The best and worst TV shows set in Hawaii
Universal

The best and worst TV shows set in Hawaii

Hawaii may be a state, but it still feels like a whole different world to many people. Perhaps that’s because it’s a collection of islands many miles from the mainland. Most of us only visit it on vacation…or on television. Many TV shows have been set in Hawaii, some good, and some not so good. Here is a selection of the shows residing in the 50th state.

 
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“Hawaii Five-0”

“Hawaii Five-0”
CBS

With an iconic theme song and the famed catchphrase “Book ‘em, Danno!,” “Hawaii Five-0” was one of the big procedurals of its time. The show ran for a whopping 272 episodes from 1968 through 1980. A lot of television changed while McGarrett, Danno, and Chin Ho were out there trying to solve crimes, but “Hawaii Five-0” stuck it out through them all.

 
2 of 20

“Hawaii Five-0”

“Hawaii Five-0”
CBS

No, we aren’t repeating ourselves. In 2010, CBS decided to reboot “Hawaii Five-0” for a new generation. Of course, they kept that great theme song. While it feels like this show wasn’t as impactful as the original, it was still immensely successful. Would you believe that it ran for 10 seasons and 240 episodes, only ending in 2020? It’s true.

 
3 of 20

“Magnum, P.I.”

“Magnum, P.I.”
CBS

Famously, Tom Selleck could not play Indiana Jones because he was under contract to star in “Magnum, P.I.” Fortunately for him, it was still a huge hit, if not an Indiana Jones-level hit. Selleck plays Thomas Magnum, a private eye in Hawaii who bums around his buddy’s mansion and drives a fancy car. When the show began, Magnum was kind of like an American James Bond. However, Selleck wanted him to be more of a Jim Rockford-style character, which worked really well.

 
4 of 20

“Magnum, P.I.”

“Magnum, P.I.”
CBS

Another double dose! Like with “Hawaii Five-0,” CBS decided to bring back “Magnum, P.I.” This version is slightly different, as Jay Hernandez, who is Mexican-American, plays Magnum, and Higgins is now a woman. Hey, as long as Magnum wears a baseball cap it’s all good with us.

 
5 of 20

“Baywatch Hawaii”

“Baywatch Hawaii”
NBC

For the first decade of its life, “Baywatch” was set in Los Angeles. Then, they decided to move the action to Hawaii for budget concerns. Much of the cast left when the show moved. Not David Hasselhoff, though. The ‘Hoff never gives up.

 
6 of 20

“One West Waikiki”

“One West Waikiki”
CBS

Man, CBS loved to set shows in Hawaii. “One West Waikiki” starred Cheryl Ladd as a medical examiner who moves from LA to Hawaii, not unlike a certain Hasselhoff. This show about a lady and a guy who can’t see eye to eye but have to work together was not exactly a winner, though, and it only ran 19 episodes over two seasons.

 
7 of 20

“The Byrds of Paradise”

“The Byrds of Paradise”
ABC

See, their last name is Byrd and they live in Hawaii, which some consider a paradise. The show is about a Connecticut family who moves to Hawaii after the death of the matriarch of the family. Steven Bochco – an extremely successful TV producer – was the executive producer on this show. It was one of his rare flops, though, as it only ran 13 episodes.

 
8 of 20

“Young Rock”

“Young Rock”
ABC

“Young Rock” jumps around time in the life of one Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Sometimes he’s a high school student in Pennsylvania. Other times he’s in college at Miami. When he was a child, though, young Dwayne is in Hawaii.

 
9 of 20

“North Shore”

“North Shore”
FOX

A primetime soap set at a hotel in Hawaii? That could have worked for FOX. Alas, it did not. The show aired during the 2004-2005 TV season but was canceled after that one year. Do you know how the legacy of “North Shore” lives on, though? The bartender at the hotel was played by some guy named Jason Momoa.

 
10 of 20

“Jake and the Fatman”

“Jake and the Fatman”
CBS

The titular “Fatman” is a guy from Hawaii who moves to Los Angeles to become the district attorney. Then, “Magnum P.I.” ended its run. CBS – those Hawaii-obsessed folks – then decided to send J.L. McCabe back to Hawaii alongside Jake Styles. They were there for the second, third, and part of the fourth season. Then, they returned to LA for the rest of the show’s run.

 
11 of 20

“Lilo & Stitch: The Series”

“Lilo & Stitch: The Series”
Disney

With Disney properties, you kind of have to be the right age for something to hit you. Perhaps “Lilo & Stitch” was that for you. If you dug the movie about a little Hawaiian girl and a maniacal alien, perhaps you decided to check out the show. It had enough fans to run for 65 episodes, and we know a lot of people are big on “Lilo & Stitch.”

 
12 of 20

“Big Wave Dave’s”

“Big Wave Dave’s”
CBS

“Big Wave Dave’s” totally wiped out. Three friends decide to uproot their lives and move to Hawaii to run a surf shop. It ran all of six episodes. On the other hand, the mom from “Malcolm in the Middle” and the dad from “That ‘70s Show” were both on it.

 
13 of 20

“Beyond the Break”

“Beyond the Break”
Nickelodeon

Do you remember when Nickelodeon had its teen network The N? If you do, you may remember “Beyond the Break.” It was a show focused on girls, as it was about four girls who are surfers. After two seasons, it seemed like The N might be done with the show, but then the third season of 14 episodes aired in 2009 to finish off the show’s run.

 
14 of 20

“From Here to Eternity”

“From Here to Eternity”
NBC

No, not the Oscar-winning movie. We’re talking about the 1980 TV series that is technically a spinoff of the 1979 miniseries adaptation of the story, not the 1953 film. In spite of how popular the movie was, the TV show only lasted one season.

 
15 of 20

“The White Lotus”

“The White Lotus”
HBO

Mike White can be polarizing. For proof of that, look at the reception to “Enlightened.” If you are on his wavelength, though, White tends to make people quite happy. The six-episode first season of the satire was set at a resort in Hawaii. It was so successful it is coming back for a second season, though as an anthology series there will be a new cast.

 
16 of 20

“Hawaiian Eye”

“Hawaiian Eye”
ABC

Before there was Thomas Magnum, there was Thomas Lopaka. He was also a private eye in Hawaii in this show created by Roy Huggins. Huggins must have had a knack for private eye stories. Not only did “Hawaiian Eye” run for 134 episodes, but he then went on to create “The Rockford Files.”

 
17 of 20

“Real World: Hawaii”

“Real World: Hawaii”
MTV

We’re heading into the world of reality television with the show that is explicitly about what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. This season was a pretty wild one, remembered best for the antics of Ruthie and Teck, the latter of whom became an MTV mainstay for a bit.

 
18 of 20

“Dog the Bounty Hunter”

“Dog the Bounty Hunter”
A&E

One more reality show for the road. Remember that brief, fleeting moment when Duane “Dog” Chapman was a known cultural figure? It seemed like most people were more morbidly curious than actually interested, but “Dog the Bounty Hunter” definitely had its moment, and Dog did the bulk of his bounty hunting in Hawaii.

 
19 of 20

“Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.”

“Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.”
Disney

We’re going back to scripted because there are a couple of new shows set in Hawaii we want to highlight. The first of those is “Doogie Kamealoha.” Yes, the show is a reboot of “Doogie Howser,” but they have changed things around a bit. Not just because the show is about a girl in Hawaii. The Disney+ show takes place in a world where “Doogie Howser, M.D.” exists, so Lahela is called “Doogie” as a joke. That’s how they are getting away with making this a reboot that isn’t entirely a reboot.

 
20 of 20

“NCIS: Hawaii”

“NCIS: Hawaii”
CBS

Once again, CBS returned to the Aloha State. They can’t get enough of “NCIS,” and they can’t get enough of Hawaii. The procedural franchise has been immensely popular for the network. Another branch to that tree was inevitable, and this time they decided to go to Hawaii for the scenery and a change of pace. We’re sure it will run for 500 episodes.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.

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