Last year, James MacArthur — better known as Lt. Dan “Danno” Williams to the many fans of the original Hawaii Five-O television series — passed away. With his departure from our plane of existence, CBS/Paramount lost the final opportunity to interview any of the classic TV show’s regular cast members to use in exclusive special features for season box sets on DVD. It’s a pity, too, because a heart-to-heart with MacArthur would have been highly appropriate to include with Hawaii Five-O: The Eleventh Season, as it was the late actor’s last appearance on the show.
Fortunately, Danno gets a chance to do some dirty work here in Hawaii Five-O: The Eleventh Season. Not only does he go undercover as a white supremacist (and drops the “N” Bomb to prove he’s serious!) in order to infiltrate a group of Neo-Nazis, but he also gets brainwashed by a powerful assassination ring who have their “hired guns” pull the trigger via post-hypnotic suggestion. And yes, he’s asked to “book ‘em” a couple of times, too — including an unforgettable line from boss-man Steve McGarrett: “Book me, Danno!”
In Season Ten of the iconic CBS series, the late Kam Fong made his departure from the show as Chin Ho Kelly, albeit in an entirely different way — his character was killed off in the season finale. Anyone who is remotely familiar with the standalone style many vintage television shows employed should know well enough not to expect any grief over the loss of Chin Ho when The Eleventh Season first kicks off.
In fact, it’s business as usual for our boys — the inimitable Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett, MacArthur as Danno, and Herman Wedemeyer as Duke, who are up to their ears as always bringing down various disreputable elements of the island. There’s no “fourth wheel” here (so to speak), though, interestingly enough, the DVD cover art CBS/Paramount put out features series semi-regular Al Eben on it, even though he only appears in his two final episodes as Doc Bergman(n).
In this season, Mr. McGarrett ditches his usual sports jacket and tie theme a lot, favoring the more fashionable large-collared polyester shirt that was popular at the time. Speaking of fashionable late ’70s trends, Steve and Danno even go to a disco (in a two-parter that acts like the music craze was going to last forever) wherein a lot of Bee-Gees music is played.
This season also marks a few other memorable moments for Steve (that don’t involve his horrendous driving ability). Not only does he open up the woeful tale of his father’s death (to a mobster, nonetheless) and serve on a murder jury (?), but he even dresses like Indiana Jones and dons the worst Ted Turner-esque disguise ever.
Richard Denning once again portrays the Governor in several episodes here (he must’ve been a damn good Governor for the people to keep electing him every term!). Notable guest appearances in this second-to-last season include Andrew Duggan, ‘70s Spanish horror scream queen Maria Perschy, Samantha Eggar, Tab Hunter, Richard Romanus, Mike Starr (in his first role), Tim Thomerson, Cyd Charisse, Rory Calhoun, Burr DeBenning, Katherine Cannon, Sharon Farrell (who would come back in Season Twelve in a recurring role as a detective), John Larch, Robert Loggia, Cameron Mitchell, and Rita Wilson.
CBS/Paramount brings Hawaii Five-O: The Eleventh Season to DVD in a six-disc set consisting of 21 episodes, each of which are preceded by their original network promos that gave viewers a chance to see what was coming up in tonight’s chapter. As always, the video presentation here is outstanding for a TV series that’s over 30-years-old, and the mono soundtrack is as clear as a bright and sunny day at Diamond Head. Optional English (SDH) subtitles are available.
Outstanding episodes include “The Meighan Conspiracy” with guest star Robert Reed and “The Spirit is Willie” with Robert Vaughn as a psychic (!) and Mildred Natwick (reprising her role from Season Ten). Both Robert Clarke (The Hideous Sun Demon) and the great Paul Williams (Phantom of the Paradise) appear in “Stringer” — a chapter in Five-O history that the musician/actor/singer co-wrote.
The season finale, “The Year of the Horse,” features Bary Bostwick, Victoria Principal and George Lazenby; while the humorous “The Bark and the Bite” highlights Tricia O’Neil, Nina Talbot, Cooper Huckabee (True Blood), and the one and only John Saxon (who even wears an ascot and croons!) in his one and only appearance on the show — proving that, yes, a god like Saxon can share a screen with other TV dieties like Lord MacArthur without bringing about the end of the entire universe in the process.
Truth be told, they only made it a better place.