My final review of season three, and what a corker. I’ve always liked this one.
Hired to investigate whether the wife of a boxer is having an affair, Magnum meets another of Higgins’ half-brothers, Irish priest Father Paddy McGuiness, who is in Hawaii looking for a sacred relic stolen from his parish. A classic ending to the third season…
This review contains spoilers.
Well, the third season was certainly a rollercoaster ride. Although there were the lows (*ahem* ‘Mixed Doubles’ *ahem*), for the most part, the quality was high, and this classic episode rounds off the season perfectly.
In many respects, this is possibly the best of the “Higgins’ half-brothers” episodes (although I do like the season season’s ‘The Elmo Ziller Story’).
John Hillerman (who, rather amusingly, receives ‘Special appearance by’ billing on the closing credits), puts in a star turn as Father Paddy McGuiness, complete with many quirks – such as smoking the butts of people’s discarded cigarettes! It is almost easy to forget that it is Hillerman, who we all know playing the stern Higgins, playing Father Paddy, and is a great example of Hillerman’s dexterity as an actor.
Richard Johnson makes a return appearance as Brigadier Allistair Ffolkes, first seen in the early first season episode ‘No Need To Know’. It is a great touch of continuity to the series, and he makes reference to Magnum helping him out previously.
Also to look out for is series co-creator and episode writer Donald P. Bellisario, playing the owner of the seedy hotel where Father Paddy is staying.
One of the great running touches that I like, is Higgins’ explanations of how he came to have each illegitimate half-brother, refusing the believe the obvious truth that his father “played the field”.
And beyond Father Paddy, the episode also has some great scenes with Clarence, the silent boxer, whom Magnum is scared to tell that his wife seems to be having an affair. These scenes are truly amusing, and had me laughing out loud at several points.
As with many episodes of the third season onwards, things are just as much (maybe more) character-driven than plot-driven, and there is little real action in this episode, but (rather like ‘The Big Blow’ before it), it really works, and is just so much fun to watch.
I particularly like how Father Paddy and the Brigadier, spurred on by Magnum, solve the case of the stolen religious relic from halfway around the world.
In the penultimate scene, with Father Paddy leaving at the airport, he mentions a reunion with Elmo (from ‘The Elmo Ziller Story’), suggesting that Elmo is still alive after all, after it was left rather ambiguously in that story. He also mentions ANOTHER half-brother, Su Ling – who we never get to meet in the series!
One last thing that has to be mentioned – the strange, bizarre and slightly shocking ending, with Clarence’s wife being thrown over a cliff by the man she is seeing. It is a odd and unexpected end to the story, and the season.
Overall, this is a classic episode, with a great performance(s) by John Hillerman, and a perfect end to the third season.
Other notes, bloopers and misc.:
* The plane that Father Paddy flies to Hawaii on changes décor in different shots. The side-on shot (which, if I recall correctly, was also used in the second season’s ‘Double Jeopardy’) is totally different from the plane coming in to land.
* I don’t want to get over-political with this, and I’m no expert, but several points of the story seen to suggest that Father Paddy may be an IRA symphonise. Why would the Army be searching his parish for weapons in the first place; and his conversation with the Brigadier at the dinner table also has some curiosities regarding this.
* The scene in the guest bedroom that Father Paddy is staying in always stuck me as odd. I’m no expert on the layout of the Estate like some people on this forum (lol), but the ocean seems to be directly outside the window – I never thought the Estate was so directly by the sea. No doubt someone can put me right.
* Magnum smokes his ninth cigar of the series.
* Rick only appears in one scene, at the very end of the story (although he is mentioned earlier).
* This episode must have the highest count of “bloody”s used in the series! Although I haven’t had time to check right through yet, when Five broadcast this episode in 2002, they (from what I remember) left it intact.
* I noticed the longer skis from T.C.’s original chopper too, but actually have noticed it in quite a few episodes of the season, where stock footage was used.
Third season overview.
The third and fourth seasons are often considered the show’s “golden era” by many fans, and I’ll agree that the third season is one of the very best (although I personally really like the first season). The story quality was mostly very high, and most episodes had a really polished feel to them.
The season gets off to a flying start with the excellent feature-length / two-part ‘Did You See The Sunrise?’, followed by a run of great episodes – ‘Past Tense’ (although some don’t like it), ‘Black on White’ and ‘Flashback’ to name but a few.
The season also saw a new recurring character, Gillian Dobb as spinster Agatha Chumley, there to sympathise with Higgins when Magnum was getting to him. <br>
The season also began the trend for having more ‘offbeat’ episodes, such as ‘Of Sound Mind’ and ‘Basket Case’, which were quite watchable, but had a rather odd feel to them.
As with all seasons, there were the lows – ‘Mixed Doubles’ is probably one of my least favourite episodes of the entire series, and others such as the well-intentioned-but-flawed ‘Heal Thyself’, don’t quite work.
But overall, this is a top-notch season, and a strong contended for best season of the show’s run.
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