Today, we see why a question about sunrises on Magnum, p.i. became so iconic.
This is To Quote a Phrase, a spotlight on notable pop culture quotes.
October is a Month of To Quote a Phrase, both here and at Comics Should Be Good!
Magnum, p.i. was a hit drama series that ran for eight seasons back in the 1980s. It starred Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a Vietnam veteran and a Naval Intelligence officer who gave up his Naval career to become a private investigator in Hawaii, where he lived in the guest house of a rich novelist (as the nominal head of security). Magnum’s two buddies from Vietnam, Rick and TC (Larry Manetti and Roger Mosley), helped him on cases. The major domo for the Hawaiian compound, Higgins (John Hillerman), was Magnum’s foil, but the two obviously had affection for each other.
In any event, in the Season 3 premiere, we learned that Magnum and T.C. had been in a P.O.W. camp in Vietnam where a KGB agent named Ivan (Bo Svenson) tortured them. Ivan came back to Hawaii, and it was this whole mystery (it turned out that it was a Manchurian Candidate-type deal with T.C. being a sleeper agent to kill the Japanese Prime Minister) and Ivan tries to have Magnum killed. Well, the Navy is trying to keep Magnum from getting involved, so they send one of his old friends from Naval Intelligence, Mac (Jeff MacKay) to keep him occupied. He gets into Magnum’s car, and tells him that they can drive out and watch the sun rise. The car then explodes, and Mac dies in an explosion that was meant for Magnum.
Okay, so Magnum ends up stopping Ivan’s plot, but since no one could directly tie Ivan to the brainwashing, Ivan wasn’t arrested, but he DID at least get forced out of the country. So he was driving to the airport, but Magnum couldn’t live with him getting away, so he stops Ivan’s car and holds him at gunpoint. He walks him into the woods, and they talk…
Magnum: It was all planned, back at Duc Hue?
Ivan: Not specifics, not even target. Just trigger.
Magnum: How many others are out there like T.C.?
Ivan: You are still a schoolboy, Thomas, using schoolboy tricks.
Magnum: [shakes his head] No tricks. Who’s next on your hit list, Begin? Thatcher? Reagan?
Ivan: I have a plane to catch. If you are going to shoot me, do it now.
[Magnum doesn’t do anything]
Ivan: You won’t. You can’t. I know you, Thomas. I had you for three months at Duc Hue. I know you better than your mother. Your sense of… honor and fair play. Oh, you could shoot me – if I was armed and coming after you. But like this – Thomas… never. Goodbye, Thomas. Do svidaniya.
[Ivan tosses his cigarette and starts walking away]
Ivan: [stops] Yes?
Magnum: Did you see the sun rise this morning?
Ivan: [puzzled] Yes. Why?
Obviously, for an early 1980s TV show like this, this was a MAJOR shock. It has stuck in people’s minds for decades because of it.
I actually have some further thoughts on this topic that I’ll write about in the near future, but suffice it to say that this really was a stunning sequence.
Okay, folks, if you have notable quotes from TV, movie or music that you’d like to see me spotlight this month, drop me a line at email@example.com!