Once A CBS Staple, 'Magnum' Tees Up Final 10 Episodes On NBC

For the second time in 35 years, “Magnum P.I.” fans are saying good-bye to their hero, Thomas Magnum, the famed Hawaii-based TV private eye and action figure.

Their long good-bye will last for 10 episodes starting Wednesday night on NBC. After those episodes run their course, the second “Magnum P.I.” will be no more.

The first “Magnum P.I.” was the show that made Tom Selleck a star. It ended in May 1988 after eight seasons -- all of them on CBS.

Hopefully, many of the original show’s fans lived long enough to experience the new “Magnum P.I.” when it came to CBS in September 2018.

It was reviewed here in a memorable TV Blog published on September 18, 2018 -- six days before its premiere.



“The funny thing is: This new version of this very old show should have about an ice cube's chance in hell of succeeding, but it will probably be a hit anyway,” raved the TV Blog.

Was the new one a hit? That gets harder for me to determine with each passing year since the criteria keep multiplying. 

TV is not a straight ratings game anymore, but I wish it was. Alas, it was all so much easier then.

Nevertheless, the new “Magnum,” starring Jay Hernandez in the title role (above photo, left), lasted five seasons, which is more than one can say for a lot of shows these days.

The show leaves 86 episodes. Will that be enough to earn it a future in off-network syndication? Time was, 100 episodes was the benchmark for a show to be sold in TV’s vast aftermarket, and sometimes it was a little less than 100. 

But 86? I’m not too sure about that. Hmm, I think someone has to bone up on his knowledge of present-day television syndication. Will do.

NBC picked up the show after four seasons on CBS, but NBC is only keeping the new “Magnum” around for one season, its fifth.

During its time at CBS, the new “Magnum” was co-produced by CBS Studios and NBCU’s Universal Television. 

NBC’s decision to pick up the show after CBS dropped it, and bring it back for another 20 episodes, might have been a strategy aimed at building the episode count to meet the syndication threshold.

Whatever the situation was, the 10 episodes starting this week represent the second half of the show’s 20-episode Season Five. The previous 10 aired last February to April.

As the final 10 episodes get underway, we encounter a situation that is so like network television to do, or at least it used to be.

And that is: Having two characters -- male and female -- go from workmates to bedmates. In many of these made-for-TV romances, it’s not just for sex.

It’s because, after all the time they have spent together, the two both realize they are really and truly in love -- as they have been directed to be by network executives.

And wouldn’t you know it? That’s what happens with Thomas Magnum and his comely, kick-ass colleague, Juliet Higgins (Perdita Week, above photo, right).

They’ve gone from partners to lovers and as a result, the first of these 10 episodes takes up a bit too much time with their gentle, verbal sparring like hormonal teenagers about the nature of their relationship .

But besides making goo-goo eyes at each other, the two have a case on their hands stemming from the death of a local doctor in a suspicious car crash.

It’s a complicated case that unfolds in surprising ways, which earns a hats-off to the show’s writers (who wrote this script long before the recent writers’ strike).

“Magnum” fans can rest assured that their show will not leave the air without a fight -- lots of them, in fact.

In this week’s episode, the two newly hatched lovebirds will be outnumbered by bad guys, but go on to vanquish them with feet and fists of fury.

This victory should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with classic television, where good guys and gals always win, or so they used to.

Good-bye, “Magnum.” Please don’t wait until 2058 to come back one more time. 

The fifth and final season of “Magnum P.I.” starts on Wednesday (October 4) at 9 p.m. Eastern on NBC, not CBS.

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