Filmed entirely on location in Hawaii, the show followed Jack Lord as he played Steve McGarrett, head of an elite state police unit investigating "organized crime, murder, assassination attempts, foreign agents, felonies of every type." James MacArthur played his second-in-command Danny ("Danno") Williams, with local actors Kam Fong, Zulu, Al Harrington, and Herman Wedemeyer, among others, playing members of the Five-O team. Guest stars included Helen Hayes, Ricardo Montalban, Leslie Nielsen, Herbert Lom, Hume Cronyn among others. McGarrett's nemesis is the evil Wo Fat "a Red Chinese agent in charge of the entire Pacific Asiatic theatre.
Solving crimes and putting the perps behind bars is Steve McGarrett's bag. Why, he says so himself, and in so many words, in the very first of the 24 episodes collected in this five-disc set comprising the complete second season (1969-70) of Hawaii Five-0
. Portrayed by Jack Lord, and described by no less an authority than the New York Times
as "a model of steadfast decency" and "beyond cool but still so square he could have been Lawrence Welks cop brother-in-law," McGarrett is the leader of the islands' crack, four-man police unit, and as usual, he has his hands full. Perhaps that's why the man has no discernible sense of humor and only the merest suggestion of a social life. Between keeping his famous hair in order, delivering stern lectures about right and wrong to clueless lowlifes, and, as he puts it in another Second Season episode, constantly worrying "about a world without law and justice
where no one gives a damn about anything," who has time for such trivialities? This season finds McGarrett and cohorts Danno (James McArthur), Kono (Zulu), and Chin Ho (Kam Fong) dealing with the usual complement of sleaze: murderers, gamblers, druggies, prostitutes, insurance scammers, low-rent terrorists, and so on. But Hawaii Five-0
offers its share of weirdness as well. In "Forty Feet High and It Kills!", Red Chinese uber-criminal Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) and his crew orchestrate a fake tsunami warning so they can kidnap a brilliant scientist (an amusing performance by Will Geer) and force him to conduct genetic-tampering experiments designed to create a master race. In the fairly ridiculous "King Kamehameha Blues," a group of young folks steal the legendary king's robe from a museum, just to show they can; it's a measure of McGarrett's ultra-hardline attitude that the governor's offer of amnesty to the thieves if they'll return the precious garment really sticks in his righteous craw. And in "The Singapore File," McGarrett travels overseas in order to accompany a comely murder witness back to Honolulu; though tempted by her charms, he's far too scrupulous to indulge in any extra-curriculars while on the job (and Steve McGarrett is always
on the job). Hawaii Five-0
's other elements are a mixed bag. As always, the Hawaiian scenery is gorgeous. Morton Stevens' theme song remains one of the best ever, and much of the other music, especially the jazzy stuff, is also terrific. However, the show isn't big on either action or tension; too many scenes are slow and talky. And in the final year of the '60s, when men walked on the moon and Woodstock and Altamont marked the respective high and low points of the hippie movement, its depiction of the counterculture is laughably square; it's as if the entire decade barely happened. The box set includes brief, previous-week promos for each episode, but no other bonus material. --Sam Graham