Episode: “Nightmares,” season 1, ep. 11
Original air date: 15 Jan 1986
Mullet Status: Greasy and flat. Everybody knows you can’t look in a mirror when you’re tripping.
Plot Synopsis: MacGyver docks in San Pedro Harbor, California with a list of the names and plans of East German terrorists on a piece of notebook paper in his pocket. The Eastern Germans are ready and waiting for him when he arrives but he manages to outwit them and ditch the list in a hiding spot before he is kidnapped.
No worries though, the gang of Cold War rebels is armed with a syringe of “truth serum” created just for Mac/this situation. In other words, they knew they wouldn’t be able to outwit him using their well-thought-out dock attack that involves 4 young men against Mac and a geriatric (pal Pete). Mac is injected with the truth serum and locked in a tiny room in a warehouse.
The East Germans’ plan is simply to wait for the serum to kick in so that Mac will tell them where the list is located. Despite its hallucinatory and vertigo-inducing effects, they think the serum will make Mac spill it.
Personally, I know every time I’ve seen someone drop acid, they have been able to provide me with specific directions to just about anywhere. Nevermind that they can’t even find their way to their front door if you drop them off at the end of their driveway. In any event, Mac escapes, befriends a lovable runaway, defeats the Germans, and secures the runaway a scholarship. All in a day’s work.
Outmatched Opponent(s): Definite Cold War worry here: the ringleader is an Eastern German dressed in a 3-piece suit with bulging eyes and perma-furrowed brow. Also, his lackeys, including an Italian strong-arm who is forever shoving a sandwich in his mouth.
Love Interest (Y or N): N. Mac helps the Linda Hamilton look-alike (Tammy Lauren) runaway to escape the Germans and catch some fish for dinner but there is no attraction.
Car Chase? (Y or N): N
Hand to Hand Combat? (Y or N): Y
Hand to Hand Combat including Mousetrap-style Obstacles? (Y or N): Y
Expository Dialogue? (Y or N): N. Mac is too busy looking at all the pretty colors.
Full House-style Heart-to-Heart? (Y or N): Y. Lauren explains her abusive father is the reason she left home. Mac does a passable job of pretending to listen, much like the viewing audience.
Tools of the Trade:
- In the holding cell, waiting for the drugs to take effect, Mac constructs a battering ram to demolish the door. In this cell, there is a small bed from which he removes all the coils and links together in a long chain from the door frame to the frame of the metal bed, stood vertically. Then…
- He creates an electrical outage to alarm his guards standing outside of the room, so that they think he is “up to something,” forcing them to make a mad dash for his room thus positioning them directly outside of the door to be knocked down by his battering ram. Such a chess mastermind, that MacGyver must be! Anyway, he runs his belt from the faucet to an electrical outlet and then turns on the water so that it travels the length of the belt to the electrical outlet, down the wires to the fusebox which then bursts into flame and smoke. The bad guys run to Mac’s room…
- And when he hears them outside, pulls the coils to their maximum length and releases, the metal frame of the bed bursting the door open and knocking out his opponents.
- The runaway proves herself a girl after Mac’s own heart when she shows him her own inventions: burglar alarm (silverware and glass suspended by a rope attached to front door handle, that jingles together when the door to her tenement is crawled through), and lights (light bulbs attached to jumper cables that turn on when cables are touched to a car battery situated below them).
- Mac creates an explosion diversion by lining up a TV tube and a car battery behind the door to the squat. The bad guys are coming, so Mac connects the wires from behind the TV to the battery with jumper cables that are almost touching. When the bad guys shove open the door, the cables will touch, running a strong electrical current through the television, creating a blast with fire and light. This waylays the bad guys for about 2 seconds.
- Mac’s coup d’etat contraption includes water coolers suspended in the air across some rafters, hanging by rope, that when released, will fall, roll down a ramp he constructed and knock over some non-descript plastic barrels piled 20 feet high, which in turn knock over the bad guys. (Writers for Tom and Jerry sit at home and scribble furiously.)
- With only minutes left before the poison kicks in totally and Mac will irreversibly begin to die, the Eastern German ringleader throws the antidote pill down a sewer grating (it is encased in a small metal container). Bad guy exits to flee police so Mac must pull the antidote out of the sewer. He takes a length of pipe, bashes it against a fire hydrant for a bit, explaining to Lauren that he is “creating a temporary molecular structural realignment” or, a magnet (douche) and then lowers the length of pipe down into the sewer. The end of the pipe now has an electrical charge and attracts the metal casing which holds the antidote.
In this episode, most of Mac’s quotable gems occur right before he is injected with the unnamed green truth goo.
– “Hey, look guys, I’ve got this thing about needles.”
– “Here’s an idea, why don’t you just try dripping water on my forehead?”
– “The old rubber hose and bright light trick?” No matter how much you wish they were, these guys aren’t firefighters, Mac.
– “Hypnotism! Its’s been known to work. The KGB uses it all the time, they’ve got it down to a science. Whaddya say?”
– “That burning sensation will dissipate shortly.” East German Officer to Mac after he, uh, injects him with his needle.
Thank You, Captain Obvious:
“Can’t you do anything without eating?” White bad guy says to Italian bad guy while he is on his 2nd sandwich of the episode. Two more sandwiches will be consumed. At least they didn’t show him rolling his own meatballs, or making some gnocchi while guarding his charge. Said bad guy dies with a sandwich in his hand.
Important Life Lessons:
Don’t do drugs. They’ll make you walk funny and blink your eyes a lot, according to Richard Dean Anderson’s portrayal. Also, you can rest easy kids, because the MacGyver (not MacGruber) remake is in full swing.
Rental Rehab review by Kelli