CBS' attempt at a MacGyver reboot has had a lot of issues, from losing writers and directors to having to completely retool the pilot episode, but the show's new cast and producers were feeling very confident about the final product at the Television Critics Association fall previews on Wednesday.
They showed off a short trailer that has MacGyver (Lucas Till) fighting and improvising his way out of various dangerous situations while avoiding big explosions and trying not to get killed. However, executive producer Peter Lenkov — who also ushered in the successful Hawaii Five-O reboot for CBS and was brought on to MacGyver for retooling — says that the show won't be all about MacGyver's ability to build nifty gadgets to get out of a sticky situation.
"The thing that you'll see in the pilot is that there's a really emotional journey that MacGyver goes through," Lenkov said. "He was betrayed by a member of his team, someone that he was really fond of. He goes through this loss and the betrayal. If you really dig in and watch the show you'll see it's really character forward and plot second."
Varying the types and themes of each episode will help the show maintain that emotional heft in its storylines and also reduces the risk of exhausting its audience with constant action sequences.
"In a lot of ways, each episode could almost be its own standalone little action film," director James Wan said. "There's shades that you can play with in there. Some episodes can be thrillers and other episodes can be bigger set pieces. I like to say that just because we don't have big, massive set pieces in every episode doesn't mean the emotional stuff doesn't hit strong."
The new series may divert from the original in a lot of ways, like MacGyver having a full team behind him, but Lenkov promises that the spirit of the character remains the same.
"It will be unrealistic to do this type of show and not have anybody have a gun. I think that MacGyver if he needs a gun he'll build it," he said. "This is very true to the original concept of the show in that MacGyver is not a gun guy. He's a very different type of hero."
MacGyver premieres Friday, Sept. 23 at 8/7c on CBS.
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