‘Magnum’ remake defiles hallowed TV ground

I don’t want to say CBS is completely bankrupt when it comes to originality, but this is the network that’s about to launch a Dick Wolf procedural about the FBI that’s called “FBI.”

Granted, CBS has bigger worries right now. (See Moonves, Les.) But have you looked at its prime-time lineup lately?

“Hawaii Five-0,” “MacGyver” and “S.W.A.T.”? Remakes.

“Survivor”? Another remake.

“Young Sheldon”? Spinoff.

“NCIS”? Spinoff.

“NCIS: Los Angeles” and “NCIS: New Orleans”? Spinoffs of a spinoff.

“Murphy Brown”? Revival.

“Elementary”? Public domain.

“Bull”? Based on Dr. Phil. Seriously.

As embarrassing as all this is — and it’s shameful, really — it has nothing on the cultural lowpoint that is “Magnum P.I.” (9 p.m. Monday). Of all the CBS remakes, this is the one that, depending on your age, actually feels as though someone is reaching back into your childhood and ruining even more of it.

There probably isn’t much overlap between “Survivor” viewers and fans of the Swedish hit “Expedition Robinson,” on which it’s based. “S.W.A.T.” lasted just two seasons from 1975 to ’76. Will Forte’s “MacGruber” chewed up any fond memories of “MacGyver” and then dribbled the crumbs onto its shirt. And while “Hawaii Five-O” — the original used the letter “O” instead of a zero — lasted an impressive 12 seasons, its biggest contributions were its swingin’ theme song and “Book ’em, Danno.”

“Magnum,” though. Man. That’s hallowed TV ground.

Tom Selleck won an Emmy for his portrayal of Thomas Magnum, the Ferrari-driving private investigator who crashed in novelist Robin Masters’ guest house. The late John Hillerman took home one as well as Jonathan Higgins, the Hawaiian estate’s excruciatingly proper majordomo. The series, which ran from 1980 to ’88, was nominated for outstanding drama three times.

The new version will be lucky to nab a nomination at the People’s Choice Awards, where this year, “WWE Raw” is up for TV show of the year.

Magnum was the poster boy for the era’s hirsute masculinity, and the former Navy man’s service in Vietnam was never far from the foreground. Those experiences forged a brotherhood with his fellow veterans Theodore “T.C.” Calvin (Roger E. Mosley) and Orville “Rick” Wright (Larry Manetti).

In updating the story, the remake includes a brief flashback to Afghanistan and the service of Magnum (Jay Hernandez), T.C. (Stephen Hill) and Rick (Zachary Knighton), but it’s more along the lines of “we spent some time as prisoners of war, and then we all bought matching rings.”

Higgins, rechristened Juliet (Perdita Weeks), still hates Magnum, but she can’t be bothered to dress in Hillerman’s matching khaki button down-and-shorts ensemble that made him look as though he were in command of a very casual military unit.

The lads — Dobermans named Zeus and Apollo — are there, as is T.C.’s yellow-, orange- and brown-striped helicopter that barely made sense in 1980.

One thing that hasn’t returned in the remake is the comma. “Magnum, P.I.” is now “Magnum P.I.” This definitely is a geeky sticking point. But even this Magnum is quick to point out that he isn’t a “private eye.” He’s a “private investigator.” Anyone who’s that big of a stickler surely would insist on the proper comma.

The biggest problem, though, aside from the fact that the series exists in the first place, is that Hernandez’s Magnum is nearly as charisma-free as he is mustache-free — the character’s iconic lip sweater has been replaced by a scruffy, stubbly little goatee.

To steal what surely was a joke used by Mad Magazine, Cracked or both, this “Magnum P.I.” is closer to “Magnum P.U.”

Selleck is 73 years old and already on the CBS payroll, thanks to “Blue Bloods.” Get him on a plane, throw a Detroit Tigers cap and some short shorts on him, and I guarantee the result would be better than this.

It couldn’t be much worse.

Local ties

Tom Selleck’s TV career is most identifiable with Hawaii. But he’s spent some time in Las Vegas.

Well, in “Las Vegas.”

When James Caan checked out of the fictional Montecito resort in 2007, Selleck signed onto the NBC drama as the casino’s new owner, billionaire oilman A.J. Cooper. He was only there for the show’s fifth and final season, but “Las Vegas” marked just his second stint as a series regular, following his short-lived 1998 comedy “The Closer,” since “Magnum, P.I.”

His “Magnum” co-star Larry Manetti, meanwhile, was a regular at the Plaza in downtown Las Vegas when it was owned by Barrick Gaming. In 2004, Manetti opened an eponymous restaurant inside the casino, where he hosted weekly celebrity brunches.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence @reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

Tim Burton's imaginative artwork coming to Las Vegas
Tim Burton's imaginative artwork coming to Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holiday poultry with Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine
Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine explain the different types of poultry available for the holidays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Spring Preserve kicks off its Holiday Express
Springs Preserve hosts its Holiday Express, which includes a train ride, visits with Santa, SNOW, and a village winter wonderland.
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas art exhibit
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas gallery exhibit
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with blooming jasmine tea
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with jasmine tea
Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like