Magnum, P.I.

Season 3 Episode 9

Mr. White Death

Aired Unknown Nov 18, 1982 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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out of 10
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  • Guest Star

    My favorite guest star:

    Ernest Borgnine
  • Mr. Borgnine plays the loveable rogue for the zillionth time.

    Having played just about every other role Ernest gets the chance here to play a wrestler with naturally (in keeping with Magnum time) something eating away at his conscience. Not a very bright installment, we get a few close ups of Rick's horrific jeans as Borgy throws him around in the most charming way (why couldn't he go Levis like T.M.?) This is no disgrace, at least not compared to the demonic "Mixed Doubles", after all, Borgnine's charm levels are sky high as always, it's doubtful all the same, that the show built its reputation around half hearted watchable fillers like "Mr. White Death", for every "J.Digger Doyle" there is one like this, neither a shambles, nor a success. So be warned...
  • Magnum, Rick and T.C. are befriended by an aging wrestler, who asks Magnum to find his son whom he walked out on years before. But Magnum becomes suspicious as he finds holes in the wrestler's story. Guest star Ernest Borgnine makes this great episode...

    This review contains spoilers.

    Until I came to re-watch it last night to review, I'd almost forgotten just how good 'Mr. White Death' is. And the one key thing making it so likeable is guest star Ernest Borgnine, and his lovely performance as aging wrestler Earl.

    It could be said that Borgnine always plays the same character, and I suppose in a way that could be true; but he is a wonderful actor, and it is very hard to not warm to him.
    It is surprising that he does not receive 'Special Guest Star' billing for this episode.

    It is believed that Borgnine's appearance in this episode brought him to the attention of Donald P. Bellisario, who was impressed enough to offer him a main role in 'Airwolf' (1984-1986), of which I am also a huge fan.

    The friendship struck up between Higgins and Earl, after Higgins finds that Earl was friends with an old comrade, is also very good, and adds another layer to the episode. Also of note is the first appearance of Ms. Jones (Maggie Impert), who will go on to have intermittent appearances in odd episodes, before having her own storyline in the fifth season's 'Ms. Jones'.

    In other hands, the story could have been so-so, but thanks to a great performance by Borgnine, as well as the other able performers, this comes off as a really likable episode.

    One of my favourite scenes of the season comes after Magnum has confronted Earl about the holes in his story; the scene as Earl wearily goes to leave the Estate, and his conversation with Higgins, is wonderful, and the sombre music score under it brings it to life even more. The final meeting of Earl and his long-lost son at the airport is also great. The whole "we'll see that ball game some day, son" dialogue could have come off as corny, but in the capable hands of the two performers here, it works.

    And then there is the classic final scene, with Earl's aeroplane flying over. Magnum admits that the Mob will probably catch up with Earl one day, "but not today".

    All-in-all, I didn't consciously realise it before, but 'Mr. White Death' is probably one of my favourite third season episodes.