Magnum, P.I.

Season 6 Episode 13

Summer School

Aired Unknown Jan 09, 1986 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
27 votes

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Episode Summary

Summer School
After being expelled from a number of expensive schools, R.J., Robin's rich, careless, teenage nephew, arrives at the estate to be reformed and educated by Higgins. R.J., however, has other ideas and decides to impersonate Magnum after being impressed by his adventures.

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  • R.J. Masters, Robin's nephew, arrives in Hawaii to be reformed and instructed by Higgins, but instead ends up meddling in Magnum's investigation.

    "Summer School" guest stars Tate Donovan as Robin Masters' bratty and insubordinate nephew. Donovan would go on to star in SpaceCamp with Larry B. Scott, who himself guest starred on Magnum PI in "Round and Around" just a few episodes earlier.

    Despite some bad acting by guest stars (other than Donovan, who successfully manages to be believable, likable, and exasperating all at once), "Summer School" plays with several ideas that make for a good Magnum episode. First, bringing in a character as a "wannabe" Magnum not only gives the viewer some good laughs (R.J. wears a BlueJays hat, sports a hideous floral shirt, and drives a cool green Ferrari, but also illustrates some of the reasons why we like Magnum, particularly Selleck's Magnum, so much. Second, any episode where Magnum and Higgins are forced to bury the hatchet (temporarily) and unite againsta a common cause (in this case, R.J.), provides some classic scenes. Finally, the episode is simply fun to watch. Strangely, Magnum's (and R.J.'s) case revolves around helping a woman find a witness to her husband's murder, but it is not very clear why he was murdered in the first place. As I have mentioned before, and as any fan has figured out by now, however, Magnum, PI is a detective show that is often enjoyed for anything but the mystery.moreless
  • Robin Masters' brash nephew R.J. arrives on the Estate to be tutored by Higgins, after being thrown out of a number of expensive schools. But R.J. instead impersonates Magnum and takes on a dangerous murder case. A really fun episode...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    I'm seriously starting to think that I've been too hard on the sixth season for all these years. I've often cited it along with the fifth season as being the worst of MPI. Indeed, the fifth season is poor, but season six actually has a number of good episodes – and this is one of them.

    I really like the character of R.J., who is well played by Tate Donovan. While he is brash, thankfully the writers didn't make him completely dislikeable; he has a wild streak, but is not completely bad intentioned.

    What is particularly fun about this episode is how R.J. really turns into a young Magnum – he drives a Ferrari (in this case green, license plate Robin 23), wears a loud Hawaiian shirt and baseball cap (he supports the Blue Jays), and in a nice touch, where Magnum often massages his left shoulder from a wound, R.J. is seem working his right arm in similar fashion.

    R.J. is very similar to the younger Magnum we saw in earlier seasons of the show – carefree, and not afraid to smart-talk back to Higgins.

    A nice touch is when R.J. is looking through a scrapbook of cuttings of Magnum's previous cases – the headline 'P.I. Thomas Magnum Foils Hotel Robbery' is a reference to 'The Hotel Dick' earlier this season. (The second headline seen, 'Local P.I. Busts Drug Ring', could be a reference to a number of previous episodes). Coming from the era when many TV shows effectively hit reset after each episode, it is nice to see some continuity.

    This episode presumably was filmed after the producers re-secured use of the Anderson Estate for external shots (or it was filmed before it was unavailable), as the Estate features a lot in this story.

    For car fans, the vehicle that the episode's bad guys drive around in is silver 1984 Trans-Am, almost identical to the black 1982 Trans-Am used for (the original) 'Knight Rider'. (Another interesting KR connection is that bad guy Jack is played by Michael MacRae, who played one of the two vagrants who reactivated K.I.T.T.'s evil prototype K.A.R.R. in the classic 'Trust Doesn't Rust').

    Anyway, back to MPI... I really like this story. After R.J.'s cover is blown, the remainder of the story is slightly disappointing. There is some confusing idea about Rick posing as the man the hitmen are after, in order to free the captured Higgins, but this never really feels that well structured, other than to – of course – give R.J. the obligatory chance to prove himself and save Higgins.

    But that is my only really niggle with this episode. Other than that, I find it extremely enjoyable and well rounded – in fact, it could easily have come from the show's 'golden years' in the third or fourth season. It's a real shame that R.J. never made a return visit.moreless
Tate Donovan

Tate Donovan

R.J. Masters

Guest Star

Michael MacRae

Michael MacRae


Guest Star

Meredith MacRae

Meredith MacRae

Charla Graham

Guest Star

Carmella Barut

Carmella Barut


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (2)

    • The German episode titles are "Das schwarze Schaf" ("The Black Sheep") and "Der Hilfsdetektiv" ("The Assistant Detective"). The French title is "L'apprenti sorcier", meaning "The Sorceror's Apprentice". The Italian title is "La pecora nera", meaning "The Black Sheep".

    • This is the first time in the series that we get a shot of the entrance off the road to the King Kamehameha Club. The lettering on the wall by the entrance reads "Private Club" and "3863 Old Pali Road".