There is something interesting about watching a TV show that was on when you were a youth. Now that you’re older you understand the story much better (I would hope), you can see all the episodes in order of their appearance, and you can read much more detail about a show at places like Wikipedia. It deepens the experience from the viewer’s perspective I think.
Thus it was that I watched the full first season of Magnum PI. There are points that can be said between the pilot and the following episodes, but suffice to say everything works very well as a show. There are no major problems in continuity that aren’t cleared up in some way through the stories. But a few episodes stood out.
Don’t Say Good-bye is an example. The episode follows Magnum as he tries to unravel the mysteries surrounding a blind woman’s daughter and her own accidents around the house that could take her life. The acting, and script are excellent and believable if I can use the word.
Another one that stands out is Never Again…Never Again about Nazis and Jews. The final scene where Higgins and Magnum talk on the beach is surprisingly good. And that is what I mean about being impressed. The show, through out this first season anyway, had excellent writing and character development. There are good twists and touching lines that help me see why actors and writers got Emmys for the show.
There was one episode that I actually remembered from my childhood (Skin Deep). It involved the death of an actress who appears to commit suicide on camera at the start of the show. I remembered the part where Magnum watches through all of the tapes to find the missing taped scene.
This episode also had Ian McShane who I now know from Code Name: Diamond Head and called Lovejoy by the MST3K members. He plays the bad guy who acts as a drunk who lost the love of his life, but it was all an act in the end.
Another major, not to be overlooked, point of this episode was the Vietnam flash backs the characters keep having. It is what makes Magnum, TC and Rick deeper characters. It even seems to be part of Higgins persona, though he doesn’t convey the same flash backs shown with the others. It make them human, and shows the horror of war at the same time. The final lines of the episode end with a lie.
Magnum-”TC, do you ever, you know, think about Nam?”
When clearly they do, and often. It was poignant and understandable and realistic. Sure Magnum lives a glamorous life in the guest house of Robin Masters, an author who dictates all of his novels, and who rarely visits. He drives a Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole and nearly every episode he is cuddling a beautiful woman, rescuing one, or both. Yet he is haunted as a Vet and this does help balance out the fantastic with the horrific.
So it was a good week of watching a couple of episodes a day. They remind me of the 80’s while at the same time showing me what TV can be like without shoveling in violence, sex or lurid details. Good writing is timeless-which is what good TV should be.