We finally caught up with the Hawaii Five-O season 11 set that we informally dubbed the ex-spy edition. So we watched the episodes featuring guest stars who had previously portrayed spies and made a few notes about the performances of series star Jack Lord, who had been the screen’s first Felix Leiter in Dr. No. WARNING: spoilers await.
Ross Martin (Number One With a Bullet parts I and II, Stringer): The former Artemus Gordon from The Wild, Wild West makes the strongest impression of the guest star ex-spies. In all three episodes, he plays crime boss Tony Alika, the head of the Hawaiian mob the Kumu.
In the two-part Number One With a Bullet, aka the “disco” episode, he gets limited screen time in a storyline involving a clash between Alika and a Mainland crime boss (Nehemiah Persoff) for control of Hawaii’s discos and music industry. But Martin draws the viewer’s attention whenever he’s on the screen, including when he verbally jousts with Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett.
Martin returned for another episode, Stringer, in which free-lance photographer Paul Williams takes photos of Alika having a meeting with a public official and attempts to commit blackmail. Martin’s Alika gets more screen time as the primary villain. Going into one commericial break, Alika’s evil laugh continues over the Five-O logo. Evidently, the actor made an impression with the production team because he’d be brought back for the show’s final season. Meanwhile, Martin and Williams would work together again a short while later in the 1979 television movie The Wild, Wild West Revisited, with Williams as the son of Dr. Loveless.
Robert Vaughn (The Spirit is Willie): The one-time Napoleon Solo got “special guest star” billing and Vaughn’s phony psychic is the episode’s villain. By this time, Vaughn mostly played bad guys so if you’ve ever seen one of those performances, that’s more or less what you have here. Vaughn is a poster child for bad 1970s fashion, wearing a leisure suit whose shirt is unbuttoned at least one button too far.
The episode is a sequel to a 10th season story involving a mystery writer who likes to also solve real-life mysteries. Thus, Mildred Natwick’s Millicen Shand character gets more of the attention.
George Lazenby (The Year of the Horse): Lazenby, a decade removed from playing James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, also gets “special guest star” billing but is clearly a secondary villain. He appears in a very non-Bondian manner. He sports a baggy three-piece white suit, white hat and wears sandals. He also has a mustache and a few days growth of beard. However, he definitely comes across as a better actor than his one 007 film.
Disappointingly, Lazenby doesn’t have any scenes with Jack Lord, so we don’t get to see a meeting between movie Leiter No. 1 and film Bond No. 2. Most of Lazenby’s scenes are with Barry Bostwick, an Annapolis graduate presumed killed during the Vietnam War who’s now involved with drug smuggling. Lazenby and Bostwick are buddies, but Lazenby’s character is dispatched when he attempts to double cross Bostwick.
The two-hour episode takes place in Singapore and was actually filmed there. It was the season’s final episode and is also the final appearance in the series of James MacArthur’s Danno, who, as it turns out, really doesn’t get much to do. Which leads us to:
Jack Lord (series star): Lord didn’t get an executive producer credit but by this time his control of the show was so tight he probably should have. In earlier seasons, you’d have occasional episodes built around the supporting cast, but that became more rare as the series progressed.
Lord’s McGarrett by the 11th season, was also wearing leisure suits, favoring a very dark Navy blue one (if you CLICK HERE it’s described as being black but the revamped picture quality of the DVDs makes it look very, very dark blue to us). At least he kept his shirt buttoned, so it’s not as much of a distraction. He also sometimes shows up with a gray leisure suit.
McGarrett also gets preachier here than in earlier seasons. That trend began in the 10th season and it gets worse in the final season. Still, he’s still McGarrett and if you liked his take on the character, there’s nothing here to cause you to reverse that judgment.
There is the issue of McGarrett’s age. In the second season episode “Blind Tiger,” it was implied that the Big Kahuna was in his mid-30s, so he should at least be close to 45 in season 11. Death Is a Company Policy, the first show of the fifth season, gave McGarrett a 1926 birth date, meaning he would be 52 or 53 when season 11 ends, depending on the specific date. And actor Lord turned 58 in December 1978. Yet, in The Year of the Horse, which aired in the spring of 1979, one of George Lazenby’s lackeys (who’s about to be killed) describes McGarrett as being “40, 42.” Lord looks pretty good for 58, but there’s no way he looked that young.
Filed under: James Bond Films, The Other Spies | Tagged: Dr. No, George Lazenby, Hawaii Five-O, Hawaii Five-O's 11th season, Jack Lord, James Bond Films, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Paul Williams, Robert Vaughn, Ross Martin, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, The Other Spies, The Wild Wild West, The Wild Wild West Revisited, TV spy shows | 5 Comments »