Magnum P.I. – CBS Tries to Reload a Magnum

Magnum P.I. banner artwork

Having never really watched the original Magnum P.I., I was unsure what to expect from this latest reimagining Hollywood has thrust upon us.  This also made it feasible for me to go in without any preconceived notions. However, being a child of the 80s, it is nigh impossible to honestly state that I had no exposure to the Magnum P.I. of yore.  I recall a helicopter, Hawaiian shirts, a mustache, and something else… RIGHT! A red Ferrari Testarossa! From the bits and pieces I remember, there was also some tension between Magnum and Higgins, comedic scenes, and a healthy dose of action.  Hopefully the show can at least measure up to the original’s theme song.

Synopsis

Airing Mondays at 9pm Eastern, with the first episode already available on their website, CBS describes the show as:

a modern take on the classic series centering on Thomas Magnum, a decorated former Navy SEAL who, upon returning home from Afghanistan, repurposes his military skills to become a private investigator.

As a reboot, describing the show any further seems quite pointless.  However, I will point out that this is directed by Justin Lin from The Fast and the Furious movie franchise, as well as the TV show Scorpion.  Considering I am a fan of both, this gives me hope for Magnum P.I., but die-hard fans of the original could sabotage it.

Trailer

The trailer got me excited for what the show had in store, yet it did not appear to give away the entire plot for the first episode.  On the contrary, it left me with more questions and a real desire to see more.  Check it out:

Characters

Drawing parallels between the old and new show is inevitable.  From my limited memory, it would appear that everyone is here and in mostly appropriate form; be it serious, comedic, or both.

Magnum appears to be an intelligent, confident, risk-taking, yet caring, ladies-man.  TC has the iconic helicopter I immediately recognized and offers a bit of comic relief.  Rick is the concierge to the group with the connections for practically anything and quite the marksman.  The writers removed Higgins’ character’s Y chromosome and gave us a female bad-ass, former MI:6 agent handling Magnum.  In quite the role reversal, I was pleasantly surprised to see actor Sung Kang (who played “Han” in The Fast and the Furious movies) as a detective on the show.

The character development is adequate, but falls short of making us truly see how close they are.  The sole exception to that is the complex and tense relationship seen between Magnum and Higgins.  We do get to see how everyone works together and the roles they will play, as well as a modicum of decently written comedy.

Conclusion

The exhilarating opening with Thunderstruck from AC/DC, proves–yet again–that their music works any time you want to build excitement.  Nostalgia took over when a shortened and slightly modified version of the original theme song came on during the opening credits.  While I was not expecting or fond of Magnum’s narration sporadically throughout the episode, I understand it was necessary, in order to get the background and still move the story along in the allotted time.

Other than what we can already assume from the title’s “P.I.”, we are missing a sense for the overall direction.  Perhaps the assumption was that viewers already know what to expect each week, but that is a disservice to anyone who was not both a child of the 80s and a fan of the original.

Bringing back the iconic Testarossa by first destroying a modern Ferrari 488 was admirable.  Thankfully, Magnum’s benefactor has an extensive collection of cars and a lot of money because it would appear that taking care of other people’s property is not high on Magnum’s list of priorities.  The Fast and the Furious was looming overhead with a number of action sequences involving vehicles and unrealistic driving.

The story was a fairly mundane “person gets killed, must find culprits”, but it worked decently for a pilot episode.  The writers need to be more creative to keep viewers coming back, though, as that will get old faster than Magnum can destroy a Ferrari.  I may sound pessimistic about the Magnum P.I. reboot, but I did enjoy the episode and intend to see how it progresses.  Viewers will need more than a “criminal of the week” to keep them entertained and coming back for more.  I am cautiously optimistic.

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