Magnum, P.I. (1981) – Tropical Madness & Wave Goodbye


Robert Hamilton writes an episode this week, well, originally aired 12 November, 1981, that causes some great strain on Thomas’ (Tom Selleck) and Higgins’ (John Hillerman) relationship in Tropical Madness.

When a young English woman, Jennifer Chapman (Devon Ericson), seems to prefer Higgins to Magnum, Thomas is a little suspicious, but Higgins, flattered by the attention, and very quickly falling for the young woman, won’t listen to Magnum when he tries to breach the subject. He accuses the private investigator of being jealous, and rather uncouth, a downright barbarian in his accusations and treatment of young Jenny. What starts off light-hearted and fun, especially with Rick (Larry Manetti) and T.C. (Roger E. Mosley) egging Thomas on, and making bets on the subject, gets a little more serious when you see the strain it begins to place on the two friends.

It also is the first time, in his inner monologue, that Magnum mentions writing his guide to being a professional investigator. Everyone begins to find it impossible to take Magnum’s worries and complaints seriously, especially when he claims to have been beaten up by a sumo wrestler (Jake Hoopai), and a little person (Bruce Johnson). But maybe Thomas is right, and perhaps, a man named Harcourt (Roy Dotrice) may in fact be up to something, and manipulating everything to his needs.

Higgins’ final scene with Jennifer is nicely done, bittersweet, and allows both Thomas and Higgins to have well-earned moments, Thomas redeeming himself with his friend, and Higgins with an emotional farewell.


The second episode, Wave Goodbye, was written by Reuben Leder and aired 19 November, 1981.

When a young friend of Magnum’s, with a penchant for surfing and partying hard, ends up murdered, Thomas can’t help but get involved in tracking down the parties responsible for the woman’s untimely death. Vic Morrow guest stars as Sgt. Jordan, one of the cops working the case, and the rest of the guest list is stacked with familiar faces as well, including Bellisario regulars W.K. Stratton as Kelly, and John Calvin as a drug dealer, and prime suspect, also along for the ride, and finding himself under suspicion as well is Wings Hauser as Nick, a homeless Vietnam vet with mental issues, who may have seen what actually happened but is having trouble distinguishing past from present.

Thomas chases down every lead, treating suspects roughly as this one struck a little too close to home for him, and he’s also aggravated by the way he perceives the cops as handling it, lots of gallows humor and a lack of caring on their part. And poor Nick, almost set up to take a fall, but at least he would have been assured to get the mental help he needed, as he was having real trouble out there on his own. Which, in turn makes you glad to know that Magnum, Rick and T.C. all have one another, and that they helped one another survive their tours, and also survive coming home.

More next week! Aloha!








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