearance||Appearing in Series A: Jorge Garcia||February 12, 2021|
|Season||Time slot (ET/PT)||Episodes||Season premiere||Season finale||TV season||Rank||Viewers|
|1||Friday 8:00 pm||21||September 23, 2016||10.90||April 14, 2017||6.57||2016–17||27||9.80|
|2||23||September 29, 2017||6.69||May 4, 2018||6.10||2017–18||38||8.59|
|3||22||September 28, 2018||5.77||May 10, 2019||5.47||2018–19||48||7.70|
|4||13||February 7, 2020||5.94||May 8, 2020||5.77||2019–20||44||7.50|
|5||15||December 4, 2020||4.90||April 30, 2021||4.48||2020–21||44||5.90|
MacGyver received generally a mixed opinion from television critics, with many comparing it poorly to the original and some praising and criticizing CBS for making it an updated show. Rotten Tomatoes shows a 25% rating for Season 1, with the site's critical consensus reading, "Despite using spare parts from countless successful TV procedurals, the new MacGyver fails to cobble together a compelling show." Metacritic gives a score of 38 out of 100, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
USA Today wrote: "If... you're looking for something approaching the original's simple DIY charms—or, for that matter, something even marginally original—look elsewhere. What you're getting here is a factory-made retread that is less MacGyver than MacGyver: Impossible, with the title character now just one member of an impossible mission team.... MacGyver may not fully engage you, but at least it won't actively annoy you."
IGN's verdict was: "CBS' MacGyver is an unnecessary, middling reboot that has little to offer—its biggest sin being a bland hero and eye-rolling stakes. Lifting more than a few swerves from the Mission Impossible franchise, this new MacGyver somehow even manages to make the science gimmick dull."
Irish Film Critic stated being satisfied with the reboot: "Season 1 introduced us to the new characters and while it took some getting used to, after years of watching Richard Dean Anderson doing his thing, about halfway through season 1, I was finally able to accept Lucas Till as the new MacGyver. He is charming, charismatic, and when it calls for it, courageous, at times, putting his own life over that of everyone around him. The chemistry between the entire main cast is obvious and everyone has their own individual idiosyncrasies and character traits but never is it more evident than when they're all together. Over time, they have become a family as a result of their trials, tribulations, and missions and usually with the closing of each episode, they rendezvous at Mac and Bozer's place in the Hollywood Hills, share a laugh, have a beer, and generally, try to keep a positive outlook on what is to come. Exactly what a family is supposed to do."
Awards and nominations
|2017||People's Choice Awards||Favorite New TV Drama||MacGyver||Nominated|||
|Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series, or Movie||Jeff Wolfe||Nominated|||
|BMI Awards||N/A||Keith Power||Won|||
|2018||Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV Actor: Action||Lucas Till||Nominated|
|2019||Choice TV Show: Action||MacGyver||Won|||
|Choice TV Actor: Action||Lucas Till||Nominated|
The first season was released on DVD in region 1 on February 27 and second season on September 18, 2018.
|DVD Name||Episode number||Release date|
|MacGyver: Season 1||21||February 27, 2018|
|MacGyver: Season 2||23||September 18, 2018|
|MacGyver: Season 3||22||January 14, 2020|
|MacGyver: Season 4||13||June 8, 2021|
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