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Magnum, P.I.

Season 2 Episode 21

The Elmo Ziller Story

Aired Unknown Mar 18, 1982 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
37 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

The Elmo Ziller Story
Higgins' Texan half-brother Elmo Ziller comes to town with his rodeo and must deal with both someone trying to kill him and Magnum's belief he's actually just Higgins playing a prank on him.

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  • Magnum thinks Higgins is pulling a trick when he supposedly meets Higgins' illegitimate half-brother Elmo, a Texan rodeo owner. But it begins to seem as if Elmo may be real, and T.M. must find the people trying to murder him. Very silly but a lot of fun..moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    I have a confession: When I first saw 'The Elmo Ziller Story', many moons ago now, I thought it was a bit stupid. But what was I thinking?! – the episode is great fun, and shows how well the show could switch between drama in some episodes, to all-out comedy in other eps such as this one.

    The episode begins a trend in the series, of Hillerman doubling up as both Higgins and as a family relation (see also season three's 'Faith and Begorrahv and season six's 'Who Is Don Luis Higgins... And Why Is He Doing These Terrible Things to Me?', as well as the sixth season's feature-length 'Deja Vu').

    One touch I really like is how Higgins protests the innocence of his father, supposedly being taken advantage of by women in various situations. This is a nice little touch that would become recurring through the various 'half-brother' Higgins episodes.

    It has been commented that native Texan Higgins has a better British accent as Higgins, than he does a Texas accent as Elmo. This may be true, but as it turns out that Higgins is posing as Elmo all along, it could be explained away.

    A small character to look out for is the hotel receptionist, played by Gillian Dobb, who would become Agatha Chumley, the much recurring friend of Higgins, from the next season onwards.

    The episode has a lot of amusing moments, and really leaves you guessing throughout as to whether Elmo is real, or simply Higgins putting it on. Kudos to Hillerman to being able to pull it off convincingly.

    Then there is Rick and T.C. having to dress up as clowns, one of a number of episodes where the duo is collared into wearing fancy dress.

    At the conclusion of the episode, I found it rather unclear is the real Elmo was alive or not; it was a bit ambiguous, although future episodes may suggest that Elmo is indeed still alive.

    This episode would have made a perfect finale to the season in my opinion, and maybe it was originally intended as such, as 'Three Minus Two', produced much earlier in the season, seems a bit tacked on.

    All-in-all, a really fun episode. Yes there are plotholes and inconstancies, but it's very hard not to warm to the story.moreless
Tom Selleck

Tom Selleck

Thomas Magnum

Larry Manetti

Larry Manetti

Rick Wright

Roger E. Mosley

Roger E. Mosley

Theodore "T.C." Calvin

John Hillerman

John Hillerman

Jonathan Higgins; Elmo Ziller

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Magnum: Howdy, partner. You just ride into town?
      Elmo Ziller: Somebody told me you was a pretty good detective.
      Magnum: Terrific. I ain't had a rustlin' case all year.

    • (Magnum is determined to find out if Elmo is really Higgins or not.)
      Elmo: What the hell are you trying to pull?
      Magnum: I wanna to pull your moustache.
      Elmo: You wanna what?!

    • Magnum: (narrating) Every day in the topics is part illusion: Rain clouds are actually rainbows; the perfect wave breaks into a riptide; conviction of immortality grows out of the endless summer. What I should have remembered is that illusion is always dangerous. But, on a perfect morning on the beach, who could remember fate?

  • NOTES (2)

    • The German episode titles are "Der Mann mit Higgins' Gesicht" ("The Man with Higgins' Face") and "Der doppelte Higgins" ("Double Higgins"). The French title is "Un vrai professionnel", meaning "A True Professional". The Italian title is "Il sangue non è acqua", meaning (idiomatically) "Blood Is Thicker than Water".

    • John Hillerman's Texas accent for Elmo Ziller was easy since he was born in Denison, Texas, and attended The University of Texas at Austin.