Hawaii Five-0 got off to one of the best running starts of an police show in history, with a feature-length pilot episode that had a plot involving spies, assassins, and kidnapping worthy of a theatrical film. The pilot episode introduced Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett, the head of the state police unit nicknamed "Five-0" (in point of fact, Hawaii ...
Hawaii Five-0 got off to one of the best running starts of an police show in history, with a feature-length pilot episode that had a plot involving spies, assassins, and kidnapping worthy of a theatrical film. The pilot episode introduced Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett, the head of the state police unit nicknamed "Five-0" (in point of fact, Hawaii has no state police agency), his operatives Danny ("Danno") (played by Tim O'Kelly in the pilot and James MacArthur for the rest of the run of the series), Kono Kalakaua (Zulu), and Chin Ho Kelly (Kam Fong), and his secretary, May (played by Mitzi Hoag in the pilot, and then by Maggi Parker) -- and it also introduced the impossible-to-forget title theme by Morton Stevens (which subsequently became a hit single for the Ventures). From the first season's earliest episodes, the show mixed police proceedural and action in equal measures. It did sometimes seem as though McGarrett couldn't go anywhere except on full-siren and doing 60 mph or better on city streets; but there were also a lot of crime scene sequences, and always just enough of the detecting side of police work, and the distant precursor to Jerry Bruckheimer's CSI franchise in the emphasis on lab work, to keep the viewer's brain working in third gear (and sometimes overdrive) to keep up.From the outset, the producers recognized that shooting in Hawaii in color was something they should luxuriate in, as much as any particular plot or story-line allowed, and audiences were seduced very fast by the visuals of the show. But this was counter-balanced with some edgy scripts for the time. The second episode, Full Fathom Five", dealt with an investigation of what seem to be serial murders of recently married older women; the third, Strangers In Our Own Land", about a possible terror plot involving native Hawaiians resentful of development and the despoiling of their land (a story-line that anticipates the eco-terror threat); and the fourth, "Tiger By The Tail", seems to have been inspired, at least, by the Frank Sinatra, Jr. kidnapping incident from the early 1960s. By episode five, we knew enough about these characters, and the actors had revealed themselves good enough in their roles to justify the script for "And They Painted Daisies On His Coffin", in which Danny Williams is unable to prove that a shooting with which he was involved was justified. McGarrett was a target for assassination in one episode, while another episode, "King of the Hill", guest-starring Yaphet Kotto, Jeff Corey and L. Q. Jones -- one of the most wrenching the run of the series -- was among the earliest American television shows to depict the plight of veterans of the Vietnam War. (Unfortunately, the episode -- which tried to show the injured, traumatized character played by Kotto, in a favorable light -- also helped to establish the notion in popular culture of Vietnam vets as damaged, violence-prone individuals).The series' ambitions' for its first season may be measured by the fact that, in addition to the feature-length pilot, it offered one official two-part episode, "Once Upon A Time", which delved into McGarrett's personal life (and also tackled the then-new subject territory of medical con-artists and quack cancer "cures"); and a follow-up show to one episode, "The Box" being a continuation from ", , , And They Painted Daisies On His Grave". The guest stars and featured players were well-above-average caliber for series television -- in addition to Khigh Dheigh as recurring villain Wo Fat, introduced in the pilot, there were Andrew Duggan, Leslie Nielsen, Nancy Kwan, Ricardo Montalban, Sal Mineo, Sally Kellerman, and Beah Richards among the notable players. Additionally, the season's episodes provided showcases for such soon-to-be-better-known players as James McEachin and Gavin McLeod, the latter seemingly having the time of his life playing an over-the-top career criminal and drug dealer called "Big Chicken". Bruce Eder, Rovi
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