Redheads Who Never Learned To Swim

In my last post I introduced the idea of starting The Pilot Project, where I would watch a pilot of a show on Netflix and detail my thoughts and reactions. My intention is not to review the episode and rate it from a scale of green unidentified splatter to a fresh tomato. Just consider it as a journalistic nonfiction writing prompt.

Earlier this evening, I decided to start of the project by checking out one of the classic American procedural dramas, Hawaii Five-O. Netflix told me this series started in 1968, which elicited a groan out of me. Right off the bat, I had a feeling this was going to be cheesy. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a movie produced before I was born; but procedurals aren’t exactly noteworthy for aging gracefully.

Mr. Hennessy after a rough night.

Mr. Hennessy having trouble with a sausage stuffer.

Episode one titled Cocoon: Part 1 signifies the problems I may encounter as I take on this project. Watching only the pilot and forming an opinion isn’t really fair when the first episode is lacking any closure. Needless to say, I carried on and told myself I wouldn’t have to subject myself to Part 2 if I wasn’t into it. The episode opens up with some weird SCUBA experiment at some top-secret testing facility. Some guy with a pipe tells Wo Fat to get on with it. And Wo Fat does as told. He and the crew carry the mystery SCUBA guy, who we learn is called Mr. Hennessy (who probably was on the receiving end of insensitive jokes about his alcoholism), out of the pool and begin to check under the gas mask on his face. Ominous music plays and [spoiler alert] we see that Mr. Hennessy has dried-up toothpaste all over his eyes.

Cue the best part of Hawaii Five-O. Ah, the fun and iconic theme song! We learn that the main character is played by a pivoting Jack Lord. David Caruso may have trademarked the sunglasses move with the ridiculous one-liner, but I think the quick-reaction pivot is a Jack Lord thing. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Anyway, so we see the rest of the cast, which is only three other men (but hey, two of them are POC! – way to go, 1968!)

We learn that McGarrett (Jack Lord) knows Mr. Hennessy from AA (no he doesn’t but let’s roll with it). The cop on scene thinks that the now-deceased Mr. Hennessy was out for a swim but McG quickly shuts down that theory. “Wrong. Hennessy couldn’t swim.” And why couldn’t he swim? Well, McG lays it out for us. “Hennessy was quite a guy. He hated this island paradise he was assigned to. One of those redheads who got sunburned walking to the grocery store. That’s why he never learned to swim.” 

Excellent deduction skills, detective exposition. Now that McG is aware that something fishy is going on, he asks his staff to help him out on the investigation. He learns that it wasn’t Crest on Hennessy’s face, but Gutta-percha, something used for teeth fillings so I wasn’t too far off. He decodes burnt strips of paper using a projector screen, that I’ve seen used as recently as 2007. Apparently Hawaii Five-0 had some swanky tech sponsors in their time. One of McG’s subordinate detectives finds this mysterious Quong girl, but he doesn’t take her to the girl until McG promises to trade his orange juice and sandwich. Priorities, man.

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I’d rather pour some old buttermilk on my hot ulcer, too, Mr. Second Banana.

McG meets Quong girl and there’s a little flirtation going on between them. Some more action happens, but things get interesting when McG finds the time to go on a date with Quong girl, who swears she was only Mr. Hennessy’s good friend. McG doesn’t care; Hennessy’s dead so who cares about their dating history? She dances all groovy but throws in some subtle hula moves to remind you that this show is set in Hawaii. McG asks her why’d she become a hippie and Quong girl replies, “because I care.” Apparently the same answer applies to McG’s chosen profession of law enforcement. I wonder if cops in Ferguson will give you the same answer.

McG goes undercover working maintenance at a ship. We get a good glimpse of McG being all sweaty and sexy, just to remind us that he’s not just a pretty face solving crime; he’s also a rugged relatable blue collar Joe if the situation calls for it. Using his undercover skills, Detective McG explores the ship to find [dun dun dun] the not-so-top-secret testing facility. We won’t know what happens next or who killed Mr. Hennessy (don’t drink and SCUBA) until we watch Part 2.

But honestly, I have no interest in Part 2 so I’ll go on living thinking McG died because of dental work gone wrong. Hawaii Five-O was before the time of DNA and all the cool, dope stuff that have come out of forensics. That explains why McG collected evidence with a handkerchief and proceeded to stuff evidence into his jacket pocket, or why “intelligence” handled a potential murder weapon with bare hands. My instinctive reaction was to yell out “nooo, you bloody idiot, you’re compromising evidence!” And I can’t have that. I need new technology – the kind that can zoom in and turn megapixels into ultrapixels and turn those into googlapixels so you can read a license plate from a dash cam 500 kilometres away from the suspect’s vehicle. It’s either that or bust, McG.

For it’s time though, I can see why it was popular and why there was a 2010 remake with a clever zero instead of the letter O. But it didn’t hold my interest enough to even care about what happened to Mr. Hennessy or why he thought it was a good idea to get dental work on his eyes. No, Mr. Hennessy, go home to Quong girl. Your buddy, McG, is about to steal your girl.

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