The MacGyver episode “The Madonna” has been in indispensable part of my annual Christmas tradition for about 18 years now.
Yes, I adore Richard Dean Anderson. And I have always loved MacGyver. Those are no small part of the reason why I watch this episode on Christmas each year. But I can also tell you that if you want to see an exemplary example of outstanding writing, watch this episode.
Cathleen Young wrote this episode. I don’t know anything else about her because unlike actors, you seldom hear much about the writers behind the scenes of great shows. But I do know I’ve always wanted to find out where to write to her to tell her how outstanding I thought that episode was – and how special it remains, even since it’s first airing back around 1989.
This episode has everything you could possibly want in an episode of MacGyver, or in a script in general. Humor. Angst. Tears. Richard Dean Anderson and children (I can’t think of an actor who does a finer job of playing opposite kids on film). I’ve watched this episode a million times and even to this day, the scene with Mac and Father Patrick Lafferty as his old friend reveals his mother’s last words makes me bawl like a baby.
The episode is also special because it carries on with the powerful characters created in an earlier episode with the late Booker and his wife Cynthia, who in this episode carries on her work at the Challengers Club. And the actress who plays Cynthia sings the most powerful rendition of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” that I’ve ever heard.
And the scriptwriter, Ms. Young, wove together seamlessly several plot threads in this episode that converged beautifully in the culmination of the story’s ending. It was so beautifully done that words of appreciation simply aren’t enough to commend this writer for her fine work.
I really need to make it a 2009 goal to see if there is any way to find out how to contact Ms. Young and tell her myself what an awesome episode this was. I mean, I don’t know what motivates other writers, but for me, it’s the power of the possibility of touching lives. Of making a difference. And Ms. Young did that in a big way.
This Christmas, a friend of mine was over and while she saw a few episodes of MacGyver while it was on the air, she was not an avid watcher like myself. And even she was touched by the episode, and also cued in on the fine writing job done by the screenwriter for this episode.
Man alive, there just isn’t anything more powerful then the written word. God bless all those who have written such words over the years that they have made a difference in the lives of others.