MacGyver: The Complete First Season Studio: Paramount Year: 1985 - 1986 Rated: NR Length: 1045 Minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono) Subtitles: None Closed Captioned Special Features: None Estimated Street Price: $30 or less, USD Release Date: January 25, 2005 He’s a “fixer.” He’s a soldier. He’s a freelance spy. And, he’s a genius when it comes to improvisation. He’s MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson). Who else can defuse a bomb with milk (lowfat)... or build a bomb with chewing gum? Who else would climb onto the hood of a car to fix the brakes... at 70 mph? Who else can pick a lock with a Swiss Army Knife? In less then 10 seconds? Behind his back? MacGyver is a man who doesn’t carry lots of gadgets. His knife, matches, and an empty knapsack in which to put items he finds along the way is all he needs to improvise his way out of a jam. MacGyver uses everyday objects and his knowledge of chemistry and physics to create what he needs to complete a mission. He hates guns. He hates killing. And, he’s afraid of heights (though that doesn’t keep him from achieving high altitudes). MacGyver first aired during a period of my life when I never seemed to find the time to watch television. I had heard of this interesting new spy show. I even managed to catch an episode from time to time. I never came to fully appreciate the series until now, however, when I could enjoy the entire first season in sequence. The program has aged a bit. It is definitely dated by the constant cold war references. Guest stars are often in need of acting lessons, and dialog is somewhat less than realistic at times. Setups leading to climactic moments can be a bit pretentious - but the show is a lot of intelligent fun... even after twenty years. As a cost cutting measure, MacGyver frequently used stock footage, and intercut bits of scenes from Paramount films. One of the most noticeable instances of this is in the episode “Thief of Budapest,” in which much of the chase from the original The Italian Job is recycled for the climax of the episode. MacGyver: Season One includes the following episodes: Disc 1: Pilot, The Golden Triangle, Thief of Budapest, The Gauntlet Disc 2: The Heist, Trumbo’s World, Last Stand, Hellfire Disc 3: The Prodigal, Target MacGyver, Nightmares, Deathlock Disc 4: Flame’s End, Countdown, The Enemy Within, Every time She Smiles Disc 5: To Be a Man, Ugly Duckling, Slow Death, The Escape Disc 6: A Prisoner of Conscience, The Assassin The Transfers The video on this set is less than stellar, but it isn’t a total loss. Some episodes display greater amounts of dust and dirt than others, and that is the biggest problem I see. All of the episodes have a noticeable amount. Some episodes appear rather soft, showing evidence of over-processing - perhaps some high frequency filtering. Most episodes are less soft - though I wouldn’t classify any as consistently highly detailed. Colors appear a bit inconsistent from one episode to the next - both in saturation and value. Most often, the color is a bit under saturated, and the values appear skewed toward red. Contrast is just okay, with fairly solid blacks and decent shadow detail. Whites can appear a bit muddy, never seeming to achieve purity. Some of the worst footage in terms of print damage is in the frequent use of stock footage in the series. Since this was often dirty footage to begin with, it is difficult to fault the transfer for that. Finally, occasional compression artifacts such as mosquito noise can be seen, as well as occasional mild aliasing. Inconsistency is the primary feature, with image quality ranging from fair to good. With such a laundry list of flaws, it sounds worse than it is. Overall, the video is certainly a little disappointing, but it is ultimately watchable. Recalling Anchor Bay’s recent release of “The Commish,” I can say that the video on this set is much better than that. While I’d like to see better quality than we have here, a street price of under $30 allows for a bit of forgiveness. I don’t expect a print restoration, but one hopes that Paramount will do a bit better on the encoding on the next season. The audio is monaural, and delivers a pretty good punch. Frequency response is pretty solid, with some decent bass response when called for. Dialog and music sound pleasing and natural. Final Thoughts Though the transfers aren’t perfect and there are zero extras, I really enjoyed the show. If you’re a hardcore fan, you may want to pick this up, as the price is right.