Thief of Budapest
Season 1, Episode 3
Thief of Budapest
Airdate 13th October 1985
Written by Joe Viola
Directed by John Patterson
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Thief of Budapest is the 3rd episode of Season 1 in the original version of MacGyver.


In Budapest, Angus MacGyver obtains vital microfilmed information hidden inside a watch. But when the watch is stolen, MacGyver has to find the thief: a young gypsy girl.

Opening GambitEdit

In the largest tent of a small desert encampment, a man sits in meditation until his attention is called away by a striking white horse who is sharing the tent with him. The horse is owned by a king, and is considered to be one of the most expensive horses in the world. The man walks around the guarded camp, but unbeknownst to him, Angus MacGyver surprises a guard on patrol with a tackle and a punch, leaving him unconscious and taking with him his turban and clothing. MacGyver finds the horse, and applies a saddle with a harness underneath.

Riding the horse out of the tent, MacGyver attracts the attention of the entire camp, and grabbing a shepard's staff from a would-be attacker, MacGyver defends himself and forces his way out of the camp, galloping away into the hills. The men of the camp also take off on horseback and follow him until they reach a beach and surround MacGyver and the horse. The leader of the men charges MacGyver and slices off a significant part of his staff with a sword. As he begins a second charge, MacGyver meets him halfway and uses the staff to knock him from his horse. Without stopping, MacGyver leads his horse into a group of other horses, knocking several men off of their horses and disrupting others. MacGyver takes off at full speed as the leader cries 'kill him!', and his men take off in hot pursuit.

Suddenly, a helicopter appears, flying low and dangling a cable. As it skillfully approaches MacGyver, he clips the cable onto the harness he attached earlier, and MacGyver and horse together are lifted off of the ground and airlift rescue|flown away to safety.

Act OneEdit

MacGyver is in Budapest, meeting an intelligence agent named Nikolai Grodsky, who has vital information to pass on. With a road rally in town, MacGyver is happy to be there. Enjoying what looks to be a chocolate ice cream cone, MacGyver watches as a city worker uses a control box to change a nearby traffic light. MacGyver continues to walk about, tossing the cone of the ice cream, and observing one of the rally cars on display on the side of the road. As he views the car's engine, a young girl walks by and bumps into him. MacGyver quickly spins and catches the girl by the arm; she protests, but sure enough, MacGyver finds his Swiss Army Knife in her palm. He then instructs her on some of the finer points of pickpocketing. The girl, Jana, offers herself as a guide, and then offers to sell him a gypsy blessing, but MacGyver convinces her to do it for free. As they go their separate ways, Jana once again steals MacGyver's Swiss Army Knife.

Meanwhile, Nikolai Grodsky is navigating the city as well, but he is being followed by three individuals performing surveillance from a van who refer to him as a double agent and also know that the information he is carrying concerns the identities of at least a dozen KGB agents in England. MacGyver makes contact with Grodsky, who informs MacGyver that the information is in his watch, and that they will meet at the Cafe Mozart. MacGyver continues on his way, while Grodsky goes in takes another path, only to be tripped up by Jana and a handful of marbles, who palms his watch as she helps him up. At this point, the two individuals have left their van, call out Grodsky's name, and he takes off running, only to be fatally run over|struck down in the street by a large truck.

The three individuals, two Russians and a Hungarian Inspector named Messic, now back in their van, use their footage to locate and identify MacGyver as the man that Grodsky made contact with. However, they also clearly see Jana take the watch, and Messic is ordered to apprehend them both. Not far away, Jana and her family are performing a song and dance for patrons at a local cafe. As Jana passes around a tambourine for donations, MacGyver once again grabs her arm, demands the Swiss Army Knife, and Jana takes off running, with MacGyver close behind. When Jana seemingly disappears, MacGyver finds her hiding in a trash can, and retrieves his knife. When he inquires about the watch, however, he learns that the watch is already in the possession of Jana's brother Bruno. A police siren is heard, and MacGyver and Jana run back towards the cafe only to find that Jana's entire family is being apprehended.

Act TwoEdit

The main problem in this part of the movie is that MacGyver must save the family of Jana in a compound full of armed people for him to retrieve his watch. From an outside view, the compound is perfectly secured that no one will be able to infiltrate easily. It is secured by fences with barb wires over it, and the gate is well guarded. So MacGyver came up with a plan of using the delivery truck so he can go inside. With his creative mind, he created a decoy made out of wood and light bulb. He called it “light bulb sandwich”. It will be easily noticed if passed through by a wheeled vehicle. He sneaked inside the truck while the driver checks what he might have passed. If I we’re MacGyver, using the truck to get inside the compound is the perfect thing to do. I will ask Jana to get in the way and then will sneak into the driver when he goes down the truck. I will his uniform so that if I enter the compound, I can still plan and move around the area because I’m wearing of their uniforms.

So MacGyver successfully sneaked inside the area. He saw cans containing sugar, salt and weed killer inside the truck. He then saw a gas as well inside the compound. That reminded him of his mother’s recipes, but this time he created an improvised dynamite made of those materials. He will use it as a decoy later on so he can do other stuff. He talked to the family of Jana that he will get them out and all he need is cooperation with them. Familiarizing the area is a very dangerous and difficult thing especially when the guards know each other and they might notice you’re not from them. If I we’re MacGyver, If will ask the help of all inmates. Weapons are nothing if they would’ve worked together. We can slowly eliminate the armed people and get some weapons, and then ask some on where can they get the keys or something that will help them get out. Cause it seems that the guards are just relaxed and unaware of what is happening. There will be no bloodshed if they will work together. Besides, the guards are little outnumbered compared to the inmates. I will just give then specific task. One will distract the guard while the others are getting weapons or grabbing one guard for questioning, or maybe they would kill some guards and hide the body.

MacGyver used the dynamites explosion to distract everyone while he manipulates a bulldozer. The Bulldozer is connected to the fence so that it will break the fence. It is also headed to a watchtower with a guard. It was a good move, it’s just very dangerous and loud. The guard might have killed them all so I think that’s not a very good move. If it will be according to my plans, we will also leave no tracks and signs that I, MacGyver, was the one who leaded the breakout so that no one will follow me. It will be a clean survival and I was also able to save other prisoners not just Jana’s family.

Act ThreeEdit

MacGyver enters a smoky bar, looking for Reena, the woman who bought the watch from Bruno. After asking around the bar, MacGyver raises suspicion. The situation becomes heated, and MacGyver ends up on the wrong side of the bar, where he grabs a handful of brown powder and creates a small flash of fire by tossing it in the air with a lit match. After this, Reena, a young gypsy woman, appears on the balcony of the second floor and implores MacGyver to come and join her.

Upstairs, Reena offers MacGyver a drink, which he takes but does not sip, noting MacGyver's quirks, he doesn't care for alcohol. He spots the watch on a chain around Reena's neck, and while trying to explain to her its importance, Reena dips a fingertip in her drink and places it on MacGyver's lips before kissing him, performing 'gypsy magic' on him. When she asks about the information the watch contains, MacGyver takes one of her bobby pins, bends it, and creates a magnifying glass by dipping the curved end into the drink and collecting the liquid in the same manner children blow bubbles. With the magnifying glass, a list of Russian names can be seen written on the face of the watch. As the two try to reach an agreement on proper payment, a whistle blows below, and Messic and the Russian enter the bar. Reena quickly gives MacGyver the watch, and he climbs out a window and scrambles down the roof to Bruno in a waiting taxi cab.

As they speed away, Jana pops up in the back seat and expresses a strong desire to go back to America with MacGyver. MacGyver tells Bruno to get mechanic's overalls for the entire family, in hopes that some of the rally cars will help them all cross the border. MacGyver and the family arrive downtown where the cars are preparing for the race. They split up, and MacGyver is shielded by two brothers as he tampers with the traffic lights, while Jana helps herself to a woman's police radio. MacGyver uses his Swiss Army Knife to cut thin strips of a credit card, and wedges them into the timing gears of the street light control system. Meanwhile, Messic and the Russian enter their car once again and drive towards the starting point of the race. As they pull up, MacGyver and the family drive three cars off of the top level of a car carrier, and they speed off with Messic, and another vehicle in pursuit, with backup on the way.

Act FourEdit

The chase continues, with MacGyver and Jana in the lead car and two cruisers and two motorcycles in pursuit. As they approach the traffic light MacGyver rigged, all of the lights go red, and traffic comes to a dead stop, allowing MacGyver and the family to gain a lead, but the motorcycle policemen are able to weave through the traffic and quickly end up back on their tail. One motorcycle crashes through a brick wall while the cars whip around a fountain and continue on their way, descending at least one long flight of stairs and speeding through pedestrian malls and large sidewalks. The second motorcycle skids out while attempting to make a turn on a slick tiled surface at high speed, and the three cars continue speeding away, driving through an outdoor cafe, where two of the brothers snatch a freshly roasted chicken.

Suddenly, the path ahead is blocked by Messic's car. Making a quick turn, MacGyver is forced down a small sidewalk and down another staircase that leads to several underground parking garages. In an instant, the cars have seemingly driven to the top of the garage, and speed to the edge of the roof, making a smooth flight and landing onto the adjacent roof. Whereas MacGyver and the family are driving three minis, the police car is too large to make the jump safely, stopping just in time. In the lead car, MacGyver has Jana duct tape the stolen police radio and a transistor radio together. They drive down the stairs of St. Ivan's church, and use the two radios to block out all police radio with music by attaching them to a bunch of floating balloons and letting them drift away, before speeding off again, with Messic still right behind. They drive into a car dealership and hide their cars among the other minis while Messic drives my, before doubling back and racing for the border.

They speed across the edge of a dam and over a footbridge that proves to be too small for the police car, sending them off the edge and into the water. They speed through the dam's construction tunnels, but the grate at the end is pulled down before the police car reaches the end, finally bringing the police car to a halt. MacGyver and the family speed over the botder into Austria, where they are safe from Messic and the Russians, who appear moments later.

Act FiveEdit

MacGyver descends from the guard tower and happily informs the family that there is paperwork to be processed, but that they are 'on their way'. Jana and MacGyver say goodbye, MacGyver giving Jana his Swiss Army Knife, and Jana giving him the medallion hanging around her neck. MacGyver picks her up in a spinning hug, and they freeze frame with smiles.

Memorable QuotesEdit

Reena: What are you offering, MacGyver?
MacGyver: Reena, I don't have a lot of cash on me, do you take plastic?
Reena: I don't deal in credit.

Jana: MacGyver, so you owe us for helping you, right?
MacGyver: Jana...
Jana: It's only that we like you, MacGyver. We want to go with you.
MacGyver: Where?
Jana: America, America.
MacGyver: Right, right.
Jana: The U-S-of-A... Clint Eastwood... Coca-Cola.
MacGyver: Jana...
Jana: Girls just wanna have fun... Please?


A complete list of problems solved by MacGyver is also available.
  • While fleeing on horseback, a helicopter appears, flying low and dangling a cable. As it skillfully approaches MacGyver, he clips the cable onto the harness he attached earlier, and MacGyver and horse together are lifted off of the ground and flown away to safety.
  • MacGyver creates a "lightbulb sandwich" near a pile of scrap by wedging a board with mounted light bulbs between two planks of wood, and securing the whole thing with a strips of rubber tied in knots. He also ties a thin wire to the contraption, and gives it to Jana, who hides behind a bush and pulls the contraption under the truck's tires as it passes by on its way to the gate. When the driver stops to inspect the truck, MacGyver quickly runs out and stows away in the back of the truck, gaining access to the complex.
  • MacGyver creates a modified version of dynamite: He dumps out most of a canister salt and nearly refills it to the top with sugar. He then adds a splash of weed killer. After that, he places the canister into a pail and covers the whole pail with a cloth taken from his back pocket. Although it is not shown directly, he then puts a handful of what must be sugar on the cloth and pours battery acid over it. A chemical reaction begins, and later explodes.
  • MacGyver slides over a coil of barbed wire with his foot, and wraps one end of it around an auger screw. He then uses a wrench to loosen the nut securing the steering wheel of the front loader to its steering column. MacGyver starts the front loader and breaks the key off in the ignition. He puts the front loader into drive, and as the front loader takes off on its own, it pulls the auger screw, and with it, the barbed wire, which is stretched out by the front loader, cutting the truck off from the guards.
  • In the bar, MacGyver grabs a handful of brown powder and creates a small flash of fire by tossing it in the air with a lit match.
  • MacGyver creates a magnifying glass by taking a bobby pin, bending it, and dipping the curved end into a drink, collecting the liquid in the same manner children blow bubbles.
  • MacGyver uses his Swiss Army Knife to cut thin strips of a credit card, and wedges them into the timing gears of the street light control system, which causes all the lights to go red at once, halting traffic.
  • MacGyver blocks out police radio transmissions by having Jana duct tape the stolen police radio and a transistor radio together. They attach them to a bunch of floating balloons and letting them drift away, getting them high enough to disrupt all the police radios in a one-mile radius.
  • MacGyver does a lot of impressive driving in this episode, including driving off the top level of a car carrier, jumping a roof, driving down multiple flights of stairs, driving along the edge of a dam, over a footbridge, and through a very small, round tunnel. He also manages to hide the getaway cars while driving through a car dealership.

Notes and TriviaEdit

  • This is the first time in the series that MacGyver uses duct tape.
  • All of the scenes of this episode of the minis racing the cops are lifted from the 1969 movie The Italian Job.
  • The voice of Kelly McClain (who plays the character of Jana) was replaced in the final cut. The reason for this is not known or apparent.
  • In the opening gambit, before stealing back the horse, Macgyver throws the armed guard to the ground. The scene cuts to Macgyver punching the guard into the tent and there is clearly a vehicle that was not there in the previous wide shot.
  • During the horse chase scene on the beach, the weather is very inconsistent. It goes from blue, sunny skies over the ocean to 15 seconds later being completely overcast.
  • At the beginning when the helicopter passes back the horses at the end of that shot you can see a person stand near a car in the left side of the screen.
  • When creating his recipe for dynamite, MacGyver says that he's using sugar, salt, and weed killer. The can he pours the weed killer from, however, has a picture of an ant with a large black X marked over it, implying it's actually some form of insecticide.
  • One of the guards at the Hungarian prison camp exclaims "Mitä taas?" which is Finnish for "it happens again?". Finnish and Hungarian are remotely related languages.
  • Because most of the footage of the minis is from the 1969 movie The Italian Job, when they are seen crossing the weir, they clearly have British license plates, even though they were first shown with Hungarian license plates.
  • When Jana says, Girls just wanna have fun..., she is quoting from the title song written by and first recorded in 1979 by American musician Robert Hazard. It is better known as a single by American singer Cyndi Lauper,


Main CastOthers
Michael Constantine as Inspector Jan Messic
Bruce Abbott as Nikolai Kossov
Kelly McClain as Yanna
Sue Kiel as Reena
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