Magnum p.i. (1980-1988), takes place on Oahu, Hawaii staring Thomas Magnum, played by Tom Selleck, a private investigator. This American crime television drama series portrays Thomas as an ex-Navy SEAL, but still does a lot of the same manhandle and endeavors he did when he was a part of the military. He can easily get on base because he is still widely known by a lot of it’s current workers, even though he is technically not allowed access on base. Furthermore, Thomas still has close ties with those that he fought with during the Vietnam War, which is important to the series because it helps Thomas in his investigations since they act as easily accessible resources for him to execute investigations. For instance, Theodore Calvin, T.C., whom has his own local helicopter service, and Rick who runs an exclusive club, the King Kamehameha Club.
First of all, what I find interesting about the plot and characters in this series is that they all served in the Vietnam War, but once they got out of being Navy SEAL’s they still reside in Honolulu Hawaii, and built up their own businesses’ on the island, except for Thomas. Looking at Rick and T.C. it is a convenience for Thomas that these two moved into the line of work that they did. In addition however, I do not think this is something that would have actually happened back in the 80’s. Although it is possible, I personally believe that this convenience in the show was obviously staged to keep a constant cast and to give Thomas easy advantages.
Looking at the creators of this television show, Donald P. Bellisario and Glen A. Larson we can see influences from their personal lives that could have played a part in their creation of Magnum P.I. Donald P. Bellisario’s father ran a tavern in his hometown of North Charleroi, Pennsylvania, and while growing up Donald used to listen to a lot of WWII war stories from veterans that stopped by. From this we can infer that this could have played a role in why they wanted to base the script around war, particularly the Vietnam War that ended 5 years prior to the release of the first episode. Furthermore, looking at Glen A. Larson we see that he grew up in Los Angeles, California and has multiple very successful television shows. Growing up in the heart of entertainment we can infer that most definitely Larson brought in a lot of Hollywood style into the show. First of all, looking at the main cast of this show it does not include any Native Hawaiian’s nor does it include an Asians. Although this story is based around ex-military I think it is interesting that they did not include some local characters. In which could also infer that this show was targeted more toward the typical Hollywood audience.
As well, when looking at any television show that is filmed in a specific location, such as Miami, Los Angeles, and especially Hawaii, there is a lot that is excluded from the audience about the actual lifestyle of people living in that place. Looking at Magnum P.I. we can tell that there are alterations towards the audience conception of Oahu, Hawaii. Such as how Thomas is driving back from the airport to Waikiki, we see him driving through a forest and over a mountain, which is not true. For a television series that is portraying life during its current time of the 1980’s we are not given the true life of what it is like to live on Oahu, Hawaii during the 1980’s. The main character stays in his dead best friends guesthouse, which is right on the beach. Although this is only the pilot episode, it is easy to tell that the audience is centered around a lifestyle that is very rare in Hawaii. As well, Thomas is portrayed as one of the elite on the island and you can see that with his car. It is a lot nicer than the other cars around him and people comment about it. Although it is not his own, we see that Thomas interacts with those he is familiar with, people he has know for years, and when he does interact with other they tend to be foreign white woman. After watching the pilot episode I must say that I did really enjoy the episode, however it’s portrayal of Hawaii is not completely accurate, sugarcoating the life and events that take place in Hawaii. Which is also do part to its Hollywood affiliation.