Monday, February 11, 2013

Day Forty-two - Magnum P.I.: Season 1, Episodes 1 and 2, or "Sex, drugs, and... Disco?"

Back in the 80's, Magnum was never really my thing.

Sure, I caught it every once in a while when it hit syndication halfway through the decade and aired during the afternoon action block, but my parents steered me away. I think they were trying to shield me from all the bikini-clad Swedish stewardesses.

No, instead of Magnum, I was pushed more towards MacGyver, Murder She Wrote, and Father Dowling.

Oh... oh no... just had a Father Dowling flashback. That was rough. Just... just give me a minute. Where did those Swedish stewardesses go?

Phew, that was close.

Anyway, I kind of admire what they were doing here with Magnum, P.I.. While it still suffers from terrible amounts of cheese and War on Drugs moralizing, it didn't do it with the typical 80's hamfistedness of other shows like 21 Jump Street or MacGyver... where drug dealers where caricatures and easily thwarted.

Sure, that just means some of the heroes are caricatures... like Higgins, the stiff upper lip British regiment Sergeant-Major... or TC, the horn-dog helicopter pilot, but they're still watchable, even though I cringed through most of their posturing.

But hey, it was a pilot. They hadn't really settled into their roles comfortably yet. I'm sure, if I had time to keep at the series (and who knows, maybe I will), they'll find their center and it won't feel so... so... cheddar.

As the introductory episode, we meet Tom Magnum (guh, Tom Selleck is Tom Magnum? Lazy.) in a cold open where he's seen breaking into a private Hawaiian mansion that is owned by the mysteriously super-rich author, Robin Masters.

Seriously... I could use the sort of bank that this series' Charlie seems to have.

Wait. If Robin Masters is Charlie... does that make Magnum, TC, and Higgins his "Angels?"


Moving on, the two-parter revolved around the murder of Magnum's Vietnam war buddy via a burst condom full of cocaine in the stomach. This causes the sailor to be posthumously courtmartialed in disgrace and puts Magnum on the case as war buddy's mousey, yet attractive (but not quite as attractive as the stewardesses) sister begs for Magnum's help.

What follows is a pretty low key "investigation." There's a plot for missing WW2 gold, more drugs (and a 17 year old drug queen named "Snow White," I kid you not), some sexual tension to break up the pseudo-noir atmosphere (or amp it, depending on your interpretation), and disco... DISCO!

Seems one of Magnum's war buddies owns a discotheque and his name is Rick. Guess how many times they drop Casablanca references? Only twice, actually.

Also, kudos to Robert Loggia and Judge Reinhold for their guest and bit parts respectively.

Still, the two-parter isn't a terrible start for an 80's prime-time mystery... and it paved the way for things like Miami Vice (not sure how I feel about that, really).

More importantly, while it never really outright said it, the sex was heavily implied. Magnum stretched the limits of the good, moralizing television that we were getting in that era. Sure, it was nowhere near as close to what we have now (which, still isn't much... thank god for the internet), but it was a start.

I think Magnum is a pretty safe bet if you want to scratch that nostalgia itch... despite it's cheese. Beer, boobs, and guns... all in a high-class, tropical setting.

It's the American dream.

No, seriously... someone buy my books en masse so I can get the palatial beach front villa, complete with open-minded Swedish stewardesses.

Please? Pretty Please?

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

No comments:

Post a Comment