Magnum, P.I.: Season 3 (TV) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Fabulous Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (26th December 2016).
The Show

***This is an A/V and Extras review only. For reviews on the show from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

Vietnam veteran Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck) leaves the Navy to take up position as a private eye and security advisor to famous author Robin Masters in the cultural melting pot of 1980's Oahu, Hawaii. He is soon living the high life with Master's beachfront mansion and Ferrari, but soon the idyll is not all it seems and Magnum is drawn into the island's underworld. An impressive 130 hours of television across 157 episodes over 8 seasons of groundbreaking and unconventional storytelling, join Magnum for a thrill ride of explosive action and frantic chases in the unforgettable Emmy® Award and Golden Globe® winning series, now available fully restored and in high definition for the first time.

Video

Fabulous Films in the UK have secured the rights to several classics from the Universal TV back catalogue: Knight Rider (1982-86), The Incredible Hulk (1977-81), Miami Vice (1984-90), The A-Team (1982-86) and now we come to the longest running of the batch Magnum PI (1980-88). This award-winning comic detective series was rarely out of the top 20 during it's run and was so popular that when the producers tried to kill the series (and lead) off at the end of season 7 (1986-87) the public outcry was such that the studio commissioned a final truncated 13-episode 8th season to bring Thomas Magnum back and give him a happier send off.

Essentially, a light hearted noir detective series set in the blazing sun and tropical climes of Oahu and the Hawaiian islands. For former VMO-2 Marine Observation officer Thomas Magnum - along with his pals and former marine colleagues Rick (Larry Manetti) and TC (Roger Mosely) - week in week out was a promise of intrigue and adventure and usually a substantial amount of comedy involving Magnum sparring with his current professional colleague Higgins (John Hillerman). Magnum and Higgins both work for popular pulp novelist Robin Masters as caretakers of his elaborate estate.

Magnum PI was shot on 35mm film and as such is a perfect fit straight out of the vault for HD; high quality, high resolution film, and I'm very happy to report that it looks a terrific! If anyone reading this has other US TV shows like The A-Team or Knight Rider on Blu-ray then you'll know what I mean, except this looks even better. Apart from being shot, assembled, edited and post-produced entirely on film I've heard tell that Magnum was also shot on higher quality feature film stock, which would explain why this series looks so good.

A vividly shot series largely in the bright, Hawaiian sunshine that hold up very well with strong colours, solid black levels and plenty of detail. I checked every single episode (162 in all) both visually and aurally and they are all well up to par. I didn't see any evidence of damage or artefacts, crush, mosquito noise, aliasing and no evidence of poor encoding (macro blocking, noise pumping, digital splurges et al). These discs hold between 4-7 x 48-50 minute episodes each and are all BD50s with duel layers. The only caveat is that these almost certainly are aged masters dating back some years, possibly 1-2K in resolution so some softness is to be expected; especially on discs holding six or seven episodes.

Picture perfectionists will probably pick fault with these transfers but for the vast majority of fans these transfers will be quite the revelation; anyone who has seen the series via the ITV HD broadcasts will know what I mean. All of the episodes are in the uncut original broadcast versions*; no edited syndication variations on this set (with two exceptions discussed below).

I'm delighted to report that Donald Bellissario's and Glen Larson's sunny neo-noir series has no major failings some of Fabulous' previous TV sets. The only quibble is that the crossover episodes with Simon & Simon (3.3: Ki' I's Don't Lie. 1982) and Murder, She Wrote (7.9: Novel Connection, 1986) are the syndicated stand alone versions. Originally part one was seen on Magnum with part two concluding afterwards on the other series. In the case of Murder, She Wrote the follow on episode is included in the extras package albeit in standard definition.

* The possible exceptions being the 2-part Resolutions that runs shorter than the US DVD versions which run: Resolutions - 46'55"; Resolutions, Part II - 46'07".

Overall running times: DVD - 93'02"; BD - 90'04". There seems to be 2'58" difference

1.33:1 / 1080/24p / MPEG-4 AVC

Audio

All eight seasons are presented in the original English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; I would have expected that from 1986 Magnum would have been made in stereo as were The A-Team and Knight Rider. These tracks are loud, and strong but are obviously not going to have the explosive effect of a modern 5.1 track, but they are lossless and that is the most important thing; you may find that you'll have turn the sound down!

Had the money been available this would have been a shoe-in for a total 5.1 upgrade; however, Fabulous Films have very limited budgets and 162 50 minute episodes would have been massively expensive. Besides, they've done a great job with this release so I'm not complaining.

Alas, there are no subtitles.

English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono

Extras

Commentaries on 8.2: Pleasure Principle and 8.10: Legend of the Lost Art with writer Jay Huguely.
Commentary on 8.13: Resolutions, Part II by Co-executive producer Charles Floyd Johnson.
Both commentators are knowledgeble and highly listenable imparting plenty of details about the series and about their careers. Huguely was one of the top writers on the show, and an experienced Hollywood pro. One if his scripts Legend of the Lost Art is a spoof of Raiders of the Lost Ark and was written as a thank you to Tom Selleck for his sacrifice; he was unable to take leave from his Magnum schedule to accept the part of Indiana Jones in Raiders. Sadly, after he had been forced to turn it down a writer's strike delayed Magnum and he could have taken part. Later Selleck made his own period adventure High Road to China (1983). It was one of the most expensive episodes made for the series. Johnson had worked on the series from early in before he became a full fledged exec.

Murder, She Wrote: Magnum on Ice (1986) (47:41) - The syndicated version of the Murder, She Wrote followup to Novel Connection. Sadly, presented in standard definition; a shame because all of Murder, She Wrote Has been mastered in HD and screened in the UK on ITV.

Inside the Ultimate Crime Crossover (6:00) - A short puff piece discussing the crossover episodes and their significance to both Magnum and and other shows. Features interviews with cast and crew of both series.

America's Top Sleuths (29:55) - One of those countdown shows highlighting popular TV detectives. Obviously, it features Magnum PI amongst many others.

The Great '80's TV Flashback (29:00) - A puff piece filled with talking heads and pundits discussing various Universal-owned TV shows with clips etc. Perhaps some of the other shows seen here will turn up on Blu-ray from Fabulous?

Overall

As usual, Fabulous Films have done a great job bringing this of the shelf release to the fans. If buyers don't expect a detailed, lavish, expensive, curated release and brand new transfers in 4K they shall be more than satisfied as this set is a major improvement on the already excellent DVD sets. This is a welcome addition to the HD TV cannon and is likely to be THE definitive version of the series; there have been no announcements as yet of a release anywhere else. That said, I'd be very surprised if Mill Creek in the USA don't have one planned. It's a shame that the Resolutions 2-parter seems to be cut and that the complete package of cross over episodes for Simon & Simon and Murder, She Wrote have not been included.

Magnum PI is the longest running of the recent clutch of Universal shows given the HD treatment. It doesn't have the historical significance and influence than Miami Vice but it'll have huge collectibility for the nostalgia market. Magnum was a staple in our house when I lived in the USA and I have many fond memories of watching it with my parents and two younger brothers.

We have great transfers exhibiting good picture and sound, but the edited episode, marginal extras and missing the complete crossover packages in HD means that we have to count this release as mildly disappointing. It's still worth getting as we are unlikely to get a better set.

Video: A Audio: A+ Extras: D Overall: B+

 


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