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Thread: NYT article from 2007

  1. #1
    Five-O Home Page Author Mr. Mike's Avatar
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    Comforting Words for a Nerve-Wracked Nation: ‘McGarrett. Five-0.’

    By Lawrence Downes

    Aug. 3, 2007

    In 1968, one of those awful years for which the term “hell in a handbasket” was invented, a war-weary, riot-torn nation gave its heart to a cerebral man of action with a passion for law and its elusive partner, order.

    He was fictional, but that was about his only shortcoming. His name was Steve McGarrett, and he ran an elite state police unit called Hawaii Five-0. He kept a gun under his arm and his principles in his spine, under a crisp, broad-shouldered suit jacket. He also kept a mighty head of glossy black hair, on which only a forelock was permitted to sway in the warm island breezes. Control meant a lot to him.

    “Hawaii Five-0,” with Jack Lord as McGarrett, aired on TV for 13 years, fading away just before the Reagan era. Its fans, who have had to survive on reruns and bootleg videotapes, are now bingeing on DVDs. The first season was released in March; the second came out on Tuesday.

    This is not an ordinary fix of classic TV. Because the show was shot on location, the DVDs are a time capsule for a lost Hawaii of flower children and bold-print muumuus, when G.I.’s from Vietnam were common on beaches and barstools and construction cranes dotted the skyline. From the Banzai Pipeline wave that opens the show to the evocatively seedy downtown, the 50th state never looked lovelier or more sinister.

    But what is especially striking is seeing how “Hawaii Five-0” was far more a product of the heartland than exotic Honolulu. It was a topical, political cop show that wore its conservative heart on McGarrett’s sleeve. If red-state baby boomers wanted to summon their own 1960s pop-culture heroes, who were responsible but not repressive, hip but not flaky, they wouldn’t unearth Richard Nixon or J. Edgar Hoover. They’d remember Steve McGarrett, who was beyond cool but still so square he could have been Lawrence Welk’s cop brother-in-law.

    McGarrett fights big evil ... Chinese Communist agents and drug kingpins like Gavin MacLeod as Big Chicken, soaping up and singing that pidgin classic “Ain’t No Big T’ing, Bruddah” in a prison shower scene that may forever ruin “The Love Boat” for you. But it’s amazing how often his adversaries are members of the counterculture: sweaty addicts, avant-garde film directors, teenage runaways and hippies. He’s stiff, but they’re spineless, draped over rattan chairs, flaunting their lazy lack of character.

    Evil makes McGarrett angry, but when he speaks, his voice is startlingly gentle, exuding a quiet control that a beleaguered generation of parents surely wished they had when facing the forces of social decay.

    TYPICAL CRIMINAL: You’ll never get me, McGarrett.

    TYPICAL McGARRETT: You stay smug, and I’ll stay patient.

    He’s particularly eloquent when setting peacenik hippies straight:

    McGARRETT: There are dangerous animals in the world, and some of them walk on two feet. They don’t want peace, and they’re not capable of love. Society … and that means you and you and you and you … needs protection from these warped minds. And that’s my job.

    HIPPIES: (Chastened silence.)

    Whether saving a drowning boy, defusing a bomb with nail clippers or offering himself as a prison hostage, he’s a model of steadfast decency. He’s white but not white bread, at ease in the ethnic stir-fry of Honolulu. And there’s no emergency his bare-bones agency ... four men, a secretary and a car ... can’t resolve in just under an hour.

    And when he gets his man ... Book ’im, Danno! ... you can hear America exhaling. Their sons and their daughters were beyond their command, Vietnam was a mess, but at least Hawaii had McGarrett.

    A marathon of “Five-0” viewing may provoke an ache of nostalgia, or whatever that feeling is when the present looks bleaker than the troubled past. As I watched, I was overcome with longing to replace Bush-Cheney with McGarrett-Danno.

    McGARRETT: What have we got?

    KONO: Big trouble, Steve. Lotta immigrants comin’ in. Folks plenny mad.

    McGARRETT: From where?

    DANNY: Lots of places. The lab boys say Mexico, mostly. They’re here illegally, but here’s the funny thing ... they don’t act it. They do our dirty work. They raise families. They send money home to Grandma.

    McGARRETT: Chin, go down to the border. It’s 1,954 miles long ... better take Kono. Nobody comes in unless you know it. Go easy on the workers, but the smugglers and dope pushers ... you know what to do.

    CHIN HO: Good as done, boss.

    McGARRETT: Danno, I want these people legalized. Tell Congress to send me a bill. I want it tough, and I want it fair. And I want it on my desk Monday morning. Then get me a sandwich and my suitcase.

    DANNY: I’m on it. Where are you going?

    McGARRETT: Pakistan. I have a hunch.

  2. #2
    “They’d remember Steve McGarrett, who was beyond cool but still so square he could have been Lawrence Welk’s cop brother-in-law.”

    Haha! That’s funny!!

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