I really want to love this show. The original Magnum was part of my youth, a fun show to watch where sex was hinted at but rarely on display, bad guys were slick and destined for nothing, and the good guys always won. And there was a bond between the guys, often joking around and teasing each other. But Magnum seemed like just a cool average Joe, despite his surroundings. And he often worked alone, figured out the case, and shot people. What’s not to love?
But for the reboot, there would of course be changes. Higgins is no longer a stiff upper-lip British man judging Magnum, but an attractive woman who, as it turns out, is a stiff upper-lip British woman judging Magnum. With dogs that chase Magnum regularly. Tom Selleck wouldn’t be there, nor his mustache, and I wasn’t sure about the rest of the characters. But it might have some magic, right? Probably not, which is why I predicted CANCELLED sight unseen.
Now that I’ve watched the first episode, I’m going to go out on a limb and upgrade it to RENEWED. But not because it is that good. It’s not Magnum, that much is clear. And it wasn’t an auspicious opening scene. When the show opened, there was a beyond ridiculous scene of him jumping from a space balloon launch site and parachuting into North Korea to rescue a cryptographer. Even Bond fans would have said, “Really?”. And this was supposed to be a flashback scene and I thought, “OMG. This is TERRIBLE.” Except it is supposed to be — it’s a scene from one of Robin Masters’ books. Oh, okay, I can live with that then.
Yet one of the selling features of the original show was that while Magnum was a bit of a doofus, he had a heart of gold, and a large imposing frame. He was a big guy, in good shape, and through sheer force of will and knocking on doors, he would figure stuff out. An extremely quiet confidence with some boyish antics around him. He’s now being played by Jay Hernandez, and while I’d like to give him a chance, he’s no Tom Selleck. He has a more modern lithe physique, but he spends most of the first episode getting his ass kicked by multiple people. Hell, Matt Damon made it work for Jason Bourne, so the physique won’t get in the way of some action scenes, but the lack of imposing frame does change the interactions with every other character. You could see someone hiring the original Magnum as a bodyguard, but why would anyone hire this one for security? PI work maybe, but a lot of the previous cases — and a frequent staple of many PI shows — is security work for someone in town for some event. Anyway, I see nothing in Jay’s resume that says he can carry a show to renewal, but I’m optimistic for two reasons.
First and foremost, there aren’t many PI shows to compete with. I have a small theory that the networks can host one or two PI shows at a time of the old case-of-the-week style, kind of along the lines of Castle, Magnum, Moonlighting, Remington Steele. And there isn’t a lot to compete against right now. So it might find an audience.
Second, Higgins’ conversion to a hot female potential friend and partner for Magnum is, well, brilliant. She gets involved in his case, helps out, is revealed to be ex-MI6, and kicks ass with two bad guys. Not a wallflower at all, and if they can find a will they or won’t they groove along the way, the show could go 3 seasons before anything has to happen…I feel bad suggesting that relationship, rather than just friends, but outside of Elementary, there aren’t many shows that have mixed male and female investigators and made it to renewal without a spark of romance to keep it interesting. And, hey, Elementary just ended, so one more detective show off the air! Anyway, I haven’t seen Perdita Weeks in much, she’s done a lot of TV mini-series, but Ready Player One was a big break for her earlier this year. I loved her in the episode and if they upgrade her role considerably, it might work.
Zachary Knighton plays the smooth-talking Rick, the guy who has the island wired for anything and everything, and everyone. He can get anything and knows who is doing what to whom. And I always felt the previous Rick was a bit too defensive, too harsh, so fun-loving Rick is great. Stephen Hill plays TC, the helicopter pilot, but he didn’t have a big role in the first episode so hard to get a handle on his character yet. Seems good though. I thought they were adding a new friend, Sebastien, who is present in the first episode, played by Domenick Lombardozzi, and I was all excited. I loved him in Rosewood. Alas, he was the victim of the week. Too bad, would have been great to have him around.
And of course, let’s not forget the other three main characters — Hawaii is great, as always, plus Apollo and Zeus as the dobermans guarding the estate. Well cast.
But there is one thing that I like about the show that reflects 2018 more than 1980…spoiler alert, the good guys are allowed to kill people now. Back in the 80s, a lot of the shows couldn’t kill people without running afoul of the censors and the various parental guilds. So, someone would shoot a bad guy, frequently in the arm, and the guy would drop the gun. Or in the leg and his buddy would help him hobble away. Once in awhile, someone would die, but it was almost always after driving off a cliff or something. They weren’t executed. In 2018, while it is not done graphically or anything, Rick shoots one of the bad guys as a sniper from the helicopter, and it’s a head shot. The guy is dead, no question. And when the truck goes off a cliff, nobody jumps out at the last minute and is lying around injured at the top of the hill waiting to be arrested.
Small tweaks, but it gives me hope the show won’t be all nostalgia. And I miss having a weekly PI show to kick around. I’m going to give it a chance at RENEWAL. I just wish it was better.