Fall has come and so have the shows to avoid

I’m not a big TV watcher. However, I spend most evenings in the den with my mother as she watches TV. Usually, I’m either gaming or writing and can ignore what’s on the boob-tube. Last night was the exception as we tried watching a couple of of the new shows that we had DVR’d earlier in the week.

First up was the remake of MacGyver. I’m old enough to have watched the original with Richard Dean Anderson when it was first run. I enjoyed the show for what it was, fluff. But it had humor and, more often than not, decent writing and acting. I wish I could say the same for the new version but I can’t. I was ready to turn it off after the first five minutes. Instead, Mom watched it through and that’s approximately 40 minutes of my life I will never get back.

As my friend Nicki put it on her blog this morning, there are few if any redeeming qualities to the new show. She hits it out of the park when she criticizes the acting, writing and directing of the show. Let me give you a few examples.

In the first few minutes of the show, Mac has infiltrated a society do in order to steal a weapon of some sort. Of course, he doesn’t really know what he’s stealing and his first real challenge is that he needs more than the single fingerprint he managed to lift from one of the bad guys. Oh, and in doing so, he goes from being a guest to one of the staff by simply removing his suit jacket. Then he wanders into the kitchen and knows exactly where to find the duct tape and other odds and ends he will need.

He finally manages to get into the “really secure room” and finds the object he was after — only to pull an Indiana Jones and lift it from its container only to discover doing so turns on an alarm (I was praying for a boulder to roll into the room and smash him by this point). In rushes the first armed guard — and Mac manages to avoid being shot by lifting a silver serving tray and holding it in front of him to stop the bullets.

Not once did the security type realize he was emptying his clip into a serving tray and shoot lower, which would have been center mass in Mac’s body, but Mac never showed the impact of the shots hitting the tray. Elbows locked, feet planted, he held that tray in front of him and not a single bullet penetrated or rocked him.

After beating that guard up, another comes in with two guns — guess he was the bigger, badder bad guy because he had two guns — who emptied both clips at Mac who jumped behind a sofa, iirc. When the now empty clips hit the floor, Mac was up and — yep, you guessed it — throwing the same silver tray he had used to block the bullets from bad guy number one as a frisbee to take out bad guy number two. Then, with the tube of biological whatever, he rushes to make his mistake. Only to have the really bad guy catch up with him and his team and shoot him and his girlfriend.

Oh how I was hoping that seeing Mac shot and falling into the water far below meant the show was over less than 10 minutes after it started.

But no. Now we find it was a flashback or something and Mac has been sulking — er, mourning — his girlfriend. Now his boss (and here is yet another slap in the face of the original. Then Mac and friends worked for a non-governmental agency. Now they are working for a really super secret governmental agency that some hacker chick who is in prison knows about and who they make a part of the team to take over for the girlfriend everyone thinks is dead even though no body was ever recovered) is there with a job for them. You guessed it, Mac is off to get back the biological whatever he lost in that first mission.

It doesn’t get any better. The final action sequence has Mac realizing he can’t stop the bomb in the back of a truck that is attached to the biological. So he grabs the seemingly fragile tube with the biological in it and creates a parasail of sorts to escape the speeding truck before the bomb goes off. Of course, he does wind up hitting the pavement hard and rolling but, miracle of miracles, the container holding the biological doesn’t break. Nor does Mac even check it before the military folks arrive with containment safeguards for it.

Not. Enough. Liquor. In. The. World.

The next one up in the DVR queue was Designated Survivor. I can say it was better than MacGyver but only because at least part of the cast could actually act. However, omg, there were problems with it.

The basic setup is that there is always one member of the Cabinet who does not attend the State of the Union Address in case something catastrophic occurs. In this case, it was Kiefer Sutherland who, we learn, had been asked to resign his post just hours earlier. He had decided to do so but had not yet told the president. So, while he is at some other location, watching the president’s speech on TV, the Capitol Building is blown to bits.

Now, the designated survivor is close enough to the Capitol that he can walk to the window and look outside and see the flames. Then he is bundled into a waiting SUV (along with his wife. His kids are elsewhere. Kids being the cute little girl who is too old for her own good and teenaged son who is the rebel and out selling drugs at a club) and taken — you guessed it — straight to the White House just minutes after the Capitol has gone up in flames.

Oookay, here is the first issue I had the show (we won’t discuss having the DS so close to the Capitol that they could be caught in the fallout if a dirty bomb went off or the fact he was above ground and not in a bunker somewhere). The White House is approximately 2 miles from the Capitol Building. If someone has just blown the hell out of the Capitol and you are still trying to figure out what is going on, I don’t think the Secret Service is going to rush you that close to what is effectively Ground Zero. That is especially true when another bomb is found in the rubble. What happened to checking to make sure there is no such danger at the White House?

The Sutherland character is pretty namby-pamby for most of the show. He grows a spine — maybe — after he hears a speechwriter railing against him being president while they are both in stalls in the bathroom. There is the obligatory evil military man who is already planning on removing Sutherland from office. After all, he wasn’t elected president.

Oh, and in the magic that is Hollyweird, they were able to locate and ID the president, the vice-president and all members of the Cabinet in attendance at the State of the Union in a matter of minutes because Sutherland is informed by his Secret Service escort that he is now president. Amazing how quickly a scene can be searched and forensics checked, isn’t it?

I will at least give this one another shot. As I said, the acting was better and I want to see how they handle most, if not all of Congress having been killed as well. As for MacGyver — nope. Not gonna watch that one again.

About the author

Writer, proud military mom and possessed by two crazy cats and one put-upon dog. Writes under the names of Amanda S. Green, Sam Schall and Ellie Ferguson.


  1. So, on Designated Survivor, how long until we find out the bombing was masterminded by a cabal of evil rich white conservatives (pardon the redundancy) who want to Make America Great Again?

    I give it two weeks.

  2. On the “quickly identifying the dead President, etc”, IMO that’s something covered by “artistic license”.

    IE Putting the Main Character into the Hot Seat very quickly.

    While it might be more realistic for the Main Character to have to wait wondering if he’s “in the Hot Seat” for a while, I don’t see what the writers did as that “terrible”. 🙂

    Of course, YMMV applies. 😉

      1. The twist is that the forensics investigators were in on the bombing. They’re part of a secret cult that’s been gradually taking control of police departments across the globe – The Foreign Six.
        They’ve only made headway in English-speaking nations for some reason.

  3. Alright, this male (checks, yes, indeed male) bovine had a Martini. Then read of MacGyver. Then had another Martini (olives yummy!). Even (at least partly) snockered bovine figures he encountered less BS last time he had the “Screamin’ Hersheys” than that. Ouch. Gave up cable in 2009. No off-air signal. TV is not missed. If TV was missed, would need to work on aim.

  4. I would bet real money the pitch for Kiefer Sutherland in “Designated Survivor” was “Jack Bauer Uses His Words.”

    I’ll be giving it one more episode, too, which is one more than “Madam Secretary” got from me… 🙂

  5. I saw the promos for those shows. Nothing in them made me want to watch them, and you have reinforced that opinion.

    Why can’t they bring back Graceland? Or, heck, the good shows that used to be on TV, groundbreaking, fun, like the X Files or Fringe?

    1. Because that would mean paying someone to do something original and they aren’t doing that now. Heck, I saw a post about them doing a remake of Magnum PI with a female lead. How many other shows are they just retreading — movies too? Hollywood used to signify new ideas. Now, it seems to run from them.

  6. It is a crying shame to hear that report on MacGyver. I’m not surprised to hear that report but it is a crying shame. I was holding out the tiniest little hope that it might be ok. I’m not expecting it to be but I was holding out a sliver of hope.

    I had forgotten designated survivor was on and didn’t record it. It sounds a lot better than I was expecting though I’m also expecting somewhere around episode 3 or 4 that we will find out that an evil cabal of rich republican/conservatives where behind it. Not sutherland becoming president but behind the explosion. I may have to go look for it on the xfinity show list and watch that one.

    And I’ll give Mac his 10 minutes. The original show was campy and very much …. hmm…. not intellectually deep. I hate to say it but I would not have been shocked at them using the tray though they generally did actually use better science than that in the show so what with Mythbusters and their what is bulletproof episode …. There is no way that tray was even bullet resistant unless it was secretly made of a carbon fiber composite..

    1. TomT, I think what was the final nail with MacGyver was how they characterized Mac. He was just too full of himself. Smug doesn’t come close to it.

  7. I think “Designated Survivor” is the start of another round of wish fulfillment by the Left. The 90s produced “Air Force One,” and “Independence Day” with badass presidents, while 99 brought us “The West Wing,” which lasted through most of Bush 43’s terms. (In “Independence Day” they had a president who was a former fighter pilot. They didn’t much like it when a real former fighter pilot was elected in 2000.) Dig back in your memory and you’ll likely recall other, lesser cases of wishing Manly Leftist President.

    It’s been pretty clear that Hillary Clinton was going to be the Democrat nominee for years unless another historical first could trump her being the first woman president (aside from Edith Wilson for the 17 months of Woodrow Wilson’s term after he had a stroke.) Hillary wasn’t exciting, but she seemed inevitable. If she were to be defeated, any Republican would have been considered deplorable (though I doubt many expected Trump to prevail in the primaries when the show got the green light.)

    So it was time for some wishcasting. The president, most of congress, and most of the Supreme Court wiped out in a single blow. A new president who had low cost housing for the poor as his biggest issue in his former job. They get to remake America without all of those darned old white conservatives in congess, or the Supreme Court. (Well, maybe one conservative justice who was boycotting the speech who can be a bad guy after they deal with the general.) I fear it will get much worse.

    1. Yep. And when the show doesn’t make it, they will cry racism or something. If it does make it, it will be on the strength of the acting, and the fact there have been very few good shows on of late, and not because of content.

  8. “Van Helsing” started iffy, but the second episode was a hell of a lot better. It does look pretty “Walking Dead Vampires,” but some of the character work was worthwhile. Will give it another ep or two.

  9. Designated Survivor sounds a bit like the newest Galactica in which Secretary of Edducation was suddenly

    the highest ranking politician.

  10. “Now, the designated survivor is close enough to the Capitol that he can walk to the window and look outside and see the flames.”

    There’s even a problem with that. He’s in an FBI conference room watching the address. FBI headquarters is on Pennsylvania avenue between the Capitol and White House. He should not be able to see the Washington and Lincoln memorials in the foreground of the explosion, as they are behind and to the right of the FBI building. The view they show puts him on the front steps of Arlington House (Robert E. Lee’s house on Arlington Cemetery).

    1. You know, I hadn’t caught the location of where they had the DS. If you’re right about where he was supposed to be, you are most certainly right about the view he had. Of course, since when has Hollywood worried about little details like that?

  11. Well, the conference room had a big FBI plaque on the wall. I ruled out Quantico because *that* would be too far away to see anything. So I assumed the J. Edgar Hoover building on Pennsylvania Avenue..

    It helps that I’ve been to those places quite a few times, but I’m wrong about the POV spot. It’s still in Virginia across the Potomac (the only way to get the Lincoln Memorial in the shot like that), but further North and closer than the house. Close the the Marine Corps Memorial. There are a few apartment towers just north of the memorial. That’s probably where they took the picture.

  12. When I heard they were rebooting MacGyver my first thought was “It’s going to be a stinker.” Turns out I was right. Other than a basic idea and a few names, it’s not what I grew up with. I wouldn’t mind all that much if it had been a decent remake, That the ‘new’ MacGyver is a bit of an arrogant ass certainly didn’t help. ( “You hack computers. I hack everything else.”) The original MacGyver character was more low key and, in my opinion, humble.

    I didn’t bother watching DS, and I have no plans to. Seems too close to two of Tom Clancy’s novels – Debt Of Honor and Executive Orders. I read the books and have no need to see a poor imitation on TV.

    Another series reboot/sequel coming to a TV screen near you – Magnum PI. In this case his daughter (from his ‘late’/former Vietnamese/French wife Michelle) is supposedly taking up the mantle after ‘dad’ retires.

    You know it’s gotten bad when the movie/TV industry has to dust off old movies/TV series because they’ve got nothing new and innovative to offer…or more specifically (in regards to TV) legacy network TV offers nothing innovative.

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