Saturday, September 18, 2010

Book 'Em, Danno!

Those of you who watch television probably have heard that CBS is going to offer a remake of Hawaii Five-O. Those of you old enough to remember the original, which ran from the late sixties up until 1980, probably remember at least three things: A huge honkin' wave curling into a breaker with Morton Steven's opening theme music -- Dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, Dah! That smash-zoom shot of Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett; and what was a routine tag line by McGarrett to Danny Williams (James McArthur): "Book 'em, Danno!"

I remember some of the martial arts stuff, including the first time I ever saw a pair of sai used to defend against a shinai in a kendo class.

I watched the preview of the new version. The skew is for young viewers, and the new Five-O crew all look like slightly-older college kids who wandered into a cop show. They don't have the gravitas to walk into a room and be considered somebody in charge. Not that I'm against youth per se, but if you are going to be an authority figure, being a cute or handsome thirty-something is an obstacle for us old crackers. (Jack Lord was forty-eight when the original H5O began its run, and sixty when it ended.)

This is not a new thing in American TV and movieland, to remake old shows that were popular and to young-'em-up.

Sometimes, such as in the case of, say, M*A*S*H, going from a hit movie to a hit TV series, it works. I think the new Star Trek movie reinvigorated the franchise. More often than not, when they take a classic and bring it back, it's not so successful. The Day the Earth Stood Still was, for its day, amazing and it holds up pretty well. I've yet to see a spaceship I like better than Klaatu and Gort's 1950's ride.

The remake of that? People forgot about it by the time they got from the theater to their car. All about the EFX. Yawn.

Also apropos of this discussion, The Manchurian Candidate. The Frank Sinatra version was wonderful. Denzel's update? Better actor, worse movie.

And as an amusing aside: The nastiest villain from 5-0, was Wo Fat, the Chinese communist. He was played by Ken Dickerson --Khigh Alx Dheigh -- an American of Egyptian-Sudanese-Anglo descent born in New Jersey, and about as Chinese as I am. I bring him up because he also played the Chinese villain, Dr. Brainwasher in The Manchurian Candidate ...

The new 5-0 might be a great show, you have handsome hunks and a cute hottie playing the leads, but Lord's McGarrett is gonna be a hard act to follow.


Brad said...

And yet one more reason I don't watch television anymore.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

For once, Steve, I'm going to go on record saying you are wrong about something: the new Hawaii 5-0.

No no - not about the flippancy or youth of it's actors, nor the (probably) shallow writing style that's so prevalent nowadays, but your assessment of Jack Lord.

He is most certainly NOT a tough act to follow; He's fucking IMPOSSIBLE. Jack Lord was in a class by himself, and the supporting cast alone could have started half a dozen spin-offs. You got the feeling that, should McGarret die, any one of them could have taken over the squad, and honestly, Danno did a hell of a lot more than just "Book 'Em".

There are some things you just shouldn't touch in Hollywood (or make a sequel to); Casablanca, Citizen Kane, and as you pointed out...The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Lord a'mighty, I bet the next thing we see will be something like "Quincy 2010".

Anonymous said...

November 1970 and December 1971. Hume Cronin as Avery Filer, 50-something master thief. Best episodes ever.

Jay said...

No, Bobbe, it will be a new CHiPs with Michael Dorn as the Chief. Bunch of rookies that run around pointing their guns at perps, all with fingers practically pulling the trigger.

I may have to search around for the originals (of 5-O) online - loved that show!

Steve Perry said...

Watched it. It's not bad, as long as you don't make the comparison to the old show.