ABC announced that it is working on a sequel to the 80s detective series, Magnum, P.I., with John Rogers and Eva Longoria as the showrunners. Longoria’s studio, UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, has access to Universal TV’s catalog. The new Magnum will focus on the detective’s daughter, Lily.
The original Magnum starred Tom Selleck in the title role and ran eight seasons. Set in Hawaii, Magnum ran a detective agency while working as security for the unseen Robin Masters. Magnum had access to some of Masters’ possessions, including a Ferrari, but only under the watchful eye of Higgins, played by Jonathan Hillerman. Helping Magnum were his friends, bar owner Rick, played by Larry Manetti, and helicopter pilot TC, played by Roger E. Mosley; all three had served together during the Vietnam War. While the series had a light touch throughout its run, it did delve into the effect the war had on Magnum and his friends, and would go dark when needed. Later in the series, Rick’s gangster friend Icepick, played by Elisha Cooke, joined the cast.
The new Magnum, is a sequel, as mentioned. John Rogers has said that Tom Selleck is too iconic as Magnum to replace. A sequel leaves Selleck as the original Magnum and leave room for him to make guest appearances. The new Magnum, Lily, did appear in the original series, including the series finale. The character isn’t coming out of nowhere. The new Magnum isn’t just a gender-flipped version; she is part of the continuity.
The difficulty the Magnum sequel will have is getting the tone right out of the gate. It has to match the tone of the original series, not just season by season but also overall. The original Magnum‘s tone evolved as the series progressed over its eight seasons, starting light but getting deeper into Magnum’s history and relationships as the show aired. However, expectations of the new series may require mix the feel of both early and later seasons. It’ll be tough.
What the new Magnum has going for it is show runner John Rogers. Rogers has experience in television with series that can run the gamut between light and dark with the same season and even the same episode. His series Leverage, which can be described as a heist movie in under an hour, has fully-fleshed characters who have camaraderie that isn’t forced. Indeed, the characters don’t always get along, despite being on a team. Rogers has a good grasp on inter-character dynamics, something that the original Magnum also demonstrated.
With adaptations reaching saturation levels, getting buy-in from the audience will be critical for the new Magnun, P.I., but the sequel has several advantages that should help it keep people watching past the first episode. It’ll be a balancing act until the show finds its own way, but it should succeed.