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.