On the set of ‘MacGyver’ season 2, returning Sept. 29

“DIY or DIE” — Using a cell phone and soccer ball, MacGyver and the team must find a Navy SEAL, who is believed to be alive in captivity in the Middle East, on the second season premiere of MACGYVER, Friday, Sept. 29 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: George Eads, Lucas Till Photo: Guy D’Alema/CBS©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Posted on Friday, September 29, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk

It’s a week into theoretical fall in Atlanta Thursday morning and the sun is baking the asphalt outside construction stages for the ninth episode of CBS’s “MacGyver.” Temperatures have crept past 85 degrees and most crew members that could get away with it are huddled under portable tents.

But George Eads isn’t complaining. The former “CSI” actor now playing a Delta Force agent Jack Dalton is getting to squeal the tires on his silver 2017 Dodge Challenger HellCat racing to see if another character on the show is around. She’s not.

“We found Cage’s car,” said Angus “Mac” MacGyver (Marietta’s Lucas Till) on his phone to headquarters. “It’s Swiss cheese and she’s MIA.”

“We have no idea where she is,” Eads added.

Moments later, they jump back in the car and Eads gleefully peels away. In fact, between every take, he just revs the engine hard whether it’s a live take or not.

“I’ve had a lot of sports cars,” said Eads after the scene was finished. “I used to take this Mercedes to a track and it’s even faster than what I just drove. On this first take, Lucas was all nervous, saying, ‘George, George, George, George!’ So fun!”

Indeed, he and the younger Till have settled into a comfortable dynamic as part of the crime-fighting team where MacGyver continues to use ingenuity and guile to get out of impossible situations. CBS even includes various every-day products in its teasers of upcoming episodes. The season two episode, for instance, will feature MacGyver using both a cell phone and a soccer ball to help track down a missing Navy SEAL.

While the “MacGyver” revival wasn’t a super smash hit last season, it did just fine in its Friday night slot. The bottom line: it’s considered fun, escapist drama that isn’t too taxing on the noggin.

Till said blow back from traditionalists of the Richard Dean Anderson version wasn’t as harsh as he had anticipated. And he’s now more comfortable in his role.

“We know what we have now and can build a foundation,” Till said. “The stunts are bigger and we have a new cast member.”

CBS indeed added Olivia Cage to their team, played by Aussie actress Isabel Lucas. “She’s a CIA operative,” Till said. “She kicks a lot of a**. Kind of like what Jack does, female version.”

Till said he is happy to have more on the ensemble team because it means slightly less weight on him and Eads, who handled the heavy lifting season one. He said he spent the off season doing a lot of yoga because he was feeling plenty of soreness and fatigue from the very physical workload of season one.

“I”m a lot better with my preparation,” he said. “I had problems with knees. But I’m all good now. Yoga really works. I’m on my feet 14 hours a day. It’s a beast.”

Eads said he didn’t get enough sleep season one and now tries to get 8 to 10 hours every night to ensure he’s in the right mental state each day.

“I’m taking better with myself,” he said. “Lawrence Fishburne is my mentor. I went to his home this summer and brought Lucas with me. It really is like going to see the Oracle, man! We just talked about leadership, responsibility and the ins and outs of fame and the work, being humble in victory… Lawrence said, ‘Some things can only be learned in a storm.’ He had a profound effect on me. He’s been instrumental in helping me grow up.”

He admits he had a little bit of a spoiled brat syndrome while on “CSI” and Fishburne helped kick it out of him for this show.

Till said he and Eads actually got a rare short day Wednesday and went out to eat dinner together. “It’s like the first time I’ve been out in two months,” he said, noting that he sequesters himself on weekends just to rest, watch Netflix (“Rick & Morty” and “Narcos” right now) and regroup.

“It’s so worth it,” Till said. “I’m enjoying what we’re doing so much.”

Till said the show shot the third episode this season at what was once used by “The Walking Dead” as Terminus. “I have a panoramic shot of the inside on my phone,” he said. “George and I have a fight while spying on Riley. One of the first real arguments on the show is at Terminus.”

In fact, MacGyver would probably do just fine in a zombie apocalypse. “It’d make a great cross-over dream sequence,” Till mused.

Last season, CBS did do a crossover between “Hawaii Five-O” and “MacGyver.” Till would love to see a crossover with “Scorpion.” “They’re a think tank,” he said. “We posed as a think tank. It would be fun.”

“Hole Puncher” — When the team intercepts a terror group’s message meant for Murdoc, Mac poses as the psychopath to save the intended target and find out why they want Murdoc to assassinate him, on MACGYVER, Friday, April 7 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Lucas Till, George Eads. Photo: Guy D’Alema/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Till noted that Justin Hires, a Clark-Atlanta grad and former star of CBS’s reboot of “Rush Hour,” started on the show as MacGyver’s best friend who knew nothing about MacGyver’s real job. Eventually, he learned what his friend was up to and became integrated into the team.

This season, Hires (who plays Bozer) will be back and given even more to do, Till said, noting that he’ll even get his own three-episode arc without Till and Eads around. “Seeing George and Justin interact is exceptional,” Till said. “They’re really great together. It’s funny. We didn’t necessarily expect it. And it makes perfect sense.”

“Cigar Cutter” — Murdoc moves forward with his plans for revenge against MacGyver by recruiting his recently released former cellmate to infiltrate the Phoenix Complex as a “lab technician” and kill every agent inside, on the first season finale of MACGYVER, Friday, April 14 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: George Eads, Lucas Till. Photo: Guy D’Alema/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

TV PREVIEW
“MacGyver,” season 2 begins 8 p.m. Friday, September 29, 2017 on CBS


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