Magnum, P.I.-Volume 1 (1980)

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Released 18-Feb-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1980
Running Time 320:27 (Case: 319)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (22:41)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Alan J. Levi
Ray Austin
Roger Young
Jackie Cooper

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Tom Selleck
John Hillerman
Roger E. Mosley
Larry Manetti
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Mike Post
Pete Carpenter
Ian Freebairn-Smith

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French Titling
German Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    People love an island paradise, and for a television show, what could be more interesting than a cop show on an island paradise? As Hawaii Five-O would demonstrate from 1968 to 1980, an exotic backdrop makes an entertaining show just that little bit more fun. Throw in a bit of whodunit detective action and you've got a winner. In 1980, Hawaii Five-O would end after a huge 12 season run, and in its place would come another classic crime action show - Magnum P.I.

    When it comes to creating great television programs, the names Glen A. Larson and Don Bellisario spring immediately to mind. On Glen's side, he can claim credit for producing such shows as Alias Smith and Jones, Quincy, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Knight Rider. On Don's side, it's titles such as Baa Baa Black Sheep, Tales of the Golden Monkey, Airwolf, Quantum Leap, JAG and the new series NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigation Service) along with Battlestar Galactica in conjunction with Glen A. Larson. Mind you, the above titles are just a smattering of their efforts and by no means a complete list. Suffice it to say, these two guys know what they're doing, and they sure got it right when they put together one of their best efforts, Magnum P.I.

    With the pairing of television's two most creative producers and writers, the only thing to round out the making of a classic show were the actors, and you couldn't get any better than Tom Selleck for the lead role of Thomas Sullivan Magnum. Born in 1945, Tom Selleck had small parts in television shows and commercials, but it was his commercials for Safeguard soap that brought him to many people's attention (including my mum, who thought he was 'hot'). His rugged good looks were just what people (women) of the time found most attractive in a man, and it was time that the mantle of 'The World's Sexiest Man' passed from Burt Reynolds to Tom Selleck. I know what you're thinking, but remember this was a different era and what was hot then probably would be laughed at now. Anyway, Tom took the role of a former Vietnam vet and navy SEAL that had left the service to work in Hawaii as a private investigator. Setting himself up in the estate of the famous writer Robin Masters, Magnum enjoyed a rent free life at the Masters estate in turn for being in charge of security, all much to the consternation of Jonathan Higgins (John Hillerman) who is in charge of the estate. Seeing Magnum as sort of a freeloader, the straight-laced Englishman is the frequent rival of Magnum, but at times is quite empathetic to the investigator's dramas, mostly due to their common wartime experience (Higgins in W.W.II, Magnum in Vietnam). Rounding out the rest of the main characters are TC (Roger E. Mosley) and Rick (Larry Manetti), both wartime buddies of Magnum's. TC is a helicopter pilot who runs a charter company called Island Hoppers and spends all too much time running Magnum around while he investigates his various cases. Rick is a club owner who always has his finger on the pulse of the island's underworld. The experience of Vietnam binds these three together and they frequently become involved in each other's lives, which always end up with some sort of drama.

    This is a great show, and one of the classic detective television series ever made. Using the classic narration style (a la Sam Spade and Mike Hammer), we follow Magnum and his various escapades around the islands where over the course of 8 years and seven seasons (1980 to 1988) he managed to implicate everyone on the Hawaiian Islands at least twice in some sort of crime. There has been some talk of a follow up film or mini-series to this popular show, but as yet nothing has been committed to. Still, I for one would love to see this again, even if Tom Selleck is pushing 60 (Can you believe it?!? I feel so old!).

    Thanks to Universal, we have recently received a big range of classic 70s and 80s television shows, including The A-Team, Knight Rider , Miami Vice and Battlestar Galactica . This two disc set is a combination of the pilot episode and some other shows from the series. I found several of the episodes included in this set to be too similar in storyline (as you'll read in the episode synopsis), but it is a good start regardless and I can only hope that this is a precursor to the release of the complete 8 seasons on DVD. We can only hope. In the meantime, enjoy this little walk down nostalgia lane. I loved this show as a youngster, and it still is great television.

 Disc 1

1. Don't Eat the Snow in Hawaii (Pilot Episode: 1980)   -   89:43   Directed by Roger Young
Written by Donald P. Bellisario and Glen A. Larson

Staring:   Pamela Susan Shoop as Alice Cook, W.K. Stratton as Ensign Healy, Allen Williams as Lieutenant Dan Cook,  Robert Loggia as Phillipe Trusseau (aka La Bull), Yuliis Ruval as Greta,  Jeff Mackay as Sergeant Ski and  Judge Reinhold as Seaman Wolfe.

    Thomas Magnum has just landed himself a dream job. Acting as the new 'Head of Security' for the Robin Masters Estate, it's Magnum's job to check the various aspects of the estate, from the gates and fences that surround the compound to the theft-proofing of Mr. Masters' Ferrari. All this is a great annoyance to the estate's manager, Jonathan Higgins, a fastidious man that loathes Magnum's apparent freeloading of the estate's guest bungalow, which has been loaned to Magnum by Robin Masters in exchange for security advice. With a place to live and the use of the Ferrari (after a deal/truce between Magnum and Higgins), this enables Magnum to spend his time doing his 'real' job, private investigations.

    When Dan Cook, an old navy buddy fails to make a planned meeting with Magnum alarm bells begin to sound. When the body of his mate is found, it's discovered that he died due to packets of cocaine bursting in his stomach. Not believing that his friend was connected with any sort of drug smuggling racket, Magnum sets out to find the truth. As he didn't exactly leave the navy on the best of terms, Magnum has a bit of trouble getting to the real story behind the strange death of his friend. When Dan's younger sister arrives on the island to learn more about her brother's death, Magnum has mixed feelings, especially as he's attracted to her, and the timing couldn't be worse.

    As Magnum digs deeper into the case, he begins to uncover a web of lies and cover-ups that run from Hawaiian drug lords to the top brass of the U.S. Navy. And inexorably linked to the whole case is someone out of Magnum's past, and when the past and present collide, it's a deadly combination.

    This was a very good start to this series, and it's nice to see that even as a pilot, all the charm of the characters from the show gel straight away. Many shows struggle to establish themselves and their main characters, but this one works right from the start, which is probably one of the main reasons why the show became so popular and ran for 8 years.

2. Memories are Forever - 2 Hr. Special (Series 2, Episode 23: 1981)   -   93:20   Directed by Ray Austin
Written by Donald P. Bellisario

Staring:  Marta DuBois as Michelle Hue, Soon-Teck Oh as General Nguyen Hue,  Jeff Mackay as Lieutenant 'Mac' MacReynolds,  Lance LeGault as Colonel 'Buck' Greene, Clyde Kusatsu as Colonel Ki and Paul Burke as Admiral Kitchner.

    While investigating the usual cheating husband type case, Magnum spots a beautiful woman on a luxury yacht who bears a striking resemblance to a woman he was briefly married to in Vietnam. Managing to snap a few quick photographs, Magnum develops them and presents the 'evidence' to a very sceptical Rick and TC. While his two friends don't quite see the similarities, Magnum is sure that it is his long lost wife, whom he assumed was killed in a bomb attack while still in Vietnam. Undeterred by Rick and TC's scepticism, Magnum begins his investigations into the woman and her whereabouts.

    As Magnum gets closer to the identity of the woman on the yacht, a conspiracy seems determined to keep him from contacting her. When Thomas is suddenly called back into active navy service (including a promotion) to give evidence before a board of inquiry, Magnum suspects that he is getting too close to the truth and the hearing is just a smoke screen to keep him off the woman's trail. As the promotion and call to attend the hearings in Washington have came via direct orders from the President, Thomas begins to wonder just how high the conspiracy to keep him from his former wife goes.

    As Magnum manages to evade the order to travel to Washington, he continues on his quest to find the woman, and soon his search begins to bear fruit as he finds that the woman is indeed Michelle, his former wife and that she is now married to a senior Vietnamese General, who is holding talks with the U.S. government on the return of the remains of U.S. soldiers killed in Vietnam. When the name of a Vietnamese operative named 'The Tiger' comes to light, some wonder if it is Michelle. All must be brought into the light quickly, even though Magnum realizes that it could spell danger for himself, and his former bride.

    While the above synopsis doesn't really show it, this episode is very, very similar to the pilot episode. With its photographed evidence of someone from Magnum's Vietnam past, the cover-ups and smokescreens thrown up by the Navy, even Magnum getting shot in the same place at the end of the episode (don't worry, he lives), it all seems too similar for my liking and to have it right after the pilot episode doesn't help. Still, we start to get into the regular series with this one, including the classic Mike Post theme music. A good episode, but the placing of this one in this 'best of' series seems a bit poorly thought out.

Disc 2  
3. Black on White (Series 3, Episode 46: 1982)   -   46:27   Directed by Alan J. Levi
Written by Donald P. Bellisario

Staring:  Ian McShane as Edwin Clutterbuck,  Lynne Moody as Bibi Kiamani, Gillian Dobb as Agatha Chumley and Glenn Cannon as Dr. Ibold.

    Higgins is surprised when, after barging into the guest house (Magnum's territory), he discovers that Magnum is suffering from African hemorrhagic fever. Now, having come into contact with the contagion, Higgins learns that he must stay in the bungalow for several days while the doctor can confirm the existence of the fever and treat the patients if required. Needless to say, Higgins is less than pleased to be cooped up with the somewhat grubby Magnum in his Neanderthal abode. Still, it's for the best, and Higgins doesn't know the half of it.

    There is no hemorrhagic fever, but something perhaps more deadly threatens Higgins. Members of his old army regiment are systematically being killed off, each by the light of a full moon. It's believed that a member of the Kenyan Mau Mau tribe is seeking revenge on the last surviving members of the British regiment that ransacked their village and killed many of its inhabitants. Former Private Edwin Clutterbuck, having escaped an attack in London, has travelled to Hawaii to warn his former regiment commander of the looming danger. As several former colleges have already met their end, it's figured that Higgins could be next, even though he wasn't at the Kenyan village at the time.

    Things start to get interesting as a mysterious and beautiful African woman comes to TC's Island Hoppers charter service to avail herself of his services. Claiming to work for a London magazine, there may be more to this beauty than meets the eye. Meanwhile, a full moon nears on the island and little do Magnum, Higgins and the crew realize that the Mau Mau killer may just be closer than they think.

    This is a simple one, and a reasonable bit of fun. In the scheme of the series, Episode 47 Flashback would have been my pick from this season, but as we're getting a smattering from all over the place, I suppose we can't complain too much.

4. Mac's Back (Series 5, Episode 87: 1984)   -   46:18   Directed by Alan J. Levi
Written by Donald P. Bellisario

Staring:  Jeff Mackay as Mac / Jim Bonnick, Lance LeGault as Colonel 'Buck' Greene and  Sharon Stone as Diane Dupres (in flashback).

    Mourning the death of girlfriend Diane, Magnum has drunk himself into oblivion in the hopes that it'll cure all his ills. As his friends reach out to him, he acknowledges their concern, but tells them that he just doesn't care anymore. Reliving the death of Diane over and over again in his mind, he makes a startling discovery while driving downtown when he spies someone who looks exactly like his old friend Lieutenant 'Mac', dressed in full U.S. Navy dress. Since Mac was killed by a bomb intended for him several years ago (Did You See the Sunrise? Series 3, Episodes 41 and 42, which are quite possibly the best episodes of the entire 8 seasons), Magnum finds it hard to believe his eyes. Thomas' friends find it even harder to believe and attribute Magnum's sighting of Mac to a delusion in keeping with his recent state of mind. Not convinced that he's seeing things, Magnum sets up in a nearby restaurant where he first saw 'Mac' in the hopes that he'll pass again, and sure enough he does.

    When Magnum finally gets to meet this 'Mac' he finds that he's just of a similar appearance and not the man he originally thought he was. When Magnum digs deeper into the identity of this 'new Mac', he finds that the Navy identity given matches nothing that it should, and he realizes that whilst this isn't Mac, it isn't who the man says he is either. Something strange is going on, and Magnum will have to get to the bottom of it. The thing is, this man may be more than just a Mac lookalike, and it'll put Magnum in some danger to find the truth.

    This episode is good, but it is really out of place without the context of the previous two Episodes 85 and 86 Echoes of the Mind Pt. 1 and 2. In these episodes, we find Magnum taking a case to help a woman with someone out to get her. In the course of events, he falls in love with the woman (Diane Dupres, played by Sharon Stone) only to see her commit suicide. This is why we see him in such a state at the start of this episode. Without the context of the earlier storyline, this one is a bit of a fish out of water. Another reason to suspect that whomever put this package of episodes together was out to lunch while doing so. A good episode, but it requires the two previous to make any sense.

5. The People vs. Orville Wright (Series 7, Episode 148: 1987)   -   44:39   Directed by Jackie Cooper
Written by Jay Huguely,  Bruce Cervi and Chris Abbott from a story by Tom Selleck and Chas. Floyd Johnson

Staring:  Elisha Cook, Jr. as Ice Pick, John Zarchen as Farnsworth,  Maria O'Brien as the managerial applicant, Kathleen Lloyd as Assistant District Attorney Carol Baldwin and Lyman Ward as Frank Foley.

    When island underworld character Francis "Ice Pick" Hofstetler can't be found, Rick asks Magnum to find out where he is. When a hit man is killed and Rick is implicated in the death, time is growing short. Things are made more complicated as Rick refuses to deny the charges in the murder case brought against him and seems resigned to whatever fate will befall him. When a photo of a murdered Ice Pick comes to light, things get even worse. Rick's  friends Magnum and TC refuse to let their friend go down without a fight and do their best to find out the truth about Ice Pick.

    Heading head-long into the murky underworld that is Ice Pick's, Magnum begins to make some inquiries, and the more he uncovers, the more confused he becomes. Seemingly tied into the whole affair is a bookkeeper for Ice Pick who might know more than he's letting on. When push comes to shove and the bookkeeper makes a run for it, Magnum and TC follow in the chopper to uncover the reason for the man's sudden getaway. What they discover could just save their good friend Rick and prove him innocent, but will it be enough?

    What would a collection of Magnum episodes be without one featuring Ice Pick? They could have picked a better episode to feature him though, as this was intended to be the second to last episode of the entire series (and the ending will give some indication that the show was going to end). Instead, Magnum was brought back for one more season, so this really isn't as close to the end as it could have been. The ending of this show will frustrate some viewers, as it really leaves some characters up in the air. Knowing that there is more to come from the crew makes it all the more important that this series is released in total, series by series on DVD. And soon.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    These discs present the show in its original intended aspect ratio 1.33:1 (full frame) for broadcast on free to air television.

    As this series was filmed on real film, you are going to get the usual things affecting the sharpness and clarity of the image. Grain, focus, lighting (or lack thereof), and film stock used all would contribute to what you see and how good it is. For the most part, we get a quite clear image throughout. There are the occasional focus issues, such as that seen in The People vs. Orville Wright at 31:18, but this isn't too bad. Shadow detail is workable here, but not of cinema quality as some darker scenes fail to reveal much detail. Still, it isn't too bad and as good as what was originally broadcast free to air 20 plus years ago. I had no issues with low level noise.

    Colour's use in this program is very natural with much of the island's colours captured well, with green foliage, blue skies and crystal clear blue water all for us to see, wishing we were there. Colour's commitment to the disc is good, even if the colours seem a bit muted, either due to age or the film stock used at the time.

    The transfer to DVD is done reasonably well, with the average video bitrate running at around 6.45 Mb/s. This rate is fairly steady and is enough to handle the material well enough to display various flaws such as film grain and the occasional nick and fleck. I had no problems with pixelization or macroblocking. Island hopping annoyance edge enhancement isn't as prevalent here, but this is quite often the case with some of these older shows that were shot on film, which leaves one less step in the chain that could add the nasty bugger. As stated before, grain is an issue from time to time here, as can be seen in Memories are Forever at 32:39 and 78:57, but as this series was shot on film it's to be expected. Other than the occasional nick and fleck, the prints used to transfer these episodes to DVD are reasonably clean and present the shows reasonably well.

    We have several subtitle options here, these being English, French, German and Dutch. I watched several of the episodes with the English titles enabled and found them to be reasonably accurate without being word for word.

    This two disc set presents the programs formatted RSDL with the layer change on Disc 1 placed between the episodes and the layer change on Disc 2 taking place during Mac's Back at 22:41.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    We have 3 audio options here, these being English, French and German Dolby Digital 2.0 mixes running at a very basic 192 Kb/s. This is basically mono times two with nothing to provide any sort of surround information. You'll have to rely on your A/V receiver's DSP programmes to get ambient rear effect.

    I found the dialogue quality to be good, with the spoken word easily understood throughout the program. I did have some issues with audio sync, with the dialogue being out quite a bit particularly during Memories are Forever at 6:04 and for an extended period at 82:40-83:32. This may have been present in the original transfer print and could not be the fault of the transfer to DVD, but it's there for all to see, so be aware.

    Music for this show comes from a couple of people. The original main theme for the show was composed by Ian Freebairn-Smith, and this lasted for the first 7 episodes (counting the pilot as Parts 1 and 2) before being replaced in Episode 8 The Ugliest Dog in Hawaii by the familiar theme by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter. While the familiar Post - Carpenter would serve out the show until its end, I always had a soft spot for the show's original theme which is quite different to the rockin' high energy newer main theme. Some have commented that the show's original theme was replaced by the Post - Carpenter theme in syndication, but I can report that it was still used up until 1989 when I watched the show on cable television in the U.S. where it hadn't been replaced. It is possible that the theme was changed after that time, or it wasn't changed by some cable networks.

    As stated before, the audio here is fairly basic and replicates the sound that would have originally been broadcast in the early and mid 80s, that is, mono. It's up to your receiver to do some surround magic if you want anything in that department, as these discs will provide you with precious little. My subwoofer wasn't troubled at any stage.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    We get a bare bones / extras free package here, folks.


    After the usual distributor's logos, we are taken to the initial Language Menu which offers us the choice of English, French, German or Dutch. After selection, it's on to the normal copyright warnings and then the disc's Main Menu which offers up the following:     Selection of any of the above takes the viewer to a static page with the choices selectable. The Episode page lists the names of the episodes only and while there are chapter stops for each episode, there is no menu for these. On the Episode Menus, there is a static postcard-like image with a smaller image located at the top left featuring a very small image of cast members of the show. While this isn't selectable, I got the impression that it was designed to be and wonder if there was originally going to be a link to a Bio page or similar feature. As it stands, it is inactive.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    From what I have been able to determine, this package has been released in Region 2 U.K. in exactly the same form as we have here and in fact ours is dual coded for Regions 2 and 4. At this point I am unable to find any reference to any release in Region 1. It's possible that Universal is using these 'Best Of' releases in the international market to gauge the marketability of the shows before committing themselves to a multi-series roll out. All I can say is the faster they do it, the happier I'll be. For now, a win for Region 4.


    This is without a doubt one of the best detective television programs ever to grace our screens. The main characters would be developed over the seasons and become more than just two dimensional cardboard cut-outs as so many programs see fit to present. A great show that still entertains. The package here is just enough to whet our appetites, but the selection of the episodes for this 'Best Of' collection seems poorly thought out at best. Several of the episodes here are too alike in story and one can only be watched in conjunction with the previous two episodes, which aren't present in this package. A great idea for a great show, but the sooner we see the entire 8 series package released on DVD here in Region 4 the better.

    The video is okay, but there are some grain issues from time to time.

    The audio is just okay, with a very basic mono sound to serve out this collection. There are the occasional sync issues as well.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Sunday, February 15, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

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Comments (Add)
Magnum P.I. Series 1 is out in the USA Soon..... - REPLY POSTED