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Magnum, P.I.

Season 7 Episode 20

The Aunt Who Came to Dinner

Aired Unknown Mar 18, 1987 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
24 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

The Aunt Who Came to Dinner
Magnum gets a surprise when his aunt, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Phoebe Sullivan, pays an unexpected visit to Hawaii from New York, looking for his help as she's convinced that someone is trying to kill her for it, and that they have trailed her to the Islands.

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  • Thomas's beloved Aunt Phoebe, a famous playwright, comes to stay at Robin's Nest, but is convinced that someone is stalking her and trying to kill her for her latest play. But a much more upsetting problem soon emerges. So-so story with touching twist...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    I'm really not sure how I feel about 'The Aunt Who Came to Dinner'. At points it seems to become a routine, filler plot, until the sad twist revelation that Aunt Phoebe is suffering from Alzheimer's disease is revealed.

    The episode starts off well, with Magnum going to renew his Private Investigator licence at the Hall of Records. Sadly, we don't get one last encounter with 'Ms. Jones' (the recurring clerk, who got her own episode in the fifth season), but even so, Magnum manages to get into a fight with an on-leave sailor waiting to get married!

    Once Aunt Phoebe is introduced, the story settles down into a more average fare, with what at this stage seems to be an average, almost slightly filler plot. It is not until the gradual but unexpected twist involving Alzheimer's, that the episode really picks up again.

    Barbara Rush gives a wonderful performance as Phoebe, whose mind and memory is as clear as a bell one minute, but garbled the next. What could easily have been done as the "message of the week" instead turns into a sad look at Alzheimer's and its effects.

    Even so, the episode is not completely perfect, and does drag in a couple of points. In my opinion, it is one of those stories that could do with a b-plot; indeed, we do get the plot of Magnum having to renew his license, and getting T.C. to act as a character witness, but maybe more could have been done with this, to balance the story up a little.

    The episode is penned by Chris Abbott-Fish; I often cite her as someone who seemed to like to drive MPI towards more social-based dramas, which I am not always keen on. However, on the whole, even though the episode is not perfect, this one doesn't come off too badly.

    The scene near the end, where Magnum finds Phoebe on-stage, acting away to herself, and her conversation with him ("Tommy"), knowing that her condition is likely to get worse, is very touching.

    So all-in-all, a tough one to sum up. Shaky in places, but saved by a touching, sad tale, and a great performance by Barbara Rush. I give this one a reasonable 8.5.moreless
Barbara Rush

Barbara Rush

Phoebe Sullivan

Guest Star

Mark Stevens (I)

Mark Stevens (I)

Dennis Parker

Guest Star

Fred Sadoff

Fred Sadoff

Theo Winters

Guest Star

Gillian Dobb

Gillian Dobb

Agatha Chumley

Recurring Role

Kwan Hi Lim

Kwan Hi Lim

Yoshi Tanaka

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Magnum: (narrating) My Aunt Phoebe was the smartest woman I ever knew. She also had a tendency to see things bigger than life, which meant that when you were with her you got to see more vibrant colors, hear more intriging sounds, feel things more fully than when she was gone. But, it also meant that sometimes you had to translate her view of the world into a more mundane reality.

  • NOTES (2)

    • The German episode titles are "Liebe und Tod" ("Love and Death") and "Zwischen zwei Fronten" ("Between Two Fronts"). The French title is "Coup de théâtre", meaning "Turn of Events". Originally unaired in Italy, it was not shown until 2009 and not given an Italian title.

    • The end credits featured the following message: "The Producers wish to thank the Honolulu Chapter Of The Alzheimer's Disease And Related Disorders Association for their cooperation"