Magnum, P.I.

Season 4 Episode 3

Smaller Than Life

Aired Unknown Oct 13, 1983 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
34 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Smaller Than Life
With Thomas laid up in the hospital, Rick gets T.C. and Higgins to help a childhood friend who makes one fantastic claim after another about why he needs to get hold of a valuable figurine.

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  • While Magnum is in hospital after a hang-gliding accident, Rick's old friend, the vertically challenged Waldo, a small-time burglar, convinces him to help recover a priceless figurine – but nothing about Waldo's story is the complete truth. A mixed ep...moreless

    Ahh... 'Smaller Than Life', an episode that generally has a mixed response from viewers. Other than the third season's 'Two Birds of a Feather' (a pilot for a potential series that did not sell), this is the first 'Magnum-lite' episode of the series, in which we see very little of T.M. himself. He is hospitalised after a hang-gliding accident while trying to impress his new girlfriend (by the way, this is one of the very few episodes in which Magnum is actually shown to have a girlfriend).

    So with Magnum out of the picture for the bulk of the story, Rick takes the spotlight. I personally don't mind this too much, as the 'supporting' characters of Higgins, T.C. and Rick had all grown enough to support an episode on their own. But even so, Magnum's usual easy-going charm is noticeably missing from the story.

    The short Waldo Norris, played by Cork Hubbert, is a character that will split viewers – I can image there is a large section who found him extremely annoying! I personally find him quite an amusing character, but did start to tire of him by the end of the episode.

    One thing I did find, was that there were several blatant 'convenient' plot points in the story; Lee (the boy who Magnum is sharing a hospital room with), just happens to have a modem on his computer, is excusable enough (although very dubious and dated), but what stuck out to me more was that Higgins 'just happened' to be hosting a showing of sketches of various building layouts – one of which just happens to be the one Waldo needs!

    I think this episode's main flaw is that it comes far too early in the season. They might have got away with it better if it had been tucked down the end of a season, but only the third episode into the season and already Magnum is absent – it didn't sit too well with me.

    When I first saw this episode, some years ago now, I didn't mind it too much, but it doesn't really hold up to repeat viewings, and watching it this time to review, I didn't enjoy it so much.

    Overall, this is a watchable episode, but hardly outstanding. It has a 'filler episode' feel to it, that would have been better tucked away down the end of the season.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • When Higgins and Rick are positioning the mirrors to trick the laser sensors, Higgins's face is illuminated for a brief moment when his flashlight gets accidentally switched on as he puts it in his pocket.

    • When Thomas puts the phone onto Lee's modem, the TV automatically switches itself on.

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Magnum: My dad once told me that life is a trick done with mirrors. You look at something from one direction, it looks like one thing; you turn it over, it looks like something else. I guess he was right. Sometimes it's hard to tell who's a real friend, and who's just an illusion in glass.

  • NOTES (1)

    • The German episode titles are "Klein, aber oho" ("Small, but Oho!") and "Wer einmal lügt..." ("Where Once Lies..."). The French title is "La vie en rose", meaning "Life through Rose-Colored Glasses". The Italian title is "In nome dell'amicizia", meaning "In the Name of Friendship".