Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

We Learn From All Story

Even Television Shows…

Kris and I started watching the revival of Magnum P.I. which was very similar to the old one. But this new version has a lot of heart and more themes. We were actually surprised by the quality, as it is clear many others have been since it just got renewed for a second season.

On thing they did right was add in a couple of elements on the team. (If you don’t understand team in fiction, this would be a good show to study and then take the Teams workshop.)

There is a detective who does a great job of slowly becoming part of the team over the first season. And a housekeeper who is wonderful and sort of the sanity voice as well as great humor.

And in this new one they aren’t hiding information at all. Magnum’s past with TC and Rick is all out there and right up front from the start. And no stupidity about Higgins being Robin Masters. And thankfully, at least so far, none of the stupidity of Magnum being dead for an entire season and having the season be all a dream. (Way, way over the shark.)

But the best change they did for this new show was Higgins. This time around Higgins is a woman. She is young, MI6, and smarter in many ways than Magnum. And between the two of them, there is a fantastic chemistry sort of like the first year of Castle before that show got stupid.

It is stunning how changing one supporting team member can change a show and a story so much. Turning Higgins into a young woman MI6 agent instead of an old guy added so, so much.

In this new Magnum, Higgins as a team member changes everything. And adds a ton of levels to the show that the old show didn’t have. And brings the show up to the modern world. In fact, it could be argued at time, just like in Castle, the show is both of them.

So if you were a fan of the old Magnum show, this new one is worth watching just for the writing exercise. Compare the old Higgins to the new Higgins and learn the value of team members.

Team members are critical to depth and theme and plots of novels for the readers. To see a real master class on how to do a team well, watch the new Magnum show. Worth your time.


  • David Anthony Brown

    Never watched the old Magnum PI, but I’m intrigued with the new one. I need something new to binge on, so I’ll give it a shot. And yeah, I enjoyed Castle season one, watched most of season two, then gave up when the relationship between Castle and Beckett went stupid (whenever that happened).

    And looking forward to the space opera bundle. Robert Jeschonek has become one of my favorites through all the bundles he’s been in.

  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch

    I disagree with one point here, Dean. The original Magnum by mid-series had so much heart that I would argue it was one of the first shows to show how backstory influences every movement made by every character. The original Magnum had a lot of heart.

    • dwsmith

      I just can’t get that last tacked-on season out of my head.

      And I think they hid a bunch of information because, more than likely, the writers hadn’t thought it up yet, where going into this new show they know Magnum’s backstory and have put it right out there in the first few episodes.

      • Gordon Horne

        I have the first season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show in my collection. The first season spends a lot of time established why Mary Richards is a single woman. Today it’s completely unremarkable to be a single woman.

        I mention this because Magnum, Rick, and TC are “Vietnam vets”. The show premiered the year after Apocalypse Now, seven years before Full Metal Jacket, Tour of Duty, and China Beach, three years before The A-Team. The writers might not have had anything in mind beyond a simple tag, but it’s also possible the body of people making the show had now idea how they could expand the tag on a prime-time broadcast show, or what they’d be allowed to say. The people putting out Mary Tyler Moore felt they had to explain what a single woman was, in great detail.

        I liked the old Higgins–for the actor, not the character.

        Old Magnum teamed up with Jessica Fletcher and it was glorious. Will new Magnum get to team up with Rick Castle? Although, I guess that doesn’t work now Castle is a cop.

  • Mark Kuhn

    Great surprise today, my copy of Fiction River Spies. Awesome job, Dean and Kris!

    I haven’t posted here in a while, but I am still writing, Dean. Every day.

  • Stephanie

    Have you watched the first season of Star Trek: Discovery? I’m about seven episodes in and loving it so far…

    Adding the new Magnum PI to my watch list–vaguely remember watching the old series as a kid.

  • Catrin Lewis

    Great post. If fanfiction had existed back in the days of the original Magnum, P.I., and the Internet to post it on, I would have been writing Magnum fanfic. As it was, the stories all stayed in my head, including the one where Robin Masters is a kind of inside-out ghost writer for Higgins. Because wasn’t the idea that all of Masters’ novels were based on his real-life adventures? In my scenario, Masters, who can tell a story brilliantly but can’t come up with an original plot to save his life, has run out of his own adventures to write up and gloms onto Higgins just in the nick of time. They go into partnership, Higgins providing the plots (based on his own younger-years military service) and Masters the writing and the public persona. Masters continues his career with its fame and income, and Higgins gets money and a great place to live, while preserving his standing with his snooty upper-crust family, who’d be appalled should one of their own stoop to writing that “trashy” pulp fiction.

    Thanks for letting me indulge myself. And Kris is right: barring some of the plot silliness at the end, the original Magnum had tons of heart, especially the Michelle/Lily subplot and the interactions of the team. Glad to know the new one is good.

  • Rob Vagle

    Speaking of heart, I’d like to see a reboot of Quantum Leap, another Bellisario creation. It’s obvious he has learned along the way, from series to series.