Saved from reboot cancellation, it has a strong pair of reboots, though little to offer beyond them.
It’s a rare thing for a show to come back from the dead, but it makes sense that it got a reboot Magnum P.I was one of them. Sure, it could never quite reach the heights of the beloved original series, but it did garner a dedicated following on its own. Despite relatively strong ratings, it was canceled by CBS at the end of season 4, although NBC gave it a new lease of life. Fans of the new series may be excited about the prospect of spending more time with these characters, but it’s hard to see them winning over new followers who aren’t on board yet. For all the ways it tries to update the material with lame jokes about modern technology like FaceTime or Instagram, there’s nothing new the series is trying to find. Even though we live in an age of nostalgia-driven entertainment where such reboots are inevitable, Magnum P.I he still can’t ignore his existence.
In the two episodes provided for review, the titular Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) and Juliet Higgins (Lost Weeks) after finally expressing their mutual feelings. This development is something the couple is still working on and isn’t entirely sure as they continue to take on customers. The series continues with all the standard progression as they drive around in their bright red car, strategize together about the case and deal with potential complications with ease. The personal and the professional mix even more as they will be investigating one moment and flirting the next. While Hernandez and Weeks are each charming enough to convey the chemistry between their characters, there’s still a sense that everything else is mechanical. The spark is never beyond the broad strokes to delve deeper into the fun. Where the original series remains memorable after all these decades, it’s hard to imagine that this one will have the same impact, even when given a new crack. Although the bar is high, there is little that attempts to leap.
That’s not to say there isn’t fun to be had, but the exposition drags out all these moments. With Hernandez and Weeks having to fill in the lines needed to bring their characters to the next stage of the case, it can be exhausting. Even when things pick up and there’s a questionable break, it’s approached with such honesty that it’s almost comical. One sequence, when Magnum and Higgins conduct an interrogation about how someone who commands so much attention is moved by the effects of their questions, feels empty. “Well, that was something” and when we’re told the revelations the episode showed us a moment ago, there’s no excitement in seeing it wrapped up. The show basically operates as a stupid procedural, afraid that if it doesn’t write everything ad nauseum it will lose its audience. His feet are never quick enough to keep things moving. Think what he has done in this debut season poker face so successful, and you get an idea of how it can be done well. That is not the case Magnum P.I, as the characters continue to have to explain the show outside of narrative slots. Despite facing a crisis, hearing a character cry out how they got here eases the tension.
There’s a degree of this that can be forgiven if the payoff is worth this whole setup, but that rarely happens. While a supposedly exciting action sequence will have plenty of screams, repeated camera zooms and lots of loud music telling us things are kicking off, that doesn’t make us care nearly enough. It remains something that cannot be completely dismissed that Hernandez and Weeks never call each other. If the show wasn’t built around them, it’s hard to even see it working. Even a small opening scene where Magnum and Higgins tease each other over breakfast can be hilarious. However, it goes by as quickly as it begins, not giving each other room to bounce back beyond a brief moment. This then makes it hard to get invested in some of the subplots that fall apart to keep things moving. Some of these works, that is, like the return of the wonderful comic weirdo Bobby Lee — he seems to be having a lot of fun wreaking havoc, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.
At one point, the show seems to be about to wrap up a subplot before suddenly changing its mind. Everything is quite abrupt and has no flow, like you just see the pieces moving around instead of being part of the story. Obviously there are more parts Magnum P.I Season 5 may be more entertaining than the beginning with our new partners finding exciting and tricky mysteries to work on. For those who weren’t particularly enamored with the first seasons so far, it doesn’t give much reason to jump beyond the potential new developments in the central relationship. It’s a solid foundation to build around, but it’s hard to see it being enough to carry the entire series with so many other flaws. Every time Hernandez and Weeks get a chance to inject a fun sense of play into everything they play, the rest Magnum P.I Season 5 remains stuck in neutral.
You can watch the first two episodes Magnum P.I Season 5 begins Sunday, February 19th on NBC and the following day on Peacock with the remaining episodes airing weekly.