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Bates Motel Recap: Episode 10, "Midnight"

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Ready for our last taste of Norman Bates for at least nine months? I'm not. I might have to switch fictional serial killers to fill the void. I hear Hannibal is interesting. But let's get to it.

For what feels like the umpteenth time, Norma is rushing into the police station with a “matter of life and death.” She’s there to rat out Abernathy, who, you’ll remember from last episode, demanded at gunpoint that she meet him at midnight with $150,000 she says she doesn’t have. She explains the whole situation to Romero, who doesn’t react whatsoever. Lady Gaga, eat your heart out—no one can beat this poker face.


“Alright. I’ll take care of it,” is all he says.

Norma isn’t convinced. She wants to know his plan, but he doesn’t think that’s necessary.
“No harm is going to come to you or your sons. You have my word.”

“That’s comforting,” she says, sarcastically.

“Yep,” he deadpans, then looks pointedly at the door. Miraculously, Norma takes the hint.

Norman Does a Favor; Norma Asks for One

Emma is staring up at the winter formal sign strung across a hallway at school.

“You look kind of pathetic,” Norman tells her, and it’s true. But the joke’s on us, because she was totally just thinking about how glad she is that she doesn’t have to get dressed up and go.

“Do you want me to go with you?” Norman asks. “I don’t mind.” Ah, every girl’s dream dance invitation. Emma gives him a withering look, which is when he realizes perhaps he could have been slightly more suave. “I’d like to,” he amends.

“You’re just asking me because I’m your friend and you feel sorry for me,” she accuses.

“Well, yeah,” Norman kind of grins.

Emma agrees to go anyway, and this whole exchange is rather adorable. Nemma!!

I’m starting to think that Dylan could give Walt, Jr. from Breaking Bad a run for his money on his love of breakfast foods. I swear, if he’s in the house, he’s eating cereal or Norma is trying to bribe him with a plate of something breakfasty. It’s French Toast this morning, and what she wants in return is NBD ... just a gun.

When he refuses, she explains that she’s not convinced that Romero is actually going to do much to protect any of them. She thinks he might even be just as corrupt as everyone else in town. Nonetheless, Dylan doesn’t think Norma needs to be armed and dangerous.

“You and a gun is a bad idea,” he tells her. Understatement of the century.

Meanwhile, Romero just might be proving Norma right. He’s pulling a duffel bag out of a trunk in a garage, and it’s filled with an obscene amount of cash.

A Series of Awkward Conversations

Norma’s taking some of her many flowered shirts to “In a Wink” drycleaners. She drops one on the sidewalk and kind of stumbles into a guy as she’s picking it up.

“Oops! Sorry!”

“Yeah, I guess,” the guy mutters. Norma is tired of this town not living up to the picture-perfect Norman Rockwell scene she had painted in her mind, and this man blowing off her perfectly adequate apology strikes a nerve.

“Screw off shithead,” she screams down the street at him.

Perhaps recognizing some anger issues, she makes her next morning errand a visit to the therapist for some advice on how to handle stress. When Dr. Kurata presses her to discuss what kind of stress she’s under, she gets a little cagey.

“Just... stuff... like... normal... life stuff...”

He asks if it’s Norman stress, but she says that’s Norman’s a good boy.

“He’s not quite a boy, though, is he?” Kurata interrupts.

“I guess he is getting bigger, yeah,” Norma concedes. To me, this shows that she still thinks of him as a young child—you don’t really say that your 17-year-old is “getting bigger,” do you?

“When you were a little girl, is this what you thought parenting would be like?” Kurata asks.

Norma doesn’t really remember.

“Do you remember anything about being little?”

Norma looks thoughtful. “My dad was very kind. The kind of guy who would smile at you all the time no matter what. You would feel like he would just take care of everything.”

Her mom? Well, her mom worked in a bakery and always smelled like cookies.

He asks if she had any siblings.

“No. I am an only child,” she says quickly, and then makes a face. “Oh, I don’t feel well. Oh, it’s my stomach. I’m gonna have to reschedule.”


At school, Miss Watson having a heated conversation on the phone. “Why do you keep calling me? Stop bothering me,” she says, voice shaking. “I said leave me alone. Eric, don’t call me again.”

Norman has walked in on the end of this conversation and asks Miss Watson if everything is okay.

“Norman, did you hear anything that I was saying?” She seems panicked. I feel like a more normal reaction would be to shrug it off, say that she was just having a fight with her boyfriend. Why all the drama, Miss Watson?

Norman denies hearing anything specific and says that he was just there to reiterate that he definitely doesn’t want to publish that story—not because of his mother, just because he doesn’t want to. Miss Watson understands. Norman’s short story is the least of her concern right now.

She asks him again to ignore what he just heard her saying on the phone; Norman promises.

Then Miss Watson steps up close—uncomfortably close—and cups one of his cheeks (face cheeks) with her hand.

“I guess this means we have a secret now, huh? You’ll keep it for me, won’t you?” It sounds oddly seductive, which is emphasized by the intimate hug they share afterward. She strokes the back of his neck with her hand, and he leans into her neck a bit, as if she smells good. Nothing about this is cool.

A bedraggled-looking woman with bruises and scratches on her face gets out of a old car in front of a rundown house. She doesn’t exactly smile at the person waiting there for her.

“Alex,” she greets Sheriff Romero. “I haven’t seen you since my brother’s service. Bit weird, nothing to bury but a hand.” So, this is Keith Summers’ sister.

Romero wants to know what happened to her face. She says she doesn’t recall. He decides to lay it all out for her: he knows that she did her brother’s bookkeeping for the sex slave business and he knows about the missing money. “Did Jake Abernathy do this to you?” he asks.

She’s not familiar with this particular name, but when Romero says he’s referring to the third partner of the sex slave business, a lightbulb goes on.

“You mean Joe Fioretti?” she starts to describe him and it turns out they’re one and the same. She reports that he claimed to be running the same type of business up and down the coast.

Romero nods, then turns to leave.

“What happens now? To me?” she asks.

“Nothing, if you keep your mouth shut.” Romero says. “Take care of yourself, Maggie.” Warm and fuzzy guy, isn’t he?

A Shot in the Dark

Emma’s walking into the motel as Norma is calling to nag the police station about patrolling the motel more often. When she hangs up, Emma apologizes for being late—she just stopped to buy a dress she saw in a vintage store (obviously) for the dance tonight.

“You’re going to a dance?” Norma asks. She’s surprised to learn that Norman has agreed to take Emma, but covers quickly. “I just hadn’t heard anything about it.”

Emma produces a lacy wine-colored number and asks Norma to hold it up so she can see what it looks like with heels. As Norma holds it against herself, she pulls the skirt up to examine a spot on the fabric. It exposes the long scar on her leg, which she catches Emma staring at.

“That’s just an accident from childhood,” Norma fumbles. “I spilled some hot chocolate on my leg.”

She pulls her coat on and heads outside, where Dylan is pulling up in his truck. He hops out and hands her a paper bag, the White Pine Bay preferred method of exchanging large wads of cash and firearms. Looks like he changed his mind about the gun.
“Don’t make me regret this,” he warns, then takes her out to teach her how to shoot with the requisite beer bottles lined up on a fence.


She shoots before Dylan tells her to, which they argue about for a moment. Then she has enough sense to wonder where this gun came from.

“So what kind of job do you have that you’re carrying a gun?”

“I guard stuff,” he says, looking totally guilty.

“What kind of stuff?”

“Weed. Pot fields.”

“I don’t like that!” she whines.

He accuses her of passing judgment. “I’m 22 years old. I’m adult.”

She fires the gun again, which pisses him off even more. Finally, Dylan convinces Norma to settle down and get in the right stance and take a good aim instead of just firing willy nilly like she has been.

“I want you to squeeze the trigger,” he instructs her. “Don’t yank on it. Just gently squeeze it, okay, mom?”

She does, and nails the bottle. After a little celebratory dance, Norma looks at Dylan.

“You called me mom. You haven’t done that in like, I don’t know how long.”

Dylan looks a little uncomfortable.

“Yeah, well you have a loaded gun in your hand, Norma.”

“I’m so scared,” she admits. Dylan tells her that she just has to trust Romero—word on the street is that he’s the man in this town. She nods, then starts practicing her shots again.

Bradley and Dylan, Sitting in a Tree

Norma’s cleaning at the motel when Maggie Summers wanders up and identifies herself.

She’s not here to make trouble, though—she just wants to warn Norma that this guy going by “Jake Abernathy” is no joke. “If you have that money, give it up. I know this guy. He. Will. Kill you,” she says.

Up the hill at the Bates residence, Bradley is at the door. She forces a smile when Norman opens up, then asks if Dylan is home. Norman is clearly a little perturbed by this, but invites her in anyway. Dylan is just bringing a box of her dad’s office stuff downstairs.
“Thank you for doing this,” she says, and the two of them smolder at each other.

Norman excuses himself, shoving past Dylan on his way out.

They make small talk about how nice it is that she has her dad’s stuff back now. Dylan also managed to find that pocketwatch she had been looking for. She thanks him again.

“Well, this is it,” she says. “I won’t bug you anymore.”

Dylan laughs. “You can bug me. It’s fine. You can bug me anytime.”

Norman is listening from the other room, of course, and he has total rageface.

Norma is checking out her gun. She has it pointed at her own face and is messing with the hammer when she seems to realize what she’s doing. She flips it away from her face, which is just as well, because she might have accidentally shot something off when Norman yells this two seconds later:

“Motheerrrr! I need some black socks!” This is not just your typical teenage whine. This is Norman, totally enraged that the appropriate formalwear accessories are not within arm’s reach. Norma wonders if he checked his sock drawer.

“Oh, it never occurred to me to look in my drawer.” He laughs, but it’s biting, mocking. “Well what am I supposed to do? I can’t go to this stupid dance wearing white socks with a suit!”

“It’s not my fault you decided to go last minute to a dance! What am I supposed to do, darn some socks?” Norma says.

“I’ve got some black socks he can use,” Dylan says, stopping in the doorway.

Even with the gift of formal socks, the air between the brothers is tense. Dylan knows what the deal is and explains that he was only helping Bradley retrieve her dad’s stuff.

“I’m not going out with her,” he promises.

“You want to. Who wouldn’t?” Norman does that mocking laugh again.

"This conversation is stupid,” Dylan says.

“All conversations are stupid. Just ‘blah blah blah,’ like rats trying to find their way out through a maze. You think it has some purpose or meaning but it doesn’t.”

“OK, now you’re creeping me out,” Dylan replies.

Norman tells him to ask Bradley out if he really wants to. “I should,” Dylan agrees.

“Yes, you should!” Norman insists, brightly. “I’m fine. I’m completely, 100 percent over her.”

Norma’s Secret

Downstairs, Norman and Norma wait for Emma together. Norma asks how late the dance will go, and Norman informs her that it’s over at midnight. Norma totally crumbles at the mere mention of the witching hour.

In case Abernathy kills her—she doesn’t say this, but it’s what she means—Norma wants to tell Norman something she’s never told anybody: She grew up in Akron, Ohio. And there’s a lot more truth where that came from. “My brother used to make me have sex with him,” she tells her son. “I was like 13. And it went on until he moved out.” She barely has the words out of her mouth before she regrets telling him, but she plows ahead anyway.


Her dad was insane, incredibly violent—a far cry from that kindly man she told the therapist about. Because she knew her father would literally kill her brother if she told, Norma kept her mouth shut. Then her dad got home from work early one day while her brother was violating her. Norma jumped up so fast that the hot iron fell off the ironing board and hit her leg.

Flashback to the hissing iron that featured so prominently on the scene of Norman’s dad’s death.

Norman apologizes and hugs her. Norma cries.

“Anyway. It doesn’t really matter, right? It was a long time ago. It’s just that I wanted someone to know this about me in case—in case, um. I don’t know why. I don’t know why.”

Just then, Emma arrives to pick up Norman.

“Wow. You look great,” he tells her, but he’s barely even paying attention. I mean, that was quite the bombshell to drop right before he’s supposed to have some good old-fashioned teenage fun at a dance.

“You two have fun,” Norma gushes, and sends the young not-couple on their way. They’re just out the door when Abernathy calls to remind her about their appointment.

The Winter Dance from Hell


“Everybody’s got a secret to hide. Everyone is slipping backwards,” the Chromatics sing overhead as Norman and Emma enter the dance. Hmm.
This dance looks amazing, by the way. My high school dances never looked this magical. Emma and Norman don’t realize how lucky they are to be at a high school event where the decor is more than crepe paper and flimsy cardboard cutouts from Oriental Trading, though, because neither one of them have ever been to a dance.
“It’s not too late to leave,” Norman tries, but then spots Bradley talking to her boyfriend. She sees him staring at her. It’s awkward, much like all of their post-sex encounters.

Emma says she needs a drink.

Later, Nemma are gazing at each other as they dance to “Lady in Red.” Glad to see teens are still awkwardly slow dancing to Chris de Burgh.

Oh, and let me amend that previous statement: Emma is intently gazing at Norman. Norman’s eyes keep wandering over to Bradley.
“You still like her, don’t you?” Emma asks.

“That’s ridiculous,” Norman responds.

“No. You know what’s ridiculous? Me, thinking you’d take me to the dance and see me all dressed up and realize that you have feelings for me, Norman Bates, because you do, you’re just too stupid to know it.” She leaves and tells Norman he can find his own ride home.

Then Bradley’s boyfriend asks to speak to Norman outside, where he punches him, sending Norman spinning into the cinderblock wall. His face gets the brunt of it.


Since the dance has been hideous, Norman starts walking home, even though it’s pouring down rain. Miss Watson, of all people, pulls up next to him and offers him a ride.

“What happened to your eye?” she asks.

“I got in a fight. Actually, I got punched. The other guy was fine,” Norman kind of smiles.

“Why don’t you come to my place and I’ll clean up your eye and I can drive you home.”

Danger, Will Robinson. No. No. No.


Norma has clearly watched a lot of heist movies, because she’s at the docks, clad all in black with a scarf over her hair, carrying a nondescript bag. She ducks out of sight to see if Romero will make good on his promise to protect her, and sure enough, he pulls up a few seconds later. He’s got the duffel bag full of money from earlier and drops it on the dock just as Abernathy pulls up.


“Who are you?” Abernathy/Fioretti says, sizing up the sheriff.

The proper introductions are made.

“What happened to the cute but nutty lady who runs the motel?” Abernathy wants to know. “You kill her?”

Romero says it’s been handled but Abernathy doesn’t really care. He just wants to know if that bag on the dock is for him.
Romero nods. “You gonna run a business in my town, I should know about it.”

“Was. Running a business. Past tense.”

“Maybe that doesn’t have to be the case. You got the wrong partners.”

“Well, it wasn’t like I could put an ad out on Craigslist.”

Romero says that if “Joe” wants to keep his business in White Pine Bay, he has to go through the sheriff. And the sheriff wants a 50 percent cut.

“I put a cell number for you on a card. It’s in the bag.”

As he bends down to grab the bag, Romero shoots him four times. Abernathy falls into the water.

“Not in my town,” the sheriff mutters, then throws the bag into the water too.

“You can go home now Norma,” he says. “When I say trust me, trust me,” he says.

Hot for Teacher

At Miss Watson’s. She’s playing nurse to Norman’s injured eye while wearing a low-cut red dress. Coincidence that “Lady in Red” was just playing at the school dance? Methinks not.

“You probably shouldn’t tell anyone that you came here,” she says.

“Don’t worry,” Norman responds.

Miss Watson says she’ll drive him home right after she changes. She puts her hand on his cheek as she gets up to walk to her bedroom.

She leaves the door to her bedroom open. There’s a mirror conveniently placed so that he can see her undressing, and Oh God, imaginary Norma is suddenly sitting in the living room with Norman.

“What kind of a grown woman invites a teenage boy into her house and changes her clothes where he can see her?” she snaps.

“That’s not what she’s doing,” Norman says.

“Of course it is. She’s trying to seduce you.”

“That’s not true.”

“Then why didn’t she close the door? Because she knows you’re watching.”

“She does not.”

“Of course she does. She wants you to see her body.”


“Norman. You know what you have to do.”

The next thing we see is Norman running down the road in the rain. He’s running into the Bates Motel parking lot and is very nearly struck by Norma’s car.


They hug; she wants to know what happened to his face.

“Emma got upset and had to leave and Miss Watson was gonna give me a ride and the next thing I remember I was just running on the road alone, just trying to get home.”

“It’s okay, Norman,” she says, and starts to cry. “Everything is good, Norman, finally. Everything is good. Let’s go build a fire. How does that sound?”

They walk inside. Pretty music. Shot of the Bates Motel sign.

All tied up in a pretty bow right?

A happy ending heading into the sophomore season? Norman must have run home from his teacher’s house without punishing her for leaving that door open while she changed clothes? Yeah, you know better than that. Our parting shot for the season is Miss Watson sprawled across her bedroom floor, bleeding all over her pretty lingerie from a gaping wound in her throat.

A couple of notes:

Alex Romero is the name of a baseball player who tested positive for doping last year. It probably doesn’t have anything to do with this character’s name, but you never know.

Miss Watson was wearing a necklace with the initial “B” on it. Might we have our mysterious “All my love, B” from Bradley’s dad’s letters?

See you in 2014, Motel guests!

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12 Fast Facts About Magnum, P.I.
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Magnum, P.I. was appointment television in a world before peak TV made that sort of thing commonplace. Starring Tom Selleck and set against a lush Hawaiian backdrop, the series was a triumph thanks to its tense action, humor, and eclectic cast of characters. Selleck’s Thomas Magnum shed the typical action hero mold for something far more relatable, and for eight seasons, the series was among the most popular on the air. To bring you back to a time when all you needed was a Hawaiian shirt and a Detroit Tigers cap to be a star, here are 12 facts about Magnum, P.I.


Magnum, P.I. made its premiere on CBS in 1980, the same year the network’s long-running Hawaii Five-0 was taking its final bow. Magnum’s location was picked because the network didn't want to let its Hawaiian production facilities go to waste, so the Tom Selleck-led show filmed many of its indoor scenes on the old Hawaii Five-0 soundstage.

The two shows are even set in the same universe, as Thomas Magnum would make references to Detective Steve McGarrett, who was famously played by Jack Lord on Hawaii Five-0. Though Lord never did accept the offer to make a cameo, the link between the two shows was never broken.


Can you imagine Indiana Jones with a mustache? Or Tom Selleck without one? Well one of those almost became a reality as Selleck was the top choice for the swashbuckling archaeologist when production on Raiders of the Lost Ark began. Unfortunately, the actor’s contractual commitment to Magnum, P.I. prevented him from taking the role.

In a cruel twist of fate, a writers strike subsequently delayed filming on the first season of Magnum, theoretically freeing up Selleck for the role—if he hadn’t already dropped out of consideration. Though the part will forever be linked to Harrison Ford, the ever-excitable George Lucas described Selleck’s screentest as “really, really good.”


If you think the Magnum, P.I. theme is a miracle of network television, you’re not alone. The song, composed by Mike Post, reached number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1982—a rare feat for a TV theme. Post is also the man behind hit TV songs like The A-Team, The Rockford Files, Quantum Leap, The Greatest American Hero, and plenty of other ‘80s and ‘90s staples. He’s probably best known as the man behind the ubiquitous “dun, dun” sting from Law & Order. (The Who's Pete Townshend actually wrote a song about Post's theme work, title "Mike Post Theme," which was released on the band's 2006 album, Endless Wire.)

The Magnum, P.I. tune you’re bopping your head to right now wasn’t the original opening song, though. For the first handful of episodes, including the pilot, the series had a much less memorable intro song.


Orson Welles’s final years were a blur of voiceover work and jug-o’-wine commercials, and one of his last jobs was acting as the voice of Robin Masters—the mysterious author who lends Magnum his guesthouse in exchange for security services. Masters is only heard, never fully seen, in the show, leading to plenty of conspiracy theories over his actual identity (some fans still think he was Higgins all along).

Occasionally Masters would be seen only briefly and from behind. For those rare moments, actor Bruce Atkinson would provide the necessary body parts for filming. Though his voice was only heard rarely during the series’ first five seasons, Welles was scheduled to play the role for as long as the show was on the air, but the actor’s death in 1985 brought a premature end to his tenure.


Donald Bellisario’s TV empire is one of the industry’s most impressive feats, resulting in multiple top-rated shows and critical favorites. But getting two of his most popular series to cross over proved to be more trouble than anyone would have anticipated.

In order to secure a fifth season for Quantum Leap, Bellisario suggested that Scott Bakula’s Dr. Sam Beckett character “leap” into the body of Thomas Magnum in the final moments of season four, leading to the following year’s premiere. But there was a snag with securing Selleck; his publicist even claimed he was never formally approached about the subject, saying, "We’re hoping. It’s on hold. We don’t have an answer.” The idea was soon dropped, and a fifth season of Quantum Leap went on without any help from Magnum.

Magnum, P.I. was off the air at this point, so Selleck was already on different projects. Some test footage of Bakula as Thomas Magnum was shot and shown at a Quantum Leap fan convention, but that’s as far as viewers got.



A crossover between Magnum and Murder, She Wrote? That did happen, oddly enough. The event took place in the Magnum, P.I. episode "Novel Connection" during season seven and Murder, She Wrote’s “Magnum on Ice.” In the story, Magnum is arrested for murder, and the only person who can clear his name is Jessica Fletcher, played as always by Dame Angela Lansbury.

During its third season, Magnum also crossed over with his fellow CBS private investigators on the show Simon & Simon. Both series ran simultaneously on CBS for almost the entirety of the ‘80s, and in this episode the trio banded together to secure a Hawaiian artifact that supposedly had a death curse attached to it.


If you’re not old enough to appreciate what a phenomenon Magnum, P.I. was, consider this: Selleck’s iconic Hawaiian shirt, Detroit Tigers hat, and insignia ring from the show were all donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

The objects joined other culturally significant TV relics from over the years, including Archie Bunker’s chair from All in the Family, the Lone Ranger’s mask, and a Kermit the Frog puppet. Perhaps just as big of an honor, Selleck found himself in the Mustache Hall of Fame for the memorable lip fuzz he sported throughout the series. His digital plaque reads:

“Throughout his acting career, Selleck’s charismatic grin, unflinching masculinity and robust, stocky lipholstery have made him the stuff of legend.”


The first season of Magnum, P.I. was about more than just establishing Tom Selleck as a household name; CBS executives also wanted an episode to act as a backdoor pilot for an action series starring Erin Gray. In the episode “J. ‘Digger’ Doyle,” viewers meet Gray as the titular Doyle, a security expert that Magnum calls on to help thwart a potential assassination attempt against Robin Masters.

Though the episode went off without a hitch, the spinoff never materialized. In fact, Gray never reappeared on the series after that.


By the time season seven rolled around, it seemed that Magnum, P.I. had run its course—so much so that the network had planned for that to be the show’s sendoff.

In the season’s final episode, “Limbo,” Magnum winds up in critical condition after taking a bullet during a warehouse shootout. The episode gets Dickensian as Magnum, caught between life and death, drops in on all his closest friends (and supporting cast) as a specter no one can see or hear. He makes peace with everyone around him before he apparently walks off into heaven, punctuated by the John Denver song “Looking For Space.”

To the surprise of the cast, crew, and fans, the series was renewed for a shortened eighth season, meaning Magnum had to come back from the beyond and continue his adventures for another 13 episodes.


When Magnum, P.I. actually ended, it ended with one of the most-watched finales of all time. It currently sits as the fifth most-watched series finale, not far behind the likes of Cheers, M*A*S*H, Friends, and Seinfeld. The grand total of viewers? 50.7 million.


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Rumors of a Magnum, P.I. movie have been rumbling since shortly after the credits rolled on the series' final episode (and likely well before that). It got close in the ‘90s when Selleck teamed with famed novelist Tom Clancy to pitch a Magnum movie to Universal.

Clancy was a big fan of the show and was ready to crack the story with Selleck, but nothing ever came of it. Selleck later recounted:

"We got together, and I went to Universal, and I said ‘It's time we could do a series of feature films.’ They were very interested, and I had Tom, who wanted to do the story, and I had this package put together, but Universal's the only studio that could make it, and they went through three ownership changes in the '90s, and I think that was the real window for Magnum."


The time for a Selleck-led Magnum, P.I. movie may have passed, but there’s still hope for the franchise. In 2016, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that ABC had a pilot in the works for a Magnum sequel, which would put an end to the constant reports of a full-fledged reboot or movie adaptation of the show.

According to the site, the show would follow Magnum's daughter, Lily, "who returns to Hawaii to take up the mantle of her father's PI firm.” It remains to be seen whether or not the project will ever come to fruition.

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Pop Culture
5 Bizarre Comic-Con News Stories from Years Past
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At its best, Comic-Con is a friendly place where like-minded people can celebrate their pop culture obsessions, and each other. And no one can make fun of you, no matter how lazy your cosplaying might be. You might think that at its worst, it’s just a series of long lines of costumed fans and small stores crammed into a convention center. But sometimes, throwing together 100,000-plus people from around the world in what feels like a carnival-type atmosphere where anything goes can have less than stellar results. Here are some highlights from past Comic-Con-tastrophes.


In 2010, two men waiting for a Comic-Con screening of the Seth Rogen alien comedy Paul got into a very adult argument about whether one of them was sitting too close to the other. Unable to come to a satisfactory conclusion with words, one man stabbed the other in the face with a pen. According to CNN, the attacker was led away wearing handcuffs and a Harry Potter T-shirt. In the aftermath, some Comic-Con attendees dealt with the attack in an oddly fitting way: They cosplayed as the victim, with pens protruding from bloody eye sockets.


Since its founding in 2006, New York Comic Con has attracted a few sticky-fingered attendees. In 2010, a man stole several rare comics from vendor Matt Nelson, co-founder of Texas’ Worldwide Comics. Just one of those, Whiz Comics No. 1, was worth $11,000, according to the New York Post. A few years later, in 2014, someone stole a $2000 “Dunny” action figure, which artist Jon-Paul Kaiser had painted during the event for Clutter magazine. And those are just the incidents that involved police; lower-scale cases of toys and comics disappearing from booths are an increasingly frustrating epidemic, according to some. “Comic Con theft is an issue we all sort of ignore,” collector Tracy Isenhour wrote on the blog of his company, Needless Essentials, in 2015. “I am here to tell you no more. It’s time for this garbage to stop."


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Adrianne Curry, winner of the first cycle of America’s Next Top Model, has made a career of chasing viral fame. Ironically, it was at Comic-Con in 2014 that Curry did something truly worthy of attention—though there wasn’t a camera in sight. Dressed as Catwoman, she was posing with fans alongside her friend Alicia Marie, who was dressed as Tigra. According to a Facebook post Marie wrote at the time, a fan tried to shove his hands into her bikini bottoms. She screamed, the man ran off, and Curry jumped to action. She “literally took off after dude WITH her Catwoman whip and chased him down, beat his a**,” Marie wrote. “Punched him across the face with the butt of her whip—he had zombie blood on his face—got on her costume.”


The lines at Comic-Con are legendary, so one Utah man came up with a novel way to try and skip them altogether. In 2015, Jonathon M. Wall tried to get into Salt Lake Comic Con’s exclusive VIP enclave (normally a $10,000 ticket) by claiming he was an agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and needed to get into the VIP room “to catch a fugitive,” according to The San Diego Union Tribune. Not only does that story not even come close to making sense, it also adds up to impersonating a federal agent, a crime to which Wall pleaded guilty in April of this year and which carried a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In June, prosecutors announced that they were planning to reduce his crime from a felony to a misdemeanor.


Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Disney

In 2015, Kevin Doyle walked 645 miles along the California coast to honor his late wife, Eileen. Doyle had met Eileen relatively late in life, when he was in his 50s, and they bonded over their shared love of Star Wars (he even proposed to her while dressed as Darth Vader). However, she died of cancer barely a year after they were married. Adrift and lonely, Doyle decided to honor her memory and their love of Star Wars by walking to Comic-Con—from San Francisco. “I feel like I’m so much better in the healing process than if I’d stayed home,” he told The San Diego Union Tribune.


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