The longest running cop show in US TV history. Hawaii Five-0 was crime fighting with a quiff amidst the golden sands - and even more golden sunsets - of America's 50th state.
Originally intended by creator Leonard Freeman to be titled 'The Man', Five-O was designed to extend Freeman's earlier ground-breaking use of location shooting pioneered on Route 66, and give the viewers the added bonus of genuinely exotic and lush backgrounds at the same time as it provided thrills and fast paced cop action. It was a concept which proved to be a literal goldmine. Jack Lord starred as Steve McGarrett, the tough, no nonsense head of a special department within the Hawaiian Police Force. The Five-0 team were a mixed race force of elite crime-busters. A kind of 'Untouchables with tans', charged with keeping the serpent of crime from giving paradise a bad name.
Jack Lord wasn't Leonard Freeman's first choice to play Steve McGarrett. Richard Boone turned it down and Gregory Peck and Robert Brown were also considered before Lord was asked at the eleventh hour. Freeman and Lord had worked together previously on an unsold TV pilot called 'Grand Hotel.' But Lord's McGarrett soon became an iconic character. He was ably assisted by Danny Williams (James MacArthur, son of Hollywood star Helen Hayes), Chin Ho Kelly (former stand-up comedian turned character actor, Kam Fong), and Kono Kalakaua (Zulu).
'Five-0' became an immediate hit with it's instantly recognisable theme tune, superb scenic photography and 'Book-em, Danno' catchphrase. The series also boosted Hawaii's tourist industry so much that a 'Jack Lord Day' was added to the Hawaiian calendar. The show was the longest running crime show on American TV until the police drama Law & Order surpassed it in 2003. Slick, professional, glossy and hard-hitting, 'Hawaii Five-O' stands today as much as a monument to the drive for excellence of star Jack Lord, as it does as a high water mark for the U.S. police series genre.
Trivia: There is a popular misconception that Hawaii Five-O survived long enough to see reruns of early episodes enter syndication while new episodes were still being produced and that the 12th season was repackaged into syndication under the title McGarrett. This is a common mistake made by people who don't know the difference between reruns and syndication. In fact, CBS showed reruns of the 12th season in late night (before the days of David Letterman) under the title McGarrett to differentiate those reruns already in syndication under the title Hawaii Five-0.
Published on December 20th, 2018. Review: SRH Trivia: Erich Wise.