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Parents' Guide to

Hawaii Five-O (1960s)

By Will Wade, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Classic show seems very dated now (but music is still cool).

TV Syndicated Action 1968
Hawaii Five-O (1960s) Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 1 parent review

age 7+

Better than the site's review claims

Hawaii Five-O is a product of its time, a time capsule of the changing socio-cultural climate of Hawaii in the late '60s and '70s. Will Wade’s review is complete nonsense. It treads on the ignorant, arrogant, politically-correct nonsense that influences people's thinking in commenting on older shows. Hawaii Five-O ran from 1968-1980, so of course certain elements will be dated. It was made more than 37 years ago. What does one expect? That doesn't mean it cannot be enjoyed for what it is. To say that "the small glimpses of Asia are no longer exotic; instead, they seem somewhat clichéd and stereotypical" suggests they don't know Hawaiian history or why Hawaii Five-O was made the way it was. This series depicted the Hawaii of its time, before developing took over. The shots of the land and the locals were essential to showing the state in which it took place. McGarrett's romantic encounters were not meant to be racy, and were not considered racy for their time. You don't need graphic sex scenes to show that a character has a love life. The land was exquisitely-photographed and was a lot more than a token palm tree here and there. Hawaii Five-O does stand the test of time. It gives us a glimpse of what Hawaii was like and what it still is - a beautiful land with a proud and rich history, which serves as a backdrop for the series' storylines which were intricate and well-written. It's a theatrical TV show. It's supposed to have plots! How one can say the plots drag it down makes no sense. What are they expecting - a dance competition or political debate? This is crime drama, so it will have storylines. Chinese spies, double-crossing gangsters, cold-blooded serial killers, and gold smugglers exist. They are depicted on other shows as well. This shows a complete lack of awareness of the outside world, if the reviewer finds these characters unrealistic. What kind of bad guys do they want to see? It doesn’t look like they want to see any, since they ruled out spies, gangsters, serial killers, and gold smugglers. I think they’ll also call drug dealers, military spies, con artists, and bank robbers – other bad guys featured in this show and others of its time – far-fetched as well. The brief glimpses of Asian and Hawaiian culture were anything but brief. Sometimes, entire episodes were based on them. They were as progressive now as they were then. Calling them patronizing and stereotypical today reflects ignorance and looks like at attempt at trying to sound politically correct – but foolish. The local culture is depicted in a respectful light. I don’t see how that is patronizing and stereotyping. The scenes showing Hawaiian dancing, religious ceremonies, cultural landmarks, and cultural issues serve as a way of promoting Hawaii to the world. One in four tourists who visited Hawaii said they did so because of seeing it on Hawaii Five-O. Ignore Will Wade’s comments and watch this show and see for yourself. Hawaii Five-O was and still is a thrilling crime drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. The variety in bad guys only allows for a variety in plotlines that will ensure the viewer will not be bored. Try that with the stale serialized storytelling, gunfights, car chases, explosions, and all-out blood-and-gore autopsies TV shows depict now and call entertainment. Steve McGarrett was tough as nails, cool, clever, and charismatic. Danno is the trusty assistant, an expert marksman, Navy medic, wilderness tracker, undercover man, and forensic artist. The Hawaiian detectives all have their own distinctive personalities and are anything but stereotypes and caricatures. It is one solid hour of crime-fighting entertainment that still holds up today. The detectives in this show, unlike its namesake successor, are real role models who embody human frailties that they overcome with dignity, while at the same time exuding the qualities of honor, valor, dedication, intelligence, compassion, and justice. BOOK ‘EM, DANNO!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (4 ):

But on another level, the series has become a cultural touchstone. When it hit the air in 1968, Hawaii Five-O offered a look at what was then a far off and exotic place. Filmed on location in Hawaii, the show cast Hawaiian and Asian actors in many key supporting roles and sprinkled its scripts with Hawaiian words and plenty of references to the Far East. Running for 12 seasons, it made the islands seem familiar even to people who had never left the mainland. And don't forget about the instantly recognizable theme song (second only, perhaps, to Mission: Impossible for TV's most distinctive tune).

Sadly, the series doesn't pass the test of time. Its view of Hawaii in the late 1960s and 1970s is like a fun look into a time capsule, but the plots drag it down. McGarrett's foes include Chinese spies, cold-blooded serial killers, gold smugglers, turncoat gangsters, and other far-fetched villains. The stories might have made for entertaining TV when they originally aired, but today they seem hokey and unbelievable. And the brief glimpses of Asian and Hawaiian culture, so progressive then, seem slightly patronizing and stereotypical today.

TV Details

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