Magnum, p.i. (1982) – Past Tense and Black on White


Things are rough in Hawaii this week for Thomas (Tom Selleck) and the guys!

First up is Past Tense, which originally aired 21 October, 1982 and was written by Reuben Leder. It features an appearance by Ice Pick (Walter Chotzen) but the role was later recast.

When conflicting schedules cause T.C. (Roger E. Mosley) to double book the Island Hoppers chopper he’ flies both Higgins (John Hillerman) and a couple of clients around the island. But the clients have something else in mind, and keeping T.C. and Higgins at gunpoint, force the pilot to aid in a prison break for a man named Lyden (James Wainwright). When the chopper is shot at during the escape, T.C. is forced to crash-land the helicopter, though Higgins seems confident the insurance will cover it, so we should see it back in good shape in an episode or two.

Lt. Tanaka (Kwan Hi Lim) is investigating the prison break and Tom’s missing friends. Not one to sit and wait, Tom and Rick (Larry Manetti) begin to figure out who broke out of prison, and where they may be heading. It seems Lyden has a bit of an axe to grind with Thomas, and he’s waiting for him, using his injured friends as bait.

We end up with a deadly face-off between Thomas and Lyden, and as their history is revealed, we learn that Thomas investigated Lyden while serving in Naval Intelligence. The story ends happily for our heroes, with T.C. complaining about his shot-up chopper, and the fact that Higgins didn’t stop telling stories once.


Ian McShane guest stars as Edwin Clutterbuck, a former comrade-in-arms of Higgins during his time in Kenya in the episode Black On White, which aired 28 October, 1982. This one was written by Bellisario himself.

Clutterbuck is leaving London, he’s haunted by events in Kenya back in his time in the service, and he seems to be stalked by a mysterious young woman, Bebe (Lynne Moody), who follows him to Hawaii.

Meanwhile, at the Robin Masters estate, Thomas is being quarantined, as is Higgins (who entered Tom’s guest house without listening to Magnum’s warnings and now the pair are stuck together). But after Clutterbuck arrives in Hawaii, there is the suggestion that something else is going on, and perhaps Thomas is doing his best to keep Higgins safe. As we delve into the episode, we learn that Clutterbuck did some terrible things during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, something Higgins was lucky enough to avoid, and wanted the rest brought up on charges.

It seems the past has caught up with them, and someone is hunting down members of that unit who were involved in the slaughter that occurred during the uprising, and exacting a murderous price on them. Who’s behind it all, and how safe is Higgins?

A great episode, that ends on a wonderfully lighter note, as T.C. has been looking for Bebe, as the two of them have a nice little rapport going, and Magnum makes a deal with him… Brilliant!

This episode saw the return of Gillian Dobb, this time actually playing Agatha, who from the get-go seems to have a bit of a thing for Higgins, though, he doesn’t seem to think of her in that regard at all…

More next time!



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