Created by Donald P. Bellisario
and Glen A. Larson and airing on CBS from 1980 to 1988, Magnum, P.I.
seemed at first glance to be yet another Action Series
show, using the old Hawaii Five-O
production facilities in Hawaii, with a handsome lead actor talented in comedic schtick and the usual buddies helping him solve his case-of-the-week. But it soon revealed its more dramatic plotthreads by alternating the comically-toned episodes with those concentrating on The Vietnam War
background of Thomas Magnum and his friends. The concluding scene
in the Season Three two-part premiere "Did You See the Sunrise" was the key moment that illustrated Magnum's darker side. It remained the most unexpected and controversial scene of the series' entire run.
These deeper character-developing episodes became fan favorites, and helped to spur the series to a five-year stay in the top-20 rated shows on television between 1981 and 1985. Also, both Tom Selleck
(Magnum) and John Hillerman (Higgins) won multiple awards for their work.
Magnum was assisted ably by his friends TC and Rick, and alternately helped and hindered by Higgins, the manager of Robin Masters' estate where Magnum lived. Masters was only occasionally heard as The Voice
of Orson Welles via telephone.Donald P. Bellisario
(who unlike Larson had a lot to do with the series after the pilot) became known for his darker, almost fantastical overtones (see Quantum Leap
), and they were introduced slowly into Magnum, P.I.
's storylines by way of prophetic dreams, psychic connections, and ghosts.
A feature film adaptation
is planned in the future. George Clooney, Matthew McConaughey, and even Selleck himself
have been floated as possible big-screen Magnums.
Magnum, P.I. provides examples of the following tropes: