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The Five-0 factor
September 7, 2011 - Rick Chatenever
Ah, autumn. Football is back on TV with the comforting sounds of a stadium full of college students roaring in the background as you go about your Saturday household chores.
With the crisp blue fall skies, the changing colors of the leaves, the approach of the holidays and the all-around coziness of the season, college football triggers any number of proud, sometimes funny and eccentric cultural traditions across the U.S.
For me, the best parts of college football season in the islands is that it’s also women’s volleyball season. How many other states broadcast their women’s volleyball home games live statewide? Not many.
How many can match the sight of those thousands of fans’ faces in the stands? It’s a happy, heartwarming collection of all ages and as many ethnicities as can be found in this rainbow-colored culture. Where else can you find something like that? Beats me.
One of the best things about Rainbow Wahine Volleyball is that it’s still there for free on basic cable. It’s still humble and democratic; it hasn’t moved uptown to pay-per-view. But even before Oceanic Time Warner put its logo on the games with all the latest high-def bells and whistles, Rainbow Wahine Volleyball felt made for TV.
From the way the court fills the screen to the speed and rhythm of the game, there’s a fluid grace missing in the start-and-stop gladiatorial contest of football.
The tall young women playing volleyball mask their strength, stamina and conditioning with choreographic elegance. Throw in all those close-ups of their faces— the poise that needs to be there in the most stressful of situations — along with the contributions of the TV cameras (and the people operating them and the director calling the shots in the control room) and you’re beyond mere sport, into another realm altogether.
Hawaii has always been a culture and society that respects strong women. The Rainbow Wahine are just carrying on the tradition.
The team’s new Oceanic Time Warner home came with a whole new package this season. Wisely, the OCS sports bosses kept the great Jim Leahey as the team’s main play-by-play voice … but in these high-def times, they limited his face time.
The other thing new is the “Hawaii Five-0” factor, from the glossy montage of images that open the broadcast to the UH band’s go-to song at key moments in the evening.
The last time we checked in on “Hawaii Five-0,” faithful readers will remember, we were not so impressed. Although the theme song is just as potent now as it was the first time the iconic show hit the airwaves in 1968, “Beverly Hills in aloha shirts” was the bottom line of my review of this new version.
To which lots of you chimed with, “Yeah, right!”
But that was May 2010, when the “Hawaii Five-0” reboot was still an unknown quantity … as opposed to now, when it is an action-packed anchor of the CBS schedule, launching a new season in a few weeks on Sept. 19.
Although I haven’t been keeping up with it in its Monday night slot, one of the wonders of these digital times is that you can catch up online. So I checked out the show over the weekend to see if it had changed … or, as we’re fond of observing, it had been changed by being here.
And the answer is, sort of … For some reason, its quick-tempo montages of helicopter shots of skyscrapers and Camaro chases through the streets of Honolulu went down a little easier now, thinking about how much money it’s pumping into the state economy.
And the local temptation to notice just how wrong those folks from L.A. were getting it had abated as well. In fact, the temptation to judge film productions shooting on location in your place has a lot to do with whether the producers make you —as opposed to your next-door neighbor —an extra. Hearing that “Hawaii Five-0” recently filmed on Lanai added to the growing sense of ownership of the series.
Granted, it’s not a lot smarter than it was at the start. And its efforts to talk local or prove how in the know it is usually backfire.
Even though it’s Oahu-centric, and even though it’s basically in the business of pumping mai-tai fantasies of this place back to the Mainland, it was showing signs that it was letting the real Hawaii have its effect on everyone involved with the production.
Still, I had to applaud news that Rainbow Wahine coach Dave Shoji had turned down a chance to appear on the show as —what else? — a college volleyball coach. He obviously knows better than to get sucked into the parallel universe of “Hawaii Five-0.” Especially since he’s already working with the most beautiful women on TV. • Contact Rick Chatenever at email@example.com.
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