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Private Investigator Thomas Sullivan Magnum resides in the guest house of a posh, 200-acre (0.81 km2) beachfront estate, known as Robin's Nest, in Hawaii, at the invitation of its owner, Robin Masters, the celebrated-but-never-seen author of several dozen lurid novels. Ostensibly this is quid pro quo for Magnum's services based upon Magnum's expertise in security; the pilot and several early episodes suggest Magnum also did Masters a favor of some kind, possibly when Masters hired him for a case. The voice of Robin Masters, heard only a few times per season, was provided by Orson Welles (one last "appearance" was provided by a different actor, Reid Crandell).
With Magnum living a luxurious life on the Estate and operating as a P.I. on cases that suit him, the only thorn in the side of this near-perfect lifestyle on the Estate, is Jonathan Quayle Higgins III (played by Texas-born veteran actor John Hillerman), an ex-British Army Sergeant Major, a (on the surface) stern, "by-the-book" ex-soldier whose strict ways usually conflict with Magnum's much more easy-going methods. He patrols Robin's Nest with his two highly trained "lads", Doberman Pinschers, Zeus and Apollo. Often as a humorous aside during various episodes of the series, Magnum must bargain with Higgins for use of estate amenities other than the guest house and the Ferrari 308 GTS (e.g., tennis courts, wine cellar, expensive cameras). The relationship between Magnum and Higgins was initially that almost of a "friendly nemesis", but as the series progressed over the seasons, an unspoken respect and fondness of sorts grew between the pair, and as such, many episodes dedicated more screen time to this "odd couple" pairing after the relationship proved popular with fans.
Aside from Higgins, Magnum's two other main cohorts on the islands are Theodore "T.C." Calvin (Roger E. Mosley), who runs local helicopter charter service Island Hoppers - and so often finds himself persuaded by Magnum to fly him during various cases; and Rick Wright (Larry Manetti) (who refuses to use his birth name, Orville), who owns a local bar. In the Pilot, this was "Rick's Place" in town, inspired by Casablanca, with Rick appearing in suitable 1930s attire. However, after completion of the Pilot, executives on the series felt that audiences would be unable to fully connect with this element, and instead Rick moved to running the plush beachside King Kamehameha Club - which has exclusive membership and Higgins on the board of directors, and yet Magnum often strolls around, using the facilities and running up an ever unpaid tab, further fueling the Magnum / Higgins feud. T.C. and Rick are both former Marines from VMO-2 with whom Magnum served in the Vietnam War. The series was one of the first to deal with Vietnam veterans as "human beings" and not as shell-shocked killers, and was praised by many ex-servicemen groups for doing so. Magnum often dupes, tricks or bribes T.C. and Rick into aiding him in various ways on the cases he works on, much to their frustration, though the deep friendship between the group, including Higgins, proved to be one of the key elements of the series over its eight-season run.
Magnum lives a dream lifestyle: he comes and goes as he pleases, works only when he wants to, has the almost unlimited use of a Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole as well as many other of Robin Masters’ luxuries. He keeps a mini-fridge with a seemingly endless supply of beer ("Old Dusseldorf in a long neck"), wears his father's treasured Rolex GMT Master wristwatch, is surrounded by countless beautiful women (who are often victims of crime, his clients or connected in various other ways to the cases he solves). Other characteristics specific to Magnum are his thick mustache, a Detroit Tigers baseball cap, a rubber chicken, and a variety of colorful Aloha shirts.
Nearly every episode is narrated, in voice-over, by Magnum at various points; and Magnum and Higgins often break the fourth wall by locking eyes with or, occasionally, directly addressing the audience; other characters also do this, though less frequently.
At the end of the seventh season, Magnum was to be killed off, which was intended to end the series. The final episode of the season, "Limbo", after seeing Magnum wander around as a ghost for nearly the entire run-time, closes with him appearing to walk off into heaven. However, following outcry from fans, who demanded a more satisfactory conclusion, an eighth, final season was produced, to bring Magnum "back to life", and to round the series off. A number of other episodes also make reference to supernatural occurrences and the seeming existence of ghosts.
|Tom Selleck||Thomas Magnum IV||*||*||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|John Hillerman||Jonathan Higgins III||*||*||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|Roger E. Mosley||Theodore "T.C." Calvin||*||*||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|Larry Manetti||Richard "Rick" Wright||*||*||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|Jeff MacKay||Lt. Mac McReynolds||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|Kwan Hi Lim||Lt. Yoshi Tanaka||*||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|Glenn Cannon||Doc Ibold||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|Lance LeGault||Col. Buck Greene||*||*||*||*||*|
|Gillian Dobb||Agatha Chumley||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|Jean Bruce Scott||Lt. Com. Maggie Poole||*||*||*||*|
|Elisha Cook, Jr.||Francis "Icepick" Hofstetler||*||*||*||*||*|
|Kathleen Lloyd||ADA Carol Baldwin||*||*||*||*||*|
|Season One||December 11, 1980||April 16, 1981||18|
|Season Two||October 8, 1981||April 1, 1982||22|
|Season Three||September 30, 1982||April 28, 1983||23|
|Season Four||September 29, 1983||May 3, 1984||21|
|Season Five||September 27, 1984||April 4, 1985||22|
|Season Six||September 26, 1985||April 10, 1986||21|
|Season Seven||October 1, 1986||April 15, 1987||22|
|Season Eight||October 7, 1987||May 1, 1988||13|
- At a Glance: Additional information about the series
|Season Sets (Region 1)|
|The Complete First Season||September 7, 2004||purchase||4|
|The Complete Second Season||April 12, 2005||purchase||3|
|The Complete Third Season||January 31, 2006||purchase||3|
|The Complete Fourth Season||April 4, 2006||purchase||3|
|The Complete Fifth Season||October 10, 2006||purchase||5|
|The Complete Sixth Season||February 27, 2007||purchase||5|
|The Complete Seventh Season||October 30, 2007||purchase||5|
|The Complete Eighth Season||March 4, 2008||purchase||5|