One of the best elements of the television series “Magnum P.I.” is the friendship shared between Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) and his friends. The bond that Magnum, Rick (Zachary Knighton), TC (Stephen Hill) and Higgins (Perdita Weeks) share is a large part of the core foundation of the series. Yet, Magnum’s burgeoning friendship with HPD Det. Gordon Katsumoto, played by Tim Kang, seems to be another strong theme that helped steer the series toward a second season.
Kang is best known for his role as FBI Special Agent Kimball Cho on the CBS television drama “The Mentalist.” Fans loved him as the no-nonsense Cho, who was notable for his deadpan wit and humor. Kang did not join the cast of “Magnum P.I.” until the third episode of the first season, “The Woman Who Never Died,” when he brought with him a similar style of delivery to the reboot. Yet as the season progressed he definitely relaxed a little more into his role as the heart-of-gold Katsumoto.
KANG TO THE EXTREME
While Kang’s fans watched him for seven seasons on “The Mentalist,” he also guest-starred on “Madam Secretary,” “Lethal Weapon,” “American Horror Story,” and “Chicago Justice.” He played Ivan Hess on the series “Cloak and Dagger” and appeared in the film “A Wrinkle in Time.”
In 2011, Kang launched One Shoot Films and produced a short film about human trafficking in 2012 called “None of Them Will Collect My Soul.” For the film, Kang worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and “continues to be a national spokesman and active supporter of the organization.”
Originally from San Francisco, Kang is fluent in Korean and is a black belt in taekwondo. Acording to an interview with Character Media, after Kang “graduated from (University of California, Berkeley) with a degree in political science … he moved to Hawaii where he surfed days and bartended nights.” Perhaps this is why Kang’s “Magnum P.I.” character rocks a long-sleeved aloha shirt under his detective-issue blazer. He also enjoys doing his own stunts and has been called a “thrill-seeker.” Besides his love of fast cars and motorcycles, Kang enjoys other extreme sports like scuba diving and skydiving.
KATSUMOTO’S TAKE ON MAGNUM
Katsumoto started off the season as Magnum’s nemesis — always reminding Magnum to leave the police work to him, kicking him out of crime scenes and arresting him when necessary. His character definitely changed from demanding that Magnum stay out of his way, to someone who reluctantly welcomed Magnum’s help and particular expertise.
In the season finale, “The Day it All Came Together,” Katsumoto seems to return to his earlier feelings about the private investigator, after Magnum and his friends are almost killed trying to help Magnum’s ex-love Hannah (Jordana Brewster) save her father’s life. When Magnum and the team return home, Katsumoto calls Magnum on all of the ways he kept Katsumoto from helping with the case, telling Magnum, “just when I was starting to trust you, you go and do something stupid like this.”
While their relationship started off rocky, and perhaps the trust level has slipped back to zero, they still have found a happy medium between Katsumoto’s by-the-book police work and Magnum’s style of going with his gut. Katsumoto dislikes how Magnum always appears to forgo legalities, but he also realizes that Magnum has a good heart and only wants to catch the bad guys and help the victims.
MAKING KATSUMOTO TICK
For Katsumoto, it was the episode, “A Kiss Before Dying,” that really showed his true character. It also seemed to move his relationship with Magnum toward a greater understanding. This episode was a testament to the connection between partners, after Magnum and Higgins stumble upon the unmarked grave of Katsumoto’s missing former partner, retired HPD detective Stanley Tak. The discovery leaves Katsumoto heartbroken and determined to find out who killed his friend.
He then turns to Magnum to help him solve Tak’s murder. Tak was his mentor and partner and Katsumoto feels responsible for not looking into his disappearance sooner. It was refreshing to see Katsumoto show intense emotion when they find Tak and when he breaks the news of what happened to Tak’s widow (Susan Park). It certainly showed the heart of Katsumoto, as well as a detective who is very good at his job, and how sometimes his role as a cop and as a friend can be in dispute.
What makes Katsumoto so interesting is watching how he is beginning to thaw to Magnum’s style of investigating. It is as if the two are starting to appreciate each other’s areas of expertise — and are also seeing how they can help each other. It also makes for another level of conflict for both characters as we look forward to the second season.