Magnum, P.I. (1980) – China Doll & Thank Heaven for Little Girls and Big Ones Too


Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck) closes out the year, 1980, with these two episodes.

The first episode, China Doll, aired 18 December, 1980 and was written by Bellisario.

Thomas is rather taken with a young woman, Mai Ling (Susie Elene) on one of the islands, so much so that he’s flown to Oahu with T.C. (Roger E. Mosley) every week to see her. She finally takes advantage of his constant arrival, and simply hires him, though he likes to be asked first, to guard an antique vase, The Soul of Soong, until it can be delivered to its rightful owner.

Unfortunately, there’s a hired killer looking for it, Choi (George Cheung) and he isn’t going to stop until he gets his hands on it. Thomas gets the upper hand on him, because in a strange fluke, right before Choi strikes, he blinks his eyes… what a giveaway.

There are a lot of nice moments in the episode, and the whole gang works great together already, the chemistry is brilliant.

There’s also a nice little recurring bit of two tourists getting screwed over because of Thomas’ case. The first time it happens is in T.C.’s helicopter, and the second time, is with Rick (Larry Manetti) while he’s working with Thomas and pausing as a rickshaw runner.

Rick’s club is already gone (thank goodness, that was a monstrosity) and he’s already running the King Kamehameha Club.

The only thing missing, which hasn’t shown yet, is Mike Post’s theme song.

But damn, this show is still so much fun.


The second episode, Thank Heaven for Little Girls and Big Ones Too, aired on Christmas Day, 1980, which totally works, because the episode is set at Christmas. This episode was written by Babs Greyhosky.

When Rick calls him to let him know that a woman will be approaching him to take a case, Thomas shows up and is alarmed to find a group of young school girls who want him to find their missing school teacher, before their parents arrive in Hawaii for Christmas.

Bringing the girls back to Robin Masters’ estate, Higgins (John Hillerman) is eventually persuaded to let them stay. Which sadly, has been the plan all along.

They are actually there to aid in stealing a priceless Gauguin, and they are a lot more clever than they appear to be. But things get messy, the girls and their school teacher aren’t really bad, and Thomas has to eventually rescue them all.

This is light and fun, and has some wonderful bickering between Thomas and Higgins, and also features one of my favorite moments, which is right there in the opening credits… Thomas looks over his shoulder and does the eyebrow waggle, knowing he just got one over on Higgins.

There isn’t a single thing I don’t like about this show, and very quickly it shows that it can do all variety of stories, and genres, and do it well, because the charm and the chemistry of the cast just makes it so incredibly watchable.

I love it! I can’t wait for the next installment!

Tom Selleck in a 1980 Ferrari 308 GTS for Magnum, P.I.

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