FIVE-O YOUR ENTHUSIASM (6)

By: Gordon Dahlquist
April 19, 2021

One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of our favorite TV shows of the Sixties (in our periodization: 1964–1973).

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HAWAII FIVE-O | 1968–1973 seasons

Premiering a mere 9 years after Hawaii became a US state, Hawaii 5-0 is a high-stakes procedural set in an exotic and largely unknown backwater. The governor has tasked Detective Captain Steve McGarrett to form an anti-crime task force (the name “5-0” somewhat murkily derived from Hawaii being the 50th state) to supersede all other law enforcement on the islands. This umbrella lets the show cherry-pick plot lines: murder, drugs, kidnapping, espionage, racketeering, adultery, prostitution, corruption — only more lurid and more violent (the blood always an artificially bright, Weekend red) than the competition of the day.

As always in television, an increase of violence goes hand in hand with a claim to realism. For all its standard policier convention, Hawaii 5-0’s realism rests on the creators’ decision to film entirely on location in Hawaii (with no existing production facilities, they shot the first season in a Navy hangar, then moved to a mothballed army base). Barring the Elvis-quiffed, immaculately dressed Jack Lord as McGarrett and James “Helen Hayes’ son” MacArthur as Danny Williams (and flown-from-the-mainland guest stars — Martin Sheen! Hume Cronyn! Harold Gould! Khigh Dheigh!) the casting too is local. The other lead detectives, the forensics team, the beat cops, most minor characters, and most extras are non-white. This casting pool is thin enough that for smaller featured parts some faces return again and again, but the trade-off is a genuinely representative portrait of the state. Within the confines of network television, this feels remarkable. Crime shows usually carry a conservative political edge, an us-and-them frame with the cops standing between the people and the lawless. Hawaii 5-0 portrays the “people” in that dynamic as multi-ethnic and diverse, and American. For a procedural premiering amidst the civic upheaval of 1968 — and during the Vietnam war, for which Hawaii served as a major military hub and R&R destination — this too feels remarkable.

Not to get carried away: the show is a procedural, and with the exception of McGarrett the other characters, even Danny, are by the numbers. Chin Ho — played by actual ex-Honolulu police veteran Kam Fong — and the other detectives mainly provide exposition, or serve up questions McGarrett can then thoughtfully answer. It’s legible fare, if in a different place, with different people delivering up the goods. The sole exception to this legibility is Lord as McGarrett. The only person apart from the guest stars who’s really expected — or allowed — to act, his performance is the show’s engine: for the most part commanding and squared away, but every once in a while divulging an unexpected edge. From the (ludicrous) Waikiki boutique fashion he sports any time we glimpse him outside the office to unlikely-seeming moments of charm or humor, Lord salts his cool daddy with a touch of what can only be called musical theatre styling. Against the odds, it makes for a rounded portrait — again, remarkable.

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FIVE-O YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Lynn Peril on DARK SHADOWS (1966–1971) | Mark Kingwell on THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (1964–1968) | Elizabeth Foy Larsen on I DREAM OF JEANNIE (1965–1970) | Luc Sante on SECRET AGENT/DANGER MAN (1964–1968 seasons) | Erin M. Routson on THE PATTY DUKE SHOW (1963–1966 run) | Gordon Dahlquist on HAWAII FIVE-O (1968–1973 seasons) | Annie Nocenti on GET SMART (1965–1970) | Sara Driver on THE ADDAMS FAMILY (1964–1966) | Carlo Rotella on MANNIX (1967–1973 seasons) | Adam McGovern on JULIA (1968–1971) | Mimi Lipson on THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW (1970–1973 seasons) | Josh Glenn on BATMAN (1966–1968) | Tom Nealon on HOGAN’S HEROES (1965–1971) | Miranda Mellis on THE ODD COUPLE (1970–1973 seasons) | Peggy Nelson on GILLIGAN’S ISLAND (1964–1967) | Susan Roe on THE BRADY BUNCH (1969–1973 seasons) | Michael Grasso on UFO (1970–1973) | Richard McKenna on DOOMWATCH (1970–1972) | Adrienne Crew on BEWITCHED (1964–1972) | Michael Lewy on STAR TREK (1966–1969) | Greg Rowland on THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY (1970–1973 seasons) | David Smay on THE MONKEES (1966–1968) | Vijay Parthasarathy on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW (1964–1966 seasons) | Carl Wilson on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW (1967–1973 seasons) | Jessamyn West on EMERGENCY! (1972–1973 seasons).

MORE ENTHUSIASM at HILOBROW

NERD YOUR ENTHUSIASM (4Q2021): RAIN | ARDUIN | SEINFELD | MAP INSERTS | TIME | & 20 other nerdy passions. SWERVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (3Q2021): WARHOL’S WALT WHITMAN | 70, GIRLS, 70 | TYRAEL’S MIGHT | SHIRATO SANPEI | THE LEON SUITES | & 20 other never-realized cultural productions. FIVE-O YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2Q2021): DARK SHADOWS | MANNIX | GET SMART | THE ADDAMS FAMILY | I DREAM OF JEANNIE | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) TV shows. FERB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (1Q2021): STEVEN UNIVERSE | TOP CAT | REN & STIMPY | SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER | DRAGON BALL Z | & 20 other animated series. CARBONA YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2020): “Sex Bomb” | “Going Underground” | “Soft South Africans” | “Typical Girls” | “Human Fly” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) punk singles. KLAATU YOU (2020 weekly): ZARDOZ | METROPOLIS | DARK STAR | SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS | SOLARIS | & dozens of other pre-STAR WARS sci-fi movies. CONVOY YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2019): THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE | ROLLERBALL | BLACK SUNDAY | SORCERER | STRAIGHT TIME | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) action movies. SERIOCOMIC (2019 weekly): LITTLE LULU | VIZ | MARSUPILAMI | ERNIE POOK’S COMEEK | HELLBOY | & dozens of other comics. TUBE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2018): LOONEY TUNES | THREE STOOGES | THE AVENGERS | ROCKY & BULLWINKLE | THE TWILIGHT ZONE | & 20 other Fifties (1954–1963) TV shows. WOWEE ZOWEE (2018 weekly): UNISEX | UNDER THE PINK | DUMMY | AMOR PROHIBIDO | HIPS AND MAKERS | & dozens of other Nineties (1994–2003) albums. KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2017): THE KILLERS | BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | ALPHAVILLE | HARPER | BLOW-UP | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) neo-noir movies. #SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads. GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) new wave singles. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other Thirties (1934–1943) fantasy novels. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.

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Enthusiasms

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