Tuesday, 6 December 2016
Magnum P.I., Season 4 (1983)
Season 4 of Magnum, P.I. kicks off with an episode which has no case, no villain, and no attractive woman for Thomas M to flirt with. It's quite a departure from the show's usual formula, and the writers continue to experiment throughout the season. Nearly half the episodes focus strongly on other cast members, whether it be Higgins helping an old chum who thinks he's Sherlock Holmes, Rick dealing with an old friend who's either a crook or a CIA agent (or both), or the occasional visits of blustering St Louis PI Luther Gillis (which always seem to land Magnum in jail at some point). Then there's the episode which recounts Thomas working two different cases for the same woman, five years apart (naturally, she is attractive). Or the season finale, which is basically "Magnum does Rashomon".
Now as with every highly episodic show, there are ups and downs here. The Mikado-themed episode has some very funny moments and a great fistfight, for instance, but the there are a couple of plot points that aren't well explained. Or there is the new recurring character of Carol Baldwin, whose aptitude for landing Magnum is serious danger is apparently intended to come across as funny, but mostly seems incredibly callous. On the other hand, the episode "Operation: Silent Night" may be one of the most genuinely amusing (albeit deeply silly) Xmas-themed episodes of any show I've ever seen.
Overall I'd say this season of the show is the most overtly comedic to date. Magnum has always been light entertainment, but there are more "aiming for laughs" scenes here than in any season before, and none of the darker themes that occasionally popped up in season three. It's still recognisably the same show, though, so if you've enjoyed it thus far, you're likely to still enjoy it.