Sunday, January 10, 2010


In 1997's pilot season CBS-TV was banking on the future by betting on its past.
The Tiffany network had lost its much of its celebrated luster and was desperate to recapture the 3 R's of success in television: ratings, revenue and recognition.

Starting with the kinetic ER ,9 of the Nielsen Top 10 programs for the 1996-97 Television season were on NBC-TV. The wholesome TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL was the only hit series on CBS-TV.

That wasn't always the case.

In halcyon days of the late 1960's and early 1970's television, when CBS-TV was America's favorite network, HAWAII FIVE-O, the high velocity, high intensity morality play , filmed like a travelogue and disguised as a crime drama was dependable performer.

Hawaii was a good luck charm, of sorts, for CBS. HAWAII FIVE-O, plus MAGNUM PI after it , were solid hits. Viewers loved being transported to the 50th states' exotic climes.Plus,programming executives relished their sojourns to the islands.

Produced on location, in vivid color, and redolent with tropical ambiance,it told the workman-like stories of a special state police unit that took on the toughest cases and most dangerous criminals. Viewers saw those stories through the eyes of stoic and steely Steve McGarrett, chief of the unit. He was played with volcanic force by Jack Lord,and supported by his tactically adept team of crime fighters.
From espionage to embezzlement, and murder to misdemeanors, they always cracked the case in 52 minutes, plus commercials and those incredible title sequences.The phrase "Book 'em, Dano" entered the national lexicon as coda for closure in crime solving.The series ran for 12 seasons from 1968-1980.

In 1997, CBS executives thought it was time to revisit the taught storytelling, the tense action and sultry locations that had electrified audiences,years earlier, by reviving HAWAII FIVE-O. Also, a re-orchestrated version of the pulsating, hit theme song would be part of the redux.

The network enlisted a true Prime Time savant, Stephen J. Cannell, who gave viewers THE ROCKFORD FILES, THE A- TEAM and 21 JUMP STREET, to write and produce the sample episode, which was directed by Bradford May. The pilot starred Russell Wong and Gary Busey...

Yes, that Gary Busey.

The addled actor was cast as Nick Irons, the man who runs the present day FIVE-O unit,and would also feature a cameo by James McArthur, as Dano Williams, McGarett's chief acolyte, who had ascended to become the governor of the Aloha state.

The show was produced and reviewed by the same CBS-TV executives who commissioned the 60 minute pilot. After an executive screening ,the island mystery wound up in cold storage.It was rejected.

Posted, below is a rare excerpt of the updated HAWAII FIVE-O,opening titles. KINESCOPE HD firmly believeS that the classic, credits sequence for the original series is, along with I SPY and BAYWATCH, the best of class. While the 1997 titles are pretty good , they remind you that you really shouldn't fix things that aren't broken.Enjoy!!!!!

As a bonus, here are the titles, visualized by Reza S. Badiyi, that heralded the original HAWAII FIVE-O. Enjoy!!!!

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