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Magnum, P.I. Season Seven DVD Set Review

November 22, 2007 | Posted by David Friedman

Main Cast

Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV: Tom Selleck
Jonathan Quayle Higgins III: John Hillerman
Orville Wilbur “Rick” Wright III: Larry Manetti
Theodore “T.C.” Calvin: Roger E. Mosley

The Magnum, P.I. season seven DVD set has been eagerly anticipated by series fans who consider that season to be among the best of the entire eight year run. What made this series so special? The main attraction of this show is undoubtedly the wonderful chemistry between Magnum, his two Vietnam vet buddies Rick and T.C. and Higgins, the majordomo of Robin Masters’ estate, where Magnum is provided free room and board in exchange for maintaining the estate’s security. Magnum, P.I. was the first TV series to prominently feature Vietnam vets as productive members of society. Another great thing about this series is that most episodes can be watched as standalone pieces, yet if you watch the entire run you can see the characters develop and mature.

How often have you looked forward to seeing a DVD of one of your favorite old shows only to find out that the original music has been replaced? A TV episode is just not the same without the original soundtrack. Fortunately, the season seven Magnum, P.I. discs have all of the original music, including the haunting refrains of Genesis’ “Mama” in “Death and Taxes” (episode five), which most fans consider to be one of the best episodes of the entire series.

“Death and Taxes” features Kenneth Tigar as a mysterious figure from Magnum’s past who commits murders and then calls Magnum to provide clues about them in the form of nursery rhymes. Tigar has been making guest appearances on prominent TV series for four decades and counting, from Wonder Woman to Barney Miller to Hill Street Blues to Night Court to The X Files to Law & Order: Criminal Intent. “Death and Taxes” begins with a light touch as Magnum struggles to even utter the words “tax audit” but things soon take a sinister turn after Magnum receives a strange phone call. He asks the caller to identify himself and receives this ominous reply: “I haven’t been christened yet. I’m waiting for the press to do that.” Magnum, distracted by the mounds of paperwork for his audit, says, “I’m real busy here” but his mysterious caller answers, “Not as busy as you’re going to be” and then recites a nursery rhyme about a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker. The significance of those words is not apparent until a former client of Magnum’s turns up dead, with the body being found in close proximity to those businesses.

When Magnum asks the murderer how he knows so much about Magnum’s life, he cryptically answers, “A wise old owl lived in an oak/The more he saw, the less he spoke/The less he spoke, the more he heard/Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?”

Magnum, P.I. episodes rarely go for the cheap or easy resolution and “Death and Taxes” is no exception. The viewer is kept in suspense throughout and even at the end there are still unanswered questions.

The Magnum, P.I. season seven DVD set consists of 21 episodes on five discs. Bonus features include a crossover episode (“Magnum on Ice”) with Murder, She Wrote, a behind the scenes look at that episode including an interview with Murder, She Wrote star Angela Landsbury and “America’s Top Sleuths,” a countdown of television and film’s 10 best “cops, private eyes and investigators” as ranked by Sleuth Channel viewers in an online survey; this last feature is a not so thinly veiled advertisement for a cable channel that I had not even heard of before but it was nonetheless reasonably entertaining. Considering that this feature was included in a Magnum, P.I. DVD set it is not surprising that we find out that Magnum finished first in the survey but a strong case (pardon the pun) is definitely made on his behalf.

At the time it was filmed, season seven was expected to be the last one for Magnum, who is seemingly killed in episode 21 (“Limbo”). The series was literally brought back by popular demand, and the writers revived Magnum for a 13 episode season eight.

Here is the list of the 21 season seven episodes:

Disc One

“L.A.”: Most of the series is set in Hawaii but this episode takes place in L.A., where Magnum investigates a murder. Fans generally call it “The Dana Delany Episode” because she was a special guest star.

“One Picture is Worth”: Magnum is back in Hawaii. He is hired to protect a painter who witnessed a murder.

“Straight and Narrow”: A woman who Magnum met in season six while he was working as a hotel detective hires him to find her missing sister.

“A.A.P.I.”: Magnum wins the Local P.I. of the Year award.

Disc Two

“Death and Taxes”: One of my favorite episodes from the series, a sentiment shared by many Magnum fans.

“Little Girl Who”: This episode continues the story of Magnum’s ex-wife Michelle and their daughter Lily, who were first introduced to viewers in season two.

“Paper War”: Another fan favorite, this episode features a comedic battle of practical jokes/pranks between Magnum and Higgins.

“Novel Connection”: The first episode in a two part crossover with Murder, She Wrote.
Part two, “Magnum on Ice,” is included on this disc as a special feature, as is a documentary about these two episodes titled “Inside the Ultimate Crime Crossover.”

Disc Three

“Kapu”: Magnum protects an island girl who witnessed a murder.

“Missing Melody”: T.C.’s daughter is kidnapped. Roger E. Mosley co-wrote this story, his first and only television script.

“Death of the Flowers”: Rick and D.A. Carol Baldwin investigate whether their respective mentors may be involved in illegal activities.

“Autumn Warrior”: Higgins takes a group of juvenile delinquents on a survivalist trip.

“Murder by Night”: This black and white episode is an homage to 1940s film noir.

Disc Four

“On the Fly”: Magnum battles with two rival Mexican crime families who are both trying to kill him due to a case of mistaken identity.

“Solo Flight”: While trapped underneath the wreckage of a plane, Magnum experiences flashbacks from various key moments in his life.

“Forty”: Magnum deals with the reality of turning 40 (although information from previous episodes suggests that Magnum should actually be either 41 or 43 by this point in time).

“Laura”: Another all-time fan favorite, guest starring Frank Sinatra as a retired police officer who is trying to capture the men who murdered his granddaughter.

Disc Five

“Out of Sync”: Dana Delany reprises her character from “L.A.”

“The Aunt Who Came to Dinner”: Magnum’s Aunt Phoebe, experiencing the early effects of Alzheimer’s, is convinced that she is being followed by someone who is trying to kill her.

“The People vs. Orville Wright”: Rick is arrested for murder.

“Limbo”: Magnum is fighting for his life after a bullet wound places him in a coma. This was originally intended to be the series finale, so the ending suggests that he died—but the series returned for one more season, so he is brought back to life in the first episode of season eight.

Disc Five also contains the bonus feature “America’s Top Sleuths.”

The 411: Some television series from the 1980s almost instantly became dated but Magnum, P.I. has stood the test of time. The series had many outstanding episodes and very few subpar ones. Most fans would agree that several of the best episodes took place in season seven, so this set is a must-have for Magnum fans.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  9.0   [  Amazing ]  legend

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David Friedman
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