Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Danno, check every noodle in Chinatown

ONE of my favorite lines from the old "Hawaii Five-0" series comes after Danny Williams congratulates Steve McGarrett for some incredible piece of deductive reasoning that breaks a case for them.

"That's why I get the big office, Danno," McGarrett says, without the least bit of intended humor.

If you wrote a line like that for one of today's cop shows, you'd be strung up by your toenails. But that was part of the beauty of "Hawaii Five-0." It was so damn serious. The only time McGarrett smiled was when he was digging his shoe heel into a fresh bullet wound while interrogating a suspect. McGarrett's idea of a "Miranda warning" was not to empty his entire gun into criminal.

I love "Hawaii Five-0." Especially now. Watching the old episodes is satisfying on so many levels. It's not just the unintended humor that comes through today, even though it is still a knee-slapper to see Kono driving "makai on Kapiolani" only to end up seconds later in Kahuku. (There also was the strange episode where Ricardo Montalban played a Japanese guy.)

"Hawaii Five-0" had one of the best opening sequences of any television series ever made. It's not just the theme song, which still causes the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. But the pastiche of opening shots ranging from hula dancers to a police car racing through Honolulu presents a feeling of Hawaii that has not been captured on film since.

The show was just well done. It presented characters who were so finely drawn that they exist to this day in people's psyches.

McGarrett lives among mythical crime-fighters such as Charlie Chan, Dirty Harry and Joe Friday. Danno was the kind of underling that any administrator would kill for. He was fearless, uncorruptible and he would do tons of scut work without whining. McGarrett would say, "Danno, I want you to check every strip joint, bar and restaurant in Honolulu and find out if anyone looking like our guy has been there in the past six months" And Danno would say, "Right, Steve." He was like a heavily armed, anal-retentive cocker spaniel who lived only to please his master.

SO it is not surprising that there are plans for "Hawaii Five-0" reunions in October to take place in Hawaii and California. If anything, it is long overdue. As more and more crummy shows hit the air, "Hawaii Five-0" stands out just that much more.

The natural question is, how come there has not been a "Hawaii Five-0" movie? I happen to have some inside information on that. There actually is a "Hawaii Five-0 - The Movie" script written. I know because a local private detective and I took the writers on a guided tour of Chinatown a few years ago. We showed them some of Honolulu's most famous crimes scenes: the place where a local crime figure was gunned down on Maunakea Street, a notorious gambling den above a flower shop, and the restaurant where a legendary underworld hit man bragged over lunch about the people he had killed.

But the writers weren't interested in real Hawaii stories. They already had a stereotypical image of how a "Hawaii Five-0" movie would be. And although I never saw the script, I doubt that they captured any of the original flair of the series. So, it is probably fortunate that the script got caught in studio "turn around," as they say, and never actually made it to the screen.

There should be a "Hawaii Five-0" movie. But it should be one that is a fitting monument to the original show, not just a shallow rip-off. And it should be written in Hawaii, not in Hollywood.

Until then, fans will just have to keep getting their McGarrett fix watching the original episodes. Nothing on television today really can match it. And that's why Jack Lord got the big office, Danno.

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite" Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802 or send E-mail to 71224.113@compuserve.com.

The Honolulu Lite online archive is at:

Honolulu Lite by Charles Memminger is a regular feature of the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin. © 1996 All rights reserved.


Text Site Directory: [News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Community] [Info] [Stylebook] [Feedback]