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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Magnum P.I.: The Complete Second Season (1980)

"I know what you're thinking. I was in deep water and sinking fast."
- Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: June 17, 2005

Stars: Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, Larry Manetti, Roger E. Mosley
Other Stars: Jeff MacKay, Patrick Bishop, James Whitmore Jr., Seth Sakai, Marla Pennington, Jimmy Borges, Wendy Girard, Ina Balin, Mamaluna, Judith Chapman, Jack Hogan, Kenneth Mars, Jeff Pomerantz, Allan Rich, Jan-Ivan Dorin, Susan Heldfond, Marta DuBois, Soon-Teck Oh, Lance LeGault, Devon Ericson, Roy Dotrice, W.K. Stratton, John Calvin, Wings Hauser, Vic Morrow, Darren McGavin, Vera Miles, Wally Landford, Gillian Dobb, Irene Yah-Ling Sun, John Fujioka, Guy Stockwell, Andrea Marcovicci, Corinne Camacho, Patch Mackenzie, Elisha Cook Jr., Alan Fudge, Tyne Daly, Burr deBenning, Christopher Morley, Charles Aidman, Nancy DeCarl, Mark Withers, Kwan Hi Lim, Nancy Lee Grahn, Ann Dusenberry, Jean Claudio, Mimi Rogers, David Wilson, Pat Morita, Paul Tinder, Louise Sorel, Julie Sommars, Robert F. Lyons, Joanna Kerns, James Edgcomb, Kam Fong, Robin Dearden, John Dennis Johnston, Med Flory, Barbara Rhoades, Beverly Garland, Denny Miller, Jill St. John, Robert Harker
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence)
Run Time: 18h:01m:08s
Release Date: April 12, 2005
UPC: 025192710322
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+B+B+ C+

DVD Review

The exotic locale of the Hawaiian Islands was not unknown to television viewers of the 1970s, due to the popularity of CBS' Hawaii Five-O, but by the end of the decade, the show's popularity was in decline, in part due to the numerous cast changes during its 11-year run. Looking for a replacement that could use the extensive production facilities available on the island, CBS picked up the Donald P. Bellisario/Glen A. Larson creation, Magnum P.I.. Starring the hunky Tom Selleck as former Naval Intelligence officer turned private eye, Thomas Magnum, the series features action, adventure, comedy and drama in a winning combination. Magnum also holds the distinction of being one of the first television shows to deal with the psychological aftermath of the Vietnam War, with frequent references to the characters' time in service.

The second season returns the familiar cast. Magnum, who is staying in the guest house on the estate of Robin Masters, a highly successful, yet enigmatic, writer, shares the residence with its keeper, Jonathan Higgins (John Hillerman), who, like Magnum, is a veteran, but with a much more distinguished attitude stemming from his British service. The relationship between these two is a running theme, with a constant state of bartering for privileges, including the use of Robin's Ferrari, and Magnum's aversion to "the lads," the estate's guard dogs, Doberman Pincers, Zeus and Apollo. In solving his cases, Magnum relies on the help of his friends Rick Wright (Larry Manetti), who manages the elite King Kamehameha Club, and has ties with the Hawaiian crime underground, and T.C. Calvin (Roger E. Mosley), owner of the Island Hoppers helicopter company, which sees frequent business from Magnum. The three were in Vietnam together, which provides a common experience and basis for friendship.

Among this collection of episodes, Magnum deals with a loose cannon of a cowboy looking for his sister (Billy Joe Bob), native curses (Dead Man's Channel), a ghostly woman who Rick falls for (The Woman on the Beach), Russian defectors (From Moscow to Maui), amnesia, after driving the Ferrari off a cliff (Try to Remember), and the mob (Italian Ice). He plays a bodyguard (Mad Buck Gibson, Texas Lightening and Three Minus Two), and stunt double (Double Jeopardy), loses a girl to Higgins (Tropical Madness), and joins a pro football league (One More Summer). The producers also pay homage to Hawaii Five-O with a reference to "a cop at Five-O" named McGarrett in The Taking of Dick McWilliams and a guest appearance by Kam Fong (Chin Ho Kelly) in The Last Page.

The pinnacle of the season is the two-part Memories are Forever (presented as a single episode here), where Magnum believes that the woman he married in Vietnam has come to the islands—a fact he has a hard time convincing Rick and T.C. of, since she was supposed to have died in an explosion during the war. Selleck gets to cover a good amount of emotional ground here, as the past resurfaces, and the plot is intriguing, bringing a number of elements into play.

There is very little in the way of repetition throughout the season, and each story unfolds at its own pace and in its own style. The characters grow over the course of these episodes, and each has enough depth to keep things interesting and dynamic. The actors do a great job fleshing out their roles. Selleck is smooth, and with the combination of his voice overs for the thought processes going on, and those knowing looks into the camera which let the audience in on the jokes, there is a very connective element at work. Although he is usually laid back and easy going, Magnum isn't limited to being a nice guy, often coercing his friends into helping him against their will (or better judgement), and his dark side means he isn't immune to losing his temper or killing someone if necessary, which adds some edginess to the show. Hillerman's uptight, but devious, Higgins is a perfect counterpart to Magnum, and the actor gets a hilarious dual role as his twin brother in The Elmo Ziller Story. Manetti and Mosley's characters add their own flavor, grudgingly facilitating Magnum's requests, while also keeping him grounded with their reminders of his indebtedness. Manetti gets a spotlight opposite his real-life wife, Nancy DeCarl, in Computer Date, which serves to create some real tension between Rick and Magnum. Rounding out the regulars are Jeff MacKay as Magnum's Navy contact, Mac MacReynolds, and Kwan Hi Lim as the inquisitive Lieutenant Yoshi Tanaka, always ready to make Magnum's life a little more complicated.

With a great cast, abundant humor, lots of high flying (literally) action, and many intriguing stories, it is easy to see why this show ranked in the top twenty for the first five of its eight-year run.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in its original television aspect ratio, on the whole, the second season of Magnum P.I. looks pretty good. Colors are well if not overly saturated, popping out the lush Hawaiian vegetation, ocean, and of course the red Ferrari. There is some minor specking and dust debris, the odd hair or other source imperfections. Grain is somewhat heavy, especially during exterior or stock shots, and some of the colors, particularly strong blues, tend to be noisy. The image is somewhat lacking in shadow detail and tends to be dark in some places. The extreme edges of the frame occasionally wash out, which is a bit distracting, especially when the grain and noise is most evident. The transfer is not overly sharp, but doesn't look artificially enhanced either, which I prefer.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented as two channel mono. The track is clear with reasonable frequency spectrum coverage. Dialogue is easy to discern, but is edgy quite often. There is a noticible amount of hiss present much of the time (which is made more obvious when it is present), and there is some spurious static in some of the episodes.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 80 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Packaging: Thinpak
3 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. The A-Team Episode Diamonds and Dust
  2. Knight Rider Episode Brother's Keeper
Extras Review: There are few series specific extras, other than a brief synopsis for each episode. There is a play all feature, and four menu accessable chapters per episode, but unlike the first season, one has been placed immediately following the opening credits.

Universal does include cross promotions for their other properties, Knight Rider and The A-Team with full episodes from both series' second seasons, which gives viewers some idea of what to expect from those shows.

The set is housed in three thinpak cases in a box.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

With its tropical backdrops, fast cars, and plenty of action and intrigue, Magnum P.I. delivers solid entertainment throughout this second season. Where many series have lost their lustre over the years, Magnum P.I. still packs a Hawaiian punch.


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