It’s always a pot luck when you revisit a television show from your youth, especially one you remember fondly, or associate heavily with your childhood (think Knight Rider, Airwolf, MacGyver). Or when you watch a show that was critically acclaimed at the time, but you were too young to appreciate (or be allowed to stay up to watch). I did this with Miami Vice last year, and it was frankly unwatchable.
So it was with some trepidation that I popped in the Magnum PI DVD. I’d bought the first two seasons for my brother for his birthday, and I was keen to see it again myself.
I had vague memories of Tom Selleck’s red shirt, the dobermans chasing him, Higgins, and of course the red Ferrari.
And do you know what?
It’s still pretty good, and I am having a bit of a blast watching it.
And it got me wondering, why has this show stood the test of time more than others from the eighties? I think a lot of it is to do with how generic it was at the time; it wasn’t trying to break new ground, it wasn’t anything other than mainstream fare. It just concentrated on telling good stories, and developing characters in a vaguely interesting manner.
That’s not to say it’s bland, or afraid to play around with its own premise. Characters break the fourth wall (before Moonlighting ever did), it swings pleasingly from melodrama, to comedy, from heavy dramatic episodes to light fluffy ones. And it even explores some issues that weren’t really being explored at the time, namely the return of soldiers from Vietnam (which it does sympathetically).
Here’s a fun blog about how one of the first season’s episodes was pitched on the fly.
And here’s what would happen if Magnum’s moustache appeared in every single film: