The pilot of CBS’ Magnum P.I. reboot screened at Comic-Con during the show’s panel Thursday, and the Justin Lin-directed episode wastes no time in bringing the bonkers action sequence.
The opening scene to the pilot begins with the titular private investigator (not private eye) — jumping out of a spaceship and into North Korea to rescue a family in the jungle. Yes, I said space. It is a ridiculously awesome, cinematic-grade action sequence — but it is a bit of a fantasy sequence that sets the tone for this reboot.
The show honors the original series starring Tom Selleck (will get to him later) and has nods that fans will love, including Dobermans Zeus and Apollo, the Ferrari, and the odd-couple relationship between Thomas Magnum and Higgins (we’ll get to her later).
The pilot was marked with Lin’s Fast and the Furious brand of action, which basically means it was spectacularly out of control. .After the screening, the cast and creators took the stage to a round of adrenaline-fueled applause.
Show creator Peter Lenkov and showrunner Eric Guggenheim were joined by Magnum himself Jay Hernandez and his co-stars Perdita Weeks, Zachary Knighton and Stephen Hill.
Magnum P.I. is the third reboot for Lenkov. He currently has two other retoolings of ’80s show under his belt including Macgyver and Hawaii Five-0. And if anything, there is one question burning in everyone’s mind: Will Selleck make a cameo in all his mustachioed glory?
“Blue Bloods is really his passion,” said Lenkov. “That would have to be in his rearview mirror before he considers joining us.”
So it’s not a yes and it’s not a no, but it is promising.
And you might have noticed that two of Lenkov’s shows take place in the paradise of Hawaii. Lenkov admits the two shows co-exist in the same world, and characters from one show will be introduced to the other. That said, he foresees a bona fide crossover down the road.
Another change is Higgins, who often butted heads with Magnum in the original series when the character was played by John Hillerman. He is now a she, played by Weeks.
“What makes Higgins so great is his, or her, relationship with Magnum,” said Weeks. “Turning her into a female was genius.”
In addition to putting a diverse lens on the reboot (in case you didn’t know, Hernandez is Mexican-American), Lenkov points out that the new version puts veterans in a new light. He says they are often framed in a less-than-happy lens when it comes to television and film. In the original, Selleck’s character was a Vietnam War vet; in the new version, Hernandez, Knighton, and Hill are all former POWs and vets who served in Afghanistan.
“I want to address is the importance of representing veterans on television and film,” said Hernandez. “And doing so in a way that’s positive.”
Hernandez has big shoes to fill on so many levels, but based on the pilot he delivers the goods. He may not have an ’80s-grade mustache (don’t expect for him to grow one out), but he brings a modern swag and charm — though he still can’t believe he is playing the iconic character.
“I randomly caught an episode of Magnum P.I. a month before this project was presented,” he said. “A month later, I was doing that same exact thing. It was a really surreal moment.”
Magnum P.I. premieres on CBS on September 24.
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