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001 - Pilot




Season:  1

Episode:  001    (#40191-001)

Airdate:   29 September 1985

Director:   Jerrold Freedman
                    (as Alan Smithee)

Writer:     Thackary Pallo

  Episode   Nit-picks
Nielsen Ratings: 10.9 rating / 17 share / 3rd (54th overall)
Opening Gambit

MacGyver is sent to retrieve the firing mechanism of a captured missile being held at the crash site of a downed US fighter plane in Central Asia. As he infiltrates the camp, MacGyver finds the plane's pilot is alive and being held captive, presenting an unexpected second objective.

Main Story

MacGyver is recruited as a last hope when a mysterious explosion rips through the KIVA Laboratories complex, a top secret underground research facility, in Bannon, New Mexico trapping two Nobel candidate scientists. Upon arriving MacGyver finds that he is in a race against time to rescue the two scientists before the whole complex is flooded with sodium hydroxide to neutralize an acid leak caused by the explosion.

As MacGyver works his way through the labyrinth of obstacles (some man made, others damage related) he finds a group of survivors, one of which, Barbara Spencer, knows where the scientists were when the explosion occurred and insists on helping MacGyver with the rescue.

As the two continue to work their way towards the trapped scientists, their time is cut short as the military prepares to fire a missile into the complex to fuse the lower rock strata and insure the acid can't leak into the aquifer beneath the lab.




Richard Dean Anderson ... MacGyver
Darlanne Fluegel ... Barbara Spencer
Michael C. Gwynne ... Dr. Burke
Paul Stewart ... Dr. Carl Steubens
Michael Fairman ... Dr. Sidney Marlowe
Shavar Ross ... Reggie
Dana Elcar ... Andy Colson
Michael Lerner ... Gantner

                      Rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Charles Bouvier ... Technician #1
Lawrence Casey ... Colonel Keel
Jerry DeWilde ... Jerry
Michael Fairman ... Gen. Relkwin
Michael Johnson ... Captain Taylor
Charles Lanyer ... Major Dennis
JoAnna Linn ... Mary
Richard Partlow ... Pilot
Howard Schecter ... Technician #2
Larry Watson ... Technician #3
Al White ... Sergeant




  • Mac rips up his green flannel shirt to use as a gas mask, but at the end of the episode he's wearing it again.
  • White long sleeve shirt changes appearance a little while after Mac rips up his green shirt.
  • Why didn't the laser burn through the mirror?
  • That fire hose would not be able to lift the weight of the beam.

Disarmed missile with a paper clip. Used a matchbook, string, rubber-band and a stick to make a time-delay fuse to fire a rifle hanging in a tree.
Squashed the end of a flare gun barrel by hitting it with a rock to use it as a rocket thruster.
Used laser to light cigarette. Used Cigarette smoke to see laser.
Used mirror from binoculars to reflect laser beam to 'sting' itself.
Raised fallen I-beam with water pressure in a knotted fire hose. Used wooden stick to test door heat.
Used a ripped piece of shirt as a gas mask.
Twisted power wires together on broken air vent switch. Used milk chocolate candy bars to plug Sulfuric acid leak.
Made explosive with Sodium metal, a cold capsule and some water.
  Signaled "All OK" by flashing main power controls on and off  causing the lights to flash in Morse Code.


SAK uses  Skills used:
 - Lent his knife to captured pilot in the cage
 - Cut off  fire hose nozzle
 - Used the blade to collect a sample of
    sodium metal
 - Rock climbing
 - Metallurgy
 - Electronics
 - Morse Code
SAK type  SAK blades/tools used
- Tinker small   - Main blade

  • The Helicopter MacGyver arrives at the lab in was one of the 2 helicopters used to make the Blue Thunder movie.
  • While walking through the ruins of the underground lab, Mac is whistling a tune called "The Streets of Laredo."
  • This is the only episode in which MacGyver living in the observatory.
  • This is the only episode in which we see MacGyver's "little brother" Reggie.
  • Dana Elcar appears in this episode as Andy Colson. He returns in later episodes as Pete Thornton.
  • In some of the promotional information for MacGyver, his first name was shown to be Stace, but it was cut from the pilot episode before the premier. Later, his first name is revealed in Good Knight MacGyver part 2, and is mentioned again in The Stringer.
  • Lee David Zlotoff's original script was for a 90 minute pilot episode. This was shortened to fit into a one hour slot.
  • The director, Alan Smithee, is a cover name for a director that doesn't want his/her name associated with the finished work.
  • Jerry Freedman decided to use the pseudonym Alan Smithee because he was unhappy with the shortened final cut of the episode and felt the whole experience had been marred with constant fighting against the production team and didn't want to be associated with the project.
  • Mythbusters disproved the sodium metal macgyverism in this episode
  • Mythbusters confirmed that chocolate will indeed clog a sulfuric acid leak as seen in this episode.
  • In the Italian version of this episode, the name of Andy Colson, the character played by Dana Elcar, has been changed to Pete Thornton.
  • When asked about the "MacGyver shooting a gun" scene from this episode at the 1998 William S. Paley Television Festival, both Michael Greenburg and John Rich thought it had been cut out and John Rich seemed embarrassed that it hadn't been.
Memorable Remarks
  • I do wish I'd known you had a cold before I kissed you. - MacGyver
  • People a lot taller than yourself have said the exact same thing. - MacGyver
  • That 10 hours can't be getting any longer. - MacGyver
  • You Colson? - MacGyver
    That's right; you must be the screwball. - Andy Colson
  • What are you doing? - Gantner
    Praying my back doesn't give out. - MacGyver
  • Don't tell me you know how to make a bomb out of chewing gum. - Spencer
    Why you got some? - MacGyver
  • That was dumb Spencer. Very, very dumb! - MacGyver
    Yeah, it also hurts like hell. - Spencer
  • A phenomenal shot by a short kid! - MacGyver
Filming Locations
MacGyver's Home
Griffith Observatory
2800 E. Observatory Rd. Griffith Park,
Los Angeles, CA
Plane Crash Site
Dead Horse Point State Park
Maob Area,



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