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Magnum, P.I. (1980-1988, Tom Selleck, John Hillerman)

Magnum PI Tom Selleck

His name is Thomas Sullivan Magnum, and the edges to his personality are as rough as the rocks of his island Hawaii. Portrayed by handsome leading man Tom Selleck, Magnum is one of the most unique private investigators to have ever hit our television screens.

Magnum, known as “TS” to his friends, is just an ordinary guy trying to make ends meet He’s a man who enjoys a champagne existence on a beer budget, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Actually, his life is quite nice at the moment, since he is living as a guest on the private beach of one of the finest estates in Hawaii. Not only does he live rent free, but he liberally enjoys the hospitality offered him -including the guest house, the pool, the $60,000 red Ferrari, and a varied assortment of beautiful women. Magnum has the run of the absent owner’s property; literally the “man who came to dinner”, Magnum is the guest who won’t leave.

But there is a catch; Magnum, former Naval intelligence officer who specialized in security, does have a job to do.
He has been hired by his host, playboy Robin Masters, to use his expertise in guarding the estate – especially when Masters’ friends, who range from oil sheiks to stewardesses, use the place as a retreat.

Magnum realises that his livelihood requires a great deal of luck, but he has a personal philosophy that works for him every time: trust yourself and fate will take care of the rest. Admitting that he doesn’t have much control over his fate, he might flash a contagiously roguish smile that silently thumbs a nose at his opponent – but he secretly appreciates that he’s just a lucky guy.

Lest Magnum lose sight of the fact that he is a mere mortal, he has a number of associates to remind him, led by ex-Sergeant Major HIggins (John Hillerman) and his Dobermans, Zeus and Apollo. Higgins has travelled to the corners of the earth and has retained everything he has never read, heard or seen. He can recite the protocol for greeting an Indian Raja or the calibre of an obscure Mongolian machine gun. He is a constant source of information – and irritation – to Magnum. Higgins was hired by Robin Masters as the estate’s Major Domo, and his job is to see that the guests are well taken care of. Naturally, he sees Magnum as an intruder upon his territory as well as a freeloader. The dogs, of course, see him as lunch.

TC (Roger Mosley), one of Magnum’s ex-Vietnam friends and a top-notch helicopter pilot, is often a reluctant recruit in his cases. TC provides a blunt contrast to Magnum’s suave exterior; he also provides a cheap, quick way to get around the island when on an investigation – that is, when TC has gas money, because Magnum is always broke.

Magnum may not be as finely tuned as the Ferrari or as disciplined as he once was as a Naval officer, but in spide of all his rough edges, he is still a man of conviction who will stop at nothing to vindicate a client, friend, or principle he believes in. He has a degree of naivete that keeps his ego intact, and a certain innocence that gives him an optimistic outlook on life. Magnum doesn’t want to be a hero; he just wants to lead an almost fantasy existence among the soft breezes, white sands, and tropical forests of the beautiful Hawaiian Islands.

Magnum’s trademark Detroit Tigers baseball cap was worn by Tom Selleck in homage to his hometown team.

Magnum was killed off at the end of the 1986-87 season because producers thought the show had been cancelled. When it was renewed, Magnum spent the first episode or two as a ghost and was brought back to life. Die-hard fans contend there is evidence throughout the final season that indicates Magnum never came back to life at all, and they point to clues in the final episode, such as the revelation of Robin Masters’ identity (contradicting evidence in earlier episodes), Magnum’s instant changing into a Navy uniform and haircut, and the fact Magnum is seen with what might be his dead daughter in the final scene. An alternate point of view contends that Magnum is killed for real in the final episode, and that the last scenes take place ‘in Heaven’.

On Magnum’s navy uniform, one can see the blue and white ribbon for the navy cross, as well as the naval special warfare insignia. This means he earned the nation’s second highest award for naval personnel and was a SEAL.

By the time Magnum, P.I. went into production, the movie “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark” was being filmed. Tom Selleck was originally chosen to star in the film, but his commitment to Magnum, P.I. prevented him from doing so.

In addition to playing Magnum, Tom Selleck also played Kelly Garret’s boyfriend Dr Alan Samuelson in the first season of C

The series was broadcast from 11 December 1980 – 12 September 1988. There were a 162 episodes in total across 8 seasons.

Cast: Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley, Larry Manetti,

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