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NBC Insider Magnum P.I.

Higgins, Hawaii, The Iconic Shirt, And More — All The Ways Magnum P.I. Is Like The Original

The reboot of Magnum P.I. intentionally pays homage to the original '80s version in ways both clear and subtle.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

The Aloha State just got safer — and sexier. 

How to Watch

Watch Magnum P.I. on NBC and Peacock.    

Thank everybody’s favorite security consultant and private investigator, Thomas Magnum, who’s back on the job in Hawaii. Mysterious death? Missing person? Magnum’s got it covered.

Jay Hernandez stars as the titular detective in Season 5 of Magnum P.I. airing on NBC on Sunday nights at 9/8c. It’s a show with a storied TV history: Magnum P.I. is a modern version of the classic 1980s action series starring Tom Selleck that made everyone wish for a Ferrari in their driveway. Of course, beyond the hot wheels and the name, there are other ways the reboot connects with the original series.

Here's what both versions of Magnum P.I. have in common.

The Setting

Thomas Magnum’s beat is Hawaii, just like in the flagship series. As in the ’80s, the NBC reboot films on the gorgeous island of Oahu.

“We used every inch of that Island,” Eric Guggenheim, showrunner for Magnum P.I., told NBC Insider. “No matter where you are, it’s beautiful. It’s so picturesque. There are no bad angles on that island.” 

Nbc Magnum PI Key Art

That said, amid all that breathtaking beauty, crimes happen. That’s what keeps Magnum and his team of sleuths hopping. 

The Backstory

Thomas Magnum was an ex-U.S. Navy SEALs and Naval Intelligence officer who served in Vietnam when Selleck occupied the role. Hernandez plays a decorated former Navy SEAL who retools his fine-tuned military skills after returning home from Afghanistan.

Tom Selleck in the original Magnum P.I

As in the ’80s series, cucumber-cool Magnum lives at the Robin’s Nest, a luxurious estate, where he’s in charge of security.

Besides the mouthwatering views, the place owned by bestselling author Robin Masters features a deluxe wine cellar: Magnum gleefully opens a vintage Bordeaux in the Season 5 opener. When he’s asked, “Do you have any idea how expensive that is?” he responds in cheeky, charming fashion: “Worth every penny, even if it’s not mine.”

The Iconic Shirt

Thomas Magnum’s original signature work attire featured an Aloha shirt that was every bit as colorful as his personality. Hernandez also sports the same iconic Hawaiian look.

“There was a red one that was the exact pattern that Selleck wore and there was a purple one that I believe was the exact same print that he wore,” Hernandez told NBC Insider, adding that it was a nod to the ’80s show. “Fans of the original show love that kind of stuff when we do things that are pulled directly from the first installment.”

The Hot Wheels

In the ’80s series, Magnum drove a scene-stealing cherry red Ferrari. Likewise, Hernandez drives his own vintage red Ferrari. As Magnum follows each twisty case, the car hugs the curves on the roads.

Magnum's Relationship With Higgins

In the original series, Jonathan Higgins, played by Jonathan Hillerman, was the Robin’s Nest overseer who constantly tried to keep Magnum in line. Their initially chilly relationship eventually warmed to a genuine friendship.

RELATED: From Tom Selleck to Robert Pine – Where the Original Cast of Magnum P.I. Is Today

In the reboot, Perdita Weeks plays Juliet Higgins, a former British MI:6 agent and current private investigator. In Season 5, Magnum’s relationship with Juliet has bloomed from co-investigator into romance.

The P.I.’s Go-To Crew 

Magnum’s two pals in the original were Theodore “T.C.” Calvin (Roger E. Mosley), who operated a charter business, and Orville Wilbur Richard “Rick” Wright (Larry Manetti), who ran a local bar. 

Both guys are back and played respectively by Zachary Knighton and Stephen Hill.

“My buddies and I moved here after serving together in Afghanistan, where we spent time in a POW captain before escaping,” Magnum says in the show’s opening moment. “We make a hell of a team. If you want something on the island, Rick's the man to see. T.C. runs the best helicopter tour business on Oahu.” 

Both men, like Magnum and Higgins, are going through changes and tackling new adventures during Season 5 of the show on NBC.

Watch Magnum P.I. at 9/8c on NBC Sunday nights or stream episodes the next day on Peacock. 

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