I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I decided to watch the old Hawaii 5-0 because nothing else was on and ended up liking it. It has the two things I like best in a show: 70’s and cops.
But it’s more than just a 70’s cop show. It’s blue cheese on a cracker, straight up.
You had Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord), the serious business man in charge with hair that doesn’t move no matter how windy it is. Dan “Danno” Williams (James MacArthur), his right hand man that had a fondess for monochromatic duds. Chin Ho (Kam Fong) was the token Asian good guy (since most of them were bad guys) who wore the same ugly tie throughout most of his run on the series no matter what suit he wore. And then there was the *insert token Hawaiian here* in the form of first Kono (Zulu), then Ben (Al Harrington), and finally Duke (Herman Wedemeyer). Of these three Duke was my favorite as he was actually on the longest, first in uniform and then in plainclothes. I have been known to give a prolonged “DUUUUUUKE” squeal at my TV when I see him onscreen.
I had trouble warming up to Ben as he’d guest starred on the show a couple of times before as a bad guy. Never could quite trust him.
Women? They had a few, but none you saw too often. Female officers were still a rarity in that world. However, they did at least have one that reoccurred for a few episodes. Baby steps.
The bad guys are the best. There’s actually some that are somewhat sympathetic or make an attempt at being sympathetic. And there are some that are just so over the top that they strain credibility. Wo Fat, the longest running villian on the show, is on the over the top side. He’s more like a Bond villian. His mustache is quite fetching, though.
Another stand out villian was Gavin McLeod as a dope-pusher named Big Chicken. He was pretty disturbing with the homoerotic undertones going on with his character, particularly in the prison episode in which most of the action too place in the shower. Maybe it was because they started off that episode with Big Chicken hosing off. I don’t know. I just know that I can never look at Captain Stubing the same way again.
Honorable mentions go to Ricardo Montalban as a Japenese guy (the make-up was questionable and the accent was all Ricardo) and the murding hillbilly family on vacation.
With villians like that you’ve got to have some over the top storylines. I think McGarrett was shot or blown up at least once a season. A couple of his girlfriends were killed, but since you didn’t really see much of his personal life, the deaths kind of lacked any impact.
There were snipers with hooked hands, derranged Vietnam vets killing his buddies’ wives, a guy who thought a comic book was real and killed people to protect the main character, lots of terrorists (most of them Latino), big government plots, a couple of convicts that use witness protection as an excuse to get married, marijuana that turns into heroin at some point during the episode, and much, much more!
The list of guest stars is pretty impressive, especially since most of them are bad guys. Along with Ricardo Montalban (on twice!) and Gavin McLeod: Richard Hatch, Meg Foster, Patty Duke, Harold Gould, Bruce Boxlitner, Donald Pleasance, Cindy Williams, Loretta Swit, Burt Convey, Robert Reed, and those are just the ones I can remember off of the top of my head.
But truly, the best part of this show was the fashion. Ugly shirts were required. The bad guys wore them. The good guys wore them. The good guys wore them when they were undercover so they could blend in with the bad guys.
And then there was McGarrett’s off-duty wear:
And that’s one of his tamer outfits, too.
It was by these powers combined that my day job-lacking afternoons were filled joy and entertainment.
I can’t lie. When two o’clock rolls around now, as I sit in my cube, I think of Hawaii.
Book ’em, Danno.