This is an excellent pilot that offers everything: action, humor, intrigue, interesting characters, beautiful scenery. The key to MAGNUM, P.I. is Selleck and how he chose to play the character. Instead of being the super-handsome infallible stud detective like so many other shows have (MATT HOUSTON, for instance), Selleck chose to play against his looks by making Magnum more relatable. His friends make fun of him, Higgins won’t let him use the tennis court, he drives a cool car that belongs to somebody else. Also in Selleck’s favor–and MAGNUM is probably the first project where it worked for him, rather than against him–is his squeaky voice, which is decidedly “unmanly” by Hollywood standards, but helped ground the character a bit. Sure, Magnum is tall, dark, and ridiculously handsome, but he’s also a little naive and immature. He’s good at his job, but not great at it. Obviously, Selleck was very much influenced by Burt Reynolds (and Lee Horsley by Selleck)–he even breaks the fourth wall by staring into the camera to wink at the audience like Reynolds in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT–but Reynolds, as great a star that he was, was never relatable in the way that Selleck was.

MAGNUM premiered less than a year after HAWAII FIVE-0 left CBS, which explains the occasional McGarrett reference. It was a neat idea to tie the two universes together, but as time went on and MAGNUM became a hit on its own, the Five-0 nods went away.