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That's Low!

When I saw an article by noted mystery writer, the late John D. MacDonald, for sale on Ebay, I jumped at the chance to buy it. In the article, Mr. MacDonald compared television programs of the 1970s, including, you got it, Hawaii Five-0.

The article was "The Case of the Missing Spellbinders," which appeared in TV Guide on November 24, 1979.

I want my money back. Mr. MacDonald did not seem to think very highly of any of the detectives. Quincy was too loud and bossy. Jonathan and Jennifer Hart were too lovey-dovey. Danno was a wimp and was only around because McGarrett liked him. Not that Mr. MacDonald liked Kimo Carew any better.

The bottom line seemed to be that Mr. MacDonald was accustomed to having several hundred pages to tell his stories, while television detectives have fewer than one hundred pages to tell theirs. There isn't time for well-rounded character development or for lengthy dialogue in which the detectives work out the meaning of evidence they've uncovered, let alone discover what each other likes to do on a Saturday night.

Television detectives rely on the theorem that "one picture is worth 1000 words." If McGarrett is supposed to be larger than life, then he has to drive up to Hawaii's most important building in the big, black Mercury, step from the car boasting broad shoulders and an expensive suit, and run up the palace stairs, two and three steps at a time. If Danno, Kono, or Chin Ho is to appear as more than a helping hand, then an entire episode has to be devoted to Chin Ho's being discredited or Danno's holding the fort while McGarrett recuperates in the hospital. There is no other way to give supporting television characters entire chapters devoted to their life stories.

But, hey-ho! Mr. MacDonald got his fifteen minutes in the sun (as though he hadn't had quite a few, already), and McGarrett and his team continued to be seen on television around the world more than fifty years after McGarrett first rode aboard Cape Corwin to check out the SS Arcturus. Not even an attempt to make a movie and the broadcast of a series bearing the same title and character names has buried it. No, with nearly 1000 visitors to this site each month, people still know and love Hawaii Five-0, its characters, and the actors who portrayed them.

Shame on you, John D. MacDonald.

Watch Hawaii Five-0 (1968) on


* CBS All Access

* Amazon Channel

* Amazon Prime Video


* FuboTV

* Vudu

* Apple iTunes

* Columbia House VHS

* CBS-Paramount remastered DVDs


Not bad for a show that ended production more than 40 years ago.

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