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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Magnum, P.I. - The Complete First Season
Magnum, P.I. - The Complete First Season
Universal // Unrated // September 7, 2004
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Shannon Nutt | posted September 20, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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THE EPISODES

A former Naval Intelligence officer turned Private Investigator, television hadn't seen anything like Thomas Magnum before when Magnum P.I. made its debut in December of 1980. And what could have been yet another hour-long cop show for TV turned into one of the most memorable shows of all time, thanks to star Tom Selleck's combination of boyish charm and manly physique.


Thanks to Universal DVD, we can now get another look at that very first season with this four-disc set, which contain all of Season One's 17 episodes (18 if you count both parts of the 2-part pilot – even though it originally aired as one episode) plus three bonus shows from future Magnum seasons and a crossover episode of Simon & Simon.

The real reason Magnum P.I. caught on with audiences was not because of its investigatory storylines. In fact, most of the plots of the episodes are pretty uninterested when compared to the complicated twists and turns of police dramas on the air today. No, it's the way Selleck plays the character of Magnum (and the way the character is written) that is so appealing. Magnum is basically a 12-year-old in a man's body – not intellectually speaking, but in the way that he has a zest for life and likes to have fun.

Also a big plus for the series is the relationship between Magnum and Higgins (John Hillerman) – the keeper of Robin Masters' (a famous, but reclusive, author who has hired Magnum as his head of security) estate who dislikes Magnum's carefree attitude which he believes is both reckless and at odds with his own British Army-trained background.

It's the fun and the relationships between the main characters that gets developed in the series early – so that even if the main story of an episode is rather dull, watching Selleck and Hillerman (along with Roger E. Mosley and Larry Manetti playing Magnum's former Vietnam buddies) go at each other in a scene is great entertainment.

THE DVD

The four DVDs in this set are "flippers" – meaning that there is material on both sides of the disc. Some of the discs have up to four episodes per side, while others have only two.


As noted earlier in this review, for some strange reason Universal has split up the pilot into two parts, showing them the way they air in syndication. However, since the end of "Part 1" has no closing credits, and since the beginning of "Part 2" has no opening credits, it really makes no sense why the pilot just wasn't shown the way it originally aired.

Those unfamiliar with the history of the show will probably first note the absence of Mike Post and Pete Carpenter's familiar theme song. Don't worry – it pops up about 8 episodes in, and is established as the opening theme in Episode 12, "Thicker Than Blood". Prior to that episode, music from the pilot by Ian Freebairn-Smith is used for the main theme.

All episodes contain the "Teaser" for that show prior to the opening credits – which is clips of what you are about to see in the upcoming episode (as opposed to today's more established habit of showing what you've missed in previous weeks).

Video:
The episodes are presented in their original full-frame format, and the video is fairly good, if not great. Magnum P.I. was shot on film, so there is some noticeable dirt and grain on many of the episodes, but overall they look quite good here.

Audio:
Audio is presented in 2.0 Dolby and sounds very good. Dialogue is clear and crisp, and there are no problems with drop-outs, "popping" or other glitches in the sound quality.

Extras:
Sadly, Universal has not asked Selleck or any of the cast to participate in interviews or to provide audio commentary tracks for the episodes – something I hope they seriously consider doing for future season releases on DVD.


Instead, our "bonuses" come with the addition of four episodes – three of them from future seasons of Magnum, and one of them an episode of Simon & Simon which is a crossover conclusion to one of the Magnum shows. The Simon & Simon crossover begins with a Season Three Magnum episode entitled "Ki'ls Don't Lie" and concludes with the Season Two premiere of Simon & Simon called "Emeralds Are Not A Girl's Best Friend". The other two shows are Parts One and Two of Magnum's Season Five premiere, which starred Sharon Stone and was entitled "Echoes of the Mind."

Each show contains a text summary page of the episode, which includes the original airdate and a synopsis of the plot. There's also a chapter selection for each show, as well as a "Play All" option in the main menu for those looking for a "Magnum Marathon."

THE BOTTOM LINE

While some newly produced bonus goodies or commentary tracks would have really boosted the appeal of this set, the shows are good enough to stand on their own and to warrant a recommendation.

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