The original MacGyver series was a dopey, often cringeworthily earnest, and in its early series painfully low-budget show which was kept afloat by the charm of Richard Dean Anderson as the good-guy hero with a very 80s set of quirks (he had a habit of contriving solutions from whatever was at hand with the help of his trusty Swiss Army knife, he didn't like guns, he was a non-drinker and liked health food, he hated his first name of Angus and never used it, and he was endearingly fannish about ice hockey) and the cheery rapport between him and Dana Elcar, who played his boss and best friend Pete Thornton. Every week Mac was accompanied by a sidekick or two, often Pete, but sometimes an attractive lady or some young offenders or a nun, and on red-letter days Mac's old friend Jack Dalton, a boozy, lying compulsive plot-thickener played with a twinkle in his eye and an outrageous moustache on his face by Bruce McGill. Everyone from Mayim Bialik to Cuba Gooding Jr to Brian Blessed showed up as a guest star at one time or another, and there was an attempt in the final series to introduce a spin-off about a family of African American bounty hunters who had all met Mac at one time or other (and usually worked with him as equals or rescued him from trouble, rather than it being a parade of What These People Need Is A Honky), though nothing came of it.
Mac had terrible luck with relationships. He didn't have much trouble attracting women, but once he settled down with them they invariably turned out to be Russian spies or dog-murdering hired assassins or both at once, or, in the case of Terri Hatcher's splendid comic turn as Penny Parker, too ditzy even for a legendarily even-tempered polymath to put up with. At the beginning of season 3 the great lost love of his life showed up back from the dead, played by Elyssa Davalos with long hair, and died again dramatically in his arms after thinking better of betraying him to the Russians. A couple of episodes later Elyssa Davalos showed up again, this time with a short 80s perm, and playing a lady called Nikki Carpenter whose main personality trait was wearing shoulderpads, and for some reason Mac never noticed the resemblance.
The show was frequently very daft indeed (the use of stock footage in the first series springs to mind, as does the preachiness that showed up later on when Mac more or less gave up secret agenting to become a youth worker) but it stuck to its basic gimmick, which was that it was a silly show about smart people.
The remake, by contrast, is a show about smart people written by and for stupid people. Lucas Till looks conspicuously ill-at-ease as Mac from the moment that he introduces himself with 'My name is Angus MacGyver'. Nikki Carpenter is reinvented in the form of Tracy Spiridakos, who I watched turn from 'whiny teen' to 'fucked-up badass' on Revolution, and goes through the whole back-from-the-dead-and-turned-evil routine in the first twenty minutes. Pete Thornton, portly bald middle-aged man, is now Patricia Thornton, thin, elegant Asian lady. I had been kind of hoping for a sympathetic fat character, but I'll take it. Bizarrely, Mac has a fast-talking African American roommate who doesn't know what Mac does for a living. This seems like a distinct step backwards as far as inclusive casting goes. There is an ex-con hacker lady who hasn't had much to do so far but annoy Peter by spouting bad technobabble.
The pilot is full of explosions and short on humour. I can deal with that. Pilots are often a bit odd compared to later shows. But what I can't get behind is that Jack Dalton is now Mac's reliable sidekick, an ageing dudebro with a fondness for muscle shirts.
Jack. Dalton. Is. Reliable. This is a bit like remaking Star Wars, and casting Princess Leia as a swooning damsel. No, it's like remaking Star Wars, and turning the Millennium Falcon into a pair of slippers.
Richard Dean Anderson refused a bit part in the remake, and I can see why.