Growing up most kids have superhero’s they idolize and aspire to be like. Batman, Superman. GI Joe. Astronauts, Race car drives and Knight Rider. Navy seals, Cowboys, Detectives, cops, and Spies. Even Indiana Jones, or Luke Skywalker were heros in the struggle of good vs evil . My hero, or idol, as in the person I aspired to be like to keep the world safe (#38 aside) was MacGyver.
Angus MacGyver as portrayed by Richard Dean Anderson in the show of the same name was a hero, but also kind of an anti-hero. The heroic self sacrificing part was there, but not the overt strength, and thirst for danger. If anything Mac was always stumbling into bad situations on accident. An accidental hero who really just wants to take a nap, eat a veggie burger and play hockey, Monday’s at 8/7 central on ABC.
Although there were always bad guys in every episode, MacGyver was not a “crime fighter.” In fact MacGyver usually described himself or his job as “trouble shooter” or just a problem solver. He worked for the Phoenix foundation which was always referred to as a “think tank.”
The term Think Tank actually refers to private research and development companies. But as a kid, I took “Think Tank” to be the logical corporate wide extension of what MacGyver did in every episode; save the day! Another way to say that is MacGyver as a genius individual was the human embodiment of what a corporate Think Tank seeks to accomplish; novel solutions to pressing problems through science and creativity. Indeed, the ThinkTank Panel (Of One) is a blatant homage to MacGyver (and Marc Stein). You could also think of Alignbacker LLC as my fledgling attempt to recreate the Phoenix Foundation, only without the research part.
The show was basically an after school special. I learned about organized crime, racism, prostitution, drug cartels, guerrilla warfare, environmental cataclysm and the last vestiges of the Cold War.
Education, Ingenuity and Imagination were the tools of his trade, along with a Swiss army knife, a paper clip, and duct tape.
More importantly MacGyver was a "do-gooder." He was a paragon of high moral (and let’s be honest, liberal) virtue.
He also was kind of a loner. Sure he had lots of acquaintances and business contacts, but aside from Jack and Pete, he was a loner. And tragically so. He suffered a lot of loss in the show, and kept to himself as a result. Some how I always conflated these two things. In my mind part of being virtuous was to be alone. It was just part of the virtue formula to walk alone. There was kind of a priestly hermit aspect to MacGyver (apart from the episode where he poses as an actual priest to catch the assassin dressed as a nun who was attempting to kill the archbishop).
Of course, MacGyver always got the girl in the end. But only for a little while before he went solo again.
Especially in high school, I tended to be a loner and only peripherally affiliated with other groups or cliques from school and sports. Some of this was just being shy but much of it was the influence of MacGyver.
Mac didn’t drink or smoke or use guns.
And neither do I.
The One thing I did Not copy from Macgyver was the mullet.
And I’ve never played Hockey.
And, well, I don’t eat my vegetables, much less a vegan diet.
But other than that MacGyver’s insidious praiseworthy influence covers everything from how I wear my pants, to what I named my son.