Like New Coke, New Magnum doesn’t work: 5 reasons why it was a mistake to reboot Magnum, PI.

Original Cast.
Reboot Cast.

For all you eighties and Tom Selleck fans in general I’m sure you’re aware of CBS once again going the cheap route of rebooting another classic and iconic series. This time they messed with the wrong mustache. Magnum, PI was and still is a beloved show that was perfectly cast, well written and always fun to watch. The dynamic quartet of Magnum, Higgins, TC and Rick were our best friends and their remarkable and impenetrable bond is what helped make the show so iconic. I find it especially disheartening that shortly after the loss of John Hillerman who masterfully played Jonathan Quayle Higgins the third in 2017 that they announced the green light for the reboot. From the get go the reboot was doomed to fail in capturing the magic that made Magnum what it is today. Here are five reasons it was a huge mistake to reboot this classic show.

5. The original idea of making it a spin off\continuation was much better.

Eva Longoria

For a good while a sequel series about Magnum’s now fully grown daughter taking over the PI business played by the lovely and talented Eva Longoria was in the works until CBS went bonkers and for some reason decided to scrap it and go for a full fledged reboot. Frankly, I think this idea would’ve been a far better choice that would’ve received more goodwill from old fans and still gain the interest of quite a few demographics who may never have even seen Magnum: 1. People who want to see more female leads in television, especially in the action genre. 2. Eva Longoria fans and 3. Men 18–49 that would watch the for hotness of Ms. Longoria alone, much how there were plenty of women young and old who watched simply for the dashing looks of Tom Selleck alone.

4. They’ll never be able to create episodes as iconic, memorable or emotionally powerful as OG Magnum did.

Season 4, episode 1. Home From The Sea.

There were more iconic episodes of Magnum that penetrated pop culture than any show on television today can claim. Iconic episodes like Home From The Sea, Memories are Forever and the show’s most famous episode Did you See The Sunrise? Were only just a few of the masterstrokes in television drama that Magnum made that helped catapult television to a whole ‘nother level. The reboot never had a chance of making the same kind of history. The original cast of Magnum had the abilities to translate such raw and powerful emotions without ever being melodramatic or over the top through the screen, and unfortunately we’ve yet to see the cast of the reboot show that same type of range, which I’m sure they’re capable of if given the chance but they haven’t been given the scripts thanks to the more shallow and vapid nature of the reboot’s tone. It does all start with the writing, after all.

3. You don’t mess with Jonathan Quayle Higgins.

John Hillerman.

Look, I’m all for more great leading roles for a lot of the amazingly talented and badass actresses out there, but when they changed Higgins from a fifty something year old male to a hot, much younger blonde woman that’s when I knew this reboot was doomed. As Mr. Higgins would say… “Oh. My. GOD!” nothing against the actress but to turn Higgins into some cartoon type character: a beautiful babe who can fight men twice her size with ease is not only offensive to John Hillerman, Ms. Weeks and all the fans of Magnum, PI but is also just plain tacky, hokey and desperate. I feel bad for the lovely actress Perdita Weeks because I’m sure she’s a very talented actress and seems very sharp and capable, but she’s being pretty much wasted here. And, yes, even if they had cast another fifty something year-old British male the character would still not work because NOBODY can replace John Hillerman as Jonathan Higgins. They broke the mold when they made that man.

2. The chemistry of the original foursome cannot be replicated.

Magnum Quartet

They say chemistry, genuine chemistry is something that can’t be manufactured, asked for, or even prayed for; It just happens. That was certainly the case with OG Magnum and the casting of all four leads was a stroke of pure luck mixed with a bit of blessing from above. Selleck, Hillerman, Manetti and Mosley were four guys that were meant to be on screen together and their offscreen friendship was clearly shown every episode through their characters’ relationships with one another. Television rarely back then and certainly never now showed a far more rich, deep and nuanced bond between men as Magnum did. You had four guys who were all very different on the surface but at the heart of it all were soldiers, shared the same sense of loyalty, honor and justice, and had been through hell together. They were also just so fun to watch together, and were like actual friends that screw with each other and have fun at the other’s expense. The reboot’s approach seems to be a more typical shallow depiction of friendship that we often see on television, especially when it comes to male friendships in particular. The reboot never had a chance of copying the genuine chemistry of the four leads of the original.

  1. The original had Tom Selleck… that’s all that needs to be said.

Come on. When you had a character as iconic and beloved as Thomas Sullivan Magnum and he was played by the equally iconic and beloved Tom Selleck, there’s just no comparison to be made. No offense to Jay Hernandez who I’m sure would shine bright on his OWN action series with his OWN character who I’m sure would’ve became iconic in his own right, but, he never had a chance of eclipsing Selleck as Magnum, nor was he ever gonna just make us forget that Selleck WAS Magnum. There are certain roles that were so tied to their actor, so perfectly inhabited by said actor that no one else in the world could ever even attempt to make the role their own or make the character what they became. There’s Tony Soprano, Al Bundy, Steve Urkel, Perry Mason, Jim Rockford, Archie Bunker, Edith Bunker, George Jefferson, Florence Johnston and Thomas Magnum. Besides, I doubt Hernandez could ever give that sly look to the camera like Selleck did. He turned breaking the fourth wall into an art form.

Thanks, Magnum fans for allowing me to vent my pain at Hollywood once again force feeding us another unnecessary and unwanted reboot. Keep the faith and keep watching the OG Magnum on DVD, reruns on Hallmark Movies&Mysteries and any streaming service that’s streaming it. Magnum, out!




Kendall is a screenwriter who’s a huge fan of classic tv and movies. He enjoys creating good stories and characters.

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Kendall Rivers

Kendall Rivers

Kendall is a screenwriter who’s a huge fan of classic tv and movies. He enjoys creating good stories and characters.

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