Magnum, P.I.

Season 4 Episode 4

Distant Relative

Aired Unknown Oct 20, 1983 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
34 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Distant Relative
When Thomas reluctantly agrees to chaperone Rick's 22-year-old sister, who promptly runs off and is murdered, he finds himself blamed by Rick and trying both to find the killers and stop Rick from exacting bloody vengeance.

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  • Rick persuades Thomas to escort his younger sister Wendy, who he believes to be prim and innocent, for an evening. But Magnum quickly learns there is much more to Wendy than Rick believes, and soon after, she is found dead. A very good episode...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    'Distant Relative' (working title: 'Little Sister') is a very good fourth season MPI episode, and a definite step up from the previous story, 'Smaller Than Life'.

    It starts off with a classic scene with Magnum being awoken at dawn by Higgins and Agatha flying model World War II aeroplanes outside the guest house. For a story that will take us on a rollercoaster ride of emotion, it is a nice scene of comedy before the main plot kicks in.

    From the off, I knew Rick would be wrong in believing how prim and proper his sister Wendy is. The sequence of her evening with Magnum is both dramatic and comical (I love T.M. awkwardly trying to fit in at the discotheque, even attempting to dance as he crosses the floor, before wisely thinking better of it)!

    As Magnum looks for the missing Wendy, he bumps into Carol Channing. Okay... I'll admit it, I have no idea who she is. Must be an American thing (I'm a Brit!). But, reading up on this episode, the people who know of her seem to love this scene.

    The story is the second Rick-based episode in a row, and is finally one that gives Larry Manetti something to get his teeth into. Although I must say, I did find him to overact at times, even in the scenes before Wendy was killed.

    The episode is also notable for featuring both the characters of D.A. Carol Baldwin, and of retired mobster 'Ice Pick', played by their regular actors for the first time.

    Carol had appeared in the third season episode 'Foiled Again' played by a different actress; after playing a different character in season three's 'Almost Home', Kathleen Lloyd takes over the role for the rest of the series from here on.

    Likewise, Ice Pick had been played by a different actor in the third season's 'Past Tense'; Elisha Cook, after playing another character in season two's 'Ghost Writer' (everybody keeping up??), takes over the role of Ice Pick for the rest of the series.

    Both characters would go on to make a number more appearances.

    The episode also marks some great acting by Tom Selleck; I really felt sorry for T.M. as Rick laid into him for the death of Wendy. Watching the episode of DVD, I noticed a tear running down his face as Magnum broke down in the study.

    The story plays out very well, and kept me gripped throughout. But like all good MPI stories, it has some good humour mixed in, with some very funny lines, but managing not to spoil the serious tale at hand.

    It is fun to see Manetti become 'Rambo Rick'! The climax, with T.C.'s chopper chasing the real killers in the escaping Jeep, is well shot and very exciting, even if it does rather turn into an episode of 'The A-Team' (which is no bad thing, as I love 'The A-Team'!).

    Another nice touch to the series is that, after so many 'old friend' who would die in a particular episode and never be mentioned again, Wendy is mentioned several times in future stories.

    And then, there is the final scene, mirroring the first one, where Magnum is again awoken by Higgins' model plane. He finally has enough and shoots it down with a shotgun! Classic Magnum.

    When I first saw this episode some years ago, I thought it was fair but not one of my favourites; coming to re-watch it again now, I really like it. Probably one of the best of the season.moreless
Alice Cadogan

Alice Cadogan

Wendy Wright

Guest Star

Carol Channing

Carol Channing


Guest Star

James Lawrence

James Lawrence


Guest Star

Elisha Cook Jr.

Elisha Cook Jr.

Ice Pick Hofstetler

Recurring Role

Kathleen Lloyd

Kathleen Lloyd

Carol Baldwin

Recurring Role

Gillian Dobb

Gillian Dobb

Agatha Chumley

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Wendy orders a Bora Gora Bazooka. Bora Gora was the setting of another Donald P. Bellisario show, Tales of the Gold Monkey.

    • The post-production re-recording of Rick's "Don't talk to me like a little kid or like I'm crazy. Just get the hell out of here and let me handle this in my own way." was obvious and very poorly done. The lip sync is completely off, and the quick cut to T.C. in an attempt to hide the dubbing made it even more obvious that the line was altered.

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (2)

    • The script for this episode was originally titled "Little Sister".

    • The German episode titles are "Die kleine Schwester" ("Little Sister") and "Der Anstands-Wau-Wau" ("The Wau-Wau Civility"). The French title is "Petite sœur", meaning "Little Sister". The Italian title is "Riunione di famiglia", meaning "Family Reunion".