LB sees the new ‘Magnum, P.I.’

Uh-oh…

by Larry Brody

Sorry, kids, but there’s no other way to put it: CBS’s new version of Magnum, P.I. isn’t your father’s Magnum…and it shouldn’t be yours either.

THE GOOD:

  • Hawaii’s a very good looking place. (At least it was pre the last hurricane to come close to the islands.) Just like in the original.
  • There’s a guy named Thomas Magnum in most of the scenes of the show and he lives on some other guy’s big estate and drives that other guy’s Ferrari. Just like in the original.
  • There’s a character named Higgins running the estate and keeping track of Magnum. Just like in the original.
  • Magnum’s old friends hang out with him and provide the kind of help he needs whenever he needs it. Just like in the original.
  • Lots of repartee. Just like in the original.

THE NOT SO GOOD:

  • As good looking as it is, there’s nothing special about this show’s Hawaii because not only have we seen it before on the earlier version of Magnum, we’re also seeing it now if we watch the tattered, tired, and tiring reboot of CBS’s Hawaii Five-0 reboot. In fact, CBS has proudly proclaimed that this Hawaii is in fact the same Hawaii as that one…and that we’ll be seeing  the characters of the shows interact with each other or solve crimes together – or something.
  • This Thomas Magnum isn’t played by Tom Selleck but by Jay Hernandez, who’s a fine, sturdy specimen of manhood who isn’t anywhere near as interesting, charismatic, funny, exciting as Selleck – and that isn’t necessarily his fault. The new dood just plain has nothing to work with because…
  • The writing on the new Magnum sucks. The first few episodes I saw were all about spectacular action done using very unspectacular CGI, and while, yes, they did contain quite a few exchanges of repartee (the hallmark of the original series), said repartee was as tattered, tired, and tiring as that on the no-longer-new but unfortunately still-current version of Hawaii Five-0. And that’s because…
  • This time-waster was “developed” by Peter Lenkov and Eric Guggenheim and is run by Lenkov, whose name you may know because – yes, it’s true – Peter Lenkov also developed and is showrunner of Hawaii Five-0. 
  • The character named Higgins who’s in charge of making Magnum’s life miserable is a woman. In itself, that’s admirable, for sure. But the thing is, she’s a totally unreal, stereotyped, plastically beautiful, nerd’s idea of a cool woman and nowhere near what any women I’ve ever met – and admired – and maybe even loved.
  • Even in the original, Magnum’s old buds were pretty boring. Here they appear to be even more bored than we are.

IN OTHER WORDS:

What we have here is a corporate cog of a series which appears to have been created solely for the purpose of exploiting memories of a beloved series of yore and bringing a sort of Mini-Connected-Universe ala the Marvel Movie Universe to TV in order to – well, I don’t know. Just to have such a TV universe, I think.

Ah, well. They can create as many sad ghosts of past glory as they want, you know? But they can’t make us watch ’em. And in an era with so many fascinating new TV presentations vying for viewer attention, I can promise all and sundry that are so many viable alternatives to the new Magnum, P.I that there is no reason whatsoever to think about casting even a short glance its way.

Tom used to be my neighbor. Hi, Tom!

The Ultimate Short Course in Pitching

Two minutes and 10 seconds of what they don’t teach you in your Media Arts college course of study, but they definitely should. (Preferably with producer Tiegen Kosiak at the rostrum.

Tiegen Kosiak is an independent film, TV, and digital producer as well as the co-founder aka “Crime Boss” of The Young Hollywood Mafia, an entertainment networking group with 150+ members.

Tiegen is currently producing the $3MM thriller BORREGO, which she discovered in a Stage 32 pitch session in 2016. The project is incubating at a major studio with a high-level cast attachment.

Thanks to Stage 32 for making this video available.

Here’s Something for All You ‘Here’s Lucy’ Fans

TVWriter™ Contributing Editor Emeritus (that means he’s too big to be on the job 24-7 like he used to be but still contributes his share) Herbie J Pilato, has an  interweb bonanza for those of us who love Here’s Lucy – and who doesn’t?

From Herbie J’s email to your eyes:

Below are the links to my two-part 50th Anniversary tribute to “Here’s Lucy” featuring exclusive commentary from Lucie Arnaz, and Desi Arnaz, Jr.

Here’s 50 Years of Here’s Lucy – Part 1

Here’s 50 Years of Here’s Lucy – Part 2

Enjoy! (We sure did.)

John Ostrander: Art vs the Artist

by John Ostrander

Last column I talked about James Gunn and how he was fired by Disney from the third Guardians installment for some really stupid tweets he published about a decade ago. They were appalling, no questions about it, but I wondered if Disney really needed to fire him for it. Gunn himself has renounced them and apologized. I was further aggravated by the fact that it was a right wing troll who engineered the whole reveal basically to punish Gunn for being anti-Trump.

However, lurking beneath that question is a bigger problem – can you separate the art from the artist? SHOULD you? 

I am of so many different minds about this it makes my own head spin. Oscar Wilde was tossed into prison for being gay and pretty flamboyant about it; today his The Importance of Being Earnest is performed almost continuously around the world. I can’t watch an episode of The Cosby Show since it was revealed just what a slime Fat Albert’s daddy really is. Then again, I also haven’t been able to watch one of Robin Williams’ comedy specials since learning just how much pain he was in.

One of the things I’ve always admired about Shakespeare’s plays is that we know very little about Will himself. Oh, there certainly are some biographical tidbits but mostly we know Shakespeare’s mind – what he thought and felt – from his plays and poems. And it was a remarkable mind and could cover a host of different thoughts, even on the same subject. Check out Measure for Measure, Act 3, Scene 1 for two very different meditations on death.

(BTW, we’re not going to get into whether or not Shakespeare actually wrote Shakespeare’s plays. Yes, I have listened to the theories – which is all they are – and, so far as I’m concerned, they are codswallop. You can argue the point all you want; just don’t bother doing it with me.)

What could we possibly learn about Shakespeare’s life that would add to our understanding of his plays? The work exists and is its own justification.

If that’s true, shouldn’t that apply to others? Yet, I don’t want to see a film by Roman Polanski; I did see one (The Ghost Writer) before I knew Polanski had directed it and it was a powerful piece of work. My Mary has no use for Woody Allen (whom she regards as a pedophile) and no desire to see any film he’s made. D.W. Griffith pioneered many of the film techniques still used in cinema today but Birth of a Nation (originally titled The Clansman) glorifies the Ku Klux Klan and is undeniably racist. So is a musical number in A Day At The Races where the Marx Brothers (who I adore) put on blackface to hide among them singin’ and dancin’ darkies in order to escape the law. It’s damn uncomfortable to watch but I haven’t sworn off Groucho, Chico, and Harpo or that film.

Perhaps it’s a matter of degree? I was raised a Roman Catholic (these days I term myself a Recovering Catholic) and there is one thing the Church really knows how to do to parse sin – you had mortal sins, you had venal sins, you had an occasion of sin and even a near occasion of sin.  You needed to hit the confessional box if you were even THINKING of sin (and, as a young teen-age boy in the 60s, I did a lot of thinking about sin). Maybe we could consider the degree of culpability in each case. James Gunn’s tweets were stupid and offensive but surely they don’t rise to the level of a guy whipping out his Johnson and masturbating into the potted plants.

Then again – who am I to say? I’m an aging old white fart and, to some, that might invalidate my opinion on the matter. Then again – maybe a generation or two down the line they maybe be able to watch Cosby or Spacey or any of the others whose acts taint what they’ve done. The work will stand as the work, independent of its creator and their foibles. Picasso treated the women in his life pretty badly and yet his work stands as a testament to the man’s genius.

Picasso exemplifies that people are not all one thing or the other. Having great talent, great ability, does not means you are going to be a role model; often, far from it. It is that messy humanity that becomes distilled in the work and the work, I think, justifies itself because it gives a great deal to our own messy humanity.

I think, ultimately, the work must be considered apart from the life of its creator. It must have a life of its own if it is to last. And should be considered apart from the life of its creator.

Just don’t ask me to watch reruns of The Cosby Show any time soon.


John Ostrander is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium. It’s been awhile since he’s been here, but now John’s back with a new column at a new blog, PopCultureSquad, where this piece first appeared. You can learn more about John and his many masterworks HERE

Download 50 of the Best TV Scripts

It’s hard to argue with the thinking behind this collection of fine TV writing assembled by the hard-working folk at Script Reader Pro.Com.

In fact, the best response we can have is, indeed, the one reserved for articles of the highest value to TVWriter™ visitors. In other words, our recommendation is that you download all 50 of the teleplays listed.

And then read them, dammit. Read ’em like a motherfucker!

by Script Reader Pro

Here are 50 of the best TV scripts online to download in every genre.

Just like in our post on the best screenplays to read, we’ve broken down our list of the top TV show scripts into the following categories:

  • Drama
  • Comedy
  • Action/Adventure
  • Thriller
  • Horror

If you want to learn how to write for TV, reading these TV pilot scripts is one of the best ways to help boost your writing ability. You will learn how to establish the characters in a pilot, set up the world of the show and all about TV pilot structure.

Most importantly, study these TV scripts in order to discover how to create a sense of intrigue that will make a reader want to know what happens in the next episode. As you know, your script will be up against the hundreds of other TV specs out there, so it better make an impression.

The list contains examples of single-camera, multi-camera, half-hour, one-hour, network and cable pilots and TV specs, so pretty much every formatting option is also covered. So let’s dive on in with the first category….

Read it all at – you guessed it – Script Reader Pro