Magnum, P.I.

Season 8 Episode 4

Tigers Fan

Aired Unknown Nov 04, 1987 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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out of 10
25 votes
  • Guest star

    My favorite guest star

    Joe Santos
  • Lt. Tanaka is shot dead while working on an undercover case. When the official report covers up the murder, Magnum is determined to uncover the truth and clear his friend of drug running. Why did they have to kill off one of my favourite characters?...

    This review contains spoilers.

    After two comedy-based episodes with 'Pleasure Principal' and 'Innocence... A Broad', things return to more serious matters with 'Tigers Fan'.

    This episode is, of course, the one where the much recurring Lt. Tanaka (Kwan Hi Lim) is killed off. Introduced in the second season's 'Try to Remember', and appearing in many episodes since, Tanaka became one of my favourite secondary characters (and I always felt that he deserved his own spin-off special of something). So it comes as a surprise and a shock when he is abruptly killed off in this story.
    In once sense, I like that they dared to kill the character off – it gave the show a real sense of "anything can happen", but at the same time, considering that the episode comes so near the end of the show's run, to me it seems like a bit of a damp squib – I wish he had made it to the series finale.

    One thing I really like about this episode, and continuing a tradition, is that the opening trailer gives hardly any spoilers away. They managed to construct the whole thing, which tells us that Tanaka is in some trouble, without giving away the key plot point that he will be murdered. I really like this – especially considering that the opening trailers of some other shows of the era sometimes gave away the whole plot in the opening thirty seconds.

    The story opens with an amusing flashback to the 1970s, and one of the characters asks is his companions saw 'Rockford' ('The Rockford Files') the previous night – an episode where Rockford was being driven nuts by a character named Lance White; White was a character times seen later in 'Rockford's run, played by... Tom Selleck! (The scene is slightly off in that it mentions the Watergate hearings, which were in 1974, but Selleck did not play Lance White until 1978; but as it turns out to be a flashback dream sequence, it is excusable).

    Anyway... I can never really decide how I feel about this episode. The bulk of me tends not to like it that much simply because they killed off one of my favourite recurring characters. Looking past that, the story is reasonable – good first and last act, but sags in the middle.
    The first act, before Tanaka is killed, is quite humorous, and makes a lot of mention of Magnum's theory that Higgins is really Robin Masters. After the notion was introduced in season seven's excellent 'Paper War', this is probably the most the idea is played upon in the series – even thought I did feel it was used for story padding a bit here. Even so, I love Magnum's scared, child-like reaction when Higgins says that he has informed Mr. Masters of Magnum's concocted theory.

    The climax of the story is also good, and one of the most memorable sequences of the eighth season in my opinion, as we see 'Rambo Magnum' infiltrate the villains boat and get even with them. However, as I said above, I found that the mid-section of the story really sagged in places.

    On 'face value', this is on the whole a reasonable late MPI episode (and my 8.5 rating reflects that); but I just couldn't warm to it simply because of the death of Tanaka. It seems a shaky excuse for another "avenging the death of a friend" story, and even thought there have been many previous 'friends' that were never mentioned before (or since) their relevant episodes, I would probably have preferred such a new character to be invented for the purposes of this story. Either that, or they could have killed Lt. Page off instead.
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