Smash-hit Magnum, P.I. first appeared in 1980, airing until its end in 1988. Tom Selleck made famous the Hawaiian private detective Thomas Magnum we know and love. In 2018, Magnum P.I. was reintroduced to a new generation, this time with Jay Hernandez as the title character.
As with any reboot, it will not exactly resemble the original work. Considering the reboot aired thirty years following the original's series finale, updates for the sake of modernization have been made, but that doesn't mean certain qualities of the original Magnum, P.I. have been erased. Here are five ways in which the shows are the same, and in which they are different.
10 Same: The Hawaiian Setting
Really, can we picture Magnum living anywhere else? Robin's Nest, where Magnum lives and works in both versions of the show, is a cultural icon in itself. The beautiful estate that Magnum manages security for is a bit grander and more lavish than the original design, but nevertheless is still inspired by the 1980's version.
Honestly, Magnum wouldn't be Magnum had the reboot been cast in the snowy Northeast or hot and dry Southwest. Hawaii's loose and carefree lifestyle suits Magnum well; it's clear Hawaii is his element.
9 Same: The Ferrari
Speaking of which, the Ferrari. Like KITT on Knight Rider or Baby in Supernatural, the Ferrari is iconic to Magnum, P.I. Magnum favors the Ferrari that Robin (his boss) owns in both shows (on the original show, Magnum often borrowed it without permission). However, as part of the show's modernization, the Ferrari has been updated to a newer and different model.
However, the car is still fire-engine red and practically everyone's dream automobile. Criminals beware: Magnum's got a sports car and he knows how to drive it.
8 Different: Technology
Obviously, we've come a long way in electronics and other gadgets since 1980. Meaning, Magnum's updated gadgetry and other modes of crime-solving obviously differ from the methods the original Magnum utilized.
In that sense, the show's dynamics and problem-solving methods might throw off the vibe of the original but adds a new layer of crime-solving solutions on Magnum's part. Regardless, Magnum's on the case and as always he'll save the day.
7 Different: The Mustache
Tom Selleck's iconic look, besides the Hawaiian shirts, was no doubt the bushy mustache. Jay Hernandez is absolutely handsome, but lacks the legendary 'stache. The 'stache added a certain flair and was and is definitely one of the most recognizable aspects about Selleck himself that he added to his paradigmatic character.
Perhaps it's best that Hernandez lacks the 'stache; there is only one Tom Selleck, after all. Nonetheless, Hernandez brings a fresh charm and wit to the classic character alongside sex appeal. Magnum is just that loveable, 'stache or no 'stache.
6 Same: The Infamous Hawaiian Shirts
Other than the 'stache, Magnum was recognizable for his penchant for Hawaiian shirts. Colorful and untraditional, they were an essential staple to Magnum's wardrobe, and it seems Hernandez has adopted the look. The shirts are a perfect match to Magnum's lighthearted nature and sometimes laissez-faire approach.
It also appeared as Magnum's nod to easygoing Hawaiian living and its culture. It just wouldn't be the same if he switched out his wardrobe for polo shirts and slacks. In any case, both Selleck and Hernandez wear them well.
5 Same: Private Detective
Magnum's profession remains the same. It can take a backseat to his job as a security consultant for Robin Masters' estate, Robin's Nest, but is still one of the primary things that takes his time. A former veteran, Magnum applies his skills as a private detective and is portrayed as a good one with an innate ability for crime-solving.
Magnum helped many, many people over the course of his run back in the eighties and saved the day multiple times. Hernandez does the same for the revamped version of Magnum; he just has his own style of doing so.
4 Different: Afghanistan/Vietnam Veterans
Part of what made the original Magnum stand out so much was that he and his friends were veterans of the Vietnam War. The original Magnum, P.I. creator, Donald Bellisario, talked about the portrayal of Magnum and his friends Rick and T.C. Their characters, former Vietnam vets, departed from the widespread portrayal of these veterans as crazy, unstable or deficient in some way or form, rendering them unable to live among society.
Magnum's portrayal had a significant impact in a special regard, showing audiences that despite horrific experiences in war it doesn't mean every soldier returned damaged or couldn't re-adapt. Meanwhile, the reboot's backstory for Magnum has been updated to him being a veteran of Afghanistan. While he maintains his military background, the cultural impact isn't quite the same that the original Magnum had.
3 Different: Higgins As A Woman
Without a doubt, this is one of the biggest changes the reboot made. Certainly, there are mixed opinions about it, especially from fans of the original show. However, Perdita Weeks, who plays Juliet Higgins, certainly isn't a bad character. She and Magnum still have their witty bickering and incessant arguments that we find amusing, but there's an added will-they or won't-they element infused within their squabbles.
Back on the original show, Magnum's and Higgins' spats were among the most significant humorous moments. Their dynamic can never be replicated, so Higgins as a woman is probably a good idea and certainly gives the reboot a new twist.
2 Same: Rick and T.C.
Where would Magnum be without his trusty pals, Rick and T.C.? T.C. is still portrayed as a helicopter pilot that runs helicopter tours in Hawaii and Rick is still a playboy with nightclub connections. The three men all served in the military together and have a tight bond. They help Magnum with his cases, supporting him but also keeping him humble.
The three have good times and bad in paradise, but still come out strong. This element was certainly at the forefront of the original show and has seeped into the reboot too. Magnum certainly wouldn't be who he is without his buddies.
1 Different: Narration
Magnum's quality to narrate throughout episodes on the original show was and still is a rare trait in television. It's not often you get to hear a character's innermost thoughts from the character themselves, which was part of the draw to Selleck's Magnum. While Hernandez's Magnum does narrate, it has a different tone to it. This is to be expected, Selleck and Hernandez are two different actors after all. Selleck's Magnum was more pensive and quieter, offering deep insights or quick explanations to the audience of what he was up to in order to keep the plot going. Hernandez's Magnum is less guarded, more open and jovial. There are different vibes between the two, but still, we're glad the narration didn't disappear in the reboot.
Whether you're a fan of the original or a fan of the reboot, both series are definitely worth checking out. The reboot's first season has just wrapped up and a second season has been ordered, so audiences seem to have a soft spot for it. Selleck's Magnum is palpably eternal in pop culture, whether it's his 'stache, never-ending stash of Hawaiian shirts or his love for the Detroit Tigers. Hernandez has certainly shown promise in the reboot, adding a new tone and style to the classic series. We'll definitely stay tuned for more from him and the rest of the cast!