Tuesday, 5 July 2016
Magnum P.I., Season 2 (1981)
Binge-watching tends to expose some tropes in Magnum P.I. that would not be quite so irksome if you were watching it week to week. In particular, the ongoing verbal needling and one-up-manship between Magnum v Higgins gets a bit tiring when you see it happening in every episodes, and it's hard to care very much about the inevitable 'woman of the week' when you know she won't be around at the end of the current 44 minutes.
But lets face it, TV has changed a lot in the 35(!) years since this season of the show first aired. Modern day binge-watching habits were something that would never have been considered. VCRs were still relatively new and film companies were still actively engaged in attempting to ban them. So it's hardly any surprise that such considerations were not on the producers' minds. It is in those respects a pretty typical work of its time.
On the other hand, the show wasn't afraid to do things that were out of the ordinary, even then. There's a not-infrequent breaking of the fourth wall, for instance. Magnum often narrates his activities to us, and he explicitly does so to us: often musing on what we might be thinking about his current situation. There are also several occasions where he turns to the camera and gives it a significant look.
And then there's the story-lines. Magnum doesn't just work your common or garden crimes. This season sees him tangle with ghosts, Soviet defectors, and indulge in a little light commando raid on a Sicilian nobleman's villa (to be fair, as absurd as that entire episode was, it had some good misdirections). Oh, and we get to meet his sort of ex-wife who just happens to be (a) the love of his life and (b) an anti-communist secret agent working in Vietnam. Because of course she is.
Magnum P.I. is the lightest of light entertainment, but it's well put together for all that. I'm a little surprised no-one's announced a reboot of the series, to be honest.