Five reasons ‘MacGyver’ will be the reboot that saves television (and one reason it won’t)

According to the Hollywood Reporter, CBS is rebooting “MacGyver.” Though typically we’d be skeptical of yet another take on an existing Hollywood property, it’s entirely possible that “MacGyver” will be just the thing to break out of the rehash slump. Here’s why:

1. James Wan, the brilliant Hollywood horror director who successfully helmed the most recent entry in the “Fast and the Furious” series,  is attached to executive produce the project and direct the potential pilot, should the series development progress that far. Wan’s distinct visual style would inevitably be a stark departure from the CBS house style, an absolutely necessity for the network to lure a young audience.

SIGN UP for the free Classic Hollywood newsletter >> 

2. For all the reboots on previously successful television products that Hollywood has attempted over the last decade or so, CBS has one of the few unmitigated successes in “Hawaii Five-0.” The show’s sixth-season premiere last month drew more than 8 million viewers and also boasts one of the most effortlessly diverse casts on television, particularly significant on a network that sometimes faces criticism for being too white. If a reboot on a previous TV property is going to be successful, CBS is as good a place as any for it to be.


3. All you need is to find an undiscovered talent with the charisma of a young Richard Dean Anderson. We humbly submit Josh Holloway, since apparently no one is going to cast him in a “Rockford Files” reboot any time soon.

4. If anyone is going to be capable of forcing America back into the ‘80s model of television consumption, it’s going to be MacGyver. He’ll have all those pesky DVRs and streaming options dismantled in no time.

5. Science is super cool right now. With “The Martian” earning $55 million at the box office, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson with a whopping 4.3 million Twitter followers and original recipe “CSI” going off the air, CBS has a readymade hit in science-friendly “MacGyver.” Pitched just the right way, “MacGyver” could reinvent the action-adventure genre like “CSI” reinvented the procedural.

Although all of this may very well be true, it’s much more likely that “MacGyver” will not be the show that saves television, for one very simple reason.


1. Reboots are not the future of television. Despite Netflix’s “Fuller House” and Fox’s “Minority Report” and NBC’s “Heroes” and ABC’s “Uncle Buck” and CBS’ “Rush Hour,” reboots are the exception to television success, not the rule. For every “Parenthood” that modestly succeeds decades after successful film and failed television series or “Battlestar Galactica” that reboots a schlocky television series with a dark, serious reimagining, there are dozens of failures. For every “Hawaii Five-0” there is a “Charlie’s Angels,” a “Bionic Woman,” a “Knight Rider,” a “Munsters.” “MacGyver” won’t save television because television can’t be saved with rehashed content, no matter how hard Hollywood tries.

Follow me on Twitter at @midwestspitfire.

Get our daily Entertainment newsletter

Get the day's top stories on Hollywood, film, television, music, arts, culture and more.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.