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A Holmesian Approach to Magnum PI: 09/26/18
I haven't watched much broadcast TV since the switch to a digital signal because I don't subscribe to cable and digital signals don't travel well through the nooks and crannies of the Hayward Hills. What little TV I do watch is in the form of season passes I purchase through Apple.
I literally only just heard about the redo of Magnum PI about a month ago when iTunes had the entire original series on sale as a bundle. Next to it was the season pass for the relaunch. I ended up buying both (even though I already own the original series on DVD).
My husband teased me with my instant purchase by reading a rather disparaging review of the reboot. The gist of the review was that it was trying too hard to hit all the things from the original and that the new Magnum doesn't have Selleck's trademark 'stache. That's like complaining that modern day Sherlocks don't have Basil Rathbone's deerstalker.
But there are things that make Sherlock, well, Sherlock. He has an older brother who works directly for the Crown. He is a recreational drug user (or more recently, a recovering addict). Watson is a doctor and a war veteran. Sherlock's nemesis is Moriarty. He lives at 221B Baker Street. He plays the violin. He keeps bees.
For Magnum PI it's not the mustache. Thomas Sullivan Magnum and his buddies, Orville "Rick" Wright, Theodore "TC" Calvin, are war veterans. Magnum is a Detroit Tigers baseball fan. TC is a pilot and runs Island Hoppers. Rick hates his given name, has a thing for Casablanca, and is the guy who knows a guy. Then there is Higgins, who is the majordomo of Robin's Nest (and later revealed to be Robin Masters — a rewrite after the actor playing him died). Magnum has access to Robin's cars, preferring the red Ferrari. TC has his orange and brown helicopter. Rick is usually at the King Kamehameha resort (after his Cafe American closed). Oh and there are the dobermans.
The new show has those things. The current set of actors may look younger, but with the exception of the woman playing Higgins, are all older than the originals were when the show started.
Jay Hernandez, the current Magnum, is a very young looking 40 (compared to Selleck's old looking 35 at the start of the series). He's a Mexican-American and I have to wonder if some of the negative reviews is downright racism. Do I buy him as Magnum? Yes. He has the banter down. His voice over monologues have the cadence of the originals.
Stephen Hill, the current T.C. doesn't have as extensive a biography online as Hernandez. For the first episode he did a good job. I will have to see how his character evolves in later episodes as he didn't have much screen time in "I Saw the Sun Rise."
Rick. Interestingly they made more of a big deal over Rick's given name than they did in the original, including showing a clip of the Kittyhawk flight. Zachary Knighton is also a very young looking 40. Like the other two, he seems to be doing just fine.
The biggest change is clearly Higgins who like Watson in Elementary has been given an update and a new gender. Higgins is now the youngest of the ensemble. John Hillerman was 45 at the start of the show, where as Perdita Weeks is 33. She's actually Welsh, whereas Hillerman was from Texas. I really enjoyed her performance.
Having just re-watched "Don't Eat the Snow in Hawaii" parts one and two and "I Saw the Sun Rise" I can honestly say they are on a par. While the two part opener from 1980 had the Magnum PI theme, later episodes in that season open and close with a god awful jazz riff.
The new opening is the "Magnum theme" albeit sped up and remixed in a similar fashion to what was done with the new version of Hawaii Five-O. All the pieces are there, though, Hawaii, Magnum, Rick, TC, Higgins, Robin's Nest, and the Island Hoppers helicopter.
There's the fast red car. In the original two-parter, Magnum drives a red Ferrari that isn't the one he drives for most of the series. This car is pre "Robin-1." In "I Saw the Sun Rise" there are two Ferraris, a modern day one and the older "Robin-1." Both are destroyed by other vehicles in this episode — although the destruction of Robin-1 was clearly done with CGI and it wouldn't surprise me if the car is somehow magically fixed and used again in a later episode.
And finally there's Robin's Nest. The original looked impressive with it's private tide pool, guest house, large rolling grassy hills, palm trees, and electronic gate. While it ended up being as much of a character as the stars and the vehicles, it's not even given an establishing shot until the second half of "Don't Eat the Snow." Even then, the establishing shot is done at night!
The current Robin's Nest I've seen a couple times in the modern Hawaii Five-O, just as the original Robin's Nest was used in various episodes from the original Hawaii Five-O. That said, this establishing shot makes the place look massive. It also looks like more like a hotel than an estate. It's the one piece of the equation I wish they had dialed back a little.
Overall, I liked the first episode of the reboot. I'm curious to see where it goes and to see how it grows into being its own thing.