By Wayne Harada
A few days back, I mentioned in this blog that perhaps CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0” might consider some real-life episodes as a jumping point for future plots. The elements would logically be fictionalized, to suit the story line and provide a shield of protection of individuals, but have some links to actual events.
“Mad Man’s” opening scene, in the AMC show’s new season, had its roots in an actual New York Times article.
If you’re a fan of the ’60s-motif show but not a New Yorker or reader of the Times, you probably didn’t get it — but enough folks did. In New York, of course.
“On ‘Mad Men,’ an Opening Scene Straight From Page 1,” read the headline of
Michael Wilson’s blog this week on the Times website, recounting the TV scene, circa 1966, when employees of Young and Rubicam in a high-rise dropped water-filled bags on civil rights and anti-poverty protesters.
“And you call us savages,” one woman protester says on the cable show — a line actually delivered, and originally reported, in the Times.
Sign of the times? Art reflecting life? Artistic plagiarism?
Researchers for the “Mad Man” script scoped the archives of Times front pages, and discovered the article and flagged it to the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, who loved the factual incident and decided to go with it, with a new wrinkle: the writers retained the Young and Rubicam reference, which had the historical peg, instead of rewriting it to make the gang at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, the fictional firm in “Mad Man,” to drop the water balloons.
Curiously, the reporter who wrote the original story, had no memory of the past events.
The point here: Sometimes, history does provide a foundation for a fictional TV show.
Likewise, “Hawaii Five-0” could benefit with scripts that may be as current as the recent vandalism/theft of birds at Honolulu, or a decades-old cold case like the disappearance of a dance student en route to a studio in Aiea not seen since.
I provided some ideas — perhaps with tongue in cheek — that may have been weird but certainly with elements of truth with storyline potential.