From my humble beginnings, according to my mother, I was a sensitive child. Quiet, bookish, a catch and release the firefly sort of kid. I would cry when other neighborhood children would keep them in jars or squish them against the sidewalk. This sort of behavior did not sit well with my Father and he would try, to the best of his ability, to toughen me up. We would watch grown up type movies. Not ‘adult’ movies but movies like TRUE GRIT, TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. These watching habits extended to television as well, THE A-TEAM, KNIGHT RIDER, these were all shows enjoyed by me while my dad read the paper and nodded approvingly whenever MR. T punched a dude, my dad even let me have the recliner when they were on.
“This sounds like a perfect childhood, Fauntleroy, where is the trauma?” you ask.
The year: 1988.
The person: An 11-year-old me.
The show: MACGYVER. I had to look up the title of the episode, “Kill Zone,” and the year (my memory isn’t THAT good).
In this particular MACGYVER, he is sent in to some wilderness to investigate reports of animals dying after a satellite crashes to Earth. I may be wrong about the satellite, but the episode had a real ANDROMEDA STRAIN feel to it. It turns out, a weird bacteria has returned with the crashed object and this bacteria, upon exposure to a living thing, accelerates the aging process to fatal levels. We’re talking a lifetime in a matter of minutes. A sample of the bacteria is sent to a lab for analysis where it comes into the hands of a dedicated lady scientist who is softened by the presence of her beloved dog. How could this scientist be so obstinate? Look how much she loves her dog.
The episode progresses. MacGyver fixes stuff with a paper clip, etc. etc. Eventually, he is supposed to destroy said organism, its existence deemed too dangerous to the planet Earth. The dedicated lady scientist isn’t having it. The organism is simply too important to destroy. She locks herself in the lab with her dog and the organism sealed in a glass container for further study. Alas, the beloved dog misinterprets the glass container holding the bacteria for a toy and knocks it from her hand, releasing it in the sealed laboratory.
The dog immediately begins to age, its black fur becoming gray seemingly before MacGyver’s eyes. It limps to the lady scientist’s lap and dies in her arms while she also begins to show signs of age. MacGyver runs to find some way to free her from the lab but by the time he returns, she is horrifyingly old and, in my opinion, kind of looks like a gray haired version of The Hag from the trauma inducing movie CURTAINS. It wasn’t enough that a dog withered and died in front of my eyes while its owner apologized and said ‘she hoped it doesn’t hurt’, no, I was also treated to the grim visage of death itself, in the form of a grizzled old woman.
I ran from the room, oblivious to my father’s cries of, “For crying out loud! It’s just MACGYVER!” I never watched another episode of MACGYVER again for truly this was a one/two punch: soul crushingly sad, followed by horrifying.
Finding the clip online was easy, WATCHING said clip, an entirely different matter. I did not, but I am including it for those whose morbid curiosity is unquenchable. Don’t say I didn’t warn you: