Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Matter of perspective

Sometimes, it is just a matter of perspective.  You can see a movie a hundred times and it is just a favorite,,, then suddenly you watch movie again, read a book or listen to a song and there is a BOOOM.

Well for me this happened recently.  What brought this about, is that nearly for a month I have been living in a hotel in Denver with a T.V. that has ten channels, maybe 12.  With the exception of USA and Discovery, there is very little else to watch; however I rented the entire fifth season of HAWAII FIVE-O and have been watching these with vigor.

Now I have always been a huge fan of the original series, Jack Lord was and still is the only Steve McGarett, his pacing and timber of voice just is unique 

The fifth season was for me a surprise, yet one I found myself still familiar with.  How could this be?

Before I left Colorado originally last year, a new channel came on the scene call R-TV, this shows classic television series from the '60's to the 80's.

I had started watching Five-O on R-TV.

But what really struck me this time as I sat and watched were how many well known actors played against type in this series.

William Shatner, played a crooked Private I who marched wits against McGarett.  There were guest stars like Dirk Benedict, in a walk on part, amazingly enough Benedict actually could act, this was before he became locked into the personification he used in Battlestar Galactica and The A-Team.

Richard Lawrence Hatch, yes that was his name back then also played an a typical character of Gar, a hippy who with his girl friend, would steal children then sell them, so they could be "free" from the rules.

Three episodes strongly stand out so far in the fifth season run.  The first is "The Child Stealers"   which I mentioned above.  What stands out in this episode is that this is still happening today.  You have people who will sell children for many reasons, freedom, inability to care for the child, the list goes on and yet here in 1972-73 we get an episode that looks at this and in a very cool manner.

You sit and you get into the head of Gar "Hatch" his girlfriend "Nina" played very well by Meg Foster and the lawyer who brokers the children played by Richard Anderson, who also played Oscar Goldman on "The Six Million Dollar Man"

Hatch was so cool and believed what he was doing, that it didn't seem like he was acting, again he actually played a part because he hadn't been type cast yet.  Either that or it was that he used his full name.

But Five O did some other things, in their fifth year that were ahead of their day.  In an episode titled "V is For Vashon"  we see for what may very well be the first time a homo sexual character is introduced into a story line.  The character involved is a State Judge and he has kept this secret, and has been blackmailed to change his testimony or this secret will come out.

Granted it was not a positive image, however it was impact-full because in 1973 this was something that wasn't discussed in public and not used as part of a television series or movie, especially one that many family members watched.

But the episode that captivated me most, so far is one titled "The Listener"  

"The Listener" gets under your skin so fast that you want to pull your hair out, because you are a victim and you have no idea at first how, or why this is happening.  Your secrets, the secrets of your patients being recorded and used to black mail you.

What is so disturbing about this episode is that it can still happen today, and with the improved technology it can be more invasive and harder to defeat.  This is just one of those stories that haunts you, because it is current and yet it is from 39 years ago.  Back when computers used punch cards, there were  no cell phones and when Crime Scene Investigations used powder to collect finger prints, and you used a magnifying glass to check ridge patterns.

The technology has changed, the way we live may have improved to some point, but people are the same.  And there are those out there who would do what "The Listener" did, and the unfortunate thing, not everyone has a Steve McGarett who can out smart the bad guy in the end.

Now not all of the fifth season was as dark and moody as "The Listener" , "The Child Stealer's", or "V is for Vashon"
You had some that were down right humorous, such as "I;m a family crook...don't shoot" which starred Andy Griffith as the head of a family of thieves.  

Or the compelling episode "Death Wish on Tantalus Mountain"  This episode featured Ricardo Montalban as a wealthy race car driver who is in love with Diana Muldaur.  Montalban faces the possibility someone is out to kill him, and he faces a challenging mountain he intends to defeat in his souped up race car.

What made Five-O so powerful by the fifth season, the principle characters were established, the story lines were crisply written by an established team and it had the clout to pull punches like a homosexual character before the time it was talked about, or even accepted in passing.  A psycho who taps a psychiatrist to blackmail him for his perceived injustice, or a family of grifters who hit pay dirt just to have everything fall apart.

There will never be another series like the original Hawaii Five-O and that is fortunate, because it makes it one of the most powerful, and fun series to come back to again and again.

So "Aloha" until next time.

SPOILER WARNING, this gives away the end of "The Listener"  You are warned.

  Another spoiler warning, for the end of "The Child Stealer's"  Richard Hatch was young, and you can't tell it as well from this clip, but he could act.
V for Vashon...a chilling statement and set up for the second of three part episode.
Pig in a Blanket, an episode that haunts us today, because this is unfortunately how many see police today.
I know intense stuff, but I have been putting this off for a week.  Be grateful I hadn't finished season Five or I might still be writing.

Again, "Aloha, until next time..."


  1. We just sat and watched some old Dragnet and Adam 12 episodes!