Idol Chatter

Watching TV these days is sort of like a travelogue in prime time as the slick and trendy shots of Boston, Miami, Las Vegas, and New York are beamed into the homes of over-cubicled and under-vacationed Americans each night. These are the shows that we actually want to be in for those few seconds after each commercial for the cool overhead shots of the cityscapes, waterfronts, and skylines. My office may not have all of the filtered lights of the colorful CSI lab and our employees may not be able to afford their wardrobes, but it sure is beautiful to watch.

One of the reasons we gravitate to these shows is because of two deeply authentic parts in most of our internal wiring. First, as spiritual people we long for adventure and travel and recognize that most of the biblical heroes–from Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Joseph all the way through to Paul and John–frequently experienced growth and discovery through adventure and travel. I love The Message’s translation of Corinthians 1:7, which describes the religious quest as a “spiritual adventure”–it sounds way more fun than Sunday School.

Second, as the humans we long for safety and security, which is a primary reason that television is such a staple in almost every American’s life. We can vicariously experience the adventures and relate to the characters without having to live with the conflict, stress, or pain of the plot.

Today we’ll all get a chance to rediscover–and maybe even share with our kids–the mother (or is it father?) of all travelogue dramas. Yes, back before there was NYPD Blue, Chicago Hope, L.A. Law, and even Miami Vice, there was … (drumroll please): Hawaii Five-O.

Before the days of cable and before Orbitz and Expedia, there were countless of millions of Americans whose only chance at a trip to Hawaii was their weekly dose of Steve McGarrett, his sidekick Danny Williams (“book ’em, Dan-oh”), and the rest of his island team that battled injustice across the islands. A frequent recurring opponent and nemesis of McGarret was the crafty and malevolent Wo-Fat, played by Khigh Diegh (of “The Manchurian Candidate”) fame.

I hope the re-mastered DVDs can visually hold up against today’s TV, because the Five-O franchise deserves it. Each show opened with the legendary theme music and dramatic waves and then moved through island customs and multi-island locales as frequent guest stars (Leslie Nielson, Ricardo Montalban, Hume Cronyn and others) appeared as guest villains or old friends of McGarrett. That touches on another spiritual theme: the hero who stands against all to protect his people … but that’s for another blog.

For now, I’m curious to see how a 27-year-old show does in this age of instant nostalgia. Five-O is an authentic throwback to the pre-cable age from 1968-1980, when McGarrett’s crew dominated a higher percentage of homes than all of today’s CSI’s combined.

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