Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) and Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks) are back on the case in the Aloha State. Following the surprising cancellation of Magnum P.I. at CBS last May, the reimagined crime drama has found a new home at NBC, where it will premiere with two new episodes on February 19. The revival, which was announced at the end of last June, came after a passionate plea from fans, who signed petitions and even paid for a billboard in Times Square, to get another network to order a fifth season, which even took the cast and crew by surprise.
"Just seeing the amount of support that the show was getting from the audience, from fans, that was humbling to me," Hernandez told reporters on Sunday at the show's Television Critics Association panel in Pasadena. "I put my head down, we do our work, and sometimes you forget about the people and the impact that the show has...I get messages on social media about how people have built connections with family members, like, 'I used to watch the show with my grandkids.' It was fascinating to dig into the specifics of how the fans felt about the show going away."
Executive producer and showrunner Eric Guggenheim noted that "the effort to find another home for the show started" within minutes of being informed that CBS would not renew Magnum P.I., and NBC immediately stepped up as a potential contender. "I think, during that four-to-six week period [between where we were canceled and then picked up], we were kind of in limbo...Personally, I didn't want to get my hopes up, because it's such a rare thing for this to happen," he said.
Part of the continued appeal and vested interest in the show lies in the dramatic conclusion to the last season finale, which saw Magnum and Higgins confessing their feelings for one another and weighing the consequences of mixing business with pleasure. That discussion will continue in the premiere, where Hernandez, Weeks and Guggenheim all confirmed that a steamy shower scene seen in the latest trailer is not a dream.
"The rest of the season is showing where that goes, with two people who are meant for each other, but then having to navigate working together and being in dangerous situations," Weeks said. "[Higgins is] somewhat highly strung, [and] I thought she might be more jealous than she is. They've been very generous with her, seeing her interact with other people. It's actually going quite well thus far, so we'll see. It's definitely fun."
"The dynamic shifts a little bit when it's somebody that you're in a relationship with," Hernandez added. "Sometimes, I look at these scenes, and I'm like, 'I don't know if I'd let you do that. You better stay home. I just want to protect you!'"
The decision to put Magnum and Higgins together has been years in the making—and, as Guggenheim noted, it was a case of when rather than if. "The chemistry between these two actors is just amazing. It was becoming harder and harder to keep them apart," he recalled. I remember saying to the writers [on] day 1 of Season 4, 'Is this the season we get them together?' … We were trying to figure out the pros and cons, and what does that look like?"
Despite the change in their personal lives, Weeks insists that the banter between Magnum and Higgins still exists, and Guggenheim feels the new season is "sexier, more romantic … and more emotional."
"We've lived in these characters for so long that we feel like we know them intimately—and we do—and sometimes we get stuff, scenes or moments where it's like, 'Huh, I didn't think it was going to be like that, but alright, let's do it! Let's go in this direction!'" Hernandez said with a laugh. "Magnum is a bit more of a romantic than I imagined, in moments, which I think is quite nice."
The fifth season of Magnum P.I. premieres with two episodes on February 19, starting at 9/8c, on NBC. Episodes stream the next day on Peacock.