“Case of the Red Faced Thespian.” By Donald P. Bellisario and Glen A. Larson. Perf. Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, and Roger E. Mosley. Dir. Ivan Dixon. Magnum, P. I. Season 4, episode 12. CBS. 19 January 1984. DVD. Universal Studios, 2006.
While Runaway Train lies nearer to the sublime on the continuum, this episode of Magnum, P. I. moves along the scale toward the ridiculous.
I know very little about the conventions of the show, but this episode centers on a character named Higgins who is struck on the head by a croquet ball just before a 1920s Theme Party begins. He imagines himself to be the great (albeit fictional) Shakespearean actor Sir Fearing Pangborn. [As a side note, does anyone know whether that name is parodying any actor in particular? Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree? John Barrymore?] [Additional Note: See the comments below for the solid suggestion that the character actor Franklin Pangborn is the object of the mild parody.] Another character (T.C., for those in the know) is dressed as Paul Robeson—but he claims he's playing Paul Robeson playing Brutus Jones, so there's no additional Robeson-as-Othello material in this episode.
Here's a brief sample. Warning: It's quite silly, and impressional people should not be allowed to assume that Magnum's shirt-and-shorts combo is appropriate attire in the twenty-first century.
Links: The Episode at IMDB.
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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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