Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Retro Five-0






In just over 3 weeks CBS will debut a retooled version of the 1968-1980 classic police drama, Hawaii Five-0 . . .  only this time, they’ll substitute a zero for the `0’ in the title.


I’m sure I’ll give this new series a try out, and I wish them the best of luck . . .  but it is going to be tough to replace the original in my mind.


Retro Five-0 became a big hit when I was at just the right age, 14 . . . and remained on top of the ratings until I was in my mid-20s.


It became such an iconic show and part of our collective culture that police departments and reporters on the mainland had been known to try to call `Five-0’ for information . . . not realizing that it was a fictitious police unit.


Even today, in urban slang, 5-0 means the `cops’, although many who use that term may not know why.


Incredibly, a New York Times article this week claims that 70% of people under the age of 35 say they are not familiar with the original show (although most knew the theme song).


Excuse me while I feel very, very old  for a minute or two.  Sigh.

Okay, back.


The show was the brainchild of TV writer/producer Leonard Freeman, and was his most successful series.  Prior to Five-0, Freeman produced episodes of Naked City, Mr. Novak, and The Untouchables and in 1968 he’d hit big with the Clint Eastwood revenge Western  Hang ‘Em High.


Jack Lord was an accomplished and regularly employed actor prior to Five-0, but not exactly a `star’.


He starred as rodeo bronco-buster Stoney Burke in the 1963 series of the same name, and during the mid-60’s appeared in numerous guest shots on dramatic series.


He played James Bond’s CIA friend, Felix Leiter in 1962’s Dr. No, but was not asked to reprise the role in Goldfinger (supposedly because they feared his portrayal would overshadow the role of Bond).

He’d even been considered for the role of Captain Kirk in Star Trek, but reportedly he demanded to be a co-producer and a percentage of the series – so Gene Roddenberry & Desilu studios looked elsewhere.

He struck gold in 1968 with Hawaii Five-0, and indelibly identified himself with the role of Steve McGarrett from that point forward.


Youthful looking James McArthur (adoptive son of Helen Hayes) had a successful TV and movie career that went back to the mid-1950s.  He’d received terrific notices in live TV dramatic productions and in the John Frankenheimer movie The Young Stranger (1957).


In 1960 he appeared in two classic Disney movies,  Kidnapped and Swiss Family Robinson.  In addition to copious TV work, McArthur appeared in the movies  The Interns (1962), Spencer's Mountain (1963), The Truth About Spring (1965), and Hang ‘Em High (1968).


Although not cast in the pilot movie, Leonard Freeman (who remembered him from Hang ‘Em High') replaced the original actor (Tim O'Kelley) who didn’t `test’ well in a New York preview.

Also in the cast were Kam Fong Chun, Gilbert Lani Kauhi "Zulu", Herman Wedemeyer, and Richard Denning.


FANCAST has 38 episodes from the 2nd & 3rd seasons of the series available for you to watch online.


You can watch them at THIS LINK. 


Since these shows sometimes get removed after awhile, if you want to see these classic episodes, best to watch them soon.


Wally Ballou said...

Anyone who went to the College of William and Mary, or visited Colonial Williamsburg, may always think of Jack Lord as the star of the 1957 CW orientation film "Story of a Patriot", which is supposedly the longest-running motion picture in history and has been seen by a total audience of over 30 million over the years.

As students in the 70s, we watched it many times, and constantly quoted our favorite lines, such as "English goods were ever the best" and "They're stealing the powder".

It was also fun watching for jet contrails and the extra wearing a wristwatch.

Wally Ballou said...

Let me redo that link:


Michael Coston said...

Thanks for the great link, Wally. ;)

The Jack Lord Channel is a nice trip down memory lane, and quite a tribute to his work on film.