Look 'em, Danno — good stuff
By Lee Cataluna
Fifty-seven channels and nothing on, except 25-year- old reruns of "Hawaii Five-0" ... and on nights when Wahine volleyball isn't being carried live, "Five-0" is the best thing going. Still.
The final episode ran in April 1980. People have been trying to replace McGarrett and the guys ever since. Nothing has even come close.
"Lost" is a very good show and a very popular show, but it doesn't really compare. They're in Hawai'i, but they're not really in Hawai'i. Kind of like staying in a Hemmeter hotel. Most of the extras in the flashback sequences look like they've been flown in. Where's Jimmy Borges? What's a local production without Jimmy Borges?
But weeknights at 7 p.m. on Channel 11, if not pre-empted by religious or Filipino or religious Filipino programming, you can get an hourlong infusion of that wild show that somehow made disjointed car chases and absurd crimes reflect a real Hawai'i. It's not at all like Hawai'i was back then, yet the show honors a truth about that era that transcends the silliness and melodrama.
If you believe the premise of the show, the Islands were lousy with underworld crooks and nefarious networks; yet that stylized '70s fiction depicts a place much more gentle than the nonfiction Hawai'i we live in today.
You get glimpses of whole hillsides before housing developments.
Busy Waikiki beaches that look blessedly empty by today's standards.
Winsome children who say "Hey, Mister!" instead of things kids yell out to attract attention these days.
Jimmy Borges in a white polyester leisure suit.
Carole Kai in faooga eyelashes and hot pants.
There is the truth of our past.
For a television fanatic, the show offers a wealth of information to pour over and catalog.
The lost list of guest stars include the likes of Sal Mineo, Leslie Nielsen, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, Tom Skerritt, William Shatner, John Ritter, Yaphet Kotto and, in an unforgettable episode, Ricardo Montalban playing a Japanese crime lord named Yamashito.
"Diversity" in the series was handled in the way race and ethnic issues were handled in Hawai'i at the time: haphazardly but good-naturedly, with about as many "crooks of color" as bad white guys for McGarrett to chase around.
And alongside those Hollywood names and faces were Hawai'i actors like Hilo Hattie, Danny Kaleikini, Moe Keale, Emma Veary and, in an unforgettable episode, two Hannemann brothers, neither of them Mufi.
There may never be another long, glorious run like that for Hawai'i actors and crew, and that's a shame. It's also a testament to a show so stylish it can't be topped, and a production team smart enough to use Hawai'i's greatest assets, including Jimmy Borges in that white suit.
Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.