One of the elements that fans appreciate about “Magnum P.I.” is the way the new reboot tries to connect to the original version of the series. The iconic characters of Thomas Magnum, now played by Jay Hernandez; as well as his friends, Orville “Rick” Wright, played by Zachary Knighton; and Theodore “TC” Calvin, played by Stephen Hill — are still very present in the series. There is also a British majordomo who runs the estate where Magnum lives as a security consultant, but this time, Higgins is named Juliet instead of Jonathan, and played by actress Perdita Weeks.
While the storylines and characterizations of the main characters have certainly been updated since the original version of the show went off the air 30 years ago, two guest actors have helped recreate characters from the original. Actor Ken Jeong revises the role of Luther H. Gillis, a fellow private investigator pal of Magnum, and Ammie Masterson plays the role of Lt. Josie “Mac” MacReynolds, characters who are quite memorable for fans of the original show.
There are other guest actors who create new characters who help the show follow in the footsteps of the 80s version of “Magnum P.I.” Roger E. Mosley, who played T.C. in the original series, appears as John Booky, a fellow Veteran and barbershop owner. His character is a definite connection to the original with Mosley in the role. Jamie-Lynn Sigler plays a woman who needs Magnum’s help and gives the show a chance to remind fans of one of the original themes of the series — that Magnum became a private investigator to help people, especially those who may not have anywhere else to turn.
Luther Gillis is one of those characters that is more than just funny — his one-liners and desire to mimic Magnum is both hilarious and entertaining. Recurring guest Jeong is really a delight to watch, especially when he wears exactly the same Aloha shirt as Magnum in “Winner Takes All” and when he gives Magnum one of his cases in order to collect a poker bet in “The Woman Who Never Died.” There are many scenes where Jeong is able to show Luther’s unique personality, like when he tells Magnum “Later, player!” as he leaves Magnum a lucrative case that is all work for Magnum and a payoff for himself.
Yet there seems to be a sort of friendship between the two private investigators, even if it is played mostly for laughs. When Luther’s car is stolen, and Magnum has to give Luther a ride on the back of Kumu’s (Amy Hill) Vespa, Luther gets on the scooter behind Magnum and wraps his arms around him. When Magnum tells Luther he doesn’t have to hold on so tightly, Luther tells Magnum, “Get over yourself … Safety first,” while placing his cheek on Magnum’s back.
The opposite can be said about Magnum’s Navy friend, Lt. Josie “Mac” MacReynolds, played by guest Masterson, who appears in “Day the Past Came Back,” when she helps Magnum find out information about his ex-love Hannah (Jordana Brewster). Like Week’s version of Higgins, they changed the gender of the Mac character. Masterson plays Mac pretty straightforward and is an obvious friend to Magnum. While Mac has only been in one episode so far in the rebooted “Magnum P.I.”, her character was a big part of the original and certainly could return to help Magnum in season two.
In the episode, “A Kiss Before Dying,” one of the best parts of the episode is special guest star Mosley as John Booky, the wise neighborhood barber to TC, Rick, and Magnum. Booky is a Vietnam vet who has experienced war like Magnum and his friends. He loves Hawaii and credits the island for restoring his soul.
Magnum and his friends can all relate, as that is also what happened to them after they moved to Hawaii following their stint as POWs. The scenes with Booky are a mix of nostalgia, and interesting to watch as the current TC, Hill, interacts with the classic TC, Mosley. Many fans want to see him back as Booky which could continue their connection with the 80s version of the series.
Helping a friend in need is another theme that threads its way throughout the episodes. One guest actor stands out as a friend who not only needs Magnum’s help but who also seems to learn from her mistakes after her case is solved. Rick’s friend Toni, played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler, was a strong guest as her character allowed Rick to show his more vulnerable side in “Bad Day to Be a Hero.”
Toni has MS and is also trying to make money to pay for her brother’s medical bills. With Rick’s help, she hosts a high-end poker game and when it is robbed, Magnum steps in to help Rick find out who ripped off her game. After Magnum, Rick, and TC find the money, she decides to leave Hawaii in order to help her brother. It’s bittersweet as Rick says goodbye to a potential love interest, but a good show of how Magnum and his friends never quite seem to get the girl. Yet, even if they never do — they certainly know how to help someone out of a tight spot, and that is a connection we all enjoy watching.