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Hawaii Five-O

Brian Faucette

Television Studies, Cultural Studies

TV Milestones Series

Published: February 2022
ISBN: 9780814344323
Pages: 552 Size: 5 x 7
Illustrations: 26 b&w illus.
Published: February 2022
ISBN: 9780814344330

Hawaii Five-O, created by Leonard Freeman in 1968, is an American police procedural drama series that was produced by CBS Productions and aired for twelve seasons. Author Brian Faucette discusses the show’s importance by looking at how it framed questions around the security and economy of the Hawaiian Islands in connection with law enforcement, the diversity of its population, the presence of the US military, and the influx of tourists.

Faucette begins by discussing how the show both conformed to and adapted within the TV landscape of the late 1960s and how those changes helped to make it the longest-running cop show in American TV history until it was surpassed by Law and Order. Faucette argues that it was Freeman’s commitment to filming on location in Hawaii that ensured the show would tackle issues pertinent to the islands and reflect the diversity of its people, culture, and experiences, while helping to establish a viable film and TV industry in Hawaii, which is still in use today. Faucette explains how a dedication to placing the show in political and social context of the late 1960s and 1970s (i.e., questions around policing, Nixon’s call for "law and order," the US military’s investment and involvement in the Vietnam War, issues of racial equality) rooted it in reality and sparked conversation around these issues. Another key element of the show’s success is its connection to issues of tourism and the idea that TV can create a form of "tourism" from the safety of the home. Faucette concludes with discussion of how Hawaii Five-O led to the development of other shows, as well as attempts to reboot the show in the 1990s and in 2010.

Faucette makes a strong argument for the series as a distinctive artifact of a time in US history that witnessed profound changes in culture, politics, and economics, one that will excite not only scholars and students of television and media studies but any die-hard fan of gripping police procedurals.

Brian Faucette teaches film and English composition courses at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute. He is the co-author of Cop Shows: A Critical History of Police Dramas.

Faucette’s volume on Hawaii Five-O makes a significant contribution to the study of American TV police dramas in the 1960s and 1970s. Faucette argues that by producing the series in Hawaii, the show addresses crime and policing, the U.S military presence and national security, racial equality, native heritage, and the tourist economy all critical to the state and nation.

– David P. Pierson, professor of media studies at the University of Southern Maine at Portland, and author of The Fugitive (Wayne State University Press, 2011)

In this excellent account of one of U.S. television’s most important but often overlooked police dramas, Brian Faucette offers a clear and compelling examination of the ways in which changing industry structures and the politics of the late ’60s and ’70s came together to shape a series that emerges here in all its fascinating complexity.

– Jonathan Nichols-Pethick, professor of media studies at DePauw University, author of TV Cops: The Contemporary American Television Police Drama

Brian Faucette’s book compellingly demonstrates Hawaii Five-O’s status as a ‘cultural touchstone’ of US culture. Teasing out the complexities of the series’ famed location setting, Faucette explores how Hawaii Five-O serves as a
striking example of ‘tourism TV.’ Through an engaging analysis of its individual episodes and themes (including law & order, war, ethnicity, and tourism), the book illustrates how Hawaii Five-O tackled a range of social issues of its day. At the same time, it carefully locates its place within the television industry—and within television history —and is a timely and important reminder of this early cop show’s continued influence on both action and crime
TV .

– Tayna Horeck, Associate Professor in Film & Media at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK

Faucette’s book offers a number of advantages for different kinds of readers. The book is not freighted with theory. There are chapters on four main themes: law and just- ice, the Vietnam War, race, and tourism. Each chapter has good detail about a few epi- sodes that illuminate how the theme is covered in other episodes of the show. For the reader who wants some reminders of how the original show was, the book is quite help- ful in this regard. For the reader who intends to go back and review the series, or view for the first time, the book feels a bit like a traveler’s phrase book. Take it with you when you start your journey. For scholars, the book is a mini-reference. It would go well with Faucette’s edited book on police shows1 and owners of this volume will likely want to check out the many others in the fine Wayne State series.

– James Shanahan, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television