TV ReviewsMagnum P.I. (2018) Season 1 Episode 1: I Saw the Sun Rise Review

Keith NoakesSeptember 25, 2018

I’ve never seen the original incarnation of Magnum P.I. but everybody knows about the cars, Hawaii, and Tom Selleck’s mustache. In the age of reboots, will this one match up?

Synopsis: After returning home from Afghanistan, Thomas Magnum re-purposes his military skills to become a private investigator in Hawaii.  (IMDB)

Writers: Peter M. Lenkov and Eric Guggenheim

Director: Justin Lin

Rating: TV-14

Running Time: 43mins

Airs: Mondays at 9pm on CTV (Canada)/CBS (United States)

Pretty much in line with the pilot from the 2016 Macgyver reboot, this pilot for the reboot of Magnum P.I. is awful to say the least. While it definitely feels like a series from the 1980s, this isn’t necessarily a good thing as it just comes off as dated now in 2018. Of course those craving some nostalgia will surely find enough to enjoy here, however, the almost unbearable amount of cheesiness on screen makes this episode at least hard to watch as you will roll your eyes at the terrible writing and mediocre special effects on screen.

The story this time around finds ex-Navy Seal turned private investigator Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) living in Hawaii as live-in security for a journalist who was part of his unit and became a successful author named Robin Masters. He is still very close with his Navy buddies TC (Stephen Hill), Rick (Zachary Knighton), and Nuzo (Domenick Lombardozzi) while also having a contentious relationship with Masters’ property manager Juliett Higgins (Perdita Weeks) who just happened to be a bored, disavowed MI6 agent.

When Magnum went to visit Nuzo about a job, he arrived in the middle of a kidnapping where a pair of ex-Seals took Nuzo to find the location of a sunken ship full of gold. After refusing to give them the location, he was murdered. Determined to find his friend’s murderers, the rest of the gang took matters in their own hands, butting heads with the police and Detective Gordon Katsumoto (Sung Kang). Magnum found the men and the gold but not before getting beat up and destroying a few expensive cars for good measure. In a needlessly elaborate chase, the men were led off a cliff followed by the inevitable vehicle explosion. The episode ended with the gang heading for Nuzo’s funeral. This was supposed to be emotional but it was hard to care since we know almost nothing about these characters.

As you would expect, the series places Magnum on a pedestal. He is a cool, wisecracking guy who always got his way. This is supposed to make him endearing but terrible writing and/or direction, including way too much narration, made Magnum so unlikable that this persona had the opposite effect and became cringe-worthy at times. The dialog and humor were so cheesy and the plot was so derivative and contrived that it took away any of the fun that could have been had here. The best part of the episode was the car chases but they just had to play cliche, 80s action music overtop of it.

The acting was mediocre for the most part with everyone falling victim to the terrible writing. Hernandez as Magnum never seemed to fit the part and always seemed to be trying too hard instead of acting natural. The episode implied a romantic relationship between him and Weeks’ Higgins but their lack of chemistry showed which made their scenes painful to watch. Their many exchanges were surely meant to be funny, however, they were nothing but cringe-worthy. The jury is still out on Hill and Knighton as they were relegated to sidekicks.

Overall, this was a terrible episode that may provide viewers with a nostalgia fix but others will see it as incredibly dated. The episode may mean well but the terrible writing and/or direction and the performances sink it. Hernandez never seemed to fit the part of Magnum. Now going back to Macgyver, it’s first episode was god awful until it got better over time so maybe that can happen here. However, it’s unlikely.

Score: 3.5/10

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