Tag Archives: Magnum p.i.

Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day – Magnum, P.I.

Well, this one needs little introduction. Unless you are under the age of 25 or never watch TV (in which case, what are you doing here?!?), you can’t fail but be familiar with ’80s US detective drama Magnum, P.I..

The show ran for eight seasons (162 episodes) between 1980 and 1988 and is easily one of the best shows of its type from any era.

The show’s charm is down to a combination of many factors. There’s the charisma, and the often overlooked acting ability, of Tom Sellick in the title role of course.

There’s his hilariously fractious, yet deep-down mutually-respectful,on-screen partnership with John Hillerman‘s strait-laced Higgins, a former British Army soldier and the caretaker of millionaire author Robin Masters’ Hawaiian beachfront estate, where Magnum lives and provides security. Magnum and Higgins are one of the all-time great odd couples.

And there’s the fact that the show never took itself too seriously and managed the tricky task of striking a fantastic balance between intense drama, thrilling action and high comedy. The show even toyed with the idea of breaking the fourth wall and communicating directly with the viewers (something Moonlighting would later do to much greater effect), though this never went beyond a character (usually Magnum or Higgins) giving a knowing look directly into the camera.

For more reasons why Magnum P.I. is regarded with such affection, check out this interesting little essay.

And so to the reason we are here – the theme tune, which is one of the most recognisable in TV history. Or is it?

If you’ve been paying attention to this classic theme tunes feature of mine over the weeks, you may have noticed that I am a bit geeky about theme tunes and the different versions that graced the opening titles of popular shows.

Well, the classic Magnum P.I.theme we know and love wasn’t the first choice for the show, which started out with something very different (written, I believe, by Ian Freebairn-Smith):

That instantly forgettable tune only lasted for about nine episodes, thankfully, before it was replaced by the classic Mike Post tune, though the visuals for the remainder of season one weren’t quite in their final form and so this version is still not the iconic version of the show’s opening:

But by the start of season two, all the elements were in place. The visuals changed slightly from season to season from then on, with newer footage replacing some of the older character clips, but the classic images – such as the diving helicopter at the start and Magnum speeding off in the Ferrari, staring at the bikini babe’s arse and slamming the clip into his gun – remained all through the show’s run. Here it is:



Filed under Classic TV, Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day, TV Themes

Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day – Quantum Leap

This week’s Theme Tune Tuesday pays tribute to the recent 20th anniversary of heartwarming, feel-good sci-fi series Quantum Leap.

The first episode aired on March 26, 1989 and the show ran for five years (96 episodes). It sprang from the fertile mind of Donald Bellisario, who also created shows such as Magnum p.i. , Airwolf, Tales Of The Gold Monkey and, more recently, JAG and NCIS.

Quantum Leap starred Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett, a scientist from the near future (from the perspective of 1989), who believes he has found a way to time travel within his own lifetime.

However, when he tests his theory, the experiment goes awry he finds himself “leaping”, or bouncing, through time into the bodies of strangers. He soon realises  he is being directed by some unseen higher power to either save or improve these people’s lives. To move on to the next leap – and, he hopes, eventually leap back home – he must “put right what once went wrong”, changing history in the process.

Sam’s only companion is Al Calavicci, played by Dean Stockwell, a friend and colleague from Sam’s own time who appears as a hologram that only he can see and hear. Using the computer resources of Sam’s lab and their present-day historical records, Al helps him figure out whose life he is living and the reason for Sam being there.

Quantum Leap was unapologetically sentimental and schmaltzy and, despite the slightly futuristic time-travel premise, refused to get too bogged down in sci-fi, preferring instead to focus on the human drama and character interaction, while tackling contemporary issues such as racism, sexism and attitudes towards the disabled in an entertaining way that just about managed to stay the right side of preachy. It was a clever move that no doubt helped the show move beyond its genre roots and also win a large, and loyal, mainstream audience.

Key to the show’s success was the great rapport between Bakula and Stockwell, without a doubt one of the great TV partnerships.

Here, then, is the definitive version of the opening credits, complete with the explanatory narration and also the teaser for the episode it comes from (which is the first episode of the fourth season where a technical hitch causes Al to become the leaper and Sam becomes the hologramatic helper):

EDIT: Okay, rather annoyingly, embedding is disabled for this video. So until I figure out a way round that or find a different video elsewhere, I’m afraid you’ll have to click on the player above, which will take you to the video on YouTube. Alternatively, click HERE.

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Filed under Classic TV, Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day