Any TV show that opens with AC/DC’s Thunderstruck is clearly ready to have some fun and Magnum P.I. endeavours to do just that. Break out the popcorn, check your brain at the door, this is unapologetic Sunday night testosterone TV.
I was never a devotee of the original series which made a star of Tom Selleck. In his moustache, sunglasses, chest hair and aloha shirts he ruled Hawaii long after Steve McGarrett for 8 seasons in the ’80s.
I guess it was too much to hope that the remake would plant itself firmly in the ’80s too, but the new version by writers Peter M. Lenkov & Eric Guggenheim pays homage nonetheless. In the title role is Latino actor Jay Hernandez (Friday Night Lights, Suicide Squad, Bright), but gone is the mo and chest hair. Magnum is an ex-Navy SEAL working as a security consultant for wealthy (and unseen) novelist Robin Masters, but hits his stride as a private investigator.
Robin’s majordomo is Brit Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks) who manages the expansive estate for her boss, with two Dobermans never far behind. In a major shift from the chemistry between the late John Hillerman and Selleck, this pivotal character is now female and -you guessed it- brings unresolved sexual tension to the series. I guess that’s far more PC than having endless women hanging off our hero for no good reason…
The hot rods are here too. There are suped-up red Ferraris, zipping around Hawaiian islands in car chases or being smashed up by baddies.
One of his pals, Theodore “TC” Calvin (Stephen Hill) runs chopper tours while another, Orville “Rick” Wright (Zachary Knighton) owns a beach club. Both ensure our hero is action man in the air or on the ground.
The plot opens up with far too many ideas going on but settles down when another buddy, Sebastian (Domenick Lombardozzi) is killed off. This too appears to be a reworking of the original Selleck pilot.
Jay Hernandez is not without his charms, easy on the eye and comfortable with the demands of the role. His occasional narration seems to lack the necessary cool that others such as Burn Notice‘s Jeffrey Donovan, brought to the genre. Living up to Selleck is a tall order in anybody’s language.
Yet while this injects explosions, shoot ups, martial arts, and aerial stunts, it’s stuck between being faithful and marking the territory as its own. CBS has renewed this for a second season (and guest stars include Cyndi Lauper, James Remar, Jordana Brewster, Brian Austin Greene plus Corbin Bernsen and Ken Jeong in recurring roles) so maybe there’s hope.
Selleck has moved on to more serious fare with Blue Bloods. If he turns up in this, let me know, I’ll be in my hammock.
Magnum P.I. airs 8:30pm Sundays on FOX8.