One of the guilty pleasures of the winter solstice holidays is having the time to look at some of the odd things being rebroadcast on obscure TV channels. This is what has got me watching some of the original series of Hawaii-5-0 on CBS Action over breakfast.
I loved this show when I was a kid. It had lots of the good things that you got in all US cop shows of the era, but the location was what made it special. In the 70s, when it was one of the biggest things on television, few people would ever make the trip to Hawaii, especially from the distant UK. Seeing the tropical locations, volcanic mountains, jungles and more, that provided the show with its (often leisurely and slow paced) background shots, was as close as they would come. It was exotic, to use a much misused term, in the sense that it was far outside my experience or expected experience.
I’m enjoying re-watching it for a completely different reason. As an observational astronomer I’ve been traveling to Hawaii regularly since 1989. I know parts of the islands fairly well – Hilo and the Big Island best of all, but Honolulu airport almost as well for example. Seeing what these places looked like a decade or more before I visited them provides a new dimension to the show. They even get to Hilo and the Big Island for some episodes, with Steve McGarret staying in the Nani Loa, one of the hotels on Banyan Drive in Hilo that I’ve stayed in over the years.
No longer is Hawaii 5-0 exotic because it’s a place I’ll never go to, now it’s exotic since it shows the past of places I know, a time that has gone and can never be re-visted by anyone.