TV Review: Magnum, PI

No automatic alt text available.Standard “Social Justice Warrior” (where they’re anti-social, don’t believe in justice, and will sooner stab you in the back ASAP) tactics involve finding a beloved institution, gutting it of what made it great, and wearing its skin like a suit and demanding the same respect.So, there was a Magnum PI reboot.

You can kinda of see where this is going to go. It’s going to be… close. Not quite, but really damn close.

If you remember the original series (and it’s out for relatively cheap on DVD, go out and just buy the damn thing, won’t you?) it features Tom Selleck as Thomas Sullivan Magnum. Magnum is former Naval Intelligence and Vietnam vet, who became a Private Investigator — and don’t call him a PI. He’s living in the guest house in the estate of “Robin Masters,” a Mickey Spillane knockoff who owns a vast Hawaiian estate. Magnum’s constant antagonist is the estate manager, Johnathan Higgins, who is a stuffy British WWII vet who endlesslessly prattles on about the good old days during the war… and his dobermans, Zeus and Apollo.

Don’t expect any of that here.


They have a very nice Hawaiian estate, they have two dobermans. And from there on, the similarities stop. Jay Hernandez is playing someone named Magnum, a former navy SEAL. The estate manager is a Juliette Higgins, former MI6 with a Swiss Army knife of skill sets for all of your plot hole filling needs. 

This would be a far more interesting show if it wasn’t called Magnum. This is obviously not even the show that the creators wanted to do. They are far more interested in the adventures of a former MI6 spy who’se become a property manager rather than the vagabond PI who drags her into miscellaneous threats.

Originally, I was interested in the concept for the SEQUEL SERIES that was supposed to followed Magnum’s daughter, spawned with his Vietnamese wife during the series. It would have at least, oh, I don’t know, CONTINUED THE STORY.

Instead, we got THIS.

To be fair, I can’t blame the actors for this. Mediocre writing is competing for what they want to do into the odd constraints being forced upon it. Again, this might not suck as bad if they didn’t have the Magnum label on it.

Because while Jay is a perfectly nice guy, he’s not Magnum. Jay is shooting more for Jim Rockford than Magnum. I find it hard to imagine that recently released members of the teams (SEALs) get casually beaten up on a regular basis, or get winded chasing after people.  Good God, Jay, Tom Selleck spent the opening of every Magnum PI episode doing some sort of exercise, and Magnum even put him in an Iron Man competition during the show. Up your game, Jay.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standingAnd while they obviously wanted Perdita Weeks to play Strong Female Character #5, she’s far too charming, charismatic and feminine to turn into … whatever they did to Blindspot. There are moments where the fight coordination goes from realistic (“You mean she’s kicking for leg joins? Even ankles? About flipping time”) to “Weeks needs to be about thirty pounds heavier to do that move.”

It’s also problematic when Magnum and Higgins start off as antagonists to develop a grudging respect, and maybe even a friendship as former vets …. while Jay and Perdita are being played off as some sort of variation on Castle, where half the story is driven by a potential romance.

But yeah, whatever show they start they were doing would have probably worked a little better (IE: at all) if they didn’t decide to do Castle with a light Magnum reskin.

At best, this is mediocre and largely inoffensive.

At worst, this is insulting.

…. And yet, it’s still better than that terrible MacGyver attempt.

5/10 on its good days. 3/10 at worst.



About Declan Finn

Declan Finn is the author of Honor at Stake, an urban fantasy novel, nominated for Best Horror in the first annual Dragon Awards. He has also written The Pius Trilogy, an attempt to take Dan Brown to the woodshed in his own medium -- soon to be republished by Silver Empire Press. Finn has also written "Codename: Winterborn," an SF espionage thriller, and it's follow-up, "Codename: Winterborn." And "It was Only on Stun!" and "Set To Kill" are murder mysteries at a science fiction convention.
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