In the 1980s, Thursday nights were my night for television. My two favorite programs were on back-to-back, Magnum P.I. and Simon & Simon. In me, both programs had a captive audience. Being a fan of detective fiction, the action-packed evening was always a thrill for me. Now, jump forward a few decades.
Hollywood has been on this kick of rebooting old shows from the 1980s. The MacGyver reboot, in my opinion, was a travesty. I never watched the original SWAT or Hawaii 5-0, so the reboots meant nothing to me. But, when it was announced that CBS would reboot Magnum P.I., I was screaming blasphemy. Let's face it, who could ever replace Tom Selleck . . . or his moustache for that matter. Initially, I was determined to not watch it. I wasn't about to give this new upstart any legitimacy by tuning in. But, curiosity got the best of me. Last night, I sat in my living room and turned on CBS to watch the premiere.
Let me start by saying that I was pleasantly surprise by the fact that the show didn't completely suck as I was assuming it would. It had some good points and some bad ones. Let's start with the good. I was excited to see that CBS kept the main cast relatively intact. The four main characters were back. Magnum, TC, Rick, and Higgins. The basic premise remained, with Magnum living on Robin Masters' estate and driving Robin's expensive cars. And, of course, Higgins's dogs, Zeus and Apollo were back. Can't have Magnum P.I. without Zeus and Apollo. Even the Ferrari 308GTS made an appearance, along with newer models from the Ferrari line.
Now, for the bad points. I understand what they are trying to do by casting Perdita Weeks as Higgins. I'm sure the writers will play up the sexual tension between Magnum and Higgins for all that they can. But, that changes the dynamic that made the relationship between Magnum and Higgins in the original series so enjoyable. It was always a treat to watch Magnum and Higgins constantly trying to up the ante with the other. There was almost a sibling rivalry between them that added just a nice touch of humor to the original show. I'm not sure if the writers can capture that magic if they are constantly tweaking the sexual tension between the characters.
I was also disappointed in the way that Rick and TC were portrayed. They seemed to be more like set pieces than characters. In the original series, TC and Rick were always integral to each episode. But, in the new pilot they seemed to be there for nothing more than provide Magnum with specialized transportation when needed.
The show was action packed, although in typical Hollywood style, some of the action seemed a bit too over the top to be believable. I refer to Magnum's leap from a crashed Ferrari onto the landing skids of TC's helicopter. Come on, the odds of him really getting his hands on the skids in the midst of a crash are astronomical.
The storyline for the premiere show was very reminiscent of the original show's pilot. An old military friend is killed over some secret, and Magnum investigates to find the killers. There is even a confrontation with Magnum's former commanding officer in Naval Intelligence that seems like a page straight out of the original show's pilot. Hollywood needs to start being a bit more original.
Overall, I think the premiere of the new Magnum P.I. wasn't all that bad. I don't think it will ever replace the original. Tom Selleck's portrayal of Magnum will always be the definitive version. But, I will be interested to see where they take this new series.