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

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Released 1-Dec-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1980
Running Time 851:53 (Case: 886)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Multi Disc Set (6)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Corey Allen
Ray Austin
Donald P. Bellisario
Burt Brinckerhoff

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Tom Selleck
John Hillerman
Roger E. Mosley
Larry Manetti
Case ?
RPI $79.95 Music Velton Ray Bunch
Pete Carpenter
Ian Freebairn-Smith

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English 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 for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, snippets from the episode.

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

Plot Synopsis

    Magnum P.I. was one of those seminal TV shows of the 1980s. Created by Donald P. Bellisario (who brought you such other TV action classics as Air Wolf, Quantum Leap and more recently NCIS) and Glen A. Larson (who dreamt up Battlestar Galactica and Knight Rider), the idea of a detective show with military overtones and the sultry backdrop of Hawaii is truly inspired TV magic.

    The show involves the cases of former Naval Intelligence Officer Lt. Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck), who quit the Navy to become a private investigator. Magnum lives in Hawaii in the guest house on the estate of celebrated author Robin Masters (who we never see), and co-exists in a sort of love/hate relationship with the estate’s chief of security, former Brigadier Commander Jonathan Higgins (John Hillerman). Living on Hawaii with Magnum are his ex-Navy Vietnam War buddies, Theodore “T.C.” Calvin (Roger E. Mosley), and Orville “Rick” Wright (Larry Manetti).

    The first season spanned the following 18 episodes:

Disc 1

1.1 Please Don’t Eat The Snow In Hawaii: Part I (45:15)

    When one of Magnum’s wartime friends dies, apparently as a result of a drug smuggling operation gone wrong, he protests his friend’s innocence. Unable to get cooperation from the Nav to investigate, he takes it upon himself to dig deeper.

1.2 Please Don’t Eat The Snow In Hawaii: Part II (44:30)

    Magnum’s investigation into his friend’s death takes him into the seedy underworld of Hawaii and also into the heart of the Navy.

1.3 China Doll (47:51)

    Magnum is hired to guard an antique vase known as ‘The Soul of Soong’, which is being tracked down by a vicious Chinese killer.

Disc 2

1.4 Thank Heaven For Little Girls, And Big Ones Too (47:51)

    Magnum agrees to be hired by a group of young schoolgirls to find their teacher. However, what begins as a good deed soon lands Magnum in hot water.

1.5 No Need To Know (46:53)

    Higgins’ former CO is holed up at the Estate after the IRA vows revenge against him after two of their own are convicted.

1.6 Skin Deep (47:38)

    The apparent suicide of an actress leads Magnum to a death hunt on a deserted island while he is haunted by memories of the Vietnam War.

Disc 3

1.7 Never Again ... Never Again (47:48)

    Magnum is hired to protect an aging couple of Holocaust survivors from a group of Neo-Nazis.

1.8 The Ugliest Dog In Hawaii (47:49)

    Magnum is hired to guard a prized dog, however, he is unaware that the dog is being sought by a vicious mobster who has a soft spot for the pet.

1.9 Missing In Action (47:49)

    Magnum lands a case to track down a Marine from the Vietnam War who was listed as MIA but who is apparently still alive and in trouble.

Disc 4

1.10 Lest We Forget (47:49)

    A Supreme Court Judge nominee hires Magnum to find his wife who he lost contact with during the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

1.11 The Curse Of The King Kamehameha Club (47:50)

    After Rick and the local club is cursed by a Kahuna, a strange death and an illness leads Magnum to uncover the truth behind the curse.

1.12 Thicker Than Blood (47:49)

    When TC is accused of smuggling cocaine and takes the rap, Magnum tries to learn why his friend is taking the fall for a crime he didn’t commit.

Disc 5

1.13 All Roads Lead To Floyd (43:51)

    When Mangum is hired to find a lady’s father, now missing for ten years, he discovers that he is not the only one looking for him.

1.14 Adelaide (47:49)

    The daughter of one of Magnum’s old war buddies hires him to guard a prize winning horse.

1.15 Don’t Say Goodbye (46:53)

    Magnum’s blind old lady friend enlists his help when a blackmailer begins extorting her for money. But Magnum soon learns that there is much more going on here.

Disc 6

1.16 The Black Orchid (47:49)

    Hired to act out a bored wealthy woman’s detective fantasies, Magnum is caught off-guard when those fantasies suddenly become a reality.

1.17 J. “Digger” Doyle (47:49)

    A threat on Robin Masters’ life brings word that he may be coming to Hawaii. In order to up security on the estate, a female security operative is hired who rubs Higgins and Magnum up the wrong way.

1.18 Beauty Knows No Pain (47:52)

    During training for the upcoming Iron Man competition, Magnum is hired to find a lady’s missing fiancé.

    For a show nearly 25 years old (it first aired in December 1998), Magnum P.I. holds up remarkably well. Unlike a lot of 80s shows that really did not last the distance, Magnum P.I. ran for eight seasons, and it’s not hard to see why. The chemistry between the actors is good right off the bat, particularly between Magnum and his war buddies, and the antagonism between Magnum and Higgins is amusing without being overdone. The Hawaii backdrop no doubt adds a lot to the show, providing excellent scenery, and a good excuse for the cast not to have to wear much.

    There are a couple of bad episodes here, especially The Ugliest Dog In Hawaii which has a ridiculous premise and few if any saving graces. The episodes written by Bellisario himself really tend to stand out, though – Please Don’t Eat The Snow In Hawaii, Skin Deep, Lest We Forget, Thicker Than Blood, J. “Digger” Doyle – and these more than make up for the shortfalls in the season.

    The show’s quirky sense of humour also manages to maintain just the right balance between self mockery and good fun. The occasional sly look or wink at the camera is often used to bring the mood down and draw the audience into the joke – rather like a sitcom, and yet still without ruining the ambience of the show.

    If you were too young to see Magnum P.I. the first time around, I suggest you pick this up. If, like me, you are a fan from the old days, take a trip to Hawaii on DVD with Thomas Magnum – sit back with a lot of surf, sun, and sand, plus all that obligatory gun running and cocaine smuggling, and those car chases and shoot outs. Get all nostalgic about a time when reality TV was a joke, and small screen entertainment involved fast cars, fast violence and even faster women.

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Transfer Quality


    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, this is the original aspect ratio for the series.

    The transfer has a nice sharp image, although it is a little lacking in the shadow detail. The darker it gets, the grainer the shot gets. And in some darker shots, particularly during the pilot double episode Please Don’t Eat The Snow In Hawaii, it can be a little difficult to discern what’s going on as the screen is pretty much black.

    Colour is reasonably well saturated and nicely balanced while lacking the real glossiness of more modern TV transfers. The end credits seem a little faded by comparison to the rest of the show, which is a little odd.

    There are no MPEG artefacts, and film-to-video artefacts are minimal. There is some noticeable aliasing, and at times this can get a little distracting. The worst instance of this I spotted was at 22:48 - 23:06 during Lest We Forget where the roofs of a group of buildings are just a mess. But it also crops up at 15:28-15:55 during The Ugliest Dog In Hawaii on the metal grilles and trimmings of the vehicles, and during the opening sequence of Adelaide where the tennis nets exhibit aliasing and moire effect.

    There is also a bit of dirt on the print, particularly in scene changes where the film would have been physically handled in order to splice scenes together. This is never atrocious, and is a fault at the source, not with the transfer. There is also some flickering light levels which can be a little distracting, such as at 14:28 - 15:56 during Don’t Say Goodbye.

    Subtitles are available in English for the Hearing Impaired. These are fairly accurate, following the dialogue pretty closely, and are easy to read.

    The dual-layer pauses occur at the following places:

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


    Audio is available in English 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono only. Given the limits of the original, this is not bad, albeit fairly stock standard.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to hear with only minimal sync issues, all related to post-production faults where outdoor scenes needed to be dubbed over, or where the actors strayed too far away from the mike. Magnum’s voiceover monologues are a bit ‘tinny’ or ‘canned’ in the first few episodes, but this clears up a lot from Never Again ... Never Again.

    There is a good range here for a mono soundfield, and the very recognisable soundtrack is given a good mix. It is interesting that the music over the start credits changes from the tongue in cheek score of the pilot to the more exciting and better known theme from the episode All Roads Lead To Floyd onwards.

    Unfortunately, there is no surround use and no subwoofer use. After seeing even older shows get better sound mixes, this was a little disappointing, though I suppose the price would have been increased significantly if that much work were needed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    All menus are in 1.33:1 Full Frame. The disc home menus have various clips from the credits with a 2.0 Dolby Mono soundtrack of that well known theme. All other menus are static and silent.

Episode Summaries

    Each episode has a short text summary. If you haven’t seen these episodes before, don’t read the summary, as they often give away a lot of the good surprises.

R4 vs R1

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

    Magnum P.I. came out on DVD in R1 on 7 September 2004. Unfortunately, we seem to have been shafted. The R1 release includes:

While the latter two episodes will hopefully make their way to R4 in the later season, we here in R4 can only hope that the two crossover episodes will make it to release here (maybe with a later season of the show on DVD) as they do not formally constitute part of Magnum P.I.’s broadcast schedule.


    Magnum P.I. – Season 1 is classic 80s TV. Retro cool, to be sure, but nevertheless great.

    Video is fabulous for a TV show this old – there has obviously been a lot of work put into remastering this series and it has paid off in spades.

    The sound is good, although merely a reproduction of the source material.

    The lack of extras is quit disappointing, particularly given that another Universal show of the same era, Knight Rider, managed to score itself a host of extras for its first season release on DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
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