As I said in our PSA, I haven’t seen an episode of the original Magnum, P.I. As far as I can tell, though, most of the key features – apart from a comma in the title – have been transposed into this reboot: former Navy SEAL Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) lives on Oahu, Hawaii, working as the security consultant for unseen author Robin Masters, and on his own account as a private investigator. He lives on Masters’s property, which is run by majordomo Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks), who in the original was male. Juliet and Magnum bicker. As well as her expert verbal jousting with Magnum, Juliet is ex-MI6, and therefore entirely capable of snapping two shaven-headed assassins into little bits if the need arises. The need arises.
Meantime, Magnum hangs out with, and is assisted by, his bro-ish buddies Rick (Zachary Knighton), TC (Stephen Hill), and Sebastian (Domenick Lombardozzi), with whom he bonded in an Afghanistan POW camp. (There’s a flashback to the traditional cauterising-the-wound-with-gunpowder scene.) And there’s a cop (Sung Kang), standing as proxy for The Entire HPD and Every Cop In A P.I. Show Ever, who doesn’t trust Magnum and warns him away from, well, pretty much everything.
That’s our set-up, although in an era where every show, even the network procedurals, have set new standards for speed and action, you need to start big or go home. And, in fairness, Magnum’s first act is to parachute into North Korea. From outer space. With a postmodern twist at the end. Not bad at all. Then, once Magnum is back in Hawaii, one of his friends is abducted and murdered, which he solves with the help of Higgins, who all of a sudden is being a little bit nicer to him: I think we’re supposed to ship them, and I was going to say that I’d want a bit more in the way of chemistry. But as you know we’re always about the ship; so, yeah, OK, I’m here for #Maggins. (#Hignum?)
Boxes, therefore, are all ticked with a ruthless efficiently. Everything’s there… but something’s missing, and I’m not sure what something is. I see that when I reviewed the first two episodes of Hawaii Five-0 I was a bit lukewarm, but identified the performance of Scott Caan as a good reason to keep going. Magnum, unfortunately, doesn’t have its own Scott Caan, and Hernandez is likeable but lightweight in the lead role. As far as I can see, though, general opinion is that the show gets better, and there’s probably enough here for me to commit to another couple of episodes at least.