Friday, June 16, 2006

Higgins, Get Me Rewrite!

When are movie makers going to realize that it’s almost always a bad idea to try turning a TV series into a big-screen feature? I mean, remember the embarrassing 1999 remake of The Wild Wild West? Or the quick-disappearing 2002 film version of I Spy? After Bewitched, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Brady Bunch, The Dukes of Hazzard, McHale’s Navy, Scooby-Do, Starsky and Hutch, and S.W.A.T., how many more times can American filmmakers drain the well of TV history for their future big-budget projects? Can’t Hollywood come up with any new ideas anymore? Apparently not, as there are already plans being made for silver-screen versions of It Takes a Thief and Have Gun--Will Travel in the works, and the Michael Mann-directed movie release of Miami Vice is due in theaters next month.

Then there’s the feature adaptation of Magnum, P.I. The original action/comedy series ran on CBS-TV from 1980 to 1988, and made the mustachioed Tom Selleck (who’d previously guested as a too-good and too-lucky private eye, Lance White, on The Rockford Files) into a Hawaiian investigator with sex appeal and a red Ferrari. There was talk soon after the series went off the air about Selleck reprising his role in a big-budget picture. Later, rumors spread that the suave George Clooney might fill out Thomas Magnum’s Aloha shirts and sneakers. But nothing ever came of those suggestions. Now, however, is reporting that a big-screen version of Magnum is actually in the works, with a 2007 release date--and Ben Affleck starring. Huh? The same Ben Affleck who tortured the role of Daredevil a few years back (and subsequently went on to marry his curvaceous co-star, Jennifer Garner)? Yep, him. adds that Selleck “might only have himself to blame for losing the role in the film version.” It quotes Charles Floyd Johnson, one of the TV series’ producers, saying that Selleck “was asked to do six or eight TV movies and at that time he really wanted to do [Magnum] as a feature, so he held out on it and probably now they will consider him too old to do it.”

Still, though, Ben Affleck playing Navy Seal-turned-gumshoe Magnum? Although my father was a regular watcher of the show, I was never really a fan of Magnum, P.I. in its heyday (I much preferred Rockford and Harry O); yet even I can tell you that the protagonist had a cool confidence that boyish Ben can never hope to achieve. Sure, he might be able to pull off the flowered-shirts-and-shorts wardrobe, and he might not look like a total goofball in a ’stache. Throw in a few fast cars, faster women, and some helicopter hijinks, and there would undoubtedly be old fans of the series ready to plunk down a 10-spot to see what director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball) and producer Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind, Arrested Development) can make of the original concept. However, there was a charm Selleck brought to his detective role that would be hard for most younger actors, not just Affleck, to duplicate. And after seeing Affleck’s wooden performances in Daredevil, The Sum of All Fears, and Pearl Harbor, I’m not optimistic about his turn in Magnum.

(Hat tip to Gerald So.)


John R. said...

I have every hope that Miami Vice will break the trend for lousy TV-film adaptations.

That said, I'm an eternal optimist.

becomingmagnum said...

I am putting together a Documentary in which I’m documenting my attempt to Stop Ben Affleck from Becoming Magnum. Check out the TRAILER at:, if you are a Myspace Member, OR go to, and type BECOMING MAGNUM into the Video Search.

Watch the Trailer, and if you like it, please let others know about how to find it and watch it.

You can also go to: