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Hawaii Five-O's successful 12-year run proved one thing: A drama
doesn't have to be perfect or overly complex to succeed.
Hawaii Five-O's plots were straightforward and self-contained. They rarely had big surprises or twists, and the plot of one episode rarely carried over into future episodes. However, the stories were (for the most part) well written, intelligent, and often unique. For example, in the sixth season's "Draw Me a Killer", a young man "in love" with a female comic book character murders people who resemble her fictional adversaries. This sort of creativity resulted in interesting plots that didn't have to depend upon shocks or gimmicks to be watchable.
Hawaii Five-O was authentic. It was shot entirely on location in Hawaii. Most took place in Honolulu, but the show saw some time on the other islands, as well. Local actors were used to fill nearly every minor part in almost all episodes. While many of these actors were clearly amateurs, you didn't care. This actually added to the show's charm and authenticity. Some of these locals had recurring parts, being seen in different roles in as many as 14 episodes. That also wasn't a big deal, provided you didn't take the show too seriously.
Hawaii Five-O was nice to look at. The show went out of its way to create scenes with beautiful backdrops, allowing the viewer to feel he's on a Hawaiian vacation while in his own living room.
Hawaii Five-O featured one of the best opening theme songs and title sequences. It still holds up well 37 years later. Even the end title sequence, showcasing about 20 native Hawaiians paddling a boat through the ocean off Hawaii, fit in with the show's Hawaiian authenticity. A bit of trivia regarding the opening sequence: The famous wave at the beginning was NOT filmed for Hawaii Five-O, and was instead taken from some 1962 stock footage. This footage was so unimportant at the time that it is now unknown exactly where that wave video originated. Also, the 10-year-old boy shown on the beach was randomly selected and given $5 for allowing himself to be filmed. He didn't know he was in the opening titles until kids at school teased him about it! The first 7 seasons of the show were by far superior to the final 5. The show especially deteriorated by season 11. This was simply a case of a show that had run its course, and it honestly should have been canceled two years earlier.
Jack Lord did a superb job as Five-O head Steve McGarrett. We never got to learn too much about the lives of the other characters, but it was always clear that they were there to support McGarrett. The unity and dedication amongst the characters of the show was comforting to watch. While many cop shows (such as NYPD Blue) introduce conflict between the main characters, this had no place in Hawaii Five-O. This was a show about Five-O versus the criminal element of Hawaii.
Despite the repeated showcasing of Honolulu's crime, Hawaii Five-O actually did a lot to boost Hawaii tourism. You would think that episodes showing tourists as murder victims would put people off. Perhaps everyone felt protected by McGarrett and Five-O, even if both were just a work of fiction.
It is hard to believe that years after the development of the DVD, that this great series has not been released on this format. Personally, I think Five-0 was one of the best ensemble shows of all-time. Steve McGarrett was a larger-than-life (and too good to be true) character that you could root for in all occasions. The remainder of the team was cast with varying results, with both James McArther as Danno, and Kam Fong as Chin Ho Kelly being excellent in their roles. Even the mediocre Zulu as Kono would share the occasional "Hey brot'r". I personally feel that the long-time nemesis Wo Fat, played to the hilt by Khigh Dhiegh, is one of the best bad guys of all time TV. The running clash between McGarrett and Wo Fat always made Steve's life interesting. My favorite episode is the light and comical, "Over Fifty? Steal!" starring Hume Cronyn as Lewis Filer. Also exceptional was the 3 episode block, "V for Vashon" starring Harold Gould. This is one TV series that I will definitely be purchasing if it is ever available in the DVD format. For my money, I place my Top 3 all-time TV series as: 1) X-Files; 2) Hawaii Five-0; and 3) The Dick Van Dyke Show. The other two are available; hopefully the folks holding the current rights to Five-0 will realize there is a huge pool of people ready to spend their hard-earned $$ once available. Thanks for reading, I hope this was beneficial to you.
Th e1970's was often called the age of tv cop shows. You had shows like, Police Story, Cannon, Columbo, Toma, Baretta, The Streets Of San Francisco and Joe Forrester. However, Hawaii Five O was the grandaddy of them all. This show ran longer then any other police show in tv history, from 1968 to 1980, we all watched Steve McGarret unmask the villian and solve the mystery (oh and also to bark "Book 'em Danno" at the end of every episode. I am going to tell you something about Jack Lord that is not generally well known, I learned this from one of Paul Harvey's "The Rest Of The Stories". Although his role as the hard hitting cop would suggest he was anything but sensitive, Jack Lord was really a very different man in real life. He was an artist and a very sucessful one as well and it wasn't because he was a tv star. Five of his paintings are in the famous Metropolitan Musuem of Art in New York City. People have paid fortunes for them! As a student Lord won numerous awards for his art and people have paid fortunes for even his simplist watercolors. Lord often quoted Sean O'Casey and said "Let us find a way to spin joy into every moment of tomorrow's day". As Steve McGarret Lord was almost like a modern day knight. All the tv cop shows since in a way owe their sucess to him. He set a standard that will never be equalled.
The longest-running cop show on American TV until "Law & Order"'s thirteenth
season, "Hawaii Five-O" still has a long life in reruns and probably will
continue in that vein long into the future.
Admittedly it did go downhill towards the end (the last season's episodes, ironically, seem even more dated than those from the '68 run) and no one can really claim that the acting was on a par with your Bochcos or your Levinsons, but it worked - yes, the scenery was a plus, along with Reza S. Badiyi's title sequence (still one of the all-time greats), but ultimately the glue that held it together was the late Jack Lord. He clearly thought the show revolved around him, and he was right - stiff, yes, but the man WAS Steve McGarrett; you never doubted for a second that he was in charge.
The show also had more than a few decent stories to go with the Hawaiian setting; that's the main reason this show was popular enough to run for more than 10 years (and more than twice that length in reruns). That and Morton Stevens's theme music, of course - all these years and that still hasn't worn thin yet either. I doubt "Miami Vice" will hold up so well.
The Stephen J. Cannell-backed pilot shot in '97 (and which brought back Chin Ho, killed off in "A Death In The Family") was judged so bad by CBS that to this day it hasn't aired, and probably never will. Like I'm weeping...
Arguably the greatest of all the American cop shows of the seventies, Hawaii Five-0 ran throughout this decade, though actually started and finished its run outside of this era (1968 and 1980 respectively). At its peak (season five, in my opinion) it was unbeatable entertainment. Though entertainment it was and always will be if you learn not to take the show too seriously and realism isn't your bag! Seasons one to six represent the show's golden age, seasons seven, eight and nine show a noticeable deterioration in quality and the final three seasons aren't worth setting the video for! One of the primary reasons for the show's success can be attributed to Jack Lord's inimitable portrayal of tough no nonsense cop Steve McGarrett. From its inception in the 1968 pilot movie 'cocoon', McGarrett pitted wits with villain 'Wo Fat' and continued to do so on numerous occasions until the series ended in 1980. Other regulars included James MacArthur as Danny 'Danno' Williams (1968-1979) and Chin Ho Kelly played by Kam Fong (1968-1979) The show exuded coolness in every frame shot, the opening title sequence today looks as fresh and as exciting as it ever did - thirty years on! Morton Stevens' pulsating theme tune without doubt is one of the most vibrant pieces of music to ever accompany a television series. In short, the show is pure escapism that has never and may never be rivalled again. Notable episodes are: Over Fifty? Steal (episode #59); No Bottles.....No Cans......No People (episode #74); and the Vashon trilogy from season 5 (episodes #105, #106 and #107).
To me this is still one of the all time great cop shows. The thing I
think made it so special was its irony. The fact that you it was set in
probably the most beautiful of settings, yet it had all the crime of
cities like Los Angeles and New York made it Honolulu seem just like
any other major American city which is just what Honolulu is. Also, the
fact that the native Hawaiians in the cast were not stereotyped made it
a great show.
Jack Lord was perfectly cast as McGarrett and pretty much was the embodiment of the character with his tough and almost unemotional demeanor and James McCarthur was great as Danny. Of course, who could ever forget what Kam Fong brought to the show as Chin Ho. This definitely was a classic.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It was 25 years ago just this past March 5th (2005) that Hawaii Five-O
came to an end. There were cop shows all throughout the 70's and plenty
after that ,but (as far as action oriented cop shows go)MacGarret &
crew still reign supreme. Shows like Hill Street Blues & NYPD Blue
(which just missed being on as long as 5-0 by about 20 episodes or
so)give us the ultra-real look at cops and their lives and all the
dramas that goes with it.
Hawaii 5-O,however,is still the show to watch for well written story-lines and great police/bad guy action. Not all the bad guys are crooks,sometimes their people who have suffered some sort of mental breakdown or maybe they are misunderstood youth (of the 60's & 70's). MacGarret,while tough as can be,treats all cases and people involved with them with a humanity that before this was not usually part of a police drama. Unlike Jack Webb of Dragnet,Steve was allowed to make mistakes and be imperfect.
Sidekick,Danny (Danno) Williams,is no second banana! I recently watched a show where he himself has to take on a crazed suicide bomber who's exacting revenge on Dan for killing his brother. James MacAurther looks and acts tough in that episode and pulls it off marvelously. Chin and Kono are great go-between guys as well,doing a lot of the necessary footwork.
The rest of the cast is tops as well.
The best ones would seasons for me are 1 to 11. Season 10 marked a farewell to Kam Fong & his Chin Ho Kelly character. Season 11 was James MacArthur's last also , but I can honestly say ,both seasons are great.
Season 12 is hit & miss with some fairly good story lines and Jack Lord's still on top of his game ...but replacement actors William Smith & Co. really didn't fill the void fans felt ,in missing Danny & Chin.
At least MacGarret catches nemesis Wo Fat in the grand 1 hour finale (I wont say how!) 5-O forever! (END)
This show lasted for many seasons because of the talents of Jack Lord and great writing, but I think it helped that it was on CBS as well. CBS always seemed to stand behind it's shows longer, even after ratings begin to drop. Perhaps my memory is wrong, but didn't the show end because Jack Lord wanted it to instead of it being cancelled? There are many memorable episodes of course, but the one that always stands out in my mind was the episode with singer Nancy Wilson as the heroin addicted performer. I thought she did a great job! Hopefully the show will come out in a DVD set. I hope the show will always be in reruns somewhere at least!
Can't believe I am the first one to put in some comments on this show!
show! Loved the cast, the action, the scenery, one of my biggest childhood
TV memories is watching the big wave curl over the name of the show.
(McGarrett always looked like Elvis, by the way, didn't he? They were pals,
if you didn't know..) I felt bad when Jack Lord died a couple years ago, he
was much older than I would have guessed...77 was it?
Anyways, one of the better, more durable shows of the era, kind of think of Kojak or Cannon whenever this comes to mind; I hope to see it in reruns again sometime.
I have been watching this show since I was 8 years old. I remember watching its final episode in 1980(when I was 14 years old). And its still on in syndication some 20 years later after it went off the air. For the astounding 13 seasons that it ran on CBS-TV(from 1968-1980),and again as a very short lived series called "McGarrett"(when Jack Lord's character leaves 5-O to become a private investigator),its no wonder why in point the shows still leaves viewers on the edge of their seats,and at the end its McGarrett telling his partner after he catches the bad guy or super villain to "book'em,Danno...murder one". This show set the standards today for all cop shows that were to follow it,and it still holds up. Kudos to the legendary Jack Lord(who died two years ago on his resort in Hawaii),and series creator Leonard Freeman who were the first to put Asian-Americans and other minorities in non-stereotypical roles(which followed the same format that producer Sheldon Leonard used when he put Bill Cosby as the first African-American in a starring role in "I Spy" four years earlier in 65). One of classic TV cop shows of the late 1960's and throughout the remainder of the 1970's,and it shows. Catch the reruns.
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