August 3, 2007


Comforting Words for a Nerve-Wracked Nation: ‘McGarrett. Five-0.’ (LAWRENCE DOWNES, 8/03/07, NY Times)

His name was Steve McGarrett, and he ran an elite state police unit called Hawaii Five-0. He kept a gun under his arm and his principles in his spine, under a crisp, broad-shouldered suit jacket. He also kept a mighty head of glossy black hair, on which only a forelock was permitted to sway in the warm island breezes. Control meant a lot to him.

“Hawaii Five-0,” with Jack Lord as McGarrett, aired on TV for 13 years, fading away just before the Reagan era. Its fans, who have had to survive on reruns and bootleg videotapes, are now bingeing on DVDs. The first season was released in March; the second came out on Tuesday. [...]

[W]hat is especially striking is seeing how “Hawaii Five-0” was far more a product of the heartland than exotic Honolulu. It was a topical, political cop show that wore its conservative heart on McGarrett’s sleeve. If red-state baby boomers wanted to summon their own 1960s pop-culture heroes, who were responsible but not repressive, hip but not flaky, they wouldn’t unearth Richard Nixon or J. Edgar Hoover. They’d remember Steve McGarrett, who was beyond cool but still so square he could have been Lawrence Welk’s cop brother-in-law.

We've been watching Five-0 and Streets of San Francisco, after a long run of Bob Newhart and Rockford Files, and what stands out the most in all of them is what an awful place even America had become by the late 60s/1970s. One can forgive, to some extent, the clothing fashions and such, but the ugliness of the landscape --cities in particular--is soul-killing. The background looks like a place that the residents had genuinely stopped caring about.

N.B.: Ed Driscoll points out an even worse manifestation of the 70s

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 3, 2007 2:15 PM

I would add "Magnum, P.I. to the list. In addition to affirming conservative themes, it was filled with eye candy for girls and boys.

Posted by: Ed Bush at August 3, 2007 3:13 PM

Talk about a clueless article!

Hawaii Five-0 had been a rat-hole of anti-gun propaganda.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 3, 2007 3:20 PM

I second Lou! - The last episode I remember seeing in syndication followed a handgun that was used in one crime, discarded, picked up and used in another crime, picked up by a kid who accidently shot his mother, etc. Moral: guns = crime, or at least horribly bad accidents. I don't remember the specific plots of any episode other than this one, but after seeing this blatant shill for the anti-gun lobby, I didn't see the point of catching any more episodes.

Posted by: flanman at August 3, 2007 4:00 PM

Never watched Hawaii Five-O, but I second OJ. The Seventies were dark. Not my best period either. Evil times.

Posted by: jdkelly at August 3, 2007 4:47 PM

The main title sequence to Hawaii Five-O is still the best travel commercial ever made.

Posted by: Mike Morley at August 3, 2007 6:36 PM

Conservative? Hmm, I didn't get that from it.

Horribly written, ridiculous premises, awful acting -- absolutely.

Posted by: kevin whited at August 3, 2007 9:19 PM

Best police show ever was Ironside, starring Raymond Burr as a paraplegic former chief of San Francisco police. The first season, including the pilot movie is out on DVD.

That show had the first black co-star in prime time--a crook who reforms and works for the chief, eventually becoming a lawyer through night school. It ran from 66-74 and was never out of the top ten.

A fantastic show full of head-on, conservative dealings with drugs, prostitution, military service, immigration, racism, women in the workforce... even flower children are dealt a fatal blow!

Posted by: Randall Voth at August 3, 2007 11:19 PM

I thought even NRA types supported responsible gun use?

Posted by: oj at August 4, 2007 6:12 AM


The anti-gun episodes of Hawai Five-O were rabid in their attack on America's gun culture. They were immoderate and radical.

For example, at the end of one particularly perfervid assault on the Second Amendment, Jack Lord wailed, "What is this fascination Americans have with the gun?" The lines came right out of the gun-grabber play-book

This was always rather silly, for the episodes requently ended with verisimiltude thrown to the winds when one of the detectives brought down some running bad guy at about 125 yards with one shot from a snub-nose revolver.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 4, 2007 7:56 AM