Steve McGarrett speaks English? Hawaii Five-0 is in color? Who knew?
My love affair with television began while I was still a kid growing up in Colombia in the early ‘70’s. Television there at the time consisted of three channels, all in black-and-white. All U.S. shows were clumsily dubbed into Spanish, mostly in Mexico. Apparently the dubbing budget was quite limited, as Steve McGarrett, Frank Cannon, Archie Bunker, Barnaby Jones, Arthur Fonzarelli, Theo Kojak, Columbo, and many others sported suspiciously similar, slightly Mexican-accented voices.
My favorite show from that era, which still holds a special place in my heart, is the original Hawaii Five-0, which, in the U.S., ran on CBS from 1968 to 1980. In English. In living color. In Colombia, not so much. So one summer (I wish I could remember exactly what year) my parents brought me to the U.S. for the first time. Of course the first thing I did when we got to the hotel room was turn on the TV (a Zenith, with a Space Command remote!). And it was in color! And everyone spoke English! Amazing. But that was during the day, so the game shows, soaps and reruns were unfamiliar to me (not for long, of course).
The real shock came when I saw the gorgeous (and, in my view, still unmatched) Hawaii Five-0 opening theme (which, to the approximately 10 year-old me, was the best part of the show), in full, glorious color. No over-zealous announcer sullying it by yelling out the opening credits in Spanish (“Con la actuación estelar de Yak Lorr como Estiv Magarre”). The rest of the show also in color. And English, not Spanish with a slight Mexican accent, coming out of McGarrett’s (and everyone else’s) mouth!
It was surreal. It was enlightening. I knew right then and there that this magical land where the cars were huge, the TV shows started on time, and television was what it was supposed to be, not some vandalized, mangled version of itself, was the place I ought to be. Fortunately, my dream came true just a few years later, in 1978.
I thought of Hawaii Five-0 today while texting my kids about our dinner plans for tomorrow. As I typed the place, date and time, it just came to me. “Be there. Aloha.” At the end of every Hawaii Five-0 episode there was a montage of scenes from the next episode, and Jack Lord himself would end the montage with those words. Be there. Aloha. Getting a bit nostalgic, I browsed over to the show’s IMDB page, where nostalgia quickly turned to melancholy:
Jack Lord, who played Steve McGarrett, died in 1998.
James MacArthur, who played Dan Williams, died in 2010.
Kam Fong, who played Chin Ho, died in 2002.
Herman Wedemeyer, who played Duke, died in 1999.
Harry Endo, who played Che Fong, died in 2009.
Zulu, who played Kono, died in 2004.
Richard Denning, who played the Governor, died in 1998.
Leonard Freeman, creator, writer and producer: died in 1974
Every key person associated with my beloved Hawaii Five-0 is gone.
Obviously this should not have come as a surprise. The show first came on the air forty-seven years ago. What did I expect?
But still, all of them?
Guys, I'm so sorry you can no longer. Be there.