A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that MacGyver is a series about a government operative who uses unconventional means to fight crime. It's more violent than other network crime-fighting shows: Characters are suddenly killed on-screen, and violence is glamorized, with characters fondling or using guns and delivering quips after they shoot and kill faceless "bad guys." Boats crash into each other and explode, characters are shot, and a government official gets information out of a suspect by punching him in the face and threatening his genitals with a drill. Mild cursing includes "damn," "hell," "son of a bitch," and some insulting language, such as "You guys suck." Flirting, dating, jokes, and visual references to sex, but no extended sex scenes or nudity. There are some science lessons to be gleaned, which makes this a potentially fun family watch for teens, but other urban myths or frankly wrong facts could confuse younger viewers.
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What's the story?
Based on a reimagining of the 1980s TV series about a crime fighter who used science and gadgetry in crime-fighting missions, MACGYVER is an action-adventure drama about Angus "Mac MacGyver (Lucas Till), an undercover government operative. Along with his teammates Jack Dalton (George Eads), the brawn to Mac's brains, and Riley Davis (Tristin Mays), computer hacker extraordinaire, MacGyver takes on high-risk missions for the ultra-secret Department of External Services. There are a lot of terrorists and criminals out there who want to destroy the world and bend all of humanity to their will; good thing we have MacGyver and his trusty pocket knife on our side.
Is it any good?
This cheerfully dumb remake of the classic 1980s action series excels at fun capers, but it's a bit too violent for the comfort of many modern parents. It's too bad that MacGyver and his cohorts have to take out so many tuxedoed men on boats, faceless hooded minions, and blank-faced soldiers while fighting crime, because much of the series is actually pretty amusing and would be fun for parents to watch with tweens as well as teens. The show's best gimmick is putting explanatory titles on-screen so we know just what materials MacGyver is using to make his bad-guy-foiling improvised gadgets.
And gadgets he does make, and bad guys he does foil. For example: In the show's very first episode, MacGyver: 1). gets a fingerprint from a party champagne glass using soot and adhesive tape; 2). makes a magnet out of an iron door hinge and copper wire from an electrical cord and disrupts a guard's security earpiece with it; and 3). sets off a fire alarm with fake "smoke" made from two types of cleansers and tinfoil. And so on! MacGyver is always able to fight his way into the secret guarded back room where the weaponized virus is being kept in a glowing blue tube in the center of a mysterious chamber -- because why would you hide such an important item? Dumb fun, though keeping a lid on the violence would have made it better whole-family fare.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about MacGyver's violence. Do you think the kinds of victims depicted on the show reflect the victims of real-life crime?
How far is too far when it comes to fighting crime? Do the ends ever justify the means?
Families can talk about how science and technology are used to solve crimes in this series and others. What kinds of careers allow you to use STEM skills?