Magnum P.I. Series Finale Review: The Sun Sets (For Now)

As noted in the first of these two final episodes, “aloha” is a Hawaiian word meaning hello and goodbye.

So what feeling did the aloha from Magnum P.I. Season 5 Episode 19 and Magnum P.I. Season 5 Episode 20 give off?

Sadly, it was the latter, as Magnum and company said goodbye to their loyal viewers after five seasons.

And yet viewers’ hope for another revival still floated in the Honolulu air.

Magnum P.I., debuting in 2018, was the last of Peter M. Lenkov’s trilogy of reboot series, following the powerful Hawaii Five-0 in 2010 (which aired for a decade) and the less successful McGyver in 2016 (which ran for five seasons).

Magnum faced a stricter path right from the start. I mean, Magnum without the iconic mustache? What were they thinking?

But now, five seasons later, it’s impossible to conceive of a bushy ‘stache covering up any of Jay Hernandez’s handsome face.

But the genius twist that made the reboot work was re-envisioning the Magnum-Higgins relationship.

In the original, humor flowed from the personality clash between Tom Selleck’s laid-back Magnum and John Hillerman’s uptight, veddy British Higgins.

Casting Perdita Weeks as Juliet Higgins added another layer to their relationship in the new version.

While the personality clash was preserved, there was always a question of whether these opposites might attract.

By the end of Magnum P.I. Season 4, they both finally gave in to what viewers had recognized all along: They belonged together.

Another positive of the reboot is that the characters of T.C. and Rick were beefed up and could carry an episode all by themselves. These unitmates weren’t just Magnum’s sidekicks any longer.

Coming to the fore as well were new, native characters Kumu Twileta and Gordon Katsumoto, who are both there to bail out Thomas and Juliet when they get stuck or overextended.

Also, adding recurring characters, as had been done on H50, added to Magnum’s narrative fabric. At first, it was visitors from their brother show, such as Neolani and Kamekona, but originals such as Jin and Shammy soon came along.

Thanks to all these characters, along with the eventual girlfriends and offspring, there are families within families to provide enticing storylines.

Fans tuned into the show on CBS Friday nights for four seasons, not considering it being described as “on the bubble” when it came time for renewal. After all, CBS recognizes a good thing when it has one, right?

Wrong! The network needed a compatible timeslot for its buzzy new drama Fire Country and the axe fell on Magnum for the first time in May of 2022.

Then, less than two months later, the series was saved by NBC. Or so it seemed.

What followed was the network’s season-long lesson on how to mishandle an aging but still viable show.

NBC began by moving Magnum from its protected slot on Friday, generally the lightest day for scripted programming, to Sundays, the busiest day with all manner of network, cable, and streaming.series. The move came at midseason, no less. Not shockingly, its ratings suffered.

It was sandwiched between the incompatible Dateline and The Blacklist, a program that NBC treated even worse throughout its decade-long run, bumping it from night to night and on and off the schedule, making fans hunt for it.

The first ten episodes ran in consecutive weeks. The network then killed any momentum it may have gained by saving the remaining ten episodes for an unspecified later date.

Then, two months later, NBC canceled Magnum for a second time, without even the carrot phrase “unless ratings improve” in the press release.

So, the series was canceled after filming was done for the season, with little opportunity to retool the final episodes.

Magnum finally returned on October 4, 2023, and NBC made a couple of appropriate moves. It held the Magnum episodes, along with a handful of other scripted programs, in anticipation of the writers’ and actors’ strikes. This was a blessing for those viewers who prefer fiction over “reality.”

Also, the series was moved to Wednesday nights. Its ratings improved, although sadly, they were not enough to reverse its fate.

The network aired it for five consecutive weeks, then, just so viewers wouldn’t get too comfortable, dribbled out the final five episodes over the next two months so as not to interfere with its holiday programs.

Now for the question you’ve been waiting this long to have answered: How well do these two episodes serve as a series finale?

The show’s powers that be did the best they could under the circumstances. I mean, the Ferrari was already in long-term parking.

When these episodes were filmed, did they know this would be a season or series finale? After all, the writing was largely on the wall, with network executives clucking about the low ratings.

It certainly feels like the former. There’s an escaped convict on the lam after the first episode and wannabe big bad Sam Bedrosian cursing those meddling kids in the second, both of which could be grist for future episodes.

The first hour was a regular episode, with precious little connective tissue to the following finale. T.C. mentions expanding Island Hoppers in passing. Thomas and Juliet made a decision that would come back to haunt them, at least somewhat. That was it.

The finale did what it needed to do for whatever type of finale it was supposed to be. It moved the characters forward without any dramatic changes or cliffhangers that may never be resolved.

Rick and Suzy, the closest thing to a nuclear family, got engaged. After fighting a case of the yips, Juliet tells Thomas she will accept when he does get around to proposing. (That wedding belongs in an actual finale.)

Kumu bought T.C.’s share of La Mariana in a move that surprised no one. (I thought she already owned a piece of the bar.)

The main missing scene would have been Shammy selecting his new chopper off the internet. But you can’t have everything.

In the words of Peggy Lee, is that all there is when it comes to Magnum P.I.?

Lesser series have been bailed out by streaming services desperate for fresh content. And Magnum is definitely a brand name.

Freevee, with the Amazon money behind it, has been picking up known quantities in need of a new home. So has Netflix. So anything’s possible.

If not, at least Magnum’s Ohana was left in a good place after five enjoyable seasons.

To revisit this fan favorite, watch Magnum P.I. online.

What did you think of this finale?

What was your favorite thing about Magnum?

Do you think it will rise yet again?

Comment below.

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.

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