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Friday, July 12, 2013

Sitcoms - Hawaiian Style

This is a post about the fiftieth state to join the United States of America, as well as its influence on pop culture - particularly in the world of television.

Of course, I'm talking about the state of Hawaii.

Hawaii joined the United States on August 21, 1959, becoming the last state to join the union.  And, when I think of the state of Hawaii, I think of a lot of things.  I think of palm trees scattered all over the place.  I think of sitting on a deck chair on one of Hawaii's many beautiful beaches sipping on a cocktail.  I think of watching the waves crashing along the shore as surfers try to stay balanced in order to 'hang ten' the best they can.  I think of the unique plant and animal life that resides in Hawaii.  I think of pineapples, coconuts, hula girls, grass skirts, leis made out of flowers, and of course, those button-up, short-sleeved shirts with various patterns of bright, garish colours.  

Is it a stereotypical view of the Hawaiian islands?  Perhaps.  But, it's really all that I have to go on.

You see, I've never been to Hawaii in my entire life.  I would absolutely love to go down there someday, just to get a glimpse of all of the things that Hawaii has to offer.  It really does look like it is one of America's most beautiful states, and I definitely want to make it a mission to travel down there at some point in my life.  Whether I fly down there for a few days, or whether I decide to go on a cruise ship that encircles the Hawaiian islands, I would absolutely jump at the opportunity to enjoy the sights and scenes of Hawaii.

(Hmmm...maybe I should add that to my bucket list.  Must see Hawaii.)

I suppose that part of the reason why I have had such a desire to visit Hawaii is because of the various television shows that I have seen that have featured Hawaii.  

Any time I happen to turn on an episode of the new version of "Hawaii: Five-Oh", starring Alex O'Laughlin and Scott Caan, I am just in awe of the scenery that is featured in almost every external scene.  Mind you, that image is frequently shattered whenever someone gets killed off on that show, or whenever they get arrested.  But, still, in scenes in which none of those things happen, it's all good.

And, of course, "Hawaii Five-Oh" is not the only television series to film entirely in the state of Hawaii.  The original series of "Hawaii Five-Oh" (1968-1980) also filmed there.  So did the television series "Lost".  "Magnum P.I." also filmed in Hawaii, and so did the last few seasons of "Baywatch".  So, Hawaii has been a major influence on the world of television, especially within the last ten years or so.

Now, all of the above series that I have talked about in this blog so far have been dramatic or action serials.  What about sitcoms?

As it so happens, I have found several examples of television sitcoms that have filmed at least one episode entirely in Hawaii.  In some cases, the Hawaiian vacation that the sitcom families take part in start off with a huge disaster, but usually have a happy ending.  And sometimes, the trip to Hawaii has no major mishaps aside from the odd case of family squabbling.

So have a seat on the beach.  I'll grab you a coconut shell filled with fresh pineapple juice and a green cocktail umbrella sticking out of the top while I dust off my VHS and DVD collection for a special look back at sitcoms - Hawaiian style!

"Hawaii Bound" - September 22, 1972
"Pass the Tabu" - September 29, 1972
"The Tiki Caves" - October 6, 1972

Here's a story of a lovely lady, who spent the first part of season 3 in Maui!

Okay, so Florence Henderson didn't go to Hawaii alone.  The entire Brady clan (including Alice) flew down to Hawaii for three episodes of fun in the sun.  In this three-part episode, Mike Brady is sent down to Hawaii to check on how a construction project is going, and his firm is generous enough to send the entire family down as well!  The Brady girls seem to enjoy themselves very well.  Marcia and Jan seem to have a great time on Hawaii, while little Cindy is serenaded by legendary Hawaiian icon Don Ho.  The Brady boys on the other hand...well, not so much.  Greg is involved in a really bad surfing accident, Peter nearly gets bitten by a tarantula, and Bobby almost gets crushed by a wall.  It wouldn't have anything to do with that Tiki statue that Bobby took from the construction site, now would it?  The Tiki statue that supposedly curses its holder with bad luck forever?  Well, when the Greg, Peter, and Bobby find themselves in a world of trouble in the third part of this special Hawaiian themed episode, it's up to the girls to inform Mike and Carol about what is going on before it's too late.

"The Jeffersons Go To Hawaii - Part 1" - November 9, 1980
"The Jeffersons Go To Hawaii - Part 2/3" - November 16, 1980
"The Jeffersons Go To Hawaii - Part 4" - November 23, 1980

Poor George Jefferson.  If medical physicals were graded the same way that spelling tests were graded, he would have gotten a big fat "F"!  Beginning with the second episode of the show's seventh season, George and Louise book a flight to Hawaii in order to eliminate all the stress that could potentially give George a fatal heart attack.  But, as we all well know from watching sitcoms, very rarely does a sitcom vacation turn out the way that anyone planned.  It was bad enough when Florence decides to go to Hawaii with them, but when George and Louise discover that their neighbours Tom and Helen are staying at the same hotel they are, it certainly doesn't equal a nice, relaxing vacation.

Highlights of this four-part episode include George contemplating giving up his deluxe apartment in the sky for an island hut on the beach, George and Tom ending up shipwrecked on an island, and George coming to terms with the fact that a project that he is tied with could spell absolute disaster for the island natives.  It certainly is a Jeffersons episode worth watching, for sure.

"Aloha - Part 1/2" - September 18, 1987

Have you noticed a recurring theme with the Hawaii episodes?  Almost all of them have aired right around the beginning of a season.  And, "Growing Pains" is certainly no exception.  This was the third season premiere, and in it, we see the entire Seaver family taking a vacation to Hawaii.  But of course, every member of the Seaver family has their own problems once they arrive.  Maggie is preoccupied with work, and Jason struggles to get her to relax.  And, Mike meets an attractive Hawaiian tour guide named Melia whom he is absolutely smitten with.  But when Mike discovers that Melia has a daughter, will Mike's feelings absolutely change?

"Tanner Island" - September 22, 1989

Okay, maybe there's some prerequisite about every sitcom's third season premiere being set in Hawaii.  This episode was the third season premiere of "Full House", and the entire Tanner family fly down to Hawaii where their main goal is to enjoy themselves.

It's just too bad that Danny's clipboard of fun is causing more anger within the family than anything.  Joey falls in love with a Hawaiian girl, but for whatever reason things prevent him from even saying so much as "hello" to her.  Fairly new couple Jesse and Becky see Hawaii as the one place in the world where they can truly have a romantic time, but once they arrive on the Hawaiian islands, they do nothing but bicker.  And when the family accidentally gets stranded on what they think is a deserted island, can D.J., Stephanie, and Michelle work together to try and smooth out the adults problems so they can find a way back home to San Francisco?

"Saved By The Bell: Hawaiian Style" - November 27, 1992

I am sort of cheating in a way, because this actually aired as a two-hour television movie.  But on syndication packages, this movie has been divided into four half-hour episodes.  Either way, the one thing you might notice is that this movie seems to have research all of the sitcom episodes that were shot in Hawaii of the past and combined them into one huge movie.

Zack ends up falling in love with a girl named Andrea (Rena Sofer), who in turn has a daughter named Jennifer.  Kelly's grandfather (Dean Jones) owns the "Hawaiian Hideaway", which is in the path of a greedy land developer's plan to expand his luxury resort.  The entire gang decides to work at the Hawaiian Hideaway while luring guests out of the luxury hotel so that Kelly's grandfather can stay in business...which includes hijacking Mr. Belding's tour group in the process.  In the end, the Bayside kids, Mr. Belding, Kelly's grandfather, and Andrea team up to fight against the land developers who want to knock down the Hideaway.

NOTE:  This movie marks the final appearances for Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley, who left the series shortly after the movie was filmed.  Their roles were replaced by Leanna Creel for the original series' last season.

"Aloha - Part 1" - February 19, 1993
"Aloha - Part 2" - February 26, 1993

February Sweeps are a good time to have very special episodes of sitcoms, and "Step by Step" decided to celebrate their second season's February Sweeps by planning a trip to Hawaii.

In many ways "Step by Step" has its similarities to "The Brady Bunch" in that both shows feature a blended family.  But whereas the Brady Bunch all got along with each other, the Lambert-Foster crew were still very much a disjointed family unit during the show's second year on air - which of course lead to much of this two-part episode's humour.

Anyway, there are no cursed Tiki idols.  But there is a marriage proposal as then seventeen year old Dana finds herself falling head over heels in love with someone she had just met who automatically decides that Dana is the one for him.  After giving Dana a huge diamond ring, she is ready to give it all up for a man...but will her mother stand in her way?  It's a battle of the ages as Dana and Carol have it out, with Dana wasting no time in pointing out her own mother's hypocrisy.

In other happenings, J.T. and Cody get involved in a treasure hunt, and Mark, Brendan, and Al enter a sand castle building competition.  Riveting stuff, no?

So, those are just a few of the sitcom episodes that not only took place in Hawaii, but also inspired my desire to visit Hawaii.

One of these days, it'll happen...hopefully.

1 comment:

  1. I Dream Of Jeanie did a couple episodes in Hawaii, too - guest starring Don Ho and King Kameamea himself!