Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Longtime Magnum PI Fans Have A Problem With The Reboot's Higgins

During the '80s, fans couldn't get enough of Tom Selleck solving cases and coolly speeding down Hawaii roadways in a sweet Ferrari on "Magnum P.I." The series centers on a private investigator named Thomas Magnum, and besides giving CBS a hit show, "Magnum P.I." also granted Selleck his first major breakout role. "Magnum P.I." lasted for eight seasons, and part of the show's winning formula came from the partnership between Magnum and Jonathan Quayle Higgins III (John Hillerman). With his extensive military background and worldly sense, Higgins acted as the perfect sage foil to Magnum's looser style. And it made the series more special as it evolved the duo's antagonistic relationship into actual friends with deep mutual respect.

In 2018, CBS pulled from the nostalgia well for a new "Magnum P.I." series starring Jay Hernandez as the titular character. The show rounded out a trilogy of proven rebooted hits with "Hawaii 5-0" and "MacGyver" and quickly proved itself a success by consistently earning solid ratings. "Magnum P.I." has even escaped cancellation, as NBC has officially picked it up for two more seasons (via Deadline). Clearly, the "Magnum P.I." reboot has its share of supporters, but that doesn't mean its escaped the ire of longtime fans of its '80s predecessor. The current "Magnum P.I." has already faced fan criticism for lacking the comedic tones of the original. In addition, fans also took to Reddit to express their problem with the reboot's version of Higgins.

Fans didn't like the drastic changes to Higgins

Although the central premise remains the same, the "Magnum P.I." reboot is loaded with some notable changes compared to the original. But perhaps the most drastic difference is the character of Higgins. Instead of a World War II veteran, the character is Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks), a younger blond-haired, highly-skilled M16 Agent. Honestly, her only real similarity with Jonathan Higgins is their British nationality and that they both are property masters for the estate of Magnum's primary benefactor. In fact, with her agent background and use of the latest gadgets, Juliet probably has more in common with James Bond.

The reboot may have used this as an attempt at a fresh take on an old character, but some fans of the initial '80s show just weren't having it. "Higgins should be an elderly British military figure with lots of 20th-century British military anecdotes...," one user posted. Another fan agreed with this notion, adding that the revamped character could have been played by another older actor, portraying a recent war veteran instead of a former government agent with intense martial arts prowess. If anything, it seems that the change to Higgins confirmed to longtime fans that the reboot doesn't contain the same chemistry found with Selleck and Hillerman's takes on the characters. "The new series does not appear to have any depth to the characters, and their backstories seem to be only for the sake of having them and trying, but failing, to mimic the original, u/withallduedifference wrote.

Higgins and Magnum's dynamic evolves differently in the reboot

Perhaps the change of Higgins can be attributed to the "Magnum P.I." reboot aiming for a different type of chemistry between its leads. The current Magnum and Higgins dynamic parallels the '80s show at first, as the two act like annoying thorns in each other's sides. But as the seasons continue, the two develop a strong working relationship and friendship. However, the series also throws some romantic tension into the mix. According to Hernandez, that particular tension between the two characters is part of the magic of the reboot. "I think that tension and the dynamic between Higgins and Magnum is a big part of why the show works, and if you take that away and they become a couple, the show loses a lot, and it would change in so many different ways," Hernandez told TV Line.

Those words hit a little differently considering how Season 4 ended. Magnum and Higgins finally express their romantic feelings for one another and kiss. Season 4 did air right before the show officially got canceled and then revived. And the two characters shared some concerns in the finale that becoming a couple is ultimately a bad idea. With two new seasons ahead, it's possible that we could see them continuing to have second thoughts and breaking up, thus putting the old romantic tension back into the fold.