In the late 1980s and early '90s, budding science geeks plopped down in front of MacGyver on ABC to watch resourceful secret agent Angus MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson) escape from bad guys, foil evil plots and basically save the world with a Swiss Army knife, duct tape and whatever happened to be lying around.
Cable television's reigning science geeks, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman of Discovery Channel's Mythbusters, decide to put some of MacGyver's more creative escapes to the test in the show's 100th episode tonight.
"It's a natural for us," Savage says. "It took a while for us to work out the various details with the original MacGyver producers, but Mythbusters and MacGyver have always been two peas in a pod, at least philosophically."
"In a way," Hyneman says, "we're the real deal, where a lot of the stuff that MacGyver did - and that's what the myth is about - maybe is not necessarily realistic."
In one segment, Savage and Hyneman decide to see whether MacGyver could indeed blow a hole in a wall using pure sodium metal dropped into water.
Next, the show's Build Team - Tory Belleci, Kari Byron and Grant Imahara - tries to build an ultralight airplane using raw bamboo, a small engine and MacGyver's ever-present duct tape.
Then, the Build Team challenges Savage and Hyneman to a four-part ultimate MacGyver challenge. They have one hour to pick a lock, develop film with common kitchen liquids, build a compass and devise an aerial signal for a helicopter.
Savage says, "The idea that Jamie and I are the perfect analogs for a real-world MacGyver means that the finale of this episode, where Tory, Grant and Kari actually present Jamie and (me) with a set of real MacGyver challenges, is probably one of the best marriages of material and execution that we've ever had."
Considering that MacGyver was on the air for seven seasons, winnowing down the myths couldn't have been easy.
"There are hundreds," Savage says. "There are lists online, but they're not nearly complete. We have all the episodes, and we've been slowly working through them. There are little, tiny things he does that no one even lists in the plot synopses that are awesome for us to test.
"But as long as it's got a grain of truth to it, and hopefully some fire and explosions and often bad guys getting hurt, it's perfect for us.
"Honestly, this isn't, by far, the last MacGyver episode that we'll do. There's a ton of fertile material there. We'll probably tackle this four or five more times."
The 100th-episode tribute to MacGyver is at 9 tonight on the Discovery Channel.