Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Magnum P.I. - I Saw the Sun Rise

On hearing the news, and seeing clips of CBS' plans to reboot Magnum, P.I. all I could think was that this was the worst idea in network television since the The CW rebooted Charlie's Angels with Minka Kelly in 2011 (a show so historically bad, even the Internet has done its best to forget its existence). The new Magnum P.I. attempts to hold to the formula of the original but also makes several small changes (including the new, grammatically incorrect, spelling of the show's title). Set in present day, Jay Hernandez is cast as the new Thomas Sullivan Magnum who works as a private eye while also providing security to the estates of published author Robin Masters. Unlike the original, in which Masters was never seen (or even proved to be a real person), Thomas and the author are old friends due to the writer spending time with Magnum during his time as a Naval Officer in landlocked country of Afghanistan.

As in the original, Thomas has a couple of old war buddies to hang out with in helicopter pilot T.C. (Stephen Hill) and semi-legitimate business man Rick (Zachary Knighton). The first episode throws in another old buddy as a red shirt to die quickly, making the latest case "personal" for our protagonist. Perdita Weeks stars as the new Higgins, who trades in a shady spy past for long-winded stories of the good old days but still enjoys sicking the dogs on Magnum. Other tweaks to the set-up include Magnum never being married and wearing far less Hawaiian shirts and short-shorts than in the original series.

While I would still stop short of calling it good, "I Saw the Sun Rise" wasn't the absolute trainwreck I was expecting. The reboot keeps the narration of the original and of the new cast Weeks offers the best opportunity for a stand-out character. Hernandez does what he can, but it's hard to accept anyone else other than Tom Selleck in the title role. As for his war buddies, the less we see of them in future episodes the better. Given how the week's mystery is "personal," and doubting that every week's show will be, it's hard to gauge the writing of this Magnum as a detective (although, like the original, he's more than willing to call in favors to get the job done). The fact that the show wasn't as unwatchable as I was expecting is a surprise, ramping up the testosterone and action (but dealing awkwardly with story and emotion). It still has quite a ways to go to measure up to the original.

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