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Trumbo's World
Trumbo's World
Season
1
Episode number
006
First broadcast
10th November 1985
Written by
Directed by
Opening gambit written by
{{{gambit_writer}}}
Opening gambit directed by

Deep in the primitive Amazon jungle, MacGyver teams with an ornithologist friend and a local plantation owner to battle an invading horde of killer ants.

SummaryEdit

Opening GambitEdit

MacGyver is at a heavily armed camp in the Pyrenees, attempting to free an American caught in the conflict between the local tribes and the Spanish and French. Perched in a tree, MacGyver uses a string and his Swiss Army Knife to lift a towel off of a clothesline. Securing the knife in his boot, MacGyver trades his clothes for the towel, and approaches a group of men similarly dressed and waiting for their turn in the outdoor shower. MacGyver walks over to a large cooking pot and takes a piece of meat. As he is chewing, he uses the toe of his boot to nudge the pipe carrying the water for the outdoor shower onto the hot grill cooking the food.

MacGyver uses an unguarded moment to take a wooden brace from a building's small overhang and uses it to wedge open the door by lifting it off its hinges, letting himself inside and finding Dr. Gates safe inside. The two change into matching jumpsuit overalls, and MacGyver finds a length of rope, which he douses in kerosene from a nearby lamp. When one of the men gets a steam shower from the heated pipe, MacGyver and Gates take off running out of the camp, with the soldiers only a few steps behind.

MacGyver and Gates reach a ledge overlooking a fast moving river, as well as a small float with inflatable rafts waiting for use. MacGyver secures the rope to a rock formation, and the pair rappelle down to the water as the soldiers begin to fire on them. When the men begin to follow them down the rope, MacGyver lights it with a match, and the flames quickly reach the top of the rope, thanks to the kerosene.

MacGyver and Gates escape in one of the rafts with MacGyver taking along a spool of barbed wire, but the soldiers have ropes of their own and with a few interesting battle cries, they follow them down and take a second raft after them in pursuit. As their extra weight keeps them hung up on a rock formation, MacGyver and Gates string a length of barbed wire across the river, securing the spool behind a rock. As the soldiers' raft hits the wire, it quickly begins to deflate, leaving the men all wet, and MacGyver and Gates free to get away.

Act OneEdit

A small waterplane lands in the Amazon jungle, carrying MacGyver, his friend Dr. Charles Alden, and supplies from the "Inter-Americas Institute". Dr. Alden, better known to MacGyver as Charlie, is concerned by the sudden mass flight of several bird species from the area. The pair intend to investigate the cause of the sudden departures, and take a small boat out upriver to investigate. On the way, Alden spies a flock of birds more than 100 miles away from their normal habitat.

The pair arrives at their outpost, and Alden goes off in search of a guide while Macgyver unloads their supplies from the boat. Alden quickly returns, however, with news from Commissioner Santos that the natives are refusing to work as guides due to the current changes in the jungle, citing various superstitions. They ask about a dictator-like local cocoa plantation owner named Trumbo, whose plantation is about two miles upriver, and may be their only chance at getting a guide. MacGyver and Alden transfer their equipment to a much smaller motorboat, and continue upriver towards Trumbo's plantation. As they pass through some hanging foliage, they nearly hit a tribal marker on a pole in the water. Not long after, they arrive at a small dock, only to be greeted with gunfire by Trumbo and his men.

Act TwoEdit

Alden and Trumbo quickly begin to exchange heated words, but after Alden introduces himself and MacGyver as representatives of the Inter-Americas Institute of Tropical Ornithology, and MacGyver offers to fix a pump with a broken piston, things are looking up until Trumbo learns that they are looking for a guide. He refuses to give them one, saying that he won't put his workers in unnecessary danger. MacGyver offers to fix the pump anyway, and is taken by a young man named Luiz to the main buildings of the plantation to weld the broken piston back together. Luiz also shares his story with MacGyver, and he learns that Trumbo may not be as hard and cruel a man as he appears to be.

When they arrive, Trumbo informs MacGyver that there is no acetylene gas, which is needed to run the welding equipment. However, MacGyver quickly improvises a replacement. Attaching jumper cables to a portable generator, MacGyver uses two half dollars clamped together at the other end of the cable to create an on the spot welding machine, and repairs the piston. MacGyver gets the pump working again, and the three men spend the evening discussing matters of both the indian workers and the trouble in the jungle. MacGyver and Alden again ask for a guide, but Trumbo refuses to put his people in danger. In the end, Trumbo agrees to lead MacGyver and Alden into the jungle himself, and they agree to leave in the morning.

Act ThreeEdit

As Trumbo, MacGyver, and Alden walk through the jungle, they see several species of animals (a herd of grazing animals, several flocks of birds, and a group of small rodents resembling dwarf hamsters) fleeing in the opposite direction. They listen for the sounds of the chaos, and head off in that direction. Trumbo notes that there is a small village a few kilometers in that direction as well. As they continue, they come to a ledge with a view of the landscape, and with binoculars they see a massive group of soldier ants marching in the direction of Trumbo's plantation. A giant ant civilization that lives peacfully for 40 to 50 years until they erupt, MacGyver describes them as an eating maching two miles wide and ten miles long. As the men watch the oncoming ants, they hear screams coming from the nearby village, and run off to help them.

The villagers are fighting an impossible fight with the ants. Their method of smoking and beating them out is not working, and some of the villagers are in a panic, screaming and rolling around on the ground. MacGyver and Trumbo come across a young woman with her legs pinned under a canoe. Since the canoe is too heavy to lift, and rolling it off would crush the woman's legs, MacGyver improvises by using a rope and a large wooden beam, parallel to the ground and attached to the roof of a hut, as well as a small bamboo pole to create a lifting device. MacGyver loops the rope around the wood beam and the canoe and uses the pole, wedged in the middle, to twist the rope in a corkscrew manner, lifting the canoe off of the woman and allowing them to free her. While MacGyver and Trumbo do this, Alden goes to inspect the rest of the village.

Coming across a steep dirt slope absolutely covered with ants, Alden snaps a picture in excitement until he finds ants beginning to crawl all over him. In his panic, he slides down the slope while trying to brush off the ants, crying out for MacGyver as he falls. Unfortunately, MacGyver and Trumbo arrive too late, finding Alden dead and being feasted on by the ants.

Back at the plantation, workers are placing bundles of dry sticks and other kindling around the outside perimeter of the complex. MacGyver and Trumbo are discussing the situation inside, until Luiz comes to inform them that the workers are leaving the plantation in fear. Trumbo gives a passionate speech in an effort to convince them to stay, but it is of no use. When Trumbo gets angry and fires a rifle at the platform, MacGyver tackles him to keep him from doing harm and throws the rifle into the river. As they scuffle, all of the villagers except for Luiz have left on boats.

MacGyver and Luiz return to Trumbo and the plantation on horseback, and begin to plan a series of defenses. MacGyver encourages Trumbo to flood his irrigation ditches to create moats that might force the ants into the river, and keep them clear of the plantation. MacGyver also checks on the plantation's gasoline supply, figuring that "a good fire'd get [the ants'] attention" if the moats didn't work. As a final resort, MacGyver proposes releasing the dam adjacent to the plantation, which would flood and destroy the plantation as well as the ants. With the defense plans complete, the men set out to create the defenses.

MacGyver creates a flamethrower with a garden hose, some metal piping, a tin can, duct tape, and a large can of "kitchen magic" to thicken the gasoline so that it burns instead of exploding. As MacGyver puts these elements together, Trumbo goes off to get a hacksaw, and sends Luiz to the dam to flood the ditches, telling him to make sure the ditches are flooded at all times, and to look for a signal from him for more water. Luiz opens the floodgates, struggling with the heavy wheel that controls it, but also flooding the ditches. Nearby, MacGyver and Trumbo wait for the ants.

Act FourEdit

As the ants approach the flooded irrigation ditches, many survive by boarding leaves and crossing to the other side. At the dam, Luiz is being attacked by ants. As he attempts to turn the wheel to release more water into the ditches, the ants overtake him. From inside the plantation, MacGyver and Trumbo use binoculars to see the ants crossing the ditches. Trumbo uses a pistol to signal for more water from Luiz, who tries desperately to pull himself up and release more water. With the ants covering both him and the wheel, Luiz is unable to fight back and succumbs. Trumbo signals again to no avail, and Trumbo jumps off a high platform in an attempt to go save him, injuring his leg in the process.

At the plantation, the ants have reached the outer wall and begin to climb their way through the brush. With Trumbo pumping gasoline from the tank, MacGyver takes aim with his flamethrower and sets fire to the perimeter until the gas tank is empty. The men pause, having held the ants back temporarily. MacGyver decides that he can 'fake' enough dynamite to blow the dam, flooding the fields of the plantation, as well as the ants. He creates a mixture consisting of nitrate from fertilizer, and cellulose from plant bark, finely chopped and mixed together. They also add a small amount of acid that comes from a large glass jug with an indistinguishable label, creating nitromannite, a substance MacGyver calls a "kissing cousin" of nitroglycerin. He instructs Trumbo to fill a small paint can with the substance, and begins to construct himself an ant-proof suit.

MacGyver melts the garden hose used to make his flame thrower in a large cauldron. Having spread a large meshy material over a table, MacGyver pours and spreads the melted plastic over it, creating a flat hard piece of plastic that he cuts up and duct tapes into pants, a shirt, gloves, and a helmet. Once all dressed up, MacGyver takes the paint can explosive and heads for the dam. As he approaches, the ants become more and more aggressive, climbing over the entire suit. When he reaches the dam, MacGyver removes his gloves and helmet, and wedges the can into the center of the dam. Ripping open his protective shirt, MacGyver produces a match and lights the fuse. He quickly runs back towards the plantation, and survives the massive flood that washes clean all the fields of the plantation, as well as sweeping away the horde of ants.

As Trumbo exits the compound looking for MacGyver, he picks himself off of the ground, and after being thanked by Trumbo, and promising to come back in a year to see the progress made at the plantation, MacGyver and Trumbo walk into the complex as the camera zooms out and fades.

Memorable QuotesEdit

  • On the advancing ants:

MacGyver: "Well, if the water doesn't stop them, I bet a good fire'd get their attention!"


Trumbo: "We're out of gasoline, and we're out of miracles."

MacGyver: "So now's the time to start thinking."

MacGyverismsEdit

A complete list of problems solved by MacGyver is also available.
  • Perched in a tree, MacGyver uses a string and his Swiss Army Knife to lift a towel off of a clothesline, giving himself the proper disguise to move around an enemy camp.
  • MacGyver uses the toe of his boot to nudge the pipe carrying the water for the outdoor shower onto a hot grill cooking food. A few minutes later, the heated water creates a 'steam shower', creating enough of a commotion that MacGyver and Dr. Gates can escape.
  • MacGyver uses a wooden brace from a building's small overhang and uses it to wedge open a door by lifting it off its hinges, gaining access to the building.
  • MacGyver finds a length of rope, which he douses in kerosene from a nearby lamp. After using this rope to climb down a steep rockface, MacGyver ignites the rope, stopping others from following him.
  • MacGyver and Gates string a length of barbed wire across the river, securing the spool behind a rock. As the soldiers' raft hits the wire, it quickly begins to deflate, leaving the men all wet, and MacGyver and Gates free to get away.
  • Attaching jumper cables to a portable generator, MacGyver uses two half dollars clamped together at the other end of the cable to create an on the spot welding machine, and repairs a broken piston, allowing him to fix Trumbo's water pump.
  • MacGyver and Trumbo come across a young woman with her legs pinned under a canoe. Since the canoe is too heavy to lift, and rolling it off would crush the woman's legs, MacGyver improvises by using a rope and a large wooden beam, parallel to the ground and attached to the roof of a hut, as well as a small bamboo pole to create a lifting device. MacGyver loops the rope around the wood beam and the canoe and uses the pole, wedged in the middle, to twist the rope in a corkscrew manner, lifting the canoe off of the woman and allowing them to free her.
  • MacGyver creates a flamethrower with a garden hose, some metal piping, a tin can, duct tape, and a large can of "kitchen magic" to thicken the gasoline to that it burns instead of exploding. When the ants approach the complex, Trumbo pumps gasoline into the flamethrower, allowing MacGyver to rain fire on the ants and brush surrounding the complex, stopping them temporarily.
  • MacGyver decides that he can 'fake' enough dynamite to blow the dam, flooding the fields of the plantation, as well as the ants. He creates a mixture consisting of nitrate from fertilizer and cellulose from plant bark, finely chopped and mixed together. They also add a small amount of acid that comes from a large glass jug with an indistinguishable label, creating nitromannite, a substance MacGyver calls a "kissing cousin" of nitroglycerin. He instructs Trumbo to fill a small paint can with the substance, which he later uses to blow the dam.
  • MacGyver melts the garden hose used to make his flame thrower in a large cauldron. Having spread a large meshy material over a table, MacGyver pours and spreads the melted plastic over it, creating a flat hard piece of plastic that he cuts up and duct tapes into pants, a shirt, gloves, and a helmet, creating an ant-proof suit and allowing him to travel to the dam safely and blow it up.

Notes and TriviaEdit

BloopersEdit

  • This episode uses many clips of ant and flood footage that don't entirely add up. The ants look different in many of the shots.

Cast & CreditsEdit

A complete list of Cast & Credits is also available.

Starring Edit

Actor Character
Richard Dean Anderson MacGyver

Guest StarsEdit

Actor Character
David Ackroyd Trumbo
Peter Jurasik Dr. Charles Alden

Co-StarringEdit

Actor Character
Will Gotay Luiz
Maurice Sherbanée Santos
Melinda Peterson Dr. Andrea Gates
Enzo Gagliardi "The Cook"
Ranscombe Richmon "The Guard"

FeaturingEdit

Actor Character
Simone Boisserée Yana
Hal Jon Norman "The Old Man"
David Cadiente "The Non-Com"

Other Credited CrewEdit

Credited Name Position
Stephen Kandel Writer - Opening Gambit
Lee H. Katzin Director - Opening Gambit
Stephen Downing Supervising Producer
Jerry Ludwig Executive Producer
Robert Hargrove Senior Producer
Terry Nation Producer
Vin Di Bona Line Producer
Lee David Zlotoff Creator
Stephen Kandel Writer
Donald Petrie Director
Henry Winkler
John Rich
Executive Producers
Judy Burns Co-Producer
Steven Milkis Associate Producer
Stephen Kandel Executive Story Consultant
Randy Edelman Music
Pam Polifroni Casting
Joanne Koehler Casting Associate
Don Birnkrant A.S.C. Director of Photography
Stan Jolley Production Designer
Jay Scherberth Editor
David Menteer Unit Production Manager
Bob Rolsky First Assistant Director
Gary Law Second Assistant Director
Bryan Thetford Set Decorator
Tommy Welsh Wardrobe Supervisor
Rudolph Garcia Men's Costumer
Shirlene Williams Women's Costumer
Dee Manges Make-Up Artist
Lynn Del Kail Hair Stylist
Kathy Barrett Script Supervisor
Billy Myatt Special Effects
Dean Hodges Sound Mixer
Steve Danforth Music Editor
T.A.V. Sound Sound Editing
Rosa Gonzalez Assistant to Mr. Milkis
Vince Deadrick, Jr. Stunt Coordinator
Peter McWade Property Master
Delia Circelli Administrative Supervisor
Laser Edit Video Post-Production
Glen Glenn Sound Recording

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