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DVD Review: Hawaii Five-O – The Fifth Season

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OK, everybody can relax now: Jack Lord is back on DVD in Hawaii Five-O – The Complete Fifth Season. Phew, it had only been five months since the last Five-O release but man, was I having some serious withdrawal symptoms. Hell, even my children were thrilled when they saw the Season Five box set (yes, parents, it’s suitable enough for kids).

Now then, sometime during or after Season Four, a major change in casting occurred: actor Zulu (who co-starred as Detective Kono Kalakaua) was “let go” after an altercation with the series’ publicist in which a racial slur allegedly occurred. Jack Lord, who was one of the driving forces behind the series, wasn’t about to let this sort of thing threaten to shut his baby down, and so, in Zulu’s place stepped Al Harrington (who had appeared in several episodes of the previous four seasons as different characters) as Detective Ben Kokua. James MacArthur (Det. Danny "Danno" Williams) , Kam Fong (Det. Chin Ho Kelly) , and Harry Endo (as the forensics lab maestro Che Fong), however, were still on Jack Lord’s good side and returned for another fun season…this time crossing paths and sharing scenes with guest stars Ricardo Montalban, William Shatner, Keenan Wynn, Dirk Benedict, Harold Gould, Andy Griffith, Patty Duke, Richard Basehart, and more.

DISC ONE:
Episode 5.1: “Death Is A Company Policy”
Directed by Charles S. Dubin

A balding Michael Ansara plays the murderous mob boss who sets up HPD officer Duke Lukela (series semi-regular Herman Wedemeyer) as his patsy when the feds get too close to his operations. Glenn Cannon (another series semi-regular) returns as D.A. Manicote and Richard Denning makes an appearance (again) as the Governor.

Luigi’s Useless Information: Hey, here’s a dumb (but fun) game Star Trek fans can play: Spot the Trek Actors in Five-O! Actors that played major characters (Kirk, Picard, etc.) are worth 10 points, actors that played minor characters (Yeoman Rand or Doctor Pulaski, et al) are 5 points, and guest stars (a limited amount of appearances throughout the entire filmed Trek universe) are 1 point each. No doubling up points for actors that played both major or minor characters in one series and guest starred in another. You should have 1 point so far.

Episode 5.2: “Death Wish On Tantalus Mountain”
Directed by Allen Reisner

Ricardo Montalban plays a real arrogant race car driver in Hawaii to set the bar for best time speeding up Tantalus Mountain. Diana Muldaur plays Montalban’s wife. Both Harry Endo and Al Eben make their first appearances as Che Fong and Doc Bergman (respectively) in this season

Luigi’s Useless Information: Khan only counts as a minor character (sorry, but I made the rules, so I can do that). You should be up to 11 points now.

Episode 5.3: “You Don’t Have To Kill To Get Rich, But It Helps”
Directed by Alf Kjellin

What? I get Jack Lord and William Shatner? Together? Actually, the two legends only have one scene together (during the finale) in this episode involving blackmail. Shatner plays the hired-hand of a blackmailed businessman who attempts to find out who the brains behind the whole scheme are.

Luigi’s Useless Information: Shatner once again proves why is he’s The Shat in one scene: he gets to pick up two hot chicks! (21 points so far)

Episode 5.4: “Pig In A Blanket”
Directed by Marvin Chomsky

Poor Danno… if they’re not killing off his fiancée, they’re killing off his best friends, too. After winning a bowling match with Danno, HPD officer Chinough Olena (Frank Atienza) is gunned down by a hopped-up thug. This pushes Danno over the edge of sensibility, to which he accidentally shoots an unarmed teenager (way to go, Danno…you’ll be booking yourself if you keep this up!). John Rubinstein and Louise Latham guest star.

Luigi’s Useless Information: Wait, Danno bowls?

DISC TWO:

Episode 5.5: “The Jinn Who Clears The Way”
Directed by Harry Falk

WO FAT RETURNS! This time, the Red Chinese menace (played once again by Khigh Dhiegh) arranges the theft of a top secret U.S. missile guidance device, murders Chin’s cousin, and convinces Chin’s other cousin (Soon-Tek Oh, in one of several different Five-O appearances) to do his bidding.

Luigi’s Useless Information: Joseph Sirola returns as Jonathan Kaye for one last time — Bill Edwards would be the next actor to take the part (starting with the next episode) and would appear irregularly throughout the series over the next five seasons.

Episode 5.6: “Fools Die Twice”
Directed by Michael O’Herlihy

After arranging a big decoy heist, slimeball ex-Army guy Jack Gulley (Clu Gulager) holds government scientist Dr. Frank Clapton (Albert Harris) captive, with the intent on selling him to another country for a whole lotta moolah. McGarrett only has so much time to find out who the kidnapper is and where he’s hiding. Michael Conrad plays a seemingly-indestructible villain. Bill Edwards (as government bigwig Jonathan Kaye) literally phones in his performance here.

Luigi’s Useless Information: I have to admire Gulley’s ingenuity…not only does he arrange the perfect decoy heist (the likes of which could easily fit in a Batman story), but he has somehow figure out how to change the pitch of his voice by using a plastic comb folded in a piece of paper.

Episode 5.7: “Chain Of Events”
Directed by Ron Winstone

Venereal Disease has hit the Big Island in a Big Way, working its way up from naïve college kids such as Linda (Gaye Nelson) and Walter (Dirk Benedict — yes, the Face-man!) to naïve politician James Trevor Warren (Linden Chiles) and his wife (Judi Meredith). This might not be as bad as one would think, except for the fact that someone is going around killing some of Warren’s STD contacts.

Luigi’s Useless Information: A small role by actor Ray Buktenica takes you up to 22 points (by my calculations).

Episode 5.8: “Journey Out Of Limbo”
Directed by Michael O’Herlihy

Danno’s unconscious body plops out of a construction truck-bed filled with dirt. With no memory of what happened to him, Danno attempts to put the pieces back together (giving the editor a chance to hone in on his flashback montage skills, complete with early electronic music). Meanwhile, McGarrett and crew are assigned to protect the visiting Chinese delegate (Philip Ahn) who is in town to see businessman Norton Hummel (Keenan Wynn).

Luigi’s Useless Information: At one point, Jack Lord and James MacArthur discuss what it’s like waking up with absolutely no knowledge of where you are. Sadly, Lord suffered from Alzheimer’s in his final years. Look briefly as Danno and his bodyguard are driving around for a movie marquee announcing the double feature of Frogs and The Conqueror Worm (my kind of place!).

DISC THREE:

Episodes 5.9, 5.10 & 5.11: “V For Vashon: The Son”, “V For Vashon: The Father”, & “V For Vashon: The Patriarch”
Directed by Charles S. Dubin

A three-parter finds the whole Five-O crew up to their knees in alligators with mobsters who want McGarrett swimming with the fishes. The whole mess beings with Chris Vashon (Robert Drivas), the youngest of the Vashon family, robbing hotels just to spite his old man, Honore Vashon (Harold Gould, the other Hal Linden), who has turned soft and given up the mobster lifestyle that his old man, Dominick Vashon (Luther Adler), started on the island way back when. At first, McGarrett is just something of a nuisance to the family, but when young spoiled punk is fatally shot by the Five-O chief, the Vashon father declares war, beginning with a car bomb in Steve’s trusty Mercury (that, or somebody finally had enough of McGarrett’s bad driving!).

Luigi’s Useless Information: Whoa-ho, check out McGarrett’s pimping threads in the third part! The second and third episodes of this three-parter are the only times during the Fifth Season that we see series semi-regular Peggy Ryan as McGarrett’s secretary Jenny onscreen — her character’s voice is heard once or twice in several other episodes, though (although it could have been another actress providing the voice).

Episode 5.12: “The Clock Struck Twelve”
Directed by Ron Winston

McGarrett and Manicote have captured seven bruddahs that are part of a recent wave of bombings and threats against a hippie commune (and rightfully so, the bloody long-haired bastards!). While awaiting a trial, Steve is forced to go on the hunt for a violent islander (Manu Tupou) who is planning on blowing up the courthouse.

Luigi’s Useless Information: Tupou’s cohort is played by Patrick Adiarte, a very talented dancer/singer who appeared in several musicals including the filmed adaptations of Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals The King And I (1956) and Flower Drum Song.

DISC FOUR:

Episode 5.13: “I‘m A Family Crook — Don’t Shoot!”
Directed by Bob Sweeney

Andy Griffith and Joyce Van Patten play a the mother and father of a trio of family con-artists who (along with their daughter, played by Kimberly Louis) vacation in Hawaii for fresh faces and new swindles. When they inadvertently target the carrier of a mob boss, they make off with a suitcase full of cash…and several carloads of bad guys from opposing sides of the mob, including Harold “Odd Job” Sakata (from Goldfinger) as a henchman.

Luigi’s Useless Information: The minister who gets conned out of his car by the duplicitous Lovejoy family is played by Grady Sutton, a man who made a career playing country bumpkins in feature-length movies and two-reelers for over sixty years.

Episode 5.14: “The Child Stealers”
Directed by Corey Allen

Before joining previous Five-O guest star Dirk Benedict on the “Battlestar Galactica”, Richard Hatch used to kidnap babies! Hatch and fellow co-star Meg Foster play a pair of kidnappers who sell their victims to the head of an adoption company in L.A. (Richard Anderson, from the original Bionic Woman and Six-Million Dollar Man series).

Luigi’s Useless Information: No, Battlestar Galactica cast members do not count in the Spot the Trek Actors in Five-O game. Nice try anyway, cheater. However, guest star Meg Foster does add another point to our pointless game.

Episode 5.15: “Thanks For The Honeymoon”
Directed by Richard Benedict

Patty Duke proves that there is such thing as a career after child-stardom as a pregnant compulsive liar convict who decides to testify against mobster Lane Bradford (in one of his final roles) but only if she can have a penthouse apartment and be permitted to marry her beloved Larry Kent (who wins the award for Most Exaggerated Death Scene in the entire season). With babysitting time on his hands, McGarrett opts to nuzzle up to an old flame (Carol Lawrence).

Luigi’s Useless Information: Yes, that’s the same Lane Bradford guest starring in this episode that starred as Leonard Nimoy’s Martian ruler in the Republic serial Zombies Of The Stratosphere. No, a connection to Trek by association does not rule in your favor of getting another point. Deal with it.

E7pisode 5.16: “The Listener”
Directed by Richard Benedict

Robert Foxworth (a few years before Falcon Crest) guest stars as a psychiatrist who is tormented and blackmailed by an unseen crackpot (Greg Mullavy) who has cleverly wired his office, home, car, and clothes with 2-way speakers (what a clever guy). When the good doctor refuses to pay, the mysterious mental case begins to call the shrink’s patients…taunting them until they commit suicide. Real life mother and son Lisa and Radames Pera also guest star.

Luigi’s Useless Information: Robert Foxworth (who looks as if he could be Steve Zahn as Dr. Frasier Crane in The John Holmes Story in this one) counts as 1 point, folks. Come on, keep up already!

DISC FIVE:

Episode 5.17: “Here Today, Gone Tonight”
Directed by Michael O’Herlihy

Barry Dean (Monte Markham), the VP of the very powerful and very paranoid Mr. Fleming (Douglas Kennedy), pulls McGarrett aside at one of the governor’s parties to inform him he has a lot of information on Fleming’s corrupt business transactions. McGarrett sends Danno out to gather up Dean’s documents and statement and, while he’s there, Fleming is murdered. Trouble is, the man who murdered Fleming appears to be Dean — although he was a good hour’s travel away.

Luigi’s Useless Information: Wow, it’s a buffet of Star Trek guest stars: Monte Markham, Sandra Smith, Madlyn Rhue, and Lawrence Montaigne, too! Give yourself 4 more points there, sporto!

Episode 5.18: “The Odd Lot Caper”
Directed by Michael O’Herlihy

The great Richard Basehart is a crippled and bitter businessman whose partners refuse to back his latest project, so he devises a scheme to steal his own stocks and bonds with the help of a psychotic ex-PI (Ron Hayes, whose chin steals the show). Combat! star Jack Hogan guest stars as Basehart’s honest son.

Luigi’s Useless Information: Be sure to enjoy the dramatic and suspenseful music queue as Richard Basehart hit’s a switch and shuttles away in his motorized wheelchair.

Episode 5.19: “Will The Real Mr. Winkler Please Die?”
Directed by Bob Sweeney

A man named Winkler (Nehemiah Persoff) is questioned on television by a news crew and assaults the reporter. Winkler informs Danno, Ben, and Chin that he is actually a witness who went into protective custody, but that story changes when another man named Reeves (Malachi Throne) shows up and leaves Mr. Winkler with a corpse. Steve is away in Washington for the first part of the episode, but returns with the only man in the world (Mark Lenard) who may be able to tell them who Winkler really is.

Luigi’s Useless Information: There are three more Trek guest stars in this episode…which will give you 7 more points. Figure their names out on your own…I’m sick of babysitting you.

Episode 5.20: “Little Girl Blue”
Directed by Bob Sweeney

The weakest episode of the season. Two bungling stooges (Ron Feinberg and Jackie Coogan, the original Uncle Fester) kidnap the bastard redheaded child (literally) of Eadie Scott (Tisha Sterling), the daughter of Scott Fortune heiress Marion Scott (Nina Foch). After murdering a police officer who stopped them on the road, the “Lenny and George” pair run up the hill of Diamond Head, hide out in an abandoned army bunker, and start shooting at the police.

Luigi’s Useless Information: I’m guessing a lot of this episode wound up on the cutting room floor during post-production: there are some bits of information that Steve knows about but was not informed of, such as the name of the babysitter who was in on the job (the same character disappears altogether and is not captured — very un-Five-O like). One point for Ron Feinberg.

DISC SIX:

Episode 5.21: “Percentage”
Directed by Robert Butler
Former bookie Sam Green (Milton Selzer) is having a bad day: his partner has been murdered, his gambling parties have been pissing off a local gambling boss, and the man he tried to swindle out of money has been refusing to pay. Leonard Stone, John Howard, and regular Five-O guest Kwan Hi Lim co-star in this one.

Luigi’s Useless Information: Sorry, but there aren’t any Trek actors here. However, at least half of the guest cast was featured in Magnum P.I. at one point or another, including Kwan Hi Lim, who was a regular actor on the on the long-running series.

Episode 5.22: “Engaged To Be Buried”
Directed by Michael O’Herlihy

Hey kids, it’s Erik Estrada! Erik plays young Rono, a member of the Vidalgo family (including Simon Oakland and Richard Yniguez), a father and sons team who “persuade” business owners to purchase their new coin-operated machinery — or else. Chin has a particularly rough time in this one: turns out that Rono is dating his daughter Alia (Irene Tsu)!

Luigi’s Useless Information: 1 point for Irene Tsu. Lucky you.

Episode 5.23: “The Diamond That Nobody Stole”
Directed by Charles Dubin

Eric Braeden wears one of the gayest shirts imaginable as Djebara, a wealthy international businessman whose mother-in-law (Beulah Quo) is a former member of Chinese Royalty. Djebara is as cool and calm as they come, especially considering a thief has stolen his wife’s one-of-a-kind pendant from his wall safe — but why do the men behind the act start winding up dead?

Luigi’s Useless Information: This marked Eric Braeden’s final role in the Five-O series: he had previously appeared in two other episodes throughout the years (as different characters). 13 years later, he would land a part in The Young And The Restless…and he’s been on that damn show ever since.

Episode 5.24: “Jury Of One”
Directed by Alf Kjellin

The final episode of the fifth season has Steve and D.A. Manicote involved in the murder trial of a gangster. Steve learns from a stoolie (Arthur Malet) that the gangster may have one of the jurors in his pocket — and starts a frantic investigation to find out whom. Ed Binns and Ray Buktenica guest star.

Luigi’s Useless Information: You already had 1 final point for Ray Buktenica, so don’t be cheating. So then, here we are, at the end of our little Spot the Trek Actors in Five-O game. What was your tally? Mine was…oh, damn it all, I lost count…

Once again, CBS/Paramount has done an exceptionally nice job of transferring Hawaii Five-O to DVD: these episodes look so nice, that one could swear they were only filmed recently. The occasional speck of debris or dirt occasionally pops up now and then, but for the most part, this is a superb transfer of a nearly forty-year-old TV show. As with previous season sets, all episodes feature a mono stereo English and Spanish soundtracks. Also like the past sets, the English audio option sounds infinitely better than the Spanish-language one (which sounds as if it could have been recorded from the inside of a cigar box). English, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese subtitles are on hand for every episode and English Closed Captioning is also available.

Each disc carries a few of the original Episodic Promos narrated by Jack Lord, each ending with the catch phrase “Be there. Aloha.” What a guy.

The Bottom Line: come on, just buy it so you can play my Spot the Trek Actors in Five-O game. It’s fun!

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.