This review contains spoilers.
Wow, after seeing the first half of 'Resolutions', I was very disappointed, and really feared that such a great series would go out on a real damp squib – thankfully, the conclusion is far better, and a much more satisfying conclusion to the show's run.
Although originally shown as a feature-length episode (broken into two parts for syndication and some overseas broadcasts), this second episode almost feels like a completely different story in terms of quality. It is with delight that the old 'Magnum, p.i.' magic returns for this concluding instalment.
The fight in the strip joint is a highlight. Actually, I found the spark that caused the fight to be a bit forced and unconvincing, but it didn't matter as it not only lead to one final bar-room brawl, but one of the best of the series!
The plot regarding Linda Lee Ellison's stalker is still very unfocused, and as I said with my review of Part I, I'm still rather mystified why of all characters, they chose to bring her back for the finale; surely Cynthia (Dana Delany) from season seven's feature-length 'L.A.' and follow-up 'Out of Sync' would have worked far better; failing that, why not finally get Magnum and Carol together – they would make the perfect couple!
But either way, thankfully there is enough else going on in this story that the weak plot regarding Linda and her attacker does not matter too much.
One thing that thankfully does make a return to this half of the story, is the show's wonderful humour (which had been sadly lacking from the over-serious first part). There are some great moments here, and Higgins finally reveals that he is in fact Robin Masters – or is he? His final line to Magnum leaves it once again in doubt.
Of course, the big revelation is that daughter Lily, thought killed in a car bomb, is still alive. Part of me was hoping that it would be explained that Michelle was still alive too, so that Magnum could walk off into the sunset with his family complete, but alas it wasn't to be.
It is T.C. who actually gets the full family reunion – as well as daughter Melody coming to visit himself and son Bryant, there is an unexpected visit from ex-wife Tina. In a way, this felt a little unconvincing and thrown in at the last minute, but I was willing to forgive this, as it was nice to think that things would work out for ol' Theodore Calvin.
There has been light-hearted speculation amongst fans over the years that in Magnum's climatic battle with the psycho killer, that he actually gets killed and the rest of the story is a dream (you need to see the scene in question to get why this could be a theory). Personally I disregard this, but it is still a nice point to look out for.
The final scene is very satisfying, with just about every recurring character (bar Lt. Tanaka, unjustly killed off in 'Tigers Fan' earlier in the season) at Rick's wedding. I really like the closing moment – will Rick say "I do" or not?
As mentioned on my review for Part I, I was very disappointed to find that the DVD version of 'Resolutions' is an edited syndicated version, not the original slightly longer version. In particular, there is a two minute montage during the closing credits, that I was really looking forward to – as my off-air version recorded from Five here in the U.K. also had this sequence missing.
Anyway, all-in-all, after a poor opening half, this is a very pleasing end to a wonderful series. Now, if only we could have a reunion movie or two...
Eighth season overview
The producers had 'painted themselves into a corner' by killing Magnum off at the end of season seven, so however they brought him back to life was going to be awkward. The final result, 'Infinity and Jelly Doughnuts', is not one of my personal favourites, but at least it meant that our favourite P.I. could continue for another (half) season.
Following on from 'Infinity...' is ''Pleasure Principal', which sees Magnum and Higgins effectively swapping characters. Although it didn't go down well with some, this is possibly my personal favourite episode from the eighth season.
'Innocence... A Broad' is a goofy but fun escapade that could slot about anywhere in the show's run, but I was disappointed that 'Tigers Fan' saw the killing off of one of my favourite recurring characters, Lt. Tanaka.
'Forever In Time' is a (sort of) ghost story that has some good ideas but ultimately doesn't quite work, and 'The Love that Lies' – very drama based and not usually my type of story – is a great Carol-centric episode.
Supposed comedy 'A Girl Named Sue' is one of the most excruciating episodes of the show's run in my opinion, but things return to form with the dramatic 'Unfinished Business', which sees Magnum planning to go on the rampage to avenge the killing of Michelle and Lily.
The rest of the episodes until the finale are pretty much interchangeable, with only Indiana Jones-spoof 'Legend of the Lost Art' standing out. 'The Great Hawaiian Adventure Company' is very much a story about nothing, and 'Transitions' (featuring the return of Luther Gillis) is an odd and awkward penultimate episode.
The series finale, 'Resolutions', starts off extremely disappointing, but thankfully the second part sees a real turnaround, resulting in it becoming a pleasing conclusion to the show.
In a way, it feels like we never fully got to know season eight (the reduced episode count was due in part to a writer's strike). For the most part, I like it; the majority of the episodes are of reasonable quality, and it rounds off the series nicely.
I won't write an in-depth analysis of the series here (that's already in the works for elsewhere), but I will say that 'Magnum, p.i.' ranks in my Top 5 all-time favourite U.S. shows.
Maybe unusually, the early episodes were extremely good (some series take their time to find their footing), and I really like the first season – it has such a fresh feel, and comes across as sophisticated yet easy going.
The second season saw the show settling down for its long eight year run. Although there is a definite sag mid-season with some very silly stories, the overall quality of the second year is again high. Highlights include the introduction of Magnum's ex-wife Michelle, and the first of Higgins' several half-brothers.
The third season sees the show entering its 'golden age', with a really polished and well-rounded feel. Most of the stories are of excellent quality, and things really feel to be 'firing on all cylinders' this year.
This continues for most of the fourth season, which again mostly sees high quality episode. The opener, 'Home From the Sea', is my all-time favourite MPI episode.
Sadly, the fifth season fell from these heights to rock bottom, with a number of unmemorable stories and guest characters, a real 'thrown together' feel, and is miles away in quality from the previous seasons. The episode 'Mac's Back' is the only standout episode of the season for me. Most of the other episodes from this year have little of the MPI flair or sparkle, many being more straightforward and uninteresting dramas.
Although I didn't like it when I first saw it, considering it to be an extension of the fifth season, I've come to reevaluate the sixth season as I've come to re-watch it to review. It sees some better stories, but is still not classic MPI.
Thankfully, season seven sees a full return to form, with some of the best episodes of the show's run; many fan favourites lie in this season. But by the end of the season, the producers felt the show had run its course, and decided to kill Magnum off. This move was met by outcry from fans; eventually, an eighth (half) season was commissioned to round the series off more definitively.
After Magnum was 'brought back to life' in 'Infinity and Jelly Doughnuts', the rest of the season had a definite feel of beginning to tie up the loose threads. Although there are a few forgettable episodes later in the season, for the whole I like the season. Although the first half of the finale, 'Resolutions', is very disappointing, thankfully the second half really picks up to round the show of nicely.
I love MPI because it has something for everyone – drama, action, comedy, mystery – the sort of mix you just don't seem to get on TV much nowadays. It is also one of those shows that I can watch again and again, as I'll spot something new every time. But seriously... it must be time for a reunion movie now, surely??