Hawaii Five-O: Season 6
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Hawaii Five-O: Season 6

The most venerable genre in the history of television has to be the crime drama. Shows that pitted the hard working agents of law enforcement or their private sector counter parts against the dastardly criminal element has been a mainstay of almost every programming season since television first became the most popular form of home entertainment. Throughout the decades just about every variation of this type of series has been tried with naturally mixed results. In many cases attempts to refresh the genre resulted in dismal failure, other times such experimentation might produce a series with lasting power and audience popularity. One television network has traditionally held a reputation for new innovations with this well used format; CBS. From the use of more mature central characters to the use of high tech forensic this network frequent altered the public’s perception of the crime show. Traditionally the setting of the series was either New York or Los Angles but in1968 CBS broke from this mold and moved their location east, far east; Hawaii. The series ‘Hawaii Five-0’ brought the mainland audiences to the exotic island paradise that would appear to have just as much crime as any large city on the continental United States. The fiftieth state was still rather new and very much a place of mystery and intrigue so many people tuned in for a glimpse of a State that only a short time ago was a sovereign nation. The series lasted an incredible twelve season and this consideration pertains to the midpoint season six releases on DVD. The best thing about this release is the series remains as tautly crafted and suspenseful as when these episodes first aired some forty years ago. If you want a great time getting into some of the best crime stories on TV just pop in a disc from this set and go back in time to when crimes were solved by the intuition and experience of dedicated, seasoned detective, not some advanced technology and sleek devices with really cool flashing lights.

Unless you are really into the details of film and television you may not recognize the name of this series’ creator; Leonard Freeman. Prior to this show he created an adventure series that would span the breadth of our country, ‘Route 66’. He was also part of the creative team that brought to film one the best Clint Eastwood westerns, ‘Hang ‘high’. Freeman was a master class story teller who had an amazing efficiency in weaving an interesting tale. Very often an episode of ‘Hawaii Five-0’ came across as a short film instead of s fifty minute TV episode. There was an attention to detail and production values rarely seen in this format. There really isn’t much waste in any of these episodes. There were no side plots concerning the sexual exploits of the team or their emotional turmoil and angst. These were straight forward crime stories and thanks to the location the types of crimes span a range from common place arson to international crime syndicates and espionage. No matter what the crime the man in charge, Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) and his elite team were relentlessly on the case. Long before a certain CSI became known for this pile oh neatly groomed hair and sunglasses McGarrett sported the look and made it work. At his side was second in command Danny "Dan-o’ Williams (James MacArthur) always ready to book the perpetrator. When muscle was needed there was always Det. Chin Ho Kelly (Kam Fong) ready to do the necessary legwork.

The main thing that set this series above its contemporaries and makes it fun to watch after so many decades is how the stories delved far deeper into the psychology of the criminal. The stories tended to be darker that the typical detective show especially back in its day. Usually a crime show hard rather simple motivations for the criminals and the highlight of each episode was the inevitable car chase. In ‘Hawaii Five-0’ the darker psychological focus afforded the writers leeway to examine more interesting villains. This is especially true of this sixth season. The first episode of the season a former police officer who lost both his hands in an accident goes after the cops he holds responsible. Naturally Steve is in the lamentable group. To get his revenge he uses a specially modified sniper rifle leaving it behind with a gold plaque bearing the victim’s name. In another episode a man fantasies a relationship with a young woman character in a newspaper comic strip. Whenever hardship crossed her path the fan would kill a real person that resembled the comic Steve has the strip’s writer create a new character that looks exactly like Danny. Another episode a serial arsonist is brought to justice by understanding the true pathology of pyromania enabling McGarett to see through a cleverly constructed frame of a recovering arsonist. Every episode takes a theme familiar to fans of the genre and provides a nice little twist. This was a series that can still hold up against the current trend of scientific detectives. I doubt that many crime shows currently on will exhibit this kind of staying power. There is a strong indication that the network has plans to reboot and modernize the series and I look forward to seeing what happens. Still it will have extremely big shoes to fill trying to live up to this classic show.

Posted 01/20/2010

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