Magnum, P.I.

Season 5 Episode 22

A Pretty Good Dancing Chicken

Aired Unknown Apr 04, 1985 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
28 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

A Pretty Good Dancing Chicken
Hired to help find Carol's niece, Magnum goes undercover as a prisoner to talk to her ex-boyfriend, the last person to see her before her disappearance.

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  • When Magnum is asked by Carol to investigate the disappearance of her 17-year-old niece, he goes undercover as a convict on a prison farm to check out an inmate who was last seen with her. Passable, but such a missed opportunity...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    I want to like this episode. I really do. It has such potential. Sadly, like many other fifth season offerings, it never hits its stride, feeling somewhat unpolished and half-hearted, and comes off as so-so at best.

    Without wanting to continually compare to other favourite shows of mine, I've always liked prison-based episodes (see 'The A-Team's 'Pros and Cons' (season 1) and 'Breakout!' (3), 'The Fall Guy's 'That's Right, We’re Bad' (1) and 'Knight Rider's 'No Big Thing' (1) to name but a few), and many stand as classics of those respective series. So when I first read the synopsis of this MPI episode when it was scheduled to air, many years ago now, I was really looking forward to it â€" I thought that a prison-set 'Magnum' episode could potentially be a series classic. But, to put it bluntly, it isn't.

    The whole first act is wasted, being too over-talky and slow to get going. The actual prison section of the episode isn't even introduced until the second act (more of that in a moment), coming in far too late. In the meantime, Magnum checks out 'Anagrams', a company where people dress as various animals to deliver greetings messages. This may be vaguely amusing, but to me feels over-forcibly 'wacky', trying too hard to recapture the wonderfully quirky touches of episodes of earlier seasons.

    When Magnum does eventually go to prison in act two, the story abruptly jumps â€" we see nothing of Magnum being inducted into the prison or suchlike, instead suddenly leaping forward in the story. I would have liked to have seen some of the slow, wordy first act omitted and more of Magnum's induction featured instead.

    The prison scenes themselves are very routine, again not living up to the potential that they had. And once Magnum has effectively broken out of prison to go after the escaping Jacobs, there is more disappointment â€" imagine a story where Magnum is being hunted by the Police. Sounds exciting? Not in this episode, it isn't.

    The final scene rounds off things as well as can be expected, but with Becky probably about to spend a spell in prison, it continues a trend of the final episode of the season ending on a down note (see season three's 'Faith and Begorrah' and season four's 'I Witness').

    I really want to like this episode, and there is a very good story in there somewhere. But ultimately it suffers the same as much of the fifth season, and ends up sub par.


    Fifth season overview.

    After four great seasons of 'Magnum, p.i.', things sadly took a nosedive with the fifth season. Magnum (both the character and the series) was maturing, and that was no bad thing, but there was something else â€" stories now lacked the sparkle and great little touches of earlier instalments.

    The season opens with the two-part 'Echoes of the Mind', which I found hard to get into, due to the noticeable sudden change in feel from the previous seasons. Ironically, compared to some of the weak episodes of the season, this would ultimately turn out to be one of the season's better stories.

    Following 'Echoes of the Mind' comes 'Mac's Back', and of the season, this is the only episode that I consider a classic â€" it comes second to the fourth season's excellent 'Home From the Sea' as my all-time favourite MPI episode. The story serves to reintroduce Jeff MacKay back into the series, after the original Mac was killed off in the third season's 'Did You See The Sunrise?' (freeing MacKay up to play Corky in 'Tales of the Golden Monkey', which only lasted one season).

    Sadly, after that, the season quickly goes downhill, offering a number of so-so-at-best episodes. Some, such as 'Under World' (for pure example) are watchable, but ultimately forgettable and unlikely to make anyone’s 'Top 10' list. Most of the episodes are also more straight dramas, noticeably lacking the well-balanced blend of drama, comedy, adventure and action of earlier examples.

    There are some better episodes â€" I like the two-part 'All For One', for example â€" but the season is mostly made up of episodes that would at best be 'fillers' in other seasons. Sadly, this continues for much of the sixth season â€" bar a few episodes, it won't be until season seven that things start to pick up again.

    And one more thing that I noticed with the fifth season â€" Magnum's hair goes from long in one episode, to short in another, back to long again in the next, where the episodes were shown in a different order to they were produced. A minor thing, but it stood out to me.moreless
  • Follows the Magnum formula, but in this case, fairly unexciting.

    Magnum is on the trail of a missing niece of Carol's.

    This episode has all the classic Magnum elements, a missing person, helping a friend, the involvement of the entrire gang including TC, Rick, and Higgins - they just don't play that well together here, almost as if its been done before. Perhaps what takes away the most is that Tom Selleck is unconvincing in Magnum's role as an undercover prisoner at an Oahu work farm (his claiming credit for smuggling bourbon is not well-acted) and the fact that the key protagonist is billed by her father and aunt as totally unskilled at dancing, and yet she is actually a capable instructor at dance (at least for costumed characters) despite her involvement in a criminal scheme that she will have to answer for in the end.

    Overall, this is just not an example of the series at its best.moreless
Clay Wai

Clay Wai


Guest Star

Turner Pe'a

Turner Pe'a

Police Officer

Guest Star

Mickey Caruso

Mickey Caruso

Inmate #2

Guest Star

Kathleen Lloyd

Kathleen Lloyd

Carol Baldwin

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Jack Damon: I don't understand you, you think you're going to a summer camp?
      Magnum: I think I got it in the right perspective. It's just a farm; I'm gonna do a little manual labor and watch a lot of TV.
      Higgins: Well, at least you have experience in one of the two. (pauses) Be careful.

  • NOTES (2)

    • The German episode titles are "Hinter Gittern" ("Behind Bars") and "Ballettschuhe und heiße Waffen" ("Ballet Shoes and Hot Weapons"). The French title is "La danseuse", meaning "The Dancer". The Italian title is "Corruzione di minorenne", meaning "Corruption of a Minor".

    • Unusually, this episode has its on-screen 'story by' credit before its 'teleplay by' credit; normally they are listed the other way around.