Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Don't Eat the Snow in Hawaii

That's the title of the very first episode ever of Magnum PI, which I saw Part One of last night, for the first time in...well, many moons. Watching favorite old teevee shows is, of course, an eternal pleasure, but particularly special are the pilot episodes of favorite shows. It's always fun to see things in retrospect in the old pilots, from shows I know very well; noting the way characters interact at the outset before the show evolves, with the writers and producers learning what chemistries among the cast work best.

In "Don't Eat the Snow in Hawaii", the relationship between Magnum and Higgins is a lot more antagonistic than it would be later in the show's run, owing to the fact that the pilot takes place early in their professional association, when neither man knows the other very well and certainly neither man takes the other particularly seriously. Magnum's trademark narration of his adventures is present, but here it has a weird sound to it, with heavy reverb as though we're listening to Magnum's ghost. And the phrases he would use a lot later on in the show in his narrations -- "I know what you're thinking, and you're right", "When I write my book on how to be a world-class private investigator, I'll include a chapter on...." -- are not to be found. But other stuff -- high-speed chases in the Ferrari, Magnum's Viet Nam and Naval Intelligence history -- are there from the get-go.

A word on the presentation of the show itself. Here in Buffalo, channel 2.3 -- part of our local NBC affiliate's trio of digital channels -- airs "Retro TV", which is just that: old teevee shows. Weeknights have been kind of fun this summer, with The A-Team and Magnum, PI airing each night. What has been kind of irritating, though, is that the channel is airing Magnum in no semblance of any kind of order. This always frustrates me. I tend to believe that when shows are aired in syndication, they need to be aired in the order they were originally telecast. This gives the opportunity to follow a show through in sequence, which in some cases is downright essential, in the case of shows with serialistic qualities. Now, Magnum, PI wasn't entirely serialistic, but it did observe some continuity throughout its run. When the episodes are aired all over the place, as Retro TV is doing, the continuity is thrown out the window. It's kind of frustrating.

Also disappointing, for me as an old fan of this show, is that the version of "Don't Eat the Snow" is edited so that the show starts with the standard credits sequence. But "Don't Eat the Snow" was a two-hour TV-movie, actually, and it featured a different credits sequence than the one we all know from later in the show's run -- and that credits sequence actually took place about five minutes into the episode! I tried to find that sequence online and failed, but you can hear the first Magnum, PI theme song here. At the beginning, you hear the revving sound of the Ferrari's engine as Magnum speeds away, and then the titles begin, with animation based on what was, I assume, intended to be a major visual motif of the series -- the Cross of Lorraine that was engraved on the ring that Magnum and his fellow Viet Nam buddies wear. While the eventual Magnum theme song would become one of the iconic teevee theme songs, I still like the "70s private eye" vibe of the original.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Wow! For a second there I thought I was having a senior moment and forgot what blog I was visiting. Looking good and it's still you.