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YMMV / Magnum, P.I.

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Magnum The Hero or an Anti-Hero? The show plays with both, as Magnum is benevolent, but can be quite ruthless.
    • Is Higgins a Jerk with a Heart of Gold or just a Jerk with a Heart of Jerk? He doesn't really seem to like Magnum and doesn't really try to help that much (see "Thank Heaven for Little Girls and Big Ones Too" and "Tropical Madness").
      • Higgins more slowly warmed up to Magnum. After all, he is very British and Magnum is an American Surfer Dude.
    • While he had always been coarse and insensitive, could Magnum's stepfather Frank have gotten worse out of grief over the loss of his only child?
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    • Amy Crane a.k.a. Carol Foster's intentions in "Don't Say Goodbye" are noble, but her having taken over Amy's identity after reading Agatha's letters can come off as more creepy than heartwarming to some viewers, not to mention her lying to her husband Stewart about her identity for their entire marriage, though since Stewart is an abusive Jerkass, we don't feel too sorry for him.
  • Angst? What Angst?: While the main characters' war backstories are an extensive part of the series' lore, things like the deaths of Rick's sister Wendy, Magnum's younger half-brother Joey, and Higgins accidentally having killed a comrade he mistook for an intruder get little, if any mention or show any visible effect beyond their respective episodes. A notable exception is the montage showing the deaths of Lt. "Mac" MacReynolds, Dan Cook, Wendy, Diane Dupres, and Magnum's father at the beginning of "Mac's Back".
  • Awesome Music: The opening theme music by Mike Post.
    • The original theme by Ian Freebairn-Smith is also pretty catchy.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Luther Gillis knocking out an old woman who was running at him in a karate demonstration? Probably unacceptable today. Higgins' resulting "Oh, my, GOD!"? Hilarious.
  • Crossover Ship: Almost a canon example. The end of the Murder, She Wrote crossover teased Higgins and Jessica Fletcher, although it never went past Higgins quite obviously crushing on Jessica, to her (and Magnum's) amusement.
  • Fair for Its Day: Myrt Callahan in "Double Jeopardy", who's not only a female film director in 1982 (virtually unheard of at the time), but this is never commented on, much less made fun of. Her only negative trait is that like William B. Knox, she's too anxious to finish filming Tahiti Kill, despite the attempts on Jack Martin's life. In Real Life, Myrt's actress Kathleen Nolan was the first female President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1975 to 1979.
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  • First Installment Wins: Many fans actually prefer "Limbo" to "Resolutions" as a series finale, not because of Magnum's original intended fate, but because of the bigger risks "Limbo" took in its writing and acting.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: In "Past Tense", Higgins explains that telling T.C. his stories after T.C. had been shot was meant to keep him from slipping into a coma. In "Under World", that's exactly what rouses T.C. out of his coma.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The bad guy in "Don't Say Goodbye" is played by Ted Danson, several years before he and Tom Selleck were two of those Three Men and a Baby. Unfortunately Steve Guttenberg never appeared on the show to complete the set.
  • Ho Yay: Between Rick and T.C.
  • Narm: Magnum during this exchange in "Skin Deep". Try and figure out why.
    Magnum: ...David hired me to find your lover.
    Erin Wolfe: I don't have a lover!
    Magnum: David believes you do, because of all the weekends that you disappear.
    Erin Wolfe: I was here! Alone!
    Magnum: David didn't know that. He figured wherever your lover was, that's where you'd be. That's why he hired me, to find your lover. And once I led him to your lover, then he'd kill all three of us.
    • When we first see Magnum spy on dangerous mobster Serge Bergos in "Innocence... A Broad", Bergos' bald head and sunglasses make him bear an unfortunate resemblance to Paul Shaffer.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: Played with in "The Big Blow" and "The Case of the Red Faced Thespian", both with famous guest casts including James Doohan, Ronald Lacey, and John McCook (the latter in both episodes!). None of their characters turn out to be the attempted killer.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Ted Danson, one year from his breakout role on Cheers, appears as Stewart Crane in "Don't Say Goodbye".
  • The Scrappy: While intentionally written to be annoying, Cassie Yates' characters in "Kiss of the Sabre" and "Photo Play" aren't well-liked by fans.
    • To a lesser extent, some fans aren't fond of Luther Gillis and Carol Baldwin for similar reasons.
    • Goldie Morris in "Old Acquaintance" is seen as a Scrappy Girl of the Week due to her Soap Box Sadie character.
    • Pamela Bates in "Novel Connection", as not only does she not tell anyone why someone's trying to kill her (after an attempt's been made, mind you), but she's an absolute Jerkass to Magnum to boot.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Episodes like "Wave Goodbye" deal with the PTSD of Vietnam veterans.
    • "Blind Justice" unflinchingly deals with domestic abuse.
    • "Find Me a Rainbow" centers around a black-market baby adoption operation.
    • "The Aunt Who Came to Dinner" made Magnum one of the first television shows to address the subject of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Special Effect Failure: The flying bats seen in "The Treasure of Kalaniopu'u" are obviously fake.
  • Tear Jerker: John Hillerman (Higgins) passed away at the age of 84 on 9 November 2017.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Charlie (Manu Tupou) in "The Curse of the King Kamehameha Club", a happy, laid back Hawaiian with a healthy sense of humor, who's also shown to be a kahuna at the end. Instead of appearing in future episodes to help Magnum with his cases, he's never seen again.
    • "Tropical Madness": Brice Harcourt (Roy Dotrice), a Chessmaster who manipulated Jennifer Chapman into romancing Higgins in revenge for what she thought was Higgins' betrayal of Harcourt and her mother. A Big Bad like Harcourt who had a prior history with Higgins would have had great potential for future storylines and Character Development for Higgins. Unfortunately, it turns out that Harcourt had no history with Higgins, simply targeting him in an attempt to steal art from Robin's Nest, and was completely dishonest with Jennifer, thus reducing him to a mere Gentleman Thief.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Subverted. In "Blind Justice", Magnum discovers that the man on trial for murdering his wife is actually innocent (she had committed suicide after years of his abuse), but that he had also gotten away with a different murder years earlier. When confronted with this fact by Magnum, the wife's mother, while her reasons are totally sympathetic, staunchly defends her cover-up of the suicide to get her son-in-law on trial. What even the episode itself doesn't touch on, however, is that the person whom the husband did murder likely had a family themselves and who would be denied justice by the mother-in-law's actions, though the episode ends before the trial's verdict.
    • The show makes it very clear he was found innocent of the first murder. He would have gotten away with the murder in all cases due to double jeopardy, and that is why they frame him for the suicide.
    • Luther Gillis, while a dedicated, legendary St. Louis private eye, is also a serious flake who abandoned his wife and kids, abandoned his loyal secretary-turned-fiancee at the altar, and even forgot his own son's name. And that's not even getting into his other traits that draw much of Magnum's ire.
    • While he had spent decades making an effort to lead a good, honest life, Theo Wolf in "Way of the Stalking Horse" still carried out a hit in Miami thirty years prior with no consequences until Driscoll got to him.
  • Values Dissonance: Even though it was an homage to the original Sherlock Holmes stories, there is no way in hell Patrick MacNee in yellowface disguise would fly on television today.
    • Ivan calling T.C. by the "N" word in flashbacks was controversial even for the 1980s, but it certainly won't be said on U.S. network television now.
    • Edwin Clutterbuck in "Black on White" casually uses the "W" word to refer to Kenyans, and while done intentionally to highlight his racism and Smug Snake character, such usage could never happen today. Unsurprisingly, his uses of the word have often been edited out of UK airings.
    • "Tropical Madness" and "Smaller Than Life" use the word "m*dget" a lot more than would be deemed acceptable today, making Magnum's Running Gag in the former episode rather cringeworthy to hear.
    • "Jororo Farewell": Even though it was for Danny Linn escaping the kidnapper's plane without telling him, the last scene of Magnum preparing to spank him would be seen as incredibly harsh today.
    • In "Skin Deep", Magnum says that women don't shoot themselves, hence his suspicions concerning Erin Wolfe's supposed suicide. While suicides by gun among women are still uncommon, the deaths of Shauna Grant, Mary Kay Bergman and others have made Magnum's words ring quite hollow today.
    • Higgins in "Let the Punishment Fit the Crime" stages a production of The Mikado with a traditionally all-white cast, which goes on with no problemnote . Nowadays, he wouldn't be able to do so without public outcry.
    • "Luther Gillis: File #521": Good luck seeing an old woman being punched out cold for comedy on TV today.
    • Magnum, Rick, and T.C. calling Lady Ashley a "dog" from her photo in "Computer Date" comes off as cringingly sexist now.
    • With TV shows having gotten far more comfortable with allowing their heroes to be less than incorruptible white hats, it's downright bizarre seeing Magnum executing the despicable villain of "Did You See the Sunrise?" in the middle of his gloating about diplomatic immunity presented as some kind of shocking quasi-Moral Event Horizon.
    • "Squeeze Play": Taphie the Buzzette's line "Five years of high school, right down the drain.", clearly making her a Dumb Blonde, can go over the heads of many non-American viewers, such as in Canada, where many high schools do cover five yearsnote  if the area has no middle/junior high schools.
    • As garbage disposal units are far less common outside the U.S., Rick's mention of them in "Of Sound Mind" can come off as even more outlandish, adding to Magnum's disbelief in having to look out for them.
  • Values Resonance: Any time a female character is said to have an unusual lifestyle or arrangement (sexually or not), Magnum never judges them negatively for it. Considering this series literally aired in the Reagan-era Eighties, this aspect has aged quite well.


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