top of page
  • Writer's pictureJames McGee

Remakes, eh...who needs 'em?

From the sublime to the ridiculous...

A few weeks ago, I was fired up by the news that The Bridge was returning to the Beeb for a fourth series. Cue cheers all round. A week later, in complete contrast, I learned that they're bringing back Magnum PI.

Yep, for some unfathomable reason some twit over in Hollywood has decided that one of the best loved series on US TV was due a revamp. Well, loved by most of us of a certain vintage, that is. For those of you who can't remember or weren't even born when the original show was aired, it ran for eight seasons - from 1980 to 1988 - and was required viewing for those of us desperate to escape from the tedium of our humdrum lives.

Set in Hawaii, where the sun always shone, the palm trees wafted, the sand was golden, the sea was warm and where the girls were invariably drop-dead gorgeous, it starred Tom Selleck as Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV, a private investigator who had the good fortune to live rent-free in the guest house of a 200-acre beach-front estate called Robin's Nest, named after the owner, Robin Masters, the celebrated, but never-seen, author of several dozen lurid novels, and voiced, in case you didn't know, by Orson Welles.

Magnum operated as a P.I. only on cases that suited him; the one thorn in his side being the estate's caretaker, Jonathan Quayle Higgins III (played by John Hillerman), an ex–British Army Sergeant Major, whose strict ways often conflicted with Magnum's more easy-going methods. To aid him, he had at his command a pair of Doberman Pinschers - Zeus and Apollo.

Magnum, on the other hand, was aided by his two best buddies: TC, a helicopter pilot, and Rick, a beach-side bar owner. Cue fast moving action accompanied by oodles of buddy humour. In other words, it was great fun, enhanced in no small way by the charisma of its lead actor. Having said that, it was very much of its time, as illustrated by Magnum's tendency to wear alarmingly brief shorts. In those days we never thought much of it. In hindsight, you'd be forgiven for thinking he was auditioning for The Village People. I'll say no more.

But not an episode was missed. From Magnum's trademark moustache to the Ferrari GS308Si he used as his runaround, we couldn't get enough.

And now some chump wants to give it another go.

So why the sinking feeling? Well, have you seen the trailer? It looks dire. But don't take my word for it. Check it out:

And read the comments that follow it, proving it ain't just me.

Good grief, the guy playing Magnum doesn't even have a moustache, f'r Pete's sake! And as for the new Higgins; oh, dear.

Which got me thinking about some of the other shows that have been updated. Gotta say, with very few - if any - exceptions, they've made little or no impression. The new version of Hawaii Five-0 is lightweight, but enjoyable in a well-it-passes-the-time kind of way.

The only other one of any note that I can think of - and which surpassed the original in every way - was the terrific Battlestar Galactica.

The rest have pretty much disappeared back into the primal ooze from whence they came, or rather were regurgitated.

For instance, does anyone have anything good to say or even remember any of the following reboots? The Bionic Woman, Charlie's Angels, Ironside, Kojak, MacGyver, The Monkees (yes, really!), The Untouchables, The Odd Couple?

Nope, didn't think so.

And that's just a sprinkling of the renewed offerings that made it past the pilot episode. In other words, better to leave us with old shows fondly remembered than to dig 'em up and dust 'em down in the vain hope of making a few bucks.

There's that old adage - if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

In the case of Magnum PI, never was a truer word spoken.

In my humble opinion...

And as for Tom Selleck fans, there's always the New York cops drama Blue Bloods. Though, if you haven't caught Selleck's portrayal of the great Robert B. Parker's hero Jesse Stone then I urge you to check out the film adaptations of the Stone series. They are tremendous.

bottom of page