Hawaii Five-O

Hawaii Five-O

Synopsis of TV Show

“Book ‘em, Dano!”

Jack Webb may have invented the cop show format with Dragnet, but it took a character actor named Jack Lord to take it to the pinnacle of its success with Hawaii Five-O. This classic program juxtaposed traditional cops-and-robbers thrills against the scenic backdrop of Hawaii to become the longest-running police show of all time. Twenty years later, this exotic action drama continues to justify its place in television history by remaining a top favorite in television syndication.

Hawaii Five-O focused on Steve McGarrett, an intense and dedicated cop who headed a division of the Hawaiian State Department known as Five-O. This elite unit reported directly to the governor of Hawaii and focused their efforts on eliminating the Hawaiian criminal underground. Assisting McGarrett in his war on crime were Danny “Dano” Williams, his top assistant, and Chin Ho Kelly. McGarrett’s main enemy was Wo Fat, the slippery criminal mastermind who always narrowly escaped major trouble before McGarrett could put him behind bars.

The beauty of Hawaii Five-O lay in its straightforward and reliable nature. This viewer-pleasing consistency had a lot to do with the fact that star Jack Lord was involved in most aspects of the show’s production. The episodes tended to be clear-cut crime dramas that were usually solved by the end of the show. Plots usually touched on pressing social issues of the day, like the Vietnam War or drug addiction. No matter what the situation was, we always knew that Jack Lord would remain unflappably cool throughout, there would be plenty of tantalizing Hawaiian vistas (the show was shot entirely on location), and justice would prevail by the end of the story.

Jack Lord’s performance as McGarrett was the other vital key to the show’s popularity. Looking dapper in a neat suit and an immaculately groomed, jet-black pompadour, this was one cool cop. Whether he was dealing with a government bigwig or the lowliest criminal scumbag, McGarrett never took guff from anyone and always got the job done. In true cop-hero fashion, he couldn’t have cared less about the ‘rights’ of the criminals he hounded: for instance, it wasn’t uncommon for him to begin the search of a bad guy’s living space with the words, “Gentlemen, I want this place turned inside out.”

The combination of unique locales and reliable action scenarios helped make Hawaii Five-O a long-running hit. The show also influenced other aspects of pop culture: for instance, the instrumental pop group The Ventures scored a smash hit with their surf-rock version of the show’s horn-driven theme song, and McGarrett’s oft-spoken phrase, “Book ‘em, Dano!” became a vital part of the American slang lexicon. After hitting it big in the late 1960’s, Hawaii Five-O remained popular throughout the entirety of the 1970’s and ended its run in 1980 after an extremely impressive 278 episodes. Appropriately, the final episode let McGarrett finally apprehend and imprison his longtime foe, Wo Fat.

Today, Hawaii Five-O remains deathlessly popular in rerun form. All over the world, this show continues to be a staple of syndicated programming. Meanwhile, Jack Lord has attained icon status in the world of hipster cool, and the show’s punchy theme song has become a perennial favorite on oldies radio. This long-standing success proves that Hawaii Five-O has surpassed its initial cop-show-with-a-gimmick status to become a vital part of American pop culture.

Release History of Prime Time Show

9/26/68 - 4/26/80 CBS

TV Sub Categories


Television Network


Television Studio

Paramount Television

TV Cast

Det. Steve McGarrett Jack Lord
Det. Danny Williams(1968-79) James MacArthur
Det. Chin Ho Kelly(1968-78) Kam Fong
Det. Kono Kalakaua(1968-72) Zulu
Wo Fat(1968-76, 1980) Khigh Dhiegh
Gov. Paul Jameson(1968-80) Richard Denning
Det. Ben Kokua(1972-74) Al Harrington
Che Fong(1969-77) Harry Endo
Doc Bergman(1970-76) Al Eben
May(1968-1969) Maggi Parker
Jenny Sherman(1969-76) Peggy Ryan
Luana(1978-80) Laura Sode
Edward D. "Duke" Lukela(1972-80) Herman Wedemeyer
Att. Gen. Walter Stewart(1968-69) Morgan White
Att. Gen. John Manicote(1972-77) Glenn Cannon
James "Kimo" Carew(1979-80) William Smith
Truck Kealoha(1979-80) Moe Keale
Lori Wilson(1979-80) Sharon Farrell
Che Fong(1968-69)/Nick Noble (1974-75) Danny Kamekona
Det. Frank Kemana(1975) Douglas Mossman
Jonathan Kaye(1968-72) Joseph Sirola

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