Magnum, P.I. (1981) – No Need to Know & Skin Deep


The new year starts off with a bang for Thomas  (Tom Selleck). First off, he ends up tangling with the IRA in No Need to Know. This episode originally aired 8 January, 1981, and was written by Frank Lupo.

It seems Robin has offered the estate to be used by one of Higgins’ (John Hillerman) former commanders, Brigadier General Alistair Ffolkes (Richard Johnson). The General has been made the target of a planned IRA attack because of his actions while serving in Ireland.

Although Thomas has been hired to help protect him, there is a blanket of ‘need to know’ thrown over everything, and he’s getting more than a little fed up with all the trouble that this attitude is causing him.

He’s happily distracted by one of a pair of flight attendants who are staying over for the weekend as well, Mandy (Robin Dearden). The two enjoy some time together as Thomas keeps working on who the assassin could be, as well as when and where they are going to strike.

Things get worse, when identities are revealed, and Thomas has an unusually long 5 minutes to catch up to Higgins and Ffolkes before a bomb claims them.

This one was a fun episode, and put the Troubles front and center while not exactly coming down on either side of the conflict per se, not bad.


The second episode, Skin Deep, features Ian McShane and aired 15 January, 1981. It was written by Bellisario and it his, and the episode’s name even shows up as an in-joke as a script that actress Erin Wolfe (Cathie Shiriff) is working off of.

In fact, the episode opens with her practicing a scene, which entails her committing suicide using a shotgun…

The next morning, the world is shocked to hear that she’s dead by a shotgun blast, but there are some who are convinced she had a jealous lover who may have done it. Amongst them is her ex, and producer/agent, David Norman (McShane).

Magnum has his hands full as he digs through her tapes for evidence, hoping to find a clue to a mysterious boyfriend, as well as finding a motive.

But the strongest part of the episode, not quite a b-story, as it will be a recurring theme throughout the series, is that Thomas is suffering from flashbacks to his time in Vietnam, and it keeps intruding on his present day life.

And I love the way it’s handled at the end of the episode, as Thomas is talking with T.C. (Roger E. Mosley) and Magnum asks him if he ever thinks about Nam, and we both know they do, and they both lie to one another, and say they never do.

I love how completely realized all the characters seem to be right from the beginning of this series, and it is still completely engrossing, and I will sit and watch each episode, and nothing can distract me from it. I love this show!!

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







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