After Magnum P.I.'s Return, Actor Stephen Hill Reflects On Fan Support In The Show's 'Darkest Hour,' Plus Hopes For The Future
Magnum P.I. was back in primetime in the 2023 TV premiere schedule, which seemed impossible less than a year earlier after the show was initially cancelled by CBS after the Season 4 finale. NBC stepped in to rescue the show after a strong fan campaign that extended as far as funding a billboard in Times Square. Now that Season 5 is several episodes in, actor Stephen Hill spoke with CinemaBlend to both reflect on the support from fans (including that billboard) and look ahead to his hopes for the show’s future.
Stephen Hill is back on TV as T.C., the role he originated on CBS and brought over to NBC, to the delight of fans everywhere. The months between the initial cancellation and the Thomas Magnum-worthy rescue by NBC were full of fans finding ways to campaign for a Season 5 as well as stars responding as the odds began to look better and better.
With the fifth season now in full swing, Stephen Hill spoke with CinemaBlend about whether or not the fan campaign changed his perspective on the show and playing T.C. He shared:
No, because I had been in contact with a lot of the fans. I'm probably the most in contact with the fans on the show, only because I have more time. Jay [Hernandez] and Perdita [Weeks] work way more than I do. Zach [Knighton] has three kids and two of them are little babies. They don't have time to be texting back and forth with fans the way I do, so I knew about the billboard before it happened. I knew about them sending leis to NBC before that happened.
The Magnum P.I. fandom certainly went above and beyond hoping for the best and trending on social media, including a Times Square billboard showing the iconic red Ferrari and an all-caps message: “SAVE MAGNUM P.I.” While actress Amy Hill (who plays Kumu) had no idea about the billboard before it debuted, Stephen Hill was well aware, and it still means a lot to him months later. He continued:
I was there with them every step of the way. And I appreciate it because it just really made me feel so appreciated and wanted in the moments when it was your darkest hour, when you're looking for some sort of understanding. So when we got cancelled, it was like, 'What?' It took the wind out of me, but the fans pumped me back up. They were the wind beneath my wings, so I'm very appreciative to them for that.
Luckily, there was some light after the darkest hour when hope for a Magnum P.I. future seemed all but gone for good. NBC renewed the show for two more seasons, and got back into production in time for Magnum and Co. to be back in primetime early in the new year. Whether or not the billboard was an important factor in the renewal may never be known, but it worked to pump Stephen Hill back up.
So, even though he knew about the billboard ahead of time, what was his reaction when he actually saw it? Images were floating around social media once the billboard was unveiled, after all, and Stephen Hill shared a fun story about why its placement in Times Square hit close to home for him and his hopes for the future, saying:
Oh, it was incredible! Especially because that corner that it was on was catty-corner to the corner restaurant that I used to work at. I used to work at Carmine's on 44th Street, so it's really cool to see that go up, because I haven't been on any of the Magnum billboards yet. You know, hopefully, maybe one of these days the ensemble cast will be up there and it will just really show the diversity of the show. But to be represented by that billboard, across the street from where I used to have to twirl people's spaghetti and ask them how many meatballs they want was pretty awesome.
Magnum P.I. promotional images tend to focus on Jay Hernandez’s Thomas Magnum and Perdita Weeks’ Juliet Higgins, but maybe the day will come for the spotlight to spread to the ensemble more as well! Only time will tell; Season 5 has certainly kept all the characters busy.
In the next new episode, called “Welcome To Paradise, Now Die!” and airing on March 12, Rick and T.C. will have a mission… although not one that they faced when they were overseas. They’ll join forces to search for Roberto II after the mouse goes missing, and based on the promo, a different kind of discovery may happen, with or without Kumu as what Amy Hill dubs their “voice of reason.” Take a look:
Tune in to NBC on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET for new episodes of Magnum P.I., and revisit any that you may have missed from Season 5 so far streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription. The two-season renewal means that fans don’t have to worry about the show being cut short at the close of the current fifth, and there’s a lot to look forward to.