Bringing back MacGyver for a new generation

Lucas Till in a scene from the TV series MacGyver.
Lucas Till in a scene from the TV series MacGyver. Guy D'Alema

MACGYVER is a name synonymous with creativity, ingenuity and composure in the face of danger.

The troubleshooting hero is back on our screens, reimagined for a new generation.

Lucas Till, best known for his role as Havok in the younger generation of The X-Men franchise, is the fresh young face of the new series.

His new MacGyver still has plenty in common with Richard Dean Anderson's beloved character; he's a returned military man who creates a clandestine organisation within the US Government to save lives by unconventional methods.

"They are big shoes to fill," executive producer and show runner Peter Lenkov tells APN's The Guide.

"I felt Lucas brought a different type of energy and a lot of youthful enthusiasm to the role. I think back in the '80s it probably wouldn't have worked with somebody that young.

"Boys are 18 and 19-years-old when they go off and serve. They come back having this life experience and they're still under 25-years-old. They're not boys any more; they're men.

"That was something I saw in Lucas and something I thought the audience would be able to accept."

As Lenkov describes it, he was "called off the bench" to re-write the show's pilot before it was picked up for a full season by American network CBS.

"I knew it was going into development a year ago. I wanted to be involved in it but I couldn't at the time, so I'm glad it came full circle and I'm happy to be involved with it now," he says.

"I felt like I knew the property pretty well and it's something I am really passionate about.

"It inspired me as a kid to take apart things and see what you could do with them."

The show has several technical consultants who advise on the practicalities of MacGyver's solutions to his sticky situations.

"We write ourselves into a corner and then we try to solve that," Lenkov says.

"Then we reach out to our consultants, but always from the story perspective. We don't build the story around the gadget or the MacGyverism.

"It's almost a verb, to MacGyver something. I even believe it's in the dictionary. If you know the show or not, you know what it means to MacGyver something."

Lenkov has avoided the temptation of making the 21st century MacGyver too reliant on new technologies.

"We live in a world where you can just press a button on your phone to find out anything; there's an app to solve any problem," he says.

"The magic of MacGyver has always been hands-on problem solving. He's a guy who doesn't rely on conventional technologies.

"My kids , who know nothing about the original show,look at him as a cool inventor. We're trying to make it feel like it's relevant today but with a character who doesn't need all those (digital) things to be successful."

MacGyver airs Saturdays at 7.30pm on Channel 10.

Topics:  channel 10 television

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