Ask Matt: ‘Magnum’s Premature Goodbye Aloha

Magnum P.I. Perdita Weeks and Jay Hernandez
CBS
Magnum P.I.

Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic — also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist” — Matt Roush, who’ll try to address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today’s vast TV landscape. (We know background music is too loud, but there’s always closed-captioning.)

One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won’t be addressing upcoming storylines here unless it’s already common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] (or use the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush). Look for Ask Matt columns on many Tuesdays and some Fridays.

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Magnum’s Comfort-Food TV Will Be Missed

Question: I am in shock to hear that CBS has canceled Magnum P.I. It is, or should I say now was, one of my favorite shows. I have read about why it was canceled and understand that sometimes it really is all about the money, but man, this one really hurts. It seems to me that every year we see less and less of these family-friendly action-adventure shows. You know, the ones that are just so much fun to watch, the real comfort food of TV shows. So I guess my question is: Is there any chance that one of the other networks or streaming services will pick them up? — Justin

Matt Roush: There are two inevitabilities this time of year: unhappiness over favorite shows being canceled, and the long-shot hope that a streamer or other entity will rescue a show that has unexpectedly had its run cut short. (In Magnum’s case, the reboot lasted exactly half as long as the original’s eight-year run.) As Justin indicated, by all reports the cancellation of Magnum was very much a business decision after CBS and Universal failed to settle on a license fee, which is no doubt going to become even more prevalent as linear ratings on broadcast TV continue to soften and production costs remain high.

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Last week’s cancellation bloodbath was one of the most extreme I’ve witnessed in some time, but very few surprised me. (These days I’m more startled when a marginal show gets renewed.) Magnum was an exception. CBS tends to let procedurals like these play out to at least the seven-year mark, so I didn’t see this coming until the industry trades began reporting on the negotiations between studios. Because Universal is the lead and original studio behind the franchise, the only way I’d imagine the show could continue is if they kept it going for their company’s Peacock streaming platform. This seems unlikely because of the show’s current presence on Paramount+ and who knows what other corporate complications, and I’m not aware of any such push within the company. The one argument in its favor would be the ongoing trend of reviving classic IP (intellectual property), which is how the Magnum reboot came to be in the first place. But for now, consider it a casualty of tough times for network TV.

More on the Magnum cancellation, which triggered the most response in my mailbox to date:

From Deb: I know this is the time when you get all the “how could they cancel X show” mail, but I cannot believe that Magnum was canceled. This was our feel-good end-of-the-week show, with a cast with chemistry and great scenery. As I’ve said before, the networks wonder why we don’t invest in shows, when they cancel things at the drop of a hat. To be fair, Magnum had four seasons, but why CBS would cancel a known show to start new ones is beyond me.

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Matt Roush: There are reports that another factor that may have contributed to Magnum’s demise was how bullish CBS was for several of its new dramas for the fall: procedurals Fire Country and East New York, and the lighter legal drama So Help Me Todd — and expected later in the season, a series version of True Lies. With so much real estate devoted to the FBI block and the NCIS franchise, and with The Equalizer (also a co-production with Universal) renewed for two more seasons, something had to give. But Deb makes a good point which programmers know all too well, that canceling a known quantity in hopes something new will surpass it is a strategy loaded with risk.

From Edgar R: I see that CBS has done it again. They have canceled one of their best shows, Magnum P.I. They keep things like Survivor and Beyond the Edge. What is with these people?

Matt Roush: Not an apt comparison, more like the proverbial apples and oranges—or from Edgar’s perspective, apples and rotten apples. No network (or streamer, to be fair) can program a slate consisting only of expensive scripted programming, and while the long-running Survivor is by no means a cheap alternative, this kind of high-end reality TV (which tends to draw a younger and ad-friendly audience) is now a staple of every major network’s overall schedule. The success of one does not dictate the failure of the other.

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Bosch Is Back!

Question: Just finished the first six episodes of the Bosch: Legacy follow-up series on Amazon’s Freevee platform. Love it! Love it! Tell me that there will be more, more please. — Susanne

Matt Roush: You’re in luck. Not only is there more to come this season, with four more episodes dropping on Fridays between now and the May 27 finale. But the Bosch sequel has already been renewed for a second season. (When you watch the finale, you’ll be glad of that.)

Question: Honey Chandler, the lawyer in Bosch: Legacy on Freevee, uses a distinctive device (spoiler alert: transference) that appears again in Netflix’s The Lincoln Lawyer series when used by Mickey Heller. Both shows are based on characters from executive producer Michael Connelly. Is this laziness on the part of the writers, or do they think that the audience won’t notice? — Phyllis T

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Matt Roush: I wish you had been more specific about this comparison, but the reality is that while Michael Connelly is an executive producer on both series, having created the characters and novels on which the shows are based, they’re otherwise not connected at all. (Because they air on rival streamers, among other factors, there won’t be an overlap between Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller as there is in the books, where they’re half-brothers.) If a similar plot device appears in both stories, Mickey inheriting a murdered lawyer’s cases is a much bigger aspect of The Lincoln Lawyer — which I found too dreary to make it to the end — than what happens in the Bosch series. It’s also hardly rare to find similarities in the storylines of legal, medical and cop series. Not sure it’s laziness so much as it is a pitfall in there being so much genre programming flooding the market.

Pearson Kids Missing in Action

Question: I am loving the final episodes of This Is Us but there seems to be a glaring omission, unless I missed something. Where are Randall and Beth’s daughters? — Unsigned

Matt Roush: They’ve been around, and Deja had a major storyline this season, but their absence was especially noticed at Kate and Phillip’s wedding (not by me, I wasn’t doing a head count). Given the bicoastal nature of the family, it could have been logistics (and Beth’s mother is back home on the East Coast available to babysit), but I often wonder about this on shows where children only seem to appear when it’s convenient, which we know isn’t the case in real life. I haven’t seen this week’s penultimate episode in advance, but if they’re not around (in their more adult versions) to say goodbye to their beloved grandma Rebecca, that would just be wrong.

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A Better Ending for Killing Eve?

Comment: [Spoiler Alert] After reading the “Jeers for Killing Eve” in the May 9-22 issue of TV Guide Magazine, I had to chuckle. So the fans are thinking that Villanelle is gone for good? I suspect that she floated down and away to convince Eve to not look for her body, while Villanelle is busy “killing Carolyn.” Eve and Villanelle may reunite for that task, it will not be easy. There is an island they can retreat to after they settle matters with the owner. – Jennifer H

Matt Roush: I’ve seen my share of miracle resurrections on TV, but Villanelle (the wonderful Jodie Comer) seemed pretty DOA to me as she floated into oblivion, and the comments I’ve seen from producers only reconfirmed that this was the ending they had planned. Your fanfiction is another way to go but to be honest, that final season was such a mess (through no fault of Comer and Sandra Oh), I looked at it as a mercy killing.

The Network End Game

Question: I’m a big fan of NBC’s Young Rock, a look back at Dwayne Johnson’s childhood and growing up. But whether I record the show or watch it in real-time, it always cuts off early and I never get to see the last part of the episode. I’ve had my TiVo replaced because of this, but it still continues. My question: What gives? Why does this show consistently cut off the end of the show? — Natalie S

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Matt Roush: The good news: Young Rock made the cut to a third season, though NBC is making the risky decision to move it to Fridays. The bad news, but hardly new news: Networks are notorious about letting episodes run a minute or so into the next time period in the vague hope that viewers won’t flip the channel between shows. These overlaps aren’t always caught by recording devices, so I always suggest either setting extra time at the end or recording the following show to make sure you don’t miss the last bit of an episode. Why this happens when you’re watching in real-time I can’t explain.

And Finally …

Question: What happened to CSI: Las Vegas? It was off the air and then came back again last fall for a few episodes. Then it was gone again. Will it come back or is the show canceled? — Laurel

Matt Roush: This time of year can be confusing, so it’s worth remembering that the CSI reboot aired an unusually short (10 episode) season, which by my records ran mostly uninterrupted. The series was renewed, and while Gil (William Petersen) and Sara (Jorja Fox) won’t be part of the new season, Marg Helgenberger will rejoin the franchise as Catherine Willows.

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That’s all for now. We can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below. (Please include a first name with your question.)