It’s been 30 years since “Magnum P.I.” went off the air, and for fans of the classic television show, who still recall with fondness Tom Selleck’s dimpled mustached smile, red Ferrari and Detroit Tigers baseball cap — it’s been too long. So when CBS announced a rebooted version of the show was in the works, I was among the many fans who were thrilled to hear it was returning to television.
Well, I thought I was among the many. Until I wrote about the launch of their new season. I got snarky emails and comments, mean Tweets and surly Facebook posts — all professing collective anger rather than excitement. They were all quite similar complaints to the ones I heard when “Hawaii Five-0” was rebooted in 2010. Back then people said the show would never last without Jack Lord as McGarrett. And yet, the show begins their ninth season this month.
But “Magnum P.I.” fans were adamant — “Only Tom Selleck can be Magnum,” they said. “I’m not going to watch it without Selleck,” they said. “It’s not the same without Tom,” they said.
I was a little shocked. Not by all the love people had for Selleck, because believe me, as a girl growing up in Hawaii, I dreamed of meeting a handsome Navy man dressed in ice-cream whites, sporting that amazing mustache, ready to scoop me up in his hot sports car. When I went to college in Spokane, Wash., and I missed my island and my family — I watched countless hours of “Magnum P.I.” reruns just to get a glimpse of my home for a few Technicolor moments. So I get it. The love for the classic Tom Selleck-led “Magnum P.I.” is strong and true.
But it’s time to move on. Because it’s not like Tom is going to drop his “Blue Bloods” gig and surf-ski his way to Hawaii, slide on an aloha shirt and let his chest hair out. And that’s OK — I like him playing Frank Reagan. It’s a dignified and dramatically complex role. He’s good at it. It’s Thomas Magnum all grown up and settled down, and in a leadership position he deserves to be in.
Television today is not the same as it was when “Magnum P.I.” aired from 1980 to 1988. Mustaches, men in short shorts, and chest hair are no longer in fashion. Today men have goatees and beards, wear board shorts to the beach, and no one has seen chest hair on an American man since around the time Magnum left Hawaii.
And seriously — the new “Magnum P.I.” has so many great elements that are going to help make it work. The pilot, “I Saw the Sun Rise,” is written by Peter M. Lenkov and Eric Guggenheim. Lenkov also rebooted “Hawaii Five-0” and “MacGyver” for CBS and his track record for successfully bringing classic shows to a modern audience is legendary. The episode was directed by Justin Lin, who directed four of the “Fast and Furious” films, as well as “Star Trek Beyond.” Just that fact alone tells you the action, as well as the car chases, are going to be off the charts.
There are so many signs we’re going to love the new reboot. Let me count the ways for you.
Series star, Jay Hernandez, of “Bad Moms” and “Suicide Squad” fame, is not only sexy and ultracool — he’s got the “I know what you’re thinking …” line down perfectly. He looks like a man who has many secrets, yet is not at the point of being emotionally crippled by his war experiences or because he was a P.O.W. And he looks like he belongs under a Detroit Tigers cap, as well as behind the wheel of a Ferrari.
The storyline is much the same as it was in the classic version — Thomas works for Robin Master’s, a famous author, as his security consultant. He is often in conflict with the major-domo of Robin’s Nest, Juliet Higgins, and her “Lads”— two well-trained and very fast Dobermans, who we hope are still called Zeus and Apollo. The Higgins character has been modernly updated, as a female former MI6 agent, played by Perdita Weeks, who can hold her own in a fist- and gunfight, and also gives Thomas a hand in his investigations.
Thomas’ friends, Orville “Rick” Wright played by Zachary Knighton, and Theodore “TC” Calvin played by Stephen Hill, are very much like the original versions of their characters. Rick runs the hottest club on Oahu and TC operates his own helicopter touring company, Island Hoppers. They both served with Magnum, this time in Afghanistan, and continue to help him with his cases as a private investigator.
The pilot airs on Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. on Monday nights in Hawaii, and I am not going to miss it. Maybe it’s because 10 years after Magnum cut his hair, donned Navy dress whites, and walked off with his daughter into the sunset, I met a Navy sailor. He reminded me of someone — dressed in his summer whites, his thick mustache on the edge of being out of style, blue eyes a little sad, but his dimpled chin very determined that I say yes when he asked me to marry him.
Call me too sentimental, call me a little silly — but you can sure bet I’m going to give this new “Magnum” a fighting chance.