MacGyver 2016, Lucas Till (Jace Downs/CBS)

It took more than duct tape and chewing gum to bring MacGyver back in 2016. The original show ran from 1985 to 1992 and starred Richard Dean Anderson as the title character, a hero who used his scientific knowledge to get out of tough scrapes and invent things on the fly to save the day.

Today, Lucas Till, a vet of the X-Men movie universe, plays MacGyver, who boasts the same DIY prowess and some of the same allies, but the world around the character has changed considerably in 30 years. The new series comes from producer Peter Lenkov (CBS’s Hawaii Five-0 reboot) with a pilot directed by Furious 7 director James Wan. It airs Friday nights at 8 p.m. on CBS, premiering September 23.

Here are 10 ways Lenkov, Wan, Till, and the cast reinvented MacGyver for today.


MacGyver 2016, Lucas Till (Jace Downs/CBS)

1. Make MacGyver the Underdog to Technology

Today we all carry around cell phones full of apps that can search for answers to any question, call transportation and even find us a date. A world like this could be overwhelming to MacGyver, so the show will be about finding situations in which only MacGyver can help.

“I actually think it makes it more interesting,” Wan said. “When the original series came out where MacGyver was dealing with science and engineering, that was all cutting-edge stuff that he was dealing with. So in a world that is so heavily digital, I love that our lead hero is still somewhat analog, is very practical — right? — does everything with his hands and all of that still. So I actually think it makes it more interesting, and in a lot of ways, he’s a little bit like a fish out of water in some respect, having to adapt to this new environment. I actually think it’s more interesting.”


MacGyver 2016, Tristan Mays, George Eads, Lucas Till (Annette Brown/CBS)

2. Give Him Tech Support

MacGyver can’t completely ignore the importance of technology, so the new series has invented a new character to handle cyber stuff. Tristin Mays plays Riley. She’s basically to MacGyver what Chloe O’Brien was to Jack Bauer on 24. She has access to computers, satellites, and anything not on the ground with Mac.

“Riley is not your average computer geek,” Mays said. “She’s kind of an unexpected, edgy character. When you first meet me, I’m in prison. They bail me out of jail to help them on their quest. I kind of get conned into joining their crew. They are my ticket out of jail, and we become a family. I’m the one that helps him sneak past a security camera. I’ll hack into the servers and all of this stuff and figure out how to get him through a building. So I do bring that sort of technological aspect to the show. I’ll shut off the security camera. He’ll sneak by and take out a security guard. We are a team.”


MacGyver 2016, Lucas Till, George Eads (Guy D'Alema/CBS)

3. Make Action Fun Again

Jason Bourne is so serious and even the new James Bond is dour. Heck, Batman and Superman are super serious now. In a way, all the show creators have to do is bring back the essence of MacGyver, and he’ll stand out from today’s grim and gritty action series.

“We’re embracing what this character is,” Wan said. “We know he’s a fun character and we just kind of go along with it. I think that is so unique in a world of so many superheroes and in a world of James Bond and Jason Bourne and all that, it’s so cool to have a guy like this that is almost like a throwback Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones-esque character in a lot of ways. The only thing missing from him I would say is the hat and the whip.”


MacGyver 2016, George Eads, Lucas Till (Annette Brown/CBS)

4. Make Jack Dalton a Badass

On the original series, Jack Dalton was sort of a lovable troublemaker whom MacGyver had to bail out as often as he relied on Dalton for a ride in his airplane. He also wasn’t in every episode. Dalton (George Eads) is now MacGyver’s full-fledged partner and the muscle when Mac really does need a big gun.

“I think Jack’s his Swiss army knife in human form, his junkyard dog,” Eads said. “His Han Solo to his Luke Skywalker kind of thing. It kind of stems from a pretty healthy friendship away from the camera. We try to bring as much of ourselves as we can to it.”

Consistent with the original show, MacGyver does not like guns. Dalton is also the show’s way to address when guns may sometimes be necessary

“Well, it would be unrealistic to do this type of show and not have anybody have a gun,” Lenkov said. “I think MacGyver is the kind of guy that, if he needs a weapon, he’ll build it. He’s not a gun guy. George’s character is very different. He’s ex-military. He’s the guy that sees the value in a gun as a defensive weapon. This is very true to the original concept of the show, which is MacGyver is not a gun guy. MacGyver is a different type of hero.”


MacGyver 2016, Sandrine Holt, George Eads. Tristin Mays, Lucas Till (Guy D'Alema/CBS)

5. Turn Pete Thornton Into Patricia

Dana Elcar costarred as Pete Thornton in the original. The new MacGyver also includes a Thornton, but the role is now “Patricia Thornton” and played by Sandrine Holt. Not only does the casting help ensure that the new MacGyver isn’t a total boys’ club, but the new Thornton also provides a nice counterpoint to MacGyver and Dalton.

“I play Patricia Thornton, who is the boss lady,” Holt said. “They are young blood, and I sort of see my character as sort of old school, Black Ops trained, the boss that just is in the field sometimes and kind of tries to keep things from being derailed, which doesn’t work all the time. Maybe even sort of like the parent, the voice of reason.”


MacGyver 2016, Justin Hires, Lucas Till (Annette Brown/CBS)

6. Promote Wilt Bozer to Series Regular

Justin Hires plays Wilt Bozer in the 2016 version of the show, appearing in every episode, which means he’s a lot more significant a character than Robin Mossley’s Bozer, who only appeared in eight episodes of the original show.

“I play Mac’s best friend and roommate,” Hires said. “I don’t know what he does. I think I bring a little heart and humor to the show. I give Mac some type of normalcy. He goes out and solves these crazy missions, and then when he comes home, I bring some type of just normalcy. He gets to be around a regular human being. So that’s what I bring to the show.”


MacGyver 2016, Lucas Till, George Eads (Annette Brown/CBS)

7. Scrap the Pilot, Keep the Stars

MacGyver was not only reconfigured from the original 1985 show, but it was also reworked from its original pilot. CBS shot a pilot that will not air. Then they brought on Lenkov and had Wan direct the new pilot. The only things that remain are Till and Eads.

“I look at it like a company that goes into R&D,” Lenkov said. “They want to make sure they, at the end of the day, come out with the best product possible. They did do a version of the pilot. There was a lot of things that worked, and I think there were some things that didn’t work. I think everybody felt that we could do better.

“I think one of the good things that came out of that version of the pilot was the relationship between George and Lucas,” Lenkov continued. “We felt that a lot of pilots don’t succeed because of casting. Here, the thing that everybody recognized was that they had cast it right, but all we need to do is now tell the right story. So building a story around these two characters, I think that’s really where the challenge was after that first pilot. Again, it was a very expensive dress rehearsal, but at the end of the day, it was worth it, because I think we got the best product out of it.”


Chi McBride, Grace Park, Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Cann, and Daniel Dae Kim star in HAWAII FIVE-0 (Art Streiber/CBS)

8. Make It a Shared Universe

Shared universes are all the rage now. Look at the Marvel movies. DC is trying to do the same for its comic book characters. Star Wars is introducing anthology movies, and even the Conjuring horror movies that Wan directed have side movies spun off from them. MacGyver may coexist with CBS’s other hit shows like Hawaii Five-0, NCIS, and Scorpion.

“I hope so,” Lenkov said. “We specifically did a little nod in the pilot of this show to Hawaii Five-0. So I’m hoping that we all coexist, because I’m hoping, at some point, we get the opportunity to do a crossover.”


MacGyver 2016, Lucas Till (Annette Brown/CBS)

9. Keep the Fights Spontaneous

Sometimes MacGyver will run into some tough guys he can’t elude with one of his inventions. He will have to fight his way through them, and Till is willing to get in there and roughhouse with stuntmen. On TV, he doesn’t have much time to learn fight choreography, so Till pretty much wings it.

“Hey look, there’s a fight scene coming up in 20 minutes,” Till said. “There’s 30 moves to learn. All right, here we go. That’s about the prep that we get, because honestly the schedule is ambitious, and we want to make it good, and that’s what we’ve got time to do. It’s something I enjoy doing, so over the years I’ve picked it up I guess.”


MacGyver 2016, Lucas Till, George Eads (Guy D'Alema/CBS)

10. Do Big Stunts on TV

The new MacGyver hangs from an airplane as it’s taking off, jumps from a crashing speedboat, and drops from a helicopter onto a moving truck — and that’s only in the first episode. It used to be that only movies could pull of this kind of stunt work, but now producers can accomplish it on television.

“We did a lot of things in this,” Wan said. “Peter wrote such a really fun, great pilot that there were a lot of things to play with. I felt like there was never a shortage of some exciting things that we were doing every day that we were filming. I feel very fortunate that the script that I had to go out there as my first foray into television was a really, really fun, big world, and I think it really set this international stage that MacGyver basically lives in for the rest of the series.”

They even have ways to let Till do the stunts himself, safely, now. Sometimes that means green screen.

“A lot is me,” Till said. “I try to do as much as I can. I’m jumping out of a helicopter, but it wasn’t a real helicopter. We’ve gotten a lot better technology-wise at being able to make it safe. I have been on the back of several moving vehicles at this point. All the fights are me so far.”

Tag Cloud

adaptation godzilla Spectrum Originals E3 debate discovery Christmas BAFTA Comics on TV Esquire casting Paramount Network cooking green book 24 frames DC streaming service Epix canceled TV shows PaleyFest Syfy harry potter Marathons legend MTV miniseries Peacock Comic-Con@Home 2021 Biopics Food Network black Binge Guide finale Best Actor BBC America elevated horror jamie lee curtis zombies Lifetime Christmas movies Holiday Legendary First Look Reality TV robots VOD TCA Winter 2020 SundanceTV social media Ghostbusters 2017 fresh BET Awards BBC hispanic heritage month comic book movie Oscar Exclusive Video young adult black comedy Nickelodeon facebook ratings asian-american leaderboard ABC Star Wars hist stop motion IFC Films golden globe awards football scorecard Trailer YouTube Red Adult Swim 2018 Drama boxoffice Mary Poppins Returns 71st Emmy Awards Paramount Plus Warner Bros. toronto Wes Anderson Starz all-time LGBTQ Apple TV+ Set visit Marvel Studios documentaries Pet Sematary Mary poppins sag awards 2016 Fantasy worst movies rotten movies we love child's play Rocky Stephen King lord of the rings dogs new york mcc prank Vudu Chernobyl GLAAD book Teen binge trailers 2021 Brie Larson series Election adenture Spike 20th Century Fox canceled mission: impossible HFPA Lifetime Best Director critics Disney Channel new star wars movies Oscars twilight rom-coms Comic Book scary movies Neflix french spain Columbia Pictures Anna Paquin slasher Mindy Kaling japanese Lucasfilm classics slashers 45 werewolf dc period drama Trophy Talk Best Actress VICE obituary 73rd Emmy Awards ID psychological thriller ITV Focus Features Baby Yoda American Society of Cinematographers theme song South by Southwest Film Festival Comedy NBC Best and Worst Calendar reboot FXX festivals Infographic critic resources political drama Certified Fresh romantic comedy what to watch sequels Fargo Summer christmas movies The CW historical drama Musicals SXSW Podcast nbcuniversal teaser crime Countdown justice league NYCC comiccon international spider-verse sports kaiju TCM Song of Ice and Fire Pixar Holidays Box Office rt archives TCA razzies 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards RT21 The Academy TCA 2017 james bond Photos documentary quibi biography anthology FX on Hulu Writers Guild of America saw ABC Family hollywood blaxploitation marvel cinematic universe cartoon die hard The Witch movie Lionsgate vs. cats Shudder Action Fall TV SDCC cancelled feel good Schedule Pop Amazon Prime Video dark Sundance IFC Netflix HBO Go MGM strong female leads wonder woman movies TLC CNN free movies OneApp trophy Logo 1990s sequel SXSW 2022 cars Hallmark Christmas movies travel Character Guide Pirates X-Men women latino Tarantino DC Comics directors TruTV new zealand AMC Best Picture Ellie Kemper E! dramedy Elton John criterion Grammys cults 99% scene in color OWN reviews 2015 DC Universe blockbuster Western action-comedy game show versus TIFF Film GoT Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt politics Pride Month unscripted Family Animation Interview First Reviews nature independent Turner Classic Movies Travel Channel TV Land Tomatazos Music 79th Golden Globes Awards The Walking Dead sopranos Apple singing competition Hear Us Out CW Seed DGA CBS All Access boxing crime thriller blockbusters YouTube Premium name the review Video Games Disney streaming service spinoff serial killer worst WGN video on demand 93rd Oscars 2019 comic Nominations Super Bowl diversity zombie Sci-Fi science fiction rt labs critics edition archives Fox Searchlight summer TV talk show Funimation revenge true crime San Diego Comic-Con Turner popular mutant Amazon Prime comedies jurassic park The Arrangement Hollywood Foreign Press Association CBS Black Mirror rt labs Britbox summer TV preview FOX Tokyo Olympics PlayStation golden globes Mudbound Country Martial Arts Tumblr children's TV Mary Tyler Moore obi wan 2020 police drama IMDb TV Television Critics Association joker based on movie target Marvel Television VH1 cinemax thriller emmy awards richard e. Grant ghosts hispanic award winner Cannes king arthur psycho Spring TV Watching Series Musical Premiere Dates Universal Pictures Dark Horse Comics summer preview hidden camera Emmy Nominations broadcast aapi aliens live action Opinion spider-man laika 007 a nightmare on elm street Disney+ Disney Plus sitcom live event TV renewals zero dark thirty stand-up comedy A24 MSNBC 94th Oscars BET anime TNT crossover Television Academy History The Walt Disney Company gangster doctor who Hulu space Broadway kong Fox News japan Captain marvel National Geographic Tubi Kids & Family streamig Classic Film Sundance Now ABC Signature Black History Month comics Cartoon Network monster movies Disney Plus Extras Masterpiece Amazon Cosplay Sony Pictures television ESPN romance Creative Arts Emmys Alien CMT king kong news comic books comic book movies cancelled TV shows Mystery MCU Amazon Studios scary cancelled television Polls and Games batman dreamworks Pacific Islander technology TV One crime drama renewed TV shows Apple TV Plus cancelled TV series docudrama rotten screenings The Purge Emmys tv talk fast and furious Heroines basketball screen actors guild docuseries 72 Emmy Awards art house Rocketman festival APB animated Quiz NBA Rom-Com Comedy Central Netflix Christmas movies halloween tv Sundance TV pirates of the caribbean 4/20 Paramount game of thrones indie Image Comics halloween films GIFs know your critic franchise toy story foreign Endgame PBS Freeform Universal telelvision universal monsters mockumentary genre Sneak Peek deadpool marvel comics RT History Superheroe Showtime WarnerMedia dragons Hallmark Rock FX olympics australia Year in Review satire Acorn TV disaster adventure TCA Awards Superheroes Pop TV Reality Competition suspense Women's History Month Horror venice posters Thanksgiving Chilling Adventures of Sabrina transformers Awards Tour El Rey HBO Max war LGBT See It Skip It superhero dexter spanish language BBC One Valentine's Day New York Comic Con biopic cops USA Disney high school spy thriller Bravo chucky book adaptation Discovery Channel A&E Tags: Comedy DirecTV composers heist movie TBS witnail indiana jones Prime Video video Avengers Crunchyroll Ovation Academy Awards TV movies nfl best Film Festival natural history italian Star Trek parents Instagram Live superman dceu kids Marvel HBO YouTube Winter TV YA Shondaland Trivia remakes breaking bad royal family mob Winners 21st Century Fox medical drama streaming vampires Red Carpet spanish Walt Disney Pictures supernatural ViacomCBS south america Paramount Pictures streaming movies USA Network concert President AMC Plus 90s Awards Nat Geo Arrowverse Toys stoner Crackle