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Magnum, P.I.

Season 4 Episode 10

Operation: Silent Night

Aired Unknown Dec 15, 1983 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
41 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Operation: Silent Night
On Christmas Eve, T.C.'s helicopter goes down—with Magnum, Rick, and Higgins on board—on a small isle a Navy vessel is about to shell for target practice.

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  • On Xmas Eve, T.C. is flying Rick, Magnum and Higgins to their various Xmas destinations, when they are forced to make an emergency landing on a remote island, unaware that it is about to be used for Naval artillery practice. A classic Xmas episode...moreless

    This review contains moderate spoilers.

    'Operation: Silent Night' is the second of the show's two Christmas-based episodes, the other being the early first season episode 'Thank Heavens For Little Girls and Big Ones Too'. 'Operation...' is the far superior of the two – 'Thank Heavens...' was an early episode where the series was clearly finding it's feet, whereas 'Operation...' is a well executed and highly watchable story.

    The episode boasts the smallest guest cast of the entire run, the only guest actors being the Naval Captain and his Ensign. But this is no bad thing – the story focuses on the relationship of the four main characters. When the series started, Magnum was clearly the main character, but the three secondary characters of Higgins, T.C. an Rick quickly came into their own, and this episode celebrates that, giving each of them plenty to do. It is great to see how they all interact with each other.

    There are so many great character moments in this story. Rick with his confession regarding one of his female cousins when he was a teenager, Higgins making his hat and foraging for food, and, of course, later on, Higgins' doomed attempt at constructing a makeshift boat from the wrecked Japanese plane.

    Talking of the Japanese plane, it is a good example of how the episode blends comedy and drama, as Magnum insists that – even though the pilot would have been an enemy (it is assumed he was the scout pilot for the Pearl Harbor raid), somebody would still be looking for him, and they give him a decent burial; I love this moment.

    Another noteworthy scene is that between T.C. and Higgins, after Higgins' failed boat attempt; there is real respect between the two characters.

    Another great thing about this episode is that, even though it is Christmas-set, it is one that can be watched at any time of year. Some Christmas episodes of TV series feel awkward and wrong if watching them outside of the festive season, but 'Operation: Silent Night' works perfectly at any time of the year – I watched it to review on a boiling hot evening in June! Out of the many Christmas-themed episodes that I have seen of various shows, this remains as one of my all-time favourites.

    All-in-all, this is a wonderful episode of the show, and one that perfectly showcases the relationships between the four main characters. Not only would I rank it as one of the best of the fourth season, but as one of the best of the entire show's run.moreless
  • Christmas on Death Island

    This is yes a holiday episode but don't jump out of your seat because these are one of those ones that are done right. It's pritty much all played for laughs as Magnum, Higgins, Rick, and T.C. unfortunately all are in a "Flight of the Phinix" like situation where the chopper breaks down on their way to their designationed destinations for the holidays. But the stakes are even higher because they've landed on an uninhabited island used for gunnery practice.

    It's just funny seeing how each and every chracter deals with their sittuation. Magnum is sort of like the morale officer of the group trying to keep everyones spirits up. T.C. simply fixing the plane but a little tense. Higgins is as usual himself and is finding an alternative way of getting off the island. Rick well is panicing. The funnest moments have to be when Rick sinks into what he thinks is quicksand and then he imagines before he feels like he's goind to die, his own funeral where all of the characters give a rather exagerated uligy on his behalf. Of course though we discover the joke's on Rick.

    Then there is Higgins who is writing down a will and ommiting Magnum from it. Even some quick scenes with the naval captain and officer are dryly comical, the captain has that mannerism like a man that might have seen one too many sub warfare films. However all in the end it has a good message that even in the worst sittuation possible the Christmas spirit never dies and that it's nothing without sharing it with good people around.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • When T.C. takes over from Magnum trying to call for help on the helicopter's radio, the close up of his hand noticeably doesn't match T.C.'s dark skin – the hand has Caucasian skin (not to mention T.C. is wearing a bracelet).

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Rick: You know, Higgins, there's something that I always wanted to tell you. I mean, deep down, you're really an okay guy.
      Higgins: How reassuring.

    • (Rick and Magnum are complaining to T.C.)
      T.C.: (on his piloting) You get what you paid for, and none of you paid!
      Rick: WHERE is your holiday spirit?
      T.C.: Back home in New Orleans, which is where I'm gonna be as soon as Captain Calvin's Charity Chopper dumps all you freeloaders off!

    • Magnum: (narrating) One of the things about paradise that takes some getting used to, is the change of seasons – there aren't any. I mean, there are rainy seasons and dryer times, but no real Winter, Summer, Spring and Fall, it's just one more beautiful sunset blending into another gorgeous sunrise, into another exquisite sunset, and so on. So, sometimes the only way you know it's the Christmas season, is by looking at the calendar, or by going into the department stores, or by just looking at the flush of goodwill on the faces of your friends..." (cut to scene in T.C.'s chopper, with Magnum and Rick arguing with T.C.)

    • Higgins: I of course, have spent many a Christmas away from home and family. More times than I care to remember, in more places than I care to remember; Forgotten battlefields, and sometimes even forgotten wars. I think BEING at war, makes Christmas all the more bitter-sweet, Peace on Earth, and goodwill to all men, and all that...

  • NOTES (5)

    • The German episode titles are "Stille Nacht" ("Silent Night") and "Frohes Fest" ("Happy Holidays"). The French title is "Oh! Douce nuit", meaning "Oh! Silent Night". The Italian title is "Uno strano Natale", meaning "Strange Christmas".

    • The footage of the naval vessel is of the USS Wren (DD-568) and is archival since the ship was decommissioned in 1963. This ship can also be seen in the 1959 film, Operation Petticoat.

    • Larry Manetti has said that this is his favorite episode of the series.

    • In this episode, we learn that New Orleans is T.C.'s home town.

    • This is the second of two Christmas-related episodes of the series, the other being the first season episode "Thank Heaven For Little Girls And Big Ones Too".


    • In one scene, when Higgins is planning to use the wreck of a Japanese bomber plane to sail off of the island, T.C. asks "Whatcho talkin' about, Higgins?"—a take on Arnold's catch-phrase, "Whatcho talkin' about, Willis?" in the TV series, Diff'rent Strokes.