Magnum, p.i. (1987) – Murder By Night and On The Fly


It’s time for a classic noir whodunnit in the first episode up this week. Murder By Night originally aired 14 January, 1987 and was written by Robert Hamilton.

This episode sees Magnum (Tom Selleck) as a private investigator in the 1940s, nosing around the murder of a newspaper publisher, Maxfield. All the familiar faces are here, but in different roles, Higgins (John Hillerman) is Sam Caldwell, Maxfield’s lawyer, T.C. (Roger E. Mosley) is Inspector Wolf and Magnum’s nemesis in law enforcement, and Rick (Larry Manetti) is Reverend Myron Bentley, and possibly a suspect, and at the very least, a witness. Heck, even Jeff MacKay gets to make an appearance as the Coroner.

There is no lead in suggesting this is just a dream of Magnum’s it’s simply an old school mystery, shot like a 1940s detective thriller, there’s even a lurking butler (Henry Jones). It plays out in a wonderfully fun way, Thomas even dons a fedora and dangles a cigarette off his bottom lip, but I think it should have been shot or at least processed in sepia or black and white. The Estate sets are redressed as the Maxfield’s home.

The dialogue is steeped in 40s style pacing and banter, and it’s delightful seeing the actors we’ve enjoyed in their roles for 7 years playing in a similar world, but being completely different with one another.

Zeus and Apollo the dobermans are even recast, as Isis and Osiris, the dog’s of Maxfield’s daughter, Christine (Jennifer Runyon), who has her own reasons for wanting her father dead…

This was a great episode, the only thing that would have made it better would have been making it black and white (the end of the episode (so good!) takes care of that though), as mentioned, and a slightly more heightened score to the soundtrack (although the one they use is pretty solid).


On The Fly aired the following week on 21 January, 1987 and was penned by Jay Huguely.

Thomas is working on getting his pilot’s licence for an investigation job in Oklahoma, but things are put on hold when T.C. is shot and Magnum learns that the bullet was meant for him.

While T.C. is recuperating in the hospital, Thomas, Rick and even Mac (MacKay) show up at Island Hoppers to help run things, and go through his files to see if there’s any connection. But while Mac is there… the chopper goes missing.

It seems the investigation in Oklahoma has something to do with a crime boss, Valez (Bryne Piven) in Mexico City. Not sure who to trust, Thomas finds himself working uneasily with Maria Torres (Annette Charles), who with her associate Emilio (Mike Moroff) are Mexican law enforcement that are there to escort Thomas to Mexico City to testify.

But things get rough fast as an attack on the Estate by Valez’s men tears up the place, with only Higgins, Thomas and Maria walking out of it. So with Higgins holding down the fort in Hawaii, Thomas and Torres go to take on Valez.

Of course things develop between Thomas and Maria, but that doesn’t make things easier, especially when Thomas learns who she really is, and discovers that they shouldn’t actually be looking for him, but for Mac.

But as the two takeoff in a small plane, Mac is shot, and it’s up to Thomas to get them safely back on the ground, and hopefully get the info to the proper authorities to arrest Valdez.

And maybe, Mac will get a little comeuppance.

Until next week… Aloha!

magnum season 7


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