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MAGNUM PI Complete on Blu-ray

Wednesday, 14 December 2016 00:00

Magnum PI - The Complete Collection now available on UK Blu-rayTom Selleck will forever be known as Magnum PI, a Vietnam veteran who leaves the Navy to take up position as a private eye and security adviser to famous author Robin Masters, never seen but heard on occasion and voiced in the main by the iconic Orson Welles. Set in the picture postcard region of Oahu, Hawaii, with adventures first broadcast between 1980 and 1988, he lives the high life in Master’s beachfront mansion, driving his Ferrari, and taking private detective cases. AND YOU COULD HAVE WON A COPY OF THE COMPLETE COLLECTION OF THE SERIES ON BLU-RAY IN OUR PRIZE COMPETITION, fully restored and in high definition!

In charge of the Robin Masters estate is Jonathan Quayle Higgins III (John Hillerman), a British ex-Army Sergeant Major, with two Doberman Pinschers, Zeus and Apollo, known as ‘the lads’ helping keep order. There’s a buddy-feel to it all, with two fellow veterans also being ever-presents in the series - Theodore ‘TC’ Calvin (Roger E Mosley), who runs the ‘Island Hoppers’ helicopter charter service, and Orville Wilbur Richard ‘Rick’ Wright (Larry Manetti – the only one of the four leads without a moustache), who owns ‘Rick’s Place’, a local bar, the name inspired by movie “Casablanca”.

158 episodes give rise to 130 hours of television, spread through eight seasons and in this new release on 37 Blu-ray discs. With the lead character talking to the audience in a voiceover, revealing his inner-most thoughts about what was happening, you felt you were being confided in by him. As with so many running series, the production team weren’t afraid to play with the conventions of episodic television.

One such was the mentioning of “5-0” in the stories, with Steve McGarrett even getting name checks. And no, neither “5-0” nor McGarrett actually exist in real life, so this is a straight homage to the long-running earlier series also set and filmed in Hawaii (the name “5-0” coming from Hawaii being the 50th State of the USA). It’s interesting to note that the final episode of the classic Hawaii 5-0 was screened on 5 April 1980, with the first episode of Magnum PI appearing on 11 December 1980, so this was very much the case that Thomas and friends were picking up the torch.

This was also a series which got involved in cross-over stories with other shows. A Magnum PI episode, “Ki’ I’s Don’t Lie” (7 October 1982), led into a Simon & Simon episode “”Emeralds Are Not a Girl's Best Friend” (broadcast originally on the same night, this being the Season 2 premiere of that show) The episodes featured the Simon stars Jameson Parker and Gerald McRaney, as well as special guest star Morgan Fairchild. For Magnum PI’s syndication, the Simon & Simon second part was removed, so an alternate ending was shot for "Ki' I's Don't Lie," which has the crook getting caught at the airport just before they got away – the original story continued with an escape where Simon & Simon then gave chase. It’s the syndicated version which is included in this release.   

The Magnum PI episode “Novel Connection” (19 November 1986) led into an episode of Murder, She Wrote - “Magnum on Ice” (23 November 1986), where Angela Lansbury’s Jessica Fletcher appeared alongside Selleck in both. Again, the syndication copy is on this set, not including the Murder, She Wrote episode, apparently with a change of some scenes, which leaves matters a little in mid-air, to say the least, at the end with no satisfactory resolution.

This was an extremely popular series with both viewers and gong-givers alike. Tom Selleck won the Emmy (1984, Lead) and Golden Globe (1985, Best Performance) for his portrayal of Thomas Magnum. John Hillerman won the Golden Globe (1982, Supporting) and Emmy (1987, Supporting) for his role of Jonathan Higgins.

Contract commitments to Magnum PI famously cost Selleck the role of Indiana Jones. In the show’s final season, the producers gave a nod to his sacrifice with the episode “Legend of the Lost Art”, which parodied the film.

One of the best stories of the series is the Season 5 premiere “Echoes of the Mind” two-parter. Screen siren Sharon Stone guest-stars in this 1984 double episode, and it’s a superb chance to see Stone early on in her career, long before she hit it big in the 1990s with the likes of “Total Recall” and “Basic Instinct”. She is quite frankly superb, playing twin sisters in a very disturbing story with a shocking denouement. If you watch no other story from Magnum PI ever, watch this one!

There was a superb array of guest cast across the episodes – to go through the entire list would read like a telephone directory, but let’s in particular peak your interest with the likes of Frank Sinatra (yes, really ‘old blue eyes’!), Tyne Daly (Cagney and Lacey), Ted Danson (Cheers), James Doohan (Star Trek), Ernest Borgnine (Airwolf), Patrick Macnee (The Avengers), Ian McShane (Lovejoy, Game of Thrones) June Lockhart (Lost in Space), Jill St John (“Diamonds Are Forever”), Annie Potts (“Ghostbusters”), Marcia Wallace (Edna Krabappel in The Simpsons), and Scatman Crothers (Scat Cat in “The Aristocats”).

The format was created by a dynamic duo. One side of the partnership was Donald P Bellisario, who also brought us the likes of Airwolf, Quantum Leap, Tales of the Gold Monkey and NCIS. The other Glen A Larson - who was behind 513 hours of television and 21 combined seasons from 1976-1988, with shows Quincy, Knight Rider and The Fall Guy amongst that number.

Larson said the unseen playboy novelist Robin Masters was based on the best selling novelist Harold Robbins. Robbins was one of the first novelists to be prominently featured in gossip magazines, earning him the title of ‘The World’s First Rock Star Author’. Orson Welles provided the voice of Robin Masters on four of the times he was heard (“J ‘Digger’ Doyle”, “Double Jeopardy”, “Bird of Budapest” and “The Big Blow”), but whose face was never seen in the show. The voice was apparently provided on one further occasion in the episode “Déjà vu” (the season 6 premiere), when someone called Red Crandall did the honours. Strangely, aside from this episode, there is no other mention of him anywhere else on the internet. Perhaps it was a pseudonym? Or someone having some fun?

The original jazzy theme tune (think 1970s holiday programmes) was written by Ian Freebairn-Smith, who went on to score some episodes of the TV “Fame”, and only lasted for the pilot movie and nine further episodes. It was replaced with the iconic more up-tempo theme tune by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter (composers of other iconic TV themes such as The A Team and The Rockford Files). This theme had been used during some previous episodes as incidentals, and over the closing credits from Episode 8, “The Ugliest Dog in Hawaii” onwards.

Magnum PI – The Complete Collection is out now on Blu-ray from Fabulous Films / Fremantle Media Enterprises. The 37 disc set has a running time of 7,813 mins approx, a ‘15’ certificate, and a RRP of £249.99, or get it for less at BY CLICKING HERE

You had an opportunity to win a copy of this Magnum PI – The Complete Collection Blu-ray release to put on to your mantelpiece, in our prize competition, courtesy of Fabulous Films / Fremantle Media Enterprises.

All you had to do was tell us the answer to the following question: Who played Higgins in Magnum PI? The answer was John Hillerman, and the winner was Kevin F Stubbs of Warrington - well done!



Last modified on Thursday, 22 December 2016 03:50