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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Once I read an interview or an article about how, about halfway through
the MacGyver series, the producers/writers (not sure who was behind it)
decided that they had a platform and decided to use it to make some
real statements about social issues. The 1980s were drawing to a close
(this episode aired in 1989) and while the earlier MacGyver episodes
generally positive messages and portrayed MacGyver as a decent citizen
of the world, their main focus was our hero's cleverness in using
science to overcome obstacles. They showcased fun over weighty social
The Challenge feels like the first episode that really went for it in terms of addressing a real world issue. Although some of it might seem dated, its topic of racism is not. Cuba Gooding Jr. is good as always, and the supporting cast overall is better than usual for a MacGyver episode. Watching it now, at more than twice the age I was when I first saw it, I understand it better than ever, and it holds up. MacGyver's sciencey abilities are incidental to the plot, not the drivers of the story. Kudos to the writers for using their soapbox to spread awareness. If anyone knows where to find contemporary articles about the show's move in a different direction, I'd like to read them again.
This episode felt more real than any other MacGyver episode to this
point in the series...
I don't know how else to say it other than that each episode in this series before this point had at least somewhat of a canned feel to it. I've almost been disappointed with the series since I went back and started buying the DVD sets. Many of the episodes we just plain-old lame. However, after watching this episode I felt like I'd finally seen what kind of potential the show had and I was given a glimpse of the depth of character existent in MacGyver. Did anyone else feel this way about this episode? I'd be interested to hear other reactions.
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