The first episode of the first season of MacGyver begins, like a number of the early episodes, with a James Bond style pre-credit sequence. Somewhere in Central Asia, a USAF airplane has crash landed and the Communists were able to salvage a classified missile. MacGyver has been sent behind the lines to disarm the missile and rescue the pilot.
After climbing to the cliff-top Mac locates the captured pilot and disarms the missile. To free the pilot, he needs to create a diversion and we get MacGyverism #1. Using an AK-47, some twine, a stick, a tree and a book of matches, MacGyver rigs the gun to fire, creating his diversion. The pilot escapes from his cage and by way of MacGyverism #2, a flare-gun is turned into a rocket thruster to propel the two men off the side of the cliff. MacGyver deploys his parachute and the two men float to safety. And so the pilot episode of MacGyver is off to an action packed start...
Dr. Marlowe has come to a top-secret laboratory in the Arizona desert to visit his friend and colleague Dr. Steubens. After passing through the elaborate security systems, he is escorted down to the lab on level 3 by Barbara Spencer, Dr. Steubens' assistant. About a half hour into their visit, a series of explosions rock the laboratories and an acid tank is ruptured. Since the odds of success are slim, MacGyver is flown in aboard Blue Thunder to break his way into the labs and rescue the people trapped inside.
It turns out that the sulfuric acid leak is working its way down to the aquifer, which leads to the Rio Grande. In a little under five hours, the place is going to be flooded with sodium hydroxide (the stuff used to clean the flesh off skeletons) to neutralize the acid and stop it from contaminating the water supply.
Since this is a high-security lab, MacGyverism #4 comes in handy. The elevator shaft is guarded by an elaborate laser security system. Using three cigarettes to be able to see the laser beams and a binocular lens, Mac short-circuits the system and can now climb down to the level 2 labs. It isn't long before it's time for MacGyverism #5. Using his trusty Swiss Army Knife, MacGyver cuts the end off a fire hose which he ties a knot in the end of and buries underneath a girder that is blocking the way. He turns on the water, the hose fills and lifts the girder a few inches. Hoping his back doesn't give out, MacGyver pushes the girder out of the way and finds a room full of scientists, including Barbara Spencer; who is going to guide Mac down to level 3 of the facility.
Our pair head off down a shaft and are soon caught in an airlock and it's here we learn that in a half hour, the military is going to fire off an underground missile at the base of the lab to fuse the bedrock to stop the acid from leaking into the aquifer. And MacGvyer lost his two-way mic while escaping from the airlock!
Using chocolate bars to stop stop the acid leak (MacGyverism #6), the two make their way to the lab next to the one in which the Nobel Prize nominated scientists are trapped. MacGyverism #7 will do the trick. Emptying a cold capsule and replacing the medicine with sodium metal, and placing that into a quart sized jar of water creates an instant bomb which blows open the wall. Steubens pulls a gun on our heroes as it was he who set off the bomb. He couldn't stand to see his research perverted and used as a weapon. Barbara is shot, Steubens is subdued and Mac races to the power room where he cuts the lights out in the building and uses light pulses as Morse code to let everyone know that the acid leak has been stopped and the scientists have been rescued. The missile launch is aborted in the knick of time and so ends the pilot episode of MacGyver.
As pilot episodes go, this one was quite well done. It co-starred Dana Elcar (in a role other than Pete Thornton) and Darlanne Fluegel as Barbara Spencer. It setup the series nicely and gave us a look at what the series has to offer. It's also one of the few times that MacGyver, played by Richard Dean Anderson, is actually seen firing a gun. A few of the effects are a little dated and Mac slips into an odd Southern accent a few times, but it's a lot of fun and a great start to the legend that is MacGyver.