This article was published last month, but I felt it deserved a reminder, since Amy appears on the list twice! A well deserved recognition!
Lee Zlotoff’s “The Next MacGyver” Competition launched in February with the goal to create an environment for young women to thrive as hopeful engineers. Zlotoff’s aim to use the MacGyver legacy to inspire a generation by providing female engineers to look up to in the media is as commendable as it is exciting, especially given the idea that “MacGyver” has become synonymous with ingenuity and imagination. With this competition, we’ll hopefully see more women in television associated with it.
Though the contest doesn’t guarantee that any of the five winning ideas will see a green light, the fact that they’ll have the help of distinguished engineers and practiced Hollywood producers favorably tips the odds. The finalists’ ideas aren’t too shabby, either.
Before we see any of those come to life, however, here’s a toast to some of my favorite ladies of science, technology, engineering and mathematics who’ve already graced television and, an added bonus, an instance in which they have “MacGyvered.”
Winifred “Fred” Burkle (Amy Acker, “Angel”)
Fred enters the fold at the close of “Angel’s” second season, a physics student turned slave following an unfortunate encounter with a portal to one of the show’s many hell dimensions. Angel and his crew help her escape and, after having just spent five years hiding out in caves and cow barns, Fred decides to stay with the gang in Los Angeles. It takes a short while for Fred to readjust to a life of friendly human interaction and in no time, we see the rise of a brilliant, inventive omni-scientist.
By the show’s final season, Fred ends up filling the roles of team physicist, pathologist, chemist and occasionally, mortician. She also happens to be extremely good with numbers (which once nearly results in her brain getting stolen) and in the episode detailed below, inadvertently scares away a homeless man while while reciting pi – to calm herself down.
MacGyvered: In the Season 3 episode “Fredless,” Fred saves the team from a hoard of demons with a device that was earlier presumed to either decapitate enemies or toast bread. It did the former, and would present Fred with the realization that she had a wanted, welcome place with the group. The very next episode, “Billy” sees her readily saving herself from a brainwashed Wesley by knocking him out with a fire extinguisher rigged up to a piece of rope.
Root (Amy Acker, “Person of Interest”)
An incredibly brilliant hacker and ex-contract killer, Root (a name she picked up as a child, corresponding to the highest level of access on Unix systems) and her computer skills are second only to the show’s protagonist, Harold Finch. Root is a walking legend, recognizable through her notorious hacks or elegant code. After her heel face turn, she uses her technological genius to become a protector and leader of Team Machine.
Aside from the fact that most of Root’s aliases derive from famous engineers – with a special shout out to computer pioneer Ada Loveless – the idea that Root’s technical mastery eventually becomes the team’s saving grace leaves a lot to be admired, and feared.
MacGyvered: In the Season 3 episode, “Mors Praematura,” Root fashions a blow torch out of an oxygen tank, aluminum foil and a pack of raw spaghetti to tear into an underground grate. The makeshift door would serve as an escape route at the end of the episode. Later that season in “Beta,” Root uses a coil of copper wire, needle nose pliers, duct tape and an extension cord to short circuit the 8th precinct’s telecom box, providing the team with some much needed surveillance cover from the mercenaries trying to kill them. She could probably defuse a nuclear missile with a paperclip if she really needed to.