Magnum, P.I.

Season 1 Episode 12

Thicker than Blood

Aired Unknown Feb 26, 1981 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
51 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Thicker than Blood
T.C. makes a late-night flight to land on a tanker, but on the journey back he is cornered and arrested by the Coast Guard for transporting drugs. Magnum and Rick are certain of their friend's innocence, but are shocked when he intends to accept the charges and refuses their help.moreless

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  • T.C. risks all to smuggle an old war buddy into the country. As Magnum and Rick work to clear T.C. of his charges, they discover T.C. was an unwitting accomplice in a much bigger operation.moreless

    "Thicker Than Blood" is a well-written representation of the Magnum series, and certainly the best episode that principally features T.C. This installment has most of the elements of a successful Magnum episode; however, noticeably missing (but not necessarily missed) is the presence of a female guest star. The Magnum, PI series (like much of eighties television) is often dated by moments of pure whimsy, but for the most part "Thicker Than Blood" contains enough gritty "reality" that it could almost pass for a TV program that would be aired today. Magnum, PI has been called by some critics the ultimate "buddy show", and episodes such as this one helped it earn that moniker. What may surprise some viewers, especially by watching episodes like "Thicker Than Blood", is that a show about buddies can be so good.moreless
  • T.C. gets busted for smuggling his old army buddy, who is currently suffering from a drug addiction, into the islands.

    Hawaii scenery/landmarks: I'll get back to that later.

    Notable stars: Though he isn't a big movie or TV star, my father played the radioman during the opening scene and in the final scene. He always kids his family and friends about his 'big line' at the beginning. "Follow Me!" In the final scene he tells the crime boss "I rather enjoyed it" as they gather around the coke filled helicopter. My dad then leans into the helicopter door and raises a good sized bag of the white stuff and then all hell breaks loose as a cop announces that the warehouse is surrounded.

    Dad had good things to say about Tom Selleck, telling me that Selleck was a nice guy and not full of himself. He also said that Selleck was the type to give his co-stars more lines - a rare occurance of generosity with the top star. Some big stars give themselves more lines at the expense of other actors. (Travolta and Shatner?) Cough!

    I never cared for T.C. and his attitude. I saw an interview with him in the Honolulu magazine and each time he was asked about Tom Selleck he repelled the interviewer with "I don't want to talk about him" followed by "I said I don't want to talk about him." The interviewer actually published his own back and forth verbal jostle with T.C. at the beginning of the interview and I thought "What an ass." In 1988 a friend of mine walked up to T.C. to say hello at the bar he owned in Pearl City called Bully Hayes and T.C. snubbed him.

    A good storyline with excellent acting is marred by the stupid fight scene that Magnum and T.C. get into in the locker room. It had 'was that really needed' written all over it. Again - T.C.'s attitude. I'm sure it wasn't a stretch, and I'm disappointed that I have to watch him as the feature in this episode. (I don't want to talk about him anymore!) After I view the opening scene I'll just >> to the final scene from now on.

    A very special episode for me nonetheless, I bought the season 1 dvd of Magnum P.I. just because my pop was in it.moreless
  • TC commits a dozen federal crimes, but the government decides to laugh it all off because... well... we can't understand EVERYTHING!

    This episode starts out really cool. T.C. is in the chopper, headed out to a cargo ship that's far out in the ocean. He's short on fuel and worried that he'll make it. Once he lands on the ship and starts refueling, he's concerned about making it back to the islands undetected by the authorities. He's there to pick up an Army buddy who looks like he's ½ T.C.'s age. On the way back to the island, he tries to evade the coast guard but gets caught. At that point, the T.V. executives tell T.C. he needs to start acting more ghetto. These days, "ghetto" means acting like Snoop or Dre, but apparently in the 80's, it meant acting like you live on a civil war plantation. Magnum and Rick go to help T.C. but T.C. says they're "Jive" and for some nonsensical reason, T.C. acts like he hates them, saying, "I got a momma and a poppa and I ain't lookin' fo' no' mo' brothas!" Magnum needs to sneak onto the cargo ship so he ties a bandana around his head and is instantly transformed into (and is accepted as) a dock worker. It's pretty hilarious when he's getting chased from the ship - all of the other bandana-heads come to his rescue and fist fight his pursuers. After T.C. admits to federal crimes and is let out on bail, the crappy parents from the baseball team he coaches send their kids over to hang out with the island's newest convict. T.C. flips out and verbally assaults them while packing to jump bail. Then Magnum and T.C. fist fight until the phone rings and T.C. needs to take the call. In the end, we learn that T.C. was tricked by the cargo ship crew and that the authorities back then were retarded and drove Brady Bunch station wagons.moreless
  • After T.C. is arrested for making a late night flight to a tanker and smuggling a man back onto the islands, he refuses to say anything in his defence. Magnum and Rick try to find out what is going on. A good episode although not one of my favourites...moreless

    'Thicker than Blood' is another episode penned by series co-creator Donald P. Bellisario, so straight off it's destined to be a good story. And it certainly has its good moments. That said, it's not one of my favourites of the first season for some reason.

    From this episode on, the original Ian Fairbairn-Smith theme is completely replaced by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter's more recognised theme for the series. It also kind of marks how the series has progressed through its early experimental (but very good) episodes and it's becoming settled as a series.

    The story is notable for how long it takes for Magnum himself to be seen – a great chunk at the beginning is filled up with T.C.'s late night flight to the tanker and trying to sneak his old comrade Joey back into Hawaii.

    Joey is played very well by Vincent Caristi, who perfectly captures the child-like young man who should never have been thrown into Vietnam in the first place.

    A notable scene of the episode is when Magnum wakes up to find the unseen 'Sarah' – who we are to presume he has been dating – gone, leaving a tape recording in her place. Although this sequence is initially well-written by Bellisario, and Selleck is more than capable of carrying it, the whole scene ends up coming off too over cutesy, not to mention that 'Sarah's voice is rather annoying.

    The episode plays out well, with Magnum and Rick trying to find why T.C. won't defend himself in court, but I don't find it as gripping as some of the other first season greats.

    The obligatory fight between Magnum and T.C., although on the face of it well done, seems just to be thrown in for the sake of it, and I didn't really buy it.

    [spoiler] And the explanation that the villains on the tanker wanted to use T.C.'s chopper to sneak a mass stash of cocaine back on the islands, and plan to get their hands on it by buying the chopper at Police auction... Do the Police never check any vehicle before they sell it on?! I just didn't buy this at all and felt that it let down the episode. I also felt the unclear outcome, with T.C. given a suspended sentence, was brushed over too quickly. [End of spoiler]

    A good moment comes when Magnum has enough of Higgins' "rules" and says that he'll move out. At the ends, Higgins makes up some flimsy excuse so that Magnum can stay – a nice sign that Higgins can't really live without Magnum; an Odd Couple indeed.

    (And as Magnum is sorting through his stuff, we see for the first time his gorilla mask, which would be seen a number of times in later episodes).

    All-in-all, a perfectly watchable episode; but compared to some of the other examples in the season, it just doesn't stand out to me. I give it a very reasonable but not excellent 8.5.moreless
Vincent Caristi

Vincent Caristi


Guest Star

Chip Lucia

Chip Lucia

Coast Guard Lieutenant

Guest Star

Andre Philippe

Andre Philippe


Guest Star

Jeff MacKay

Jeff MacKay

Mac MacReynolds

Recurring Role

Michael Santiago

Michael Santiago


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • With the new opening theme and credits, a teeny blooper that would remain until the end of the series: The first very first shot of T.C.'s helicopter at the start of the opening credits, as it swoops down towards the ocean, is actually shown reversed back-to-front – if you look carefully, you can see that the tail-rotor is on the wrong side. The next shot, looking side-on at the chopper, is the correct way around.

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (2)

    • The German episode titles are "Dicker als Blut" (an exact translation) and "Freunde in der Not" ("A Friend in Need"). The French title is "Dette de vie, dette d'honneur", meaning "Debt of Life, Debt of Honor". The Italian title is "Più denso del sangue", an exact translation.

    • Starting this episode, different opening credits are used, using Mike Post and Pete Carpenter's familiar theme tune (already heard on the closing credits for the previous few episodes) on the opening credits. This theme would be used, in several versions, for the rest of the show's run.