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A new Magnum enters CBS' house of hit reboots


Jay Hernandez is suitable hunky as the new Magnum. CBS photo

Premiering: Monday, Sept. 24th at 8 p.m. (central) on CBS
Starring: Jay Hernandez, Perdita Weeks, Zachary Knighton, Stephen Hill, Tim Kang, Amy Hill
Produced by: Peter M. Lenkov, Eric Guggenheim, Justin Lin, John Davis, John Fox, Danielle Woodrow

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CBS already has a black belt in reboots, remakes, re-imaginings or whatever else you’d like to label them.

Consider this: the network’s second coming of Hawaii Five-0, which will start its ninth season this fall, has a fighting chance to run as long (or longer) as the original, which endured for 12 seasons on CBS. Reprises of Macgyver and S.W.A.T. likewise are prospering on CBS, with Murphy Brown also ready to roll this season with the surviving members of the original cast, plus Tyne Daly.

So of course the new and critic-proof Magnum, P.I. is going to work, even though its Monday night competition will include the second hours of NBC’s The Voice and ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.

As you might have heard, some notable changes have been made since Tom Selleck last mounted the original’s famed red Ferrari in 1988, otherwise known as 30 years ago. (Selleck’s ongoing CBS series, Blue Bloods, on the verge of beginning its ninth season, has now one-upped Magnum’s eight-season run.)

Anyway, the new Thomas Sullivan Magnum is played by Hispanic actor Jay Hernandez, who doesn’t have a full mustache, does have a goatee, doesn’t wear Hawaiian shirts (in the first episode at least) and does show off his torso. Managing Hawaii’s lush Robin’s Nest estate (where Magnum still lives in a guest house), is kick-boxing Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks) in place of the late John Hillerman’s snooty Jonathan Quayle Higgins III. The two Dobermans are back for more growling and Magnum remains a Detroit Tigers fan during a second consecutive dismal season for the storied franchise. A succession of Ferraris are still at his disposal.

Magnum’s principal pals, fellow military veterans Theodore “TC” Calvin and Orville “Rick” Wright, are now respectively played by Stephen Hill and Zachary Knighton. Magnum, TC and Rick are all survivors of an Afghanistan POW camp, as is a fourth comrade-in-arms who won’t be joining the regular cast after something untoward happens to him.

Monday’s first episode, the only one made available for review, prototypically begins with an action sequence Magnum sky-dives from way on high into North Korea, lands near an oxen and then rescues some people who need rescuing. But first he must drive pell-mell through the countryside while being closely pursued by a military vehicle. Luckily, his pals are flying overhead in a chopper. In a finger snap or two, they’re all safely back home drinking beers while Magnum nurses a puffy right eye with an ice pack.

The premiere hour includes heavy lay-of-the-land narration by Magnum, perhaps in part because the character dialogue can be pretty clunky at times. As when an all-business Marine Corps officer growls, ”Appealing to my patriotic side isn’t gonna work.” Well, we’ll see about that.

Magnum also finds time to deep sea dive, step in dog poo after being chased by the Dobermans and take a severe beating that should have put him in the hospital but doesn’t because he’s -- Magnum.

Juliet Higgins, who has contacts with MI:6 that come in handy, also gets her own action scene in which she fends off the same two thugs who sucker-punched and kicked Magnum into unconsciousness. She emerges with a bullet wound, but jauntily shrugs it off.

The Hawaiian scenery remains gorgeous and crossover episodes with the Hawaii Five-0 guys are inevitable. This time around, the new Magnum also will have romantic possibilities with Higgins, who’s already sending some signals.

Both Selleck and Hillerman won acting Emmys for their portrayals of Magnum and Higgins. They also were nominated multiple times, as was the show itself, in the days when cable networks were a non-factor and streaming was something one did while fly fishing.

There’s not even a wisp of a chance that anyone will be nominated for, let alone win, an Emmy for their performances in the new Magnum. But CBS otherwise likely has another reboot winner in the house because, really, why wouldn’t this work?


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