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Magnum, P.I.

Season 2 Episode 9

Mad Buck Gibson

Aired Unknown Nov 26, 1981 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
41 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Mad Buck Gibson
Joan Gibson, the ex-wife of infamous adventure author and thrill-seeker "Mad" Buck Gibson, hires Magnum to protect her ex-husband (and her back alimony) who, despite his age, continues to live his life to the fullest as a hellraiser. Magnum realizes that Buck's wild ways are not just a zest for life, but a self-destructive reaction to a dark secret.moreless

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  • Guest star

    My favorite guest stars:

    Darren McGavin

    Vera Miles
  • When "Mad Buck" Gibson parachutes into Hawaii, Magnum is hired to protect the famous author--from himself!

    By utilizing a plot that lacks any sort of antagonist, this episode attempts to delve deep into the meaning of life, but instead bounces off the surface of the issue like a bug off TC's windshield. The trouble with "Mad Buck Gibson" (both the episode and the man) is that we don't really care whether Buck lives or dies. Buck's character was not developed enough for us to see him as anything but a cocky, loudmouthed risk-taker whose bark was much bigger than his bite. Indeed, in the end (presumably) he died attempting to prove to himself he was indeed the tough-guy that he had pretended to be. A real risk-taker, a man with real guts, would have stared down his final adventure--cancer--in the face rather than cravenly jumping off a cliff in a hang glider. (Incidentally, "Mad Buck" reminds me of that guy in a Seinfeld episode who tries to lift a TV just to prove he's strong, then throws his back out). Sadly, "Mad Buck" is really just a wannabe escapist who never grew up before he grew old.

    Fortunately, the lack of momentum in the story itself can be overlooked in favor of fine performances by Selleck and Hillerman. Higgins' injury on the beach, recovery in the hospital, and recuperation at home in the neck brace are fine examples of the acting that made the series likable.moreless
  • When famous maverick adventure writer "Mad Buck" Gibson visits Hawaii, his ex-wife asks Magnum to keep him out of trouble. But Buck's reckless streak means that keeping him out of harm's way is no easy feat. A reasonable but mixed episode...moreless

    I find it hard to sum up 'Mad Buck Gibson', both in terms of the story and the character.

    The story is the first of a handful in the series to feature no real villains. In some cases I like this – indeed, my all-time series favourite, the fourth season opener 'Home from the Sea', is another such an example – but here the story does seem to suffer later on, for having no particular direction.

    Mad Buck certainly makes a big entrance, "falling out" of a bi-plane and parachuting down. His character is an interesting one, and Darren McGavin certainly breathes life into Mad Buck. In the hands in a less capable actor the episode would no doubt have come off much worse.

    (To note is, when Buck comes crashing down on Higgins on the beach, Higgins is playing croquet with a friend called Nola Barns, played by uncredited Gillian Dobb, who would go on to play the recurring Agatha Chumley from season three onwards).

    Although Mad Buck is an interesting character, it doesn't necessarily make him likable, and as a result, the viewer is left not sure what they are supposed to feel about him.

    As mentioned, the plot starts off well but loses its way somewhat later on, and the episode could maybe have done with a B-plot to level things up. The story does have T.C. trying to write his own novel and getting Buck to read it, but this never really goes anywhere.

    I do, however, like the final scene, with Buck hang-gliding away, possibly to his death. After leaving us confused what to feel about the character for much of the story, McGavin pulls it back in for a final, thoughtful scene.

    All-in-all, this is a hard one to summarise. Mad Buck is quite a watch, but sadly, at some points the story lets him down.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Magnum: (narrating chasing a Ferrari-joyriding Mad Buck) I was looking at several very grim possibilities involving the destruction of Buck, the Ferrari, innocent bystanders, and any combination thereof.

    • Magnum: (reflecting on Vietnam) Well... it's not that we're old, it's... just that we're not young anymore.

    • Magnum: (narrating) You know, there's some quotations that would make good rules to live by. For instance, "never drive behind an old man wearing a hat," or another, "it's always brightest just before the storm." If I'd've remembered that one, I'd've really been on my guard, because the afternoon it all started, was a truly beautiful day.

  • NOTES (1)

    • The German episode title is "Spiel mit dem Tod", meaning "Playing with Death". The French title is "Mad Buck Gibson". The Italian title is "Volando verso la libertà", meaning "Flight to Freedom".