Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Higgin's Bedroom Set (on stage)

Well, now that I have photos that work, I can talk about this set.  Whenever a main character of a series is given a "personal" set that is not part of the permanent sets (like Tom's guest house or Higgin's den that are in virtually every episode), the dilemma is deciding if it will ever be seen again.  If it is to be seen again, then the show needs to own or at least have permanent access to the items used in it so it can be duplicated again later.  There was never enough room on the small soundstage (or even a large sound stage) to leave every set standing indefinitely "just in case" it's used again.  In the case of Higgin's bedroom set that wasn't done until well into the series, I thought I would use many things from my house which is a large old home here in Honolulu not unlike something Higgin's might have lived in at one time.  In this case the sofa, chair , bench at the end of the bed, personal pictures of my grandparents, the wall candle holders, bronze statue, and lamp all came from my house.  We bought the bed (later eaten by termites) and rented the other items which were returned after this set was shot. 

 There was much input from the producers as to how cluttered, how personal, and what his bedroom would say about the character of Higgins.  I've always felt that any set should tell a story even before we know who lives there.  Do they read a lot, collect things, are they religious, are they sentimental, a romantic, an egomaniac?  All of these things can be indicated by their environment (set decoration) before we even know much about the character.  In the case of such a well established role of Higgin's the caretaker of the Robin Master's estate, we see that he is very traditional, fairly ordered, obviously living in a past era of English tradition.  There is a vase of mine that I used in this set.  I don't think it is visible in any of the photos (I'm sure I have more somewhere I will eventually dig out).  The vase was made out of copper and on front it says (above) "The Sun Never Sets...........(below) "On the British Empire."  This sort of summed up Higgin's formality and memories of past glories (imagined or realized) in life.   By this time in his life, the sun had set on the British Empire and Higgin's was now a loyal caretaker.

The textured walls that were used for the interior sets of the Master's estate were made of plywood, then covered with hand troweled joint compound (wallboard plaster), then painted, and then a sort of ink substance applied and wiped off that gave an aged, rough plaster look.  In some cases an additional "dust age" was used of diatimacious earth inside a sprayer.  You did not want to be around when this was sprayed!  The stock moulding of the set was produced at Universal Studios molding (moulding for those of you in the UK) department and shipped over.  The set walls were usually 10 feet tall since the camera seldom saw over 8 feet.  Small sections of ceiling could be place overhead when needed, but seldom were.

Hey aren't people supposed to comment on these blogs??!! anyone out there?  Ok, time to scan some more photos................Aloha


paperwar said...

Hey Rick, just wanted to say many many THANKS for sharing these stories and photos from your time working on Magnum pi and i am very excited reading your upcoming articles. ::)) Aloha

Magnum Decorator said...

Thanks a lot for my very first comment! Wow. someone actually reads all this! Looks like I'll have to keep it up now. I appreciate the encouragement.

SelleckLover said...

Wow! This blog is a dream come true! Although I am somewhat familiar with the inner workings of what goes on "behind the scenes", reading about my favorite show is truly a treat, and I appreciate the fact that I now know that Tom Selleck is really as nice a guy as I always thought he was. Keep the posts coming, Rick!

Marco said...

Believe me - we ALL read and follow it! Rick, it's just AWESOME!! Thanks so much - and the stories are funny, too! KEEP IT UP!!

Magnum Decorator said...

Thanks everyone! It's been nice to write about some of the things that happened on that show. It seems so innocent and uncomplicated compared to how things are on TV shows today. Very few people make it to the top by being nice these days. I worked in L.A. for a couple of years in the early 90's and I was taken aside and told that I was "too nice." Is that why I'm unemployed??!! lol

rubber chicken said...

Hi there Rick. These posts are truly fascinating to me. Thank you so much for writing about your experiences on the show. And thank you so much for your great work on Magnum P.I. It's a real treat to hear what you have to say.

As I've been watching through the Magnum P.I. DVDs over the past few years I've always enjoyed pausing and closely inspecting new sets, and even old ones which are seen almost every episode.

If you don't already know, many people from the Magnum Mania forum are reading this blog. The link to the thread that Marco made to let forum members know of your blog is below. In addition to those who have posted in the thread, there are likely many more people who haven't posted but have been directed to your blog and enjoyed their visit. You have more readers than you know!

Magnum Mania thread link

I've just signed up so that I can make comments. For as long as you post in this blog I'll be here. Again, thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge with the fans of Magnum P.I. ! : )

Susan said...

Its looking fine, you can find more designer bedroom sets here…..

Gary said...

fantastic to see such intrest and love of magnum pi ,iv really seen the rise of the show year by year
great to see the love of the show being talked about

Anonymous said...

This is such incredibly fun reading. Thank you!