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.
The sky is blue, the sea is a brilliant turquoise, the surf is up, the scenery is lush and gorgeous, and Steve McGarrett's hair is as stiff as the breeze blowing in off the Pacific. In other words, all is right with the world as Hawaii Five-O: The Third Season
arrives in a six-disc, 24-episode (including a pair of two-parters) box set. McGarrett, of course, is the main man in the islands' crack, four-man police unit; played by Jack Lord, he's the guy memorably described by the New York Times
as "beyond cool but still so square he could have been Lawrence Welks cop brother-in-law." Not much has changed in his universe as the series moves into a new decade (these episodes aired in 1970 and '71). McGarrett is still the humorless embodiment of moral rectitude; imperious, often sarcastic (especially when dealing with the fools from other law enforcement agencies who dare challenge his authority), he's one of those guys whose moral superiority is unquestioned, especially by him. Steadfast cohorts Danno (James McArthur), Kono (Zulu), and Chin Ho (Kam Fong) are still on hand, as is the usual assortment of bad guys, most of them risibly stereotypical--including arch-nemesis Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh), a kind of cut-rate Bond villain who speaks elaborately formal English as he plots to help Red China overthrow all that is good and righteous in the free world. And as in the first two seasons, Hawaii Five-O
's style is notable primarily for the lack of it, especially in the stiff acting (with the exception of a few guest stars--notably Hume Cronyn, who's terrific in the season's most amusing and clever episode, "Over 50? Steal"), lukewarm action sequences, and appalling hair (if bad cuts and silly sideburns were a crime, the streets would be empty and the prisons full). But then, that is precisely the show's charm.
Also as in past seasons, the Five-O crew takes on crimes both common (murder, robbery, extortion, kidnapping) and not so much; in "Reunion," some World War II vets are convinced they've come across the Japanese officer who tortured them during the war, while "The Last Eden" features with eco-terrorism and "And Time to Die" deals with China's nuclear secrets. In the end, regardless of the problem, it's McGarrett and company's dogged police work that solves it. Meanwhile, the music remains the series' hippest element by far; while Nancy Wilson might not be a particularly convincing junkie in "Trouble in Mind," her renditions of the title song, "Stormy Monday," and other tunes are absolutely first-rate. Bonus features are again limited to brief, previous-week promos for each episode. --Sam Graham