“Magnum P.I.,” a reboot of the 1980-88 Hawaii-set private investigator series, premieres at 9 p.m. Monday evening on CBS, starring Jay Hernandez in the role originally played by Tom Selleck.
Hernandez is best known for playing El Diablo in “Suicide Squad.” He said the 2016 DC Comics superhero film taught him the risks for an actor playing a role associated with someone else.
“When I did `Suicide Squad,’ it was like there was this built-in hate for Jared Leto as The Joker and his portrayal of it. It was like everybody wanted him to fail,” Hernandez said at last month’s Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.
“I had that in the back of my mind and I thought it was a really smart thing for the network and producers to do something that felt and looked really different. I don’t have the moustache. That was something Tom brought to the character.
“Everybody has an opinion and I knew there was going to be some backlash, but I felt comfortable in the fact that I can do this and that it was enough of a different direction that there was less weight on me. It gave me more freedom.”
The other changes from the original include Higgins, the British double-Doberman pinscher-owning manager of Robin’s Nest, the beachfront estate where Magnum lives, being played by a woman, Perdita Weeks.
(The late John Hillerman played the role in the original.)
“There was an element that was missing from the original … a strong female character,” Weeks said. “It brings a new dynamic. They still butt heads like in the original. They still have their own agendas.”
Another change from the original is the title, which included a comma. The reboot does not include a comma because “in the new world of searching, commas are not your friends,” CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl said.
The cast also consists of Stephen Hill as Theodore “TC” Calvin, a former Marine helicopter pilot who runs a helicopter tour business; Zachary Knighton as Orville “Rick” Wright, a former Marine door-gunner-turned-impresario of Oahu’s coolest nightclub; Tim Kang as Honolulu Police Department Detective Gordon Katsumoto; and Amy Hill as Teuila “Kumu” Tuileta, the cultural curator of Robin’s Nest.
“We hit it out of the park with this cast that we have,” said co-creator and executive producer Eric Guggenheim. “They’re incredibly funny, they’re incredibly vulnerable and charming.”
“Magnum P.I.” will try “to tell classic P.I. stories” that “oftentimes tend to start out really small,” Guggenheim said.
In the second episode, Magnum is hired to find a fish that has been stolen, but “it’s a 350-pound bluefin tuna that’s worth a helluva lot of money,” Guggenheim said.
“Magnum is trying to track down something that’s been stolen and it mushrooms into something that’s much bigger,” Guggenheim said. “There’s a kidnapping involved, there’s spies involved.”
In the seventh episode, Magnum is hired by a “little girl to find her missing cat and it spins out into something else,” said Guggenheim, who held various producer roles for CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0” from 2014-18, and wrote episodes of the NBC family drama “Parenthood” and the screenplay for “Miracle,” the 2004 film on the gold medal-winning 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.
Kahl said he put “Magnum P.I.” on CBS’ fall schedule because it is a “well-written, well-crafted and really fun series.”
“`Magnum’ is a very clever, action-oriented re-imagining of the classic CBS series,” Kahl said.
Of the 20 scripted series on CBS’ fall schedule, five are reboots.
“The movie business has been very successfully doing reboots and sequels for years,” Kahl told City News Service. “The fourth version of `A Star is Born’ will premiere next week. It’s getting huge Oscar buzz.
“Audiences have proven they embrace titles and concepts that are familiar and it makes perfect sense for `big tent’ broadcast programmers to follow that notion.”
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