Hawaii Five-O (1960s) TV Poster Image

Hawaii Five-O (1960s)

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

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show's clear message is that crime doesn’t pay, and justice prevails. The dogged and determined members of the Hawaii Five-O unit always manage to crack even the toughest cases and book the bad guys.

Positive role models

Steve McGarrett sometimes comes off as a bit stiff, focused solely on catching the bad guys. But he’s willing to bend a few rules, especially if bureaucratic red tape gets in the way of solving a crime. And while he’s all law and order, he also displays an easy acceptance of Hawaii’s multiracial culture (and even the hippies who were becoming a bigger element of the island state's casual lifestyle). His attitude was somewhat unusual for the period, especially in the show’s early seasons, when racism was more common and the culture clash was in full swing.


Lots of action, including fistfights and shootouts. Some people get shot, but the wounds don’t look realistic.


Plenty of women wearing bikinis on the beach, and some flirting. Steve McGarrett sometimes dates, but in the end, he's married to his job.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Several characters smoke (accurate for the era), and people sometimes drink socially. Occasional references to hippie culture and drugs.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this classic crime series about a team of detectives in Hawaii was considered groundbreaking when it hit the screen in 1968 but seems dated now. Filmed on location, the show made a point to include a multiracial cast and often featured references to Asian cultures and the politics of the Pacific Rim. These efforts were progressive then, but the small glimpses of Asia are no longer exotic; instead, they seem somewhat clichéd and stereotypical. Still, overall there aren't too many moments that are inappropriate for kids. There are a fair number of fights, and main character Steve McGarrett sometimes has romantic encounters, but all of these scenes seem quite tame by today’s standards. One thing you'll see more of is smoking, which is accurate for the era.

What's the story?

On one level, HAWAII FIVE-O is a fairly standard cop show. Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) heads up the Five-O team, a unit of the Hawaii state police charged with investigating the islands’ toughest cases, including unsolved murders, espionage, mafia activities, and other crimes. The show makes the island into one of the characters, showcasing many of its beautiful locations and its multicultural population.

Is it any good?


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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about cop shows. How does this series compare to current police dramas? Are there any issues that seemed controversial then that aren't a big deal now? How about vice versa?

  • Do you think this story would benefit from a remake? How would a modern-day version of Hawaii Five-O differ from other current cop shows, or from the original?

TV details

Premiere date:September 20, 1968
Cast:Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Kam Fong
TV rating:NR
Available on:DVD

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Teen, 13 years old Written bySuperreveiwer..maybe July 15, 2013

Deserves a more loving reveiw

This was very great for its time, and although, yes, it is dated, what would you expect from the '60's?! Obviously it's a crime show, but it is not overly violent and gory. The team is multiracial, and this was in the '60's, and the team always does their best to catch the criminal. The End.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Adult Written byVrinda R. February 15, 2017

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!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models