Moody, retrospective and wistful for ‘Five-O’s’ Honolulu
At long last, "Hawaii Five-O," one of my favorite TV shows, has made it to DVD.
I wept quietly.
At last I can savor every last frame of this epic battle of good vs. evil winding its way through the seedy loins of Honolulu.
People are often surprised to learn I am such a fan. I can rattle off characters, plots, guest stars, locations. The show means something. It's larger than life. Larger than Honolulu ever was and perhaps could ever be. And that's what's good.
Days of yore. Moody and retrospective.
What is it about this show that keeps me gripped to the screen every time I see it? The unbridled kitsch factor?
See McGarrett's steely coif as he stands out in 30 mph trades. Marvel at Che Fong's uncanny ability to deduce tomorrow's stocks based only on a rubber shoe mold made in the mud of Temple Valley. Reel at Danno's bad pickup lines in seedy bars. And look at those clothes. People don't dress like that anymore ... for better or worse. (I do, however, own a number of skinny ties.)
Or maybe it's the lure of seeing the sights of a Honolulu of another time. The thrill of picking out buildings and locations.
Look! They're walking through Iolani Palace like they own the place. Are they driving Ewa-bound on Kalakaua through Waikiki? You mean Magic Island wasn't always there? Wow, the Ala Moana building (topped with La Ronde) is the tallest thing in the area. Why is there never any traffic?
I have vague memories of watching the show as a kid, growing up in Kula, Maui. I was always heady with glee to see the sights and sounds of the big city of Honolulu. I lived vicariously through the television, envisioning what it was like in all that hustle and bustle. All the lowlifes. The high-lifes. The hippies. The suits.
Even now, still fascinated with that era, I find myself wishing I could have walked those grimy streets of Honolulu, 1968. Rubbed elbows with the undesirables on Hotel Street as Chin Ho sought clues in his uncle's Chinese laundry. Sat in on some lounge act by a greasy singer who was to be knocked off just a few nights later. Sipped cocktails under the thatched umbrellas of the Ilikai as tourists basked naively, thinking they were safe.
But they were. Steve and the gang were burning the midnight oil, making sure our visitors (and, I suppose, once in a while, our residents) were safe.
I'm told Honolulu wasn't really like that back then. And I suppose there's some possibility that could be true. But for 50 minutes at a time (this is, after all, on DVD), I can watch, and wax wistful for a time that never was but could have been.
Richard Walker is a Star-Bulletin photographer.