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Magnum PI - Season 1
Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 886 mins . M15+ . PAL

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Beginning in 1980, Magnum P.I. was a stable of '80s television until it finally ended its successful run in 1988. Along with other action TV shows like The A-Team, MacGyver, Knight Rider and Airwolf, Magnum P.I. was always fun, melodramatic, highly addictive television.

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Magnum and his moustache

Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck) is a Vietnam veteran turned private investigator who, along with his war comrades, pilot T.C. (Roger E. Mosley) and club owner Rick (Larry Manetti), resides in Hawaii. Magnum lives free of charge on the estate of famed author Robyn Masters, in exchange for testing the estate's security system. Magnum has it pretty much made, his only problem is head of estate security, Higgins (John Hillerman), who along with his pet Dobermans, Zeus and Apollo, can just barely tolerate the presence of the ‘free loading’ Magnum.

While Magnum doesn't have to pay for his accommodation, he still has to make a living, and despite his steady stream of clients, he never seems to have any money and is constantly in debt to friends. Like The A-Team, Magnum usually takes cases involving a beautiful woman or someone with a sad story who can't afford to pay him anything close to what he charges. These kinds of heart-warming cases are the focus of many episodes, while other episodes deal with the seedy criminal underbelly of the islands.

Regardless of the situation or the people involved, Magnum usually ends up saving the day, not getting paid and therefore has to continue to deal with Higgins and his many rules and regulations. The Higgins and Magnum relationship is one of the highlights of the show. Their constant struggle for the upper hand makes for endlessly entertaining antics as they both try to outwit each other. Their rivalry is established in the first episode and is centre stage in every episode of this fantastic 18 episode first season.

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Wax on, wax off

Magnum P.I. is just one of many classic '80s shows that has recently been released on DVD and thankfully many more are slated for release. The problem is that some of these shows haven’t aged particularly well, although part of the joy of watching these programs on DVD is that it’s fun to indulge in a little nostalgia.

But dealing with nostalgia can be quite tricky and there are certainly some shows that are brilliant in memory, but tragically awful when revisited in the present. Magnum P.I. is not one of those shows. It's still entertaining and there are two main reasons for this, the location and the leading man. Set in one of those island paradises we all wish we could run away to, the endless shots of milky beaches and baby blue skies are so inviting that it's impossible not to be swept away. Add the presence of one of the most charming and appealing men that has ever graced the small screen, the moustache man himself, Tom Selleck and you have one damn fine show that is as fresh and fun today as it was in 1980.

Disc One

  • Please Don’t Eat The Snow in Hawaii Part One
  • Please Don’t Eat The Snow in Hawaii Part Two
  • China Doll

Disc Two

  • Thank Heaven for Little Girls and Big Ones Too
  • No Need to Know
  • Skin Deep

Disc Three

  • Never Again....Never Again
  • The Ugliest Dog in Hawaii
  • Missing in Action

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Future's so bright, I gotta wear shades

Disc Four

  • Lest We Forget
  • The Curse of the king Kamehameha Club
  • Thicker Than Blood

Disc Five

  • All Roads lead to Floyd
  • Adelaide
  • Don’t Say Goodbye

Disc Six

  • The Black Orchid
  • J.”Digger”Doyle
  • Beauty Knows No Pain

  Video
  Audio
  Extras
Contract

Magnum P.I. is presented in its original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 Fullscreen. The 18 episodes are spread over six discs, three episodes to a disc with layer changes occurring between episodes. These episodes are over 24 years old and while there a few problems, it is doubtful that they could have been improved. Film artefacts are very noticeable in most episodes with grain also frequently present.

Colour is quite good with skin tones realistic and shadow details acceptable. Magnum’s Hawaiian shirts and red ferrari always look bright and the various Hawaiian locations are superbly rich in colour. Occasionally colours do appear slightly faded and details sometimes quite soft, but these problems are very minimal and do not significantly affect the viewing experience. Although there are a few problems, the overall visuals for the show are exceptional considering its age.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo soundtrack is solid and unproblematic. Sound is confined to the front and centre channels as is typical with a stereo mix. There are some instances of obvious dubbing, but otherwise there are no other issues. The classic theme song (which doesn’t appear until half way through the season) sounds pretty good and the overall soundtrack serves the series admirably.

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Magnum & Higgins

Episode summaries and episode listings providing the episode number and airdate are the only extras.

This first season of Magnum P.I. is slightly uneven with some extremely strong episodes while other episodes struggle with both character development and story. As the season progresses, the show firmly establishes a successful formula, which would serve it well for it's eight season run. It would be easy to moan about the lack of extras, but this small issue shouldn't discourage anyone from indulging in some Magnum P.I. action.


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  •   And I quote...
    "Much more than a trip down nostalgia lane, Magnum P.I. is a great show that has stood the test of time."
    - Rebecca Taylor
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DAV-S300
    • TV:
          Sony KDE 42XBR950 Plasma
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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