To promote Robin Masters' latest novel, a treasure hunt with a $1,000,000 prize is staged. Magnum is hired to protect the woman overseeing the contest, whose life could be in danger from over-eager treasure hunters. Very silly but a lot of fun...
This silly but likable episode is MPI's take on the classic comedy 'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World' (1963), with everyone going crazy as they rush around looking for hidden treasure. And I have to say, regarding this episode, it's one that I've often tended to overlook – coming to re-watch it to review, I found it really enjoyable.
The episode surely ranks as the most semi-regulars seen at one time – it features Doc. Ibold, Agatha, Kika (the pedicab owner from the fifth season's 'Under World' and 'Round and Around' a couple of episodes ago), Lt. Tanaka AND Carol (and the first time some of the characters have been seen for a while, too)!
The story is silly, but in a good way, and a welcome change from some of the fifth and sixth season episodes that take themselves far too seriously.
It's a nice idea to have a plot based around one of Robin Masters' novels, and it works well. One little throwaway line that I liked, was T.C. commenting how he had read all of 'Mad Buck Gibson's books – Mad Buck Gibson, of course, being the adventure writer from the second season episode of the same name.
The only thing I don't particularly like about this episode is the character of Amy Griswald (Nancy Stafford). I found her grating (and not in the usual MPI 'love to hate' way of some guest characters). Nancy Stafford badly over-acts at points, and the hotel scenes between Amy and Magnum are pretty dull and unnecessary, and really let the story down – I would have much rather have seen more of the treasure hunters on the trail of the hidden loot.
But other than that, there's little to complain about here. After the signing up stage, we see none of the other treasure seekers, being limited to the aforementioned semi-regular cast – but hey, that's television!
The ending is also very good, with the various characters leaping over the waterfall as the chase the money blowing away – Magnum and Higgins finally can't resist, and take the plunge themselves, which is where the episode ends.
Although shown earlier in the season, in many ways this episode – with its light-hearted plot and many recurring characters, would have made quite a good season finale, in my opinion.
At time of writing (August 2009), TV.com ranks this as the ninth most popular episode (based on users ratings); while I'm not sure if it's quite THAT outstanding (I'm not sure if it would scrape my personal Top 10), it certainly is one of the better episodes from this episode of the show's run. Yes, it's very silly, but it turns out to be better than some of the show's more serious offerings later on.
It's silly. It's full of plot flaws. But somehow it works. The Treasure of Kalniopu'u shows how the cast and writers of Magnum PI could really have fun with their characters, without compromising their legitamacy. In a publicity stunt for his new book, Robin Masters' publisher has hidden a one million dollar cash treasure somewhere on Oahu. Magnum assists by safeguarding the publisher's representative, who guards the clues to the location of the treasure. Despite the multitude of treasure hunters shown at the beginning of the contest, somehow only the regular cast members become contenders for the cash in a madcap romp slightly reminiscent of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The scene where the treasure seekers storm Higgins' flower beds, as well as the final scene with Higgins and Magnum, are fine examples of what made Magnum PI a cut above the bulk of eighties--or any--television.
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