M Station: Hawaii
Makai Research Pier, where M Station: Hawaii was filmed (Webmaster)
Even before production of Hawaii Five-0 concluded at the end of 1979, Jack already was working on his next venture. It would be a new series, and it would be set in Hawai`i. Its name would be M Station: Hawaii, and it would be filmed largely at the Makai Research Pier near Waimanalo on the eastern shore of O'ahu.
The story revolved around a Russian submarine that suffered an explosion and sank off the coast of Hawai'i. The US government wanted to explore it in order to see what they could learn from it before the Russians arrived and removed any and all secretive material and equipment. To facilitate the mission while maintaining tight security, the Navy hired a team of oceanographers with security clearance, who were already working under government contract. The oceanographers, citing their need for federal funds, which their cooperation hopefully would ensure, agreed to retrieve what it could. With training from the Navy, the team accomplished their mission.
The pilot aired on Tuesday, June 10, 1980. Although the premise was realistic, the script was skillfully crafted, the roles were well cast, and the two-hour movie was well produced, the networks did not pick it up as a series.
So, Why Wasn't M Station: Hawaii Picked Up?
Knowing Jack as we do, we know he put heart and soul into M Station: Hawaii, just as he did with everything he attempted. Even so, he had some strong odds working against him on M Station. The main problem was that M Station: Hawaii was too much like Hawaii Five-0.
More than half the cast were Hawaii Five-0 veterans: Moe Keale, whose character even shared his Five-0 character name, Truck Kealoha; Lyle Bettger; Elissa Dulce; Andrew Duggan; Dana Wynter; Andrew Prine; JoAnn Harris; Ted Hamilton; and Frankie Stevens. Robert Janes, who wrote twelve episodes of Hawaii Five-0, wrote M Station: Hawaii, while Morton Stevens, who composed the theme to Hawaii Five-0, composed the music to M Station: Hawaii.
Several props seen in Steve McGarrett's office on Hawaii Five-0 made their way into Admiral Henderson's office on M Station: Hawaii. Most notable were Montague Dawson's The Great Tea Race of 1866, Ariel & Taeping, which hung behind his desk; the antique maps, which flanked it; and the model sailing ship, which sat upon a table in the foreground.
Other notable features in the show were the USCGC Cape Corwin; the sailing ship, Falls of Clyde; the red-and-yellow mini-submarine, now bearing the name Marie; Duke's brown Ford LTD; Kimo Carew's black Ford Galaxie; and Jack's oh-so-familiar penmanship, which is seen in the following screen capture:
The Makai Research Pier appeared in who knows how many episodes of Five-0. True, Jack was probably operating with a very tight budget. The result, however, was that M Station was like an episode of Five-0 that just didn't gel.
I kept expecting the black Mercury to come into view and screech to a halt. I kept waiting for McGarrett to step from the car, stride forward, and make sense out of the case. Where’s McGarrett? This is where he should have come into the story. But he didn’t. The star was absent! Not even Jack’s cameo appearance as Admiral Henderson could make up for the absence of McGarrett. Those Soviet spies wouldn't have made it onto the island if McGarrett had been around.
The only way Jack could have made a successful Five-0 replacement was if he had gone to a different island and told a different kind of story. For example, he might have been a sugarcane planter on the island of Kaua'i, working with the Hawaiian people, coping with Hawaiian problems, and delving into a bit of Hawaiian history to generate weekly episodes. The only thing his character would have had in common with McGarrett would have been his lauhala hat. Then, I think he would have had a winner – another winner!
As an Aside
Even while Jack searched for a network to air the prospective series, writers were working behind the scenes, creating episodes that would be ready to enter production as soon as the go-ahead was received. They worked in the bungalows at the Hawaii Film Studio, where the Five-0 production offices were located. Wouldn't you just love to read the scripts that we never got to see on screen! (Mahalo, Charley Memminger, one of the episode writers)
Behind the Scenes
Creator / Executive Producer / Director: Jack Lord
Producer: Fred Baum
Writer: Robert Janes
Music: Morton Stevens
Production Company: Lord & Lady Productions