Magnum, P.I.

Season 5 Episode 3

Mac's Back

2
Aired Unknown Oct 11, 1984 on CBS
9.0
out of 10
User Rating
37 votes
2

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Episode Summary

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Mac's Back
AIRED:
When Magnum swears he's seen his deceased friend, Mac, just how badly Diane's suicide has affected him is debated by Higgins, T.C., and Rick.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Magnum had truely lost his mind! Oh no! Poor series!

    9.0
    Wow! After last episode where Magnum watched the girl he was in love with shoot herself right in front of him, of course he has the right to go a little nuts on us. He becomes depressed about all the people in his life he's seen die that he really cared about or depended on him. This time he thinks he sees Mac a friend who died back in season 2 I believe. No one believes him and thinks he's nuts. The rest of the show is Magnum trying to prove that he's not crazy, find this guy, show Higgins, Rick, and just to say I told you so. Well, it turns out he did see a guy who looks like Mac but he's only an incredible look-a-like and nothing more than a con man. By the end we take comfort that Magnum has proven this to his friends but then those pesky writers throw in a scene of Magnum having his cigar lit by the REAL ghost of Mac! They giggle like two crazy loons until Thomas realizes the guy who looks like Mac worn a mustache and this guy he's giggling with does not have one. He looks just like the real Mac. He goes back to check on the look-a-like and he's still chillin with Magnum's friends? What are we suppose to make of this?! Has Magnum truly gone insane now? I think I'll be asking that question from this point on. Is everything now just in Thomas' mind and he's really in a straight jacket in some Hawaiian mental institute? Oh poor Magnum .moreless
  • Magnum is a near wreck after Diane's suicide, until he spots a man who looks exactly like his deceased friend, "Mac" MacReynolds. Everyone else is concerned that he's going mad, but Magnum is determined to prove what he saw. My second favourite episode...moreless

    10
    This review contains spoilers.



    After the fourth season's classic 'Home From The Sea', 'Mac's Back' is my second most favourite episode from the entire series. It has it all – drama, comedy, mystery... the perfect 'Magnum, p.i.' package.



    Even before we get on to the story itself, one thing to note is that the regular theme tune is replaced by a rare alternative version. Playing both on the opening and (in a slight variant) on the closing episodes, this is the only time in the entire series that this particular version is used. Whether they were considering using this for the fifth season, or if it was just used to mark such a notable episode, is anyone's guess.



    Anyway, the story itself continues on from the previous two-part 'Echoes of the Mind', with Magnum suffering depression over the suicide of Diane. The story can be viewed 'stand alone', but for best effect is viewed directly after 'Echoes of the Mind'.

    It is the first time in the show's run that a story continues on from the previous episode; something that would go on to occur more in the eighth, final season.



    I love the opening music of this episode. It starts off peaceful, turns – as we pan across the beach of empty beer bottles – to sad, and as we see what a wreck Magnum has become, turns quite dark and worrying.



    It also contains some nice name checks of previous episode – beyond Diane and Mac, we have mention of Michelle; Rick's little sister (from the fourth season's 'Distant Relative'), Dan Cook (from the Pilot), Magnum's father (seen in flashback in aforementioned 'Home From The Sea'), as well as a "little Vietnamese kid" who doesn't seem to come form a particular episode.



    I believe that the first act, with Magnum on the edge of sanity, and everyone believing he has gone mad after claiming to have seen Mac, to be one of the show's all-time greatest sequences.



    The reason Mac makes a return (of sorts) is down to Jeff MacKay returning to the series after appearing as Corky in another Bellisario show, 'Tales of the Gold Monkey', which only lasted one season (1982-83); so the producers had to come up with a way to be able to write 'Mac' back into MPI!



    When Five here in the U.K. broadcast this episode in 2002, I hadn't seen this far down the series before. I was signed off work ill and suffering depression (something I could relate to Magnum with), videotaped this episode when it was on, and ended up watching it for the first time at about four in the morning! I had no idea if Magnum had really seen a ghost, or what it was; I was gripped, and it immediately became my second most favourite episode of the show's run.



    And then, there is the classic final sequence, where the ghost of Mac lights Magnum's cigar. It could have been a disaster, but is well handled and becomes a classic moment. (Mac's ghost would go on to appear to Magnum several more times in the series).



    All-in-all, although I know there are some that don't care for this story, personally it is set in stone in second place on my Top 10 favourite episodes list. Like 'Home From The Sea', I can watch it over and over without getting bored.moreless
Robert Harker

Robert Harker

Jeweler

Guest Star

Fred Ball

Fred Ball

Ice Cream Parlor Manager

Guest Star

Richard Groenendel

Richard Groenendel

Sailor

Guest Star

Lance LeGault

Lance LeGault

Buck Greene

Recurring Role

Esmond Chung

Esmond Chung

Police Officer

Recurring Role

Glenn Cannon

Glenn Cannon

Doc Ibold

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Magnum: What happened to 'I'll take the guys on my side'?
      Jim Bonnick: There weren't any guys on my side.

    • Magnum: After three days of surveillance, I was familiar with the rhythm of the street. At nine in the morning, those about to be sacrificed to the Hawaiian gods of sun, sea, and sand were making their ritualistic trek to the beach. I knew from experience that very few would return with their skin. At noon, the late risers and the serious souvenir hunters were prowling about, snatching up bargain buys on plastic hula skirts and cheap coral beads. At three-fifteen I got my afternoon treat. I called her Olga, for obvious reasons. The cops are pretty good about keeping hookers off the street during the day, but, I guess when you're as big as Olga, you can work any time you want. By sunset the last of the lobsters were returning from the beach, which meant my day was nearly over and all I had to show for it was a sore butt, and a case of heartburn.

    • Higgins: The two of you are as nervous as a pair of Devonshire schoolgirls.
      T.C.: And you're not?
      Higgins: No.
      T.C.: Then why have you been sipping tea from an empty cup for the last half-hour?

  • NOTES (3)

    • The German episode titles are "Ein Toter kehrt zurück" ("Return of the Dead") and "Mac ist wieder da" (a synonymous translation). The French title is "Réapparition", meaning "Reappearance". The Italian title is "Il ritorno di Mac", a synonymous translation.

    • This episode features flashbacks to several other episodes: Diane's suicide in "Echoes Of The Mind (2)", Michelle's near death at the hands of Col. Ki in "Memories Are Forever", Mac's death in "Did You See The Sunrise?", Rick's little sister in "Distant Relative", Dan Cook in "Pilot" and Magnum's father in "Home From The Sea".

    • The opening and closing credits of this episode feature a unique version of the theme, which is the only time that this version was ever used in the series.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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