Even in a world brimming with reboots and remakes, the notion of a new MacGyver series is pretty loaded. Especially in a MacGyver-revering country like New Zealand. For one reason or another, probably something to do with the number 8 wire mentality, we really love our MacGyver down this way.
The many fans of the beloved late '80s action adventure show will no doubt be further dismayed to hear that the new interpretation (premiering tonight at 7.30 on Prime) has altered a fundamental aspect of the famously resourceful main character. It's an aesthetic decision that is sure to cause a lot of controversy: MacGyver (now played by X-Men star Lucas Till) no longer has a mullet.
Ironically enough, the new MacGyver originally did sport the classic hairstyle. But the show's mullet-ified pilot episode was poorly received by the network, which went on to heavily retool the property and reshoot the pilot after firing almost the entire supporting cast and taking the scissors to Till's flowing locks.
It's not difficult to see why the makers of the new MacGyver kept second-guessing themselves. There are several non-follicular aspects of the show that are tough to envision in a contemporary setting, not least of which is the fact that the small boxes in our pockets have turned us all into something of a MacGyver.
Till stresses that this MacGyver is still a man of practical means.
"You have to address the fact that we do live in the 21st century and there's a lot of technology around," he tells TimeOut. "But we have a character for that, which compartmentalises all of that: Tristin Mays, who plays Riley, does a lot of tech stuff. So she is a part of the team, which leaves me able to do stuff that is still low-tech."
Malaysian/Australian director James Wan (The Conjuring, Furious 7), who's helping to shepherd the new TV show, helps clarify MacGyver's modern usefulness: "There is a great line in the pilot where MacGyver talks to this character who is a hacker and he says, 'You hack computers, well, I hack everything else'. So that kind of sums up the spirit of this."
The other big challenge facing a new version of MacGyver is the manner in which the old MacGyver has become something of a pop culture punchline (not here in NZ though, we take it very seriously). It will seemingly be forever defined by Patty and Selma's oft-pronounced love for the show and its original star, Richard Dean Anderson, on The Simpsons.
And there's MacGruber, the (indirect, despite the title) Saturday Night Live spoof that became a cultishly-adored big screen comedy starring Will Forte and Kristin Wiig in 2010.
Till is conscious of the show's potential for camp, but says that won't stop it from taking a light-hearted approach.
"No one is going to watch it if it's a melodrama," says Till. "I mean we're living in a time where action-comedy is what, I don't know, it's what I want to see. And you know, it's funny. I think that's the answer I'm trying to give you. It's going to be funny. It's not going to be MacGruber, but we're having a great time every episode."
Long-time CSI star George Eads, who plays the new, more-action oriented take on MacGyver's mentor and boss Pete Thornton, says he thinks the association helps the show.
"From an acting standpoint, it helped me find the humour in some of the scenes," Eads tells TimeOut. "I was a big fan of MacGruber. Oh man. So there've been a couple of situations where it's been pretty heavy where I had to be reminded that I wasn't in a comedic situation. But I keep trying to find, trying to just take the edge off of, 'Hey here comes the drama'. Find the dark humour. We did that a lot on the other show I was on."
For many viewers, this one included, few figures loom larger in television history than Angus MacGyver. Does Lucas Till feel a lot of pressure taking on such an iconic character?
"I do now!" jokes the actor. "We talked about this a lot. And I hope this is the right answer, but I - there's already enough that you have to think about. And if you start thinking about that, I mean, there's a few things I think about: this is the character, I need to nail this and that. As long as that's okay, but that's as much as I will allow myself to think about it."
Executive producer Wan says he believes Till will get the seal of approval from MacGyver's most famous fans.
"I think Patty and Selma will poo-poo down on it to begin with. But then as they start watching the show, they start to fall in love with Lucas. Actually I think they may fall in love with George just as much."
Who: Lucas Till is the new MacGyver
When: Premieres today, 7.30pm