Tag Archives: classic tv themes

Retro Saturday: Hawaii Five-O Theme

Hawaii Five-O ran on CBS from 1968-1980 starring Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett, the head of a special state police task force that actually did exist in World War II Hawaii (when it was still a territory and not a state). McGarrett was a seasoned pro unlike the re-imagined one currently airing though both had naval careers. McGarrett and his team (Danny Williams played by James MacArthur, Chin Ho Kelly played by Kam Fong Chun,and Kono Kalakaua played by Zulu)dealt with all sorts of criminals, secret agents, and even terrorists. Wo Fat (played excellently by Khigh Dheigh),an agent for the Chinese government, was one recurring enemy of McGarrett. McGarrett often got the better of him despite his many machinations. In the final season Wo Fat was finally captured and jailed. The show was known for its tight storytelling so it allowed little room for personal character development. McGarrett was pretty much dedicated to his job and had little romantic life. The current show has gotten deeper into the characters lives and motivations and much darker in tone with police corruption, powerful crime organizations, and conspiracies (like what really happened to his mother). Both shows use the same theme song written Morton Stevens but the current one is much shorter though nearly the same landmarks are used along with modern footage of today’s Hawaii. “Book ’em, Danno!”was a popular phrase when I was a kid and brings back fond memories.

The original series is still very popular and shown around the world. It also shows up on classic over the air(OTA) retro television channels and is available on Netflix streaming with the new re-imagined series. Both have their merits but the original Steve McGarrett would not ride a motorcycle into a club! Jack Lord’s character had no need to do that. He would simply walk up to the door with gun drawn, kick it in, and advise everyone to keep their hands where he could see them (backed up by Danny and the other members of his team). And they knew he meant it (and those foolish enough to move would regret it).