Hawaii Five-0 completes its ‘Brofeld’ arc

Original cast of the 2010-20 Hawaii Five-0

Hawaii Five-0, the 2010-20 reboot of the original series ended its 10-season run on Friday night. The show ended by finishing its version of “Brofeld” — a new version of a classic villain with a personal reason to get the hero.

In this case, the villain was Wo Fat. Wo Fat 2.0 was killed back in 2014. But Mrs. Wo Fat (?!) was still around to get even.

Back in 2015, the blog examined how the rebooted Wo Fat and Ernst Stavro Blofeld from SPECTRE were similar.

Each was a new take on a classic villain. Each had a personal reason to go after the lead character. In fact, each felt they were virtually family!

The 2010-20 Five-0 actually did this first, with Wo Fat 2.0 mockingly calling McGarrett 2.0 “brother” (just before the latter finally put him down for good).

In 2015’s SPECTRE, the filmmakers decided to make Blofeld the foster brother (or whatever) of Bond.

Essentially, all of this followed the Austin Powers path where the hero discovers he’s the brother of his archvillain Dr. Evil. Except, Austin Powers was a comedy whereupon Five-0 and SPECTRE were intended to be taken seriously.

In the Five-0 finale, it was revealed that Wo Fat was mad at not getting an inheritance from McGarrett’s mother (don’t ask). And that was the catalyst for most of the events of the past 10 years. OK, whatever.

Personally, I watched the show closely the first three seasons before giving up. I’d occasionally catch an episode or two after that.

After not watching for a few years, I decided to catch an eighth-season episode. There was a subplot about McGarrett and Danno trying to start a restaurant.  I immediately changed the channel. After that, I caught episodes even less often.

Regardless, the 2010-20 Five-0 has to rank as a successful reboot from a business standpoint. It lasted about 240 episodes. It was almost as long as the original 1968-80 show.

The most satisfying aspect of the finale was how the music score incorporated quieter versions of Morton Stevens’ class theme music. In the final episode of the original series, Stevens produced a score that was the best aspect of that finale.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Hawaii Five-0 reboot to end in April

Original cast of the Hawaii Five-0 reboot

The second Hawaii Five-0 series on CBS will come to an end in April, wrapping up a 10-year run, Deadline: Hollywood reported.

The show was a reboot of the 1968-80 original show that starred Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett. In the 2010-20 version, Alex O’Loughlin played McGarrett, with Scott Caan as Danny Williams.

Five-0 2.0 was darker than the original. For example, the governor was in the employ of arch-villain Wo Fat (until he bumped her off).

Also, it was revealed Wo Fat 2.0 (Mark Dacascos) had a personal reason for going after McGarrett, a development that would be extremely similar to the way the 2015 James Bond film SPECTRE rebooted Blofeld. McGarrett 2.0 and Wo Fat 2.0 had their final showdown in a 2014 episode.

Finally, Five-0 2.0 occasionally did homages to James Bond films, including Die Another Day. For example, a November 2011 episode took place mostly in North Korea. Scenes set there were photographed to look dark while scenes in other locations had bright colors. Die Another Day employed the same trick back in 2002.

Separately, a September 2012 episode of Five-0 borrowed elements of You Only Live Twice and Licence to Kill.

The series finale will be a two-hour episode on April 3, according to Deadline.

UPDATE (5:45 p.m. New York time): The show put out a post on Twitter confirming the conclusion of the series.

 

Wo Fat’s namesake is to be restored

James MacArthur and Emme Tomimbang, outside of the Wo Fat restaurant in Honolulu during a 1996 television special.

A landmark structure in Honolulu, the former Wo Fat restaurant, is to be restored and redeveloped, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported.

Hawaii Five-O creator Leonard Freeman used the name of the of the Chinese restaurant for the arch villain who would oppose lawman Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord).

Wo Fat, played by Khigh Dhiegh, made his first appearance in the 1968 Five-O pilot. Initially, Wo Fat was a Chinese agent. After the U.S. and China established diplomatic relations in the 1970s, Wo Fat went independent.

Regardless, Wo Fat took on McGarrett a number of times during the 12-year run of the show. The 1980 series finale brought back Wo Fat one last time.

A rebooted series that began in 2010 (with the spelling Five-0) had its own version of Wo Fat. The second version of the character was killed off in the 100th episode of that series. That installment aired in 2014.

Here’s an excerpt of the Star Advertiser story that describes developer plans to convert the restaurant for multiple uses:

The Wo Fat project calls for a cafeteria-style eatery and some retail on the ground floor along historic Hotel and Maunakea streets, and a 23-room boutique hotel on the second and third floors in what for decades served as the main dining halls for one of the largest and most prestigious Chinese banquet restaurants on the island.

The 86-year-old building was acquired by new owners in 2017, the newspaper said. The restoration project will cost an estimated $10 million. The Star Advertiser described some of the problems involved with the project.

It’s not a simple undertaking. In the early 2000s, the former owners of the building allowed it to become a nightclub and its proprietors decided to paint over the distinctive artwork that adorned the ceilings and columns, as well as the building’s unique, multi-­colored stained-glass windows — with black.

The development group spearheading the project is named Mighty Wo Fat LLC.

A few things about Bond fan outrage

The past few days have been overheated in James Bond fandom. If you’ve followed the news, even casually, you can guess why. But here are a few things to keep in mind.

It’s only a movie: James Bond isn’t real life. If you want to get upset, get upset about real-life events. There are plenty to choose from.

Don’t go there: I saw a video that specifically made a homophobic reference to a Bond fan who does amusing YouTube James Bond videos. No, I am not going to link it.

Don’t go there. Don’t do it. There’s no need to do it.

Long-running characters change and evolve: Sherlock Holmes got “timeshifted” to the 1940s in movies made by Universal during World War II. Batman fought aliens in 1950s and early 1960s comic books. Dick Tracy had his own “space era.”

If you don’t like one era for a character, it’s likely a new era will occur sooner or later. Batman became darker after the end of the 1966-68 Batman TV show thanks to stories by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. Bond has had his own share of different eras.

Characters may change race or gender: Marvel’s Nick Fury went from white (in the original 1960s comics) to black. It happened with an “alternative universe” version where Fury was drawn to resemble Samuel L. Jackson. When Marvel began making its own films, Jackson got cast in the role. A 2010 Hawaii Five-0 television series (still in production) turned The Governor and Jonathan Kaye into women characters (Pat Jameson instead of Paul Jameson, Jenna Kaye instead of Jonathan Kaye. Also, Kono transformed into a woman character in the new series.

Meanwhile, Bond films came out with black versions of supporting characters. such as Felix Leiter and Moneypenny.

The Spy Command marks its 10th anniversary

Today marks the 10th anniversary of The Spy Command.

It has been a long journey. Initially, the blog was a spinoff of a website (Her Majesty’s Secret Servant) that’s no longer online.

It took a few months for the blog to find its own voice, its own point of view.

Yet it did. The blog’s main reason for being has been to apply some journalistic principles to a fan endeavor.

The blog is a hobby. But it also keeps track of what has been said and revisits whether that’s occurred.

Some James Bond fans don’t like that. They want to celebrate all things 007. If there have been inconsistencies, they don’t care.

That’s fine. There are plenty of sites on the internet.

But here, the basic idea is to keep track of what is happening now while providing context of how it compares with the past.

One example: What really happened with the script of Quantum of Solace? which examined various contradictory accounts of how the 22nd James Bond film came together.

In hindsight, a better title would have been “Whatever happened to Joshua Zetumer?”

Zetumer was the scribe who was doing rewrites during filming. His contributions were noted in stories published while the movie was in production. Examples include a story on the Rotten Tomatoes website as well as pieces on the MI6 James Bond website and the Commander Bond website.

However, Zetumer’s is a forgotten man these days. That’s because of  later stories quoting Daniel Craig how he and Quantum director Marc Forster rewrote the movie during production. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend, I suppose.

Another example: A 2015 post, A SPECTRE reality check, noted how, in 2012, Eon said the SPECTRE organization was passe and that Quantum was much better than SPECTRE in the 21st century. All that changed, of course, once the rights to SPECTRE were secured from the Kevin McClory estate in 2013.

Finally, more recently, the blog documented (so far) the writing process of Bond 25 complete with various contradictions.

Paul Baack (1957-2017) and the Spy Commander in 2013.

Origins

The blog was the idea of Paul Baack (1957-2017), one of the co-founders of Her Majesty’s Secret Servant. He wanted HMSS to have a presence in between issues of the “e-magazine,” which specialized in producing magazine-length stories on James Bond and related topics.

Paul informed HMSS contributors about the blog and said it was all of theirs.

I was the one who took him up on it.

Initially, I was skeptical. But, after a few posts, I got hooked. It was an outlet that quickly became one of my main hobbies.

Over time, I took it over. By 2009, I was the primary contributor. By 2011, the blog established its own voice separate from HMSS. By 2014, the blog was totally on its own after HMSS went offline. On Feb. 8, 2015, the blog took the new name, The Spy Command.

So much different. Yet so much the same.

Since its debut, there have been three James Bond films released (Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and SPECTRE); three Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible films; and a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (which I long thought would never happen).

Blog Highlights

The blog tries on occasion to get into the business side of the entertainment industry. One of my personal favorite series of posts was a three-part series about the involvement of Film Finances Inc. with Dr. No.

Film Finances supplies “completion” bonds to ensure movies can finish production. The company ended up taking control of Dr. No during post production.

It’s an episode that hasn’t been written much outside of a book Film Finances published about its work with Dr. No, which reproduced many documents. One example was a memo showing Dr. No fell a half-day behind schedule on its first day.

Photocopy of the title page of Richard Maibaum’s 1961 draft of Thunderball

Some other personal favorite posts include those about scripts for Bond movies. In some cases, like this 2015 post about You Only Live Twice, dealt with drafts similar to the final film with a few significant differences. Others, like this 2017 post about a Bond 17 treatment dealt with stories that never saw the light of day.

Perhaps the most enjoyable was an examination of three Thunderball scripts, including Jack Whittingham’s first draft in 1960 and Richard Maibaum’s first try in 1961.

On this 10th anniversary, my thoughts keep going back to Paul Baack, who died last year. Last month was what would have been his 61st birthday. He gave me the chance to contribute. After I had taken over, he always provided encouragement.

If there is an after life, I hope Paul is pleased with the result.

I’d also like to thank, one more time, J. Kingston Pierce’s Rap Sheet blog. The Rap Sheet had some kind words in 2009 about a series this blog did about Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary. That, and other feedback, indicated there was interest in what this blog was doing.

Finally, two replies to posts were particularly satisfying.

In 2013, the blog had a post about how the current Hawaii Five-0 series was remaking an episode of the original series titled Hookman. The post noted how a CBS press release left off the names of the original writers, Glen Olson and Rod Baker. The post raised the question whether they’d get a credit.

Baker wrote a reply. “Thank you for pointing out that Glen Olson’s name and my name were left out of the CBS press release as the writers of the original Hawaii Five-0 ‘Hookman’ episode.. The Writer’s Guild contacted CBS today and that omission was corrected immediately.”

In July, the blog wrote about Adrian Samish, who had been an ABC executive and later one of producer Quinn Martin’s key lieutenants. It’s part of a series dubbed “unsung figures of television.”

The post got this reply: “There are two sides to every story… I am Adrian Samish’s granddaughter and it’s been nice to read some kinder comments about him, especially since he isn’t here to defend himself or tell his side of the story. Thank you for writing this.”

Well, enough sentiment. Bond 25 and other spy entertainment topics are present to be analyzed and written about.

Hawaii Five-0 presents a hyper remake of original pilot

A still from the Cocoon remake.

Hawaii Five-0 began its ninth season with a remake of the original show’s pilot.  While it was pretty close to the 1968 TV movie in places, the 2018 version was more hyper.

Part of it couldn’t be helped. The original (written by Leonard Freeman and directed by Paul Wendkos) has more time to work with. It filled a two-hour time slot. In those days you got around 50 minutes of show after excluding commercials.

The 2018 version filled a single-hour time slot, and these days you get 40 to 43 minutes or so without the commercials.

The remake also gives McGarrett 2.0 (Alex O’Loughlin) more of a personal motive. (Of course.)

In the original, McGarrett was a friend of Hennessy, a U.S. intelligence operative (he wasn’t identified as working for the CIA) who turns up dead. It turns out he was one of several agents who had mysteriously died. In the remake, McGarrett had known all of the dead men.

With the remake, McGarrett puts things together really, really quickly. Still, the show faithfully recreates the sensory deprivation tank torture of the 1968 pilot. In that TV movie, the pilot was supervised by Wo Fat.

The Wo Fat of the current show was killed off back in 2014. Nevertheless, Wo Fat 2.0 (Mark Dacascos) makes an appearance in the form of a hallucination while McGarrett is being tortured. There’s a new villain, part of a “rogue” faction of Chinese intelligence. He happens to have a shaved head like the original Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh).

The 2018 version also retains (understandably) the style of the current series. So, we still get arguments between McLaughlin’s McGarrett and Scott Caan’s Danno. In the remake, McLaughlin and Caan are together where Jack Lord’s McGarrett was by himself in the 1968 pilot.

Also, of course, the fight scenes are faster paced and violent than what viewers got in 1968. In the original, the climatic fight is between McGarrett and a traitorous U.S. intelligence agent. (They had to let Wo Fat go so he’d spread false information McGarrett had been programmed to say.). In the remake, McGarrett fights several guys, including the lead villain.

To be honest, I haven’t watched the current series that closely for the past few years. The remake held my interest. It was interesting to see what would be included.

Finally, the writing credit read, “Written by Leonard Freeman and Peter M. Lenkov.” Lenkov is the executive producer of the current series. The script of the remake used a surprising number of lines from Freeman’s original script.

So it was nice to see Freeman share in the full writing credit and not be relegated to a “story by” credit. Freeman died in 1974, after production of the original show’s sixth season had ended production. It would run another six seasons without him, although it was never quite the same.

Hawaii Five-O’s 50th anniversary: Cop show with a spy twist

Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett

Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett

Adapted and updated from a 2013 post.

Fifty years ago this month, Hawaii Five-O debuted. While a cop show, it had an element of international intrigue from the start.

The two-hour television movie version version of the pilot, which first aired on CBS on SEPT. 20, 1968, concerned a plot where Red Chinese intelligence operative Wo Fat was torturing U.S. intelligence agents in the Pacific Rim and obtaining important information.

Steve McGarrett, the no-nonsense head of state police unit Hawaii Five-O is drawn to the case because the latest victim was a friend of his. The lawman, a former U.S. Naval intelligence officer, isn’t one to back down from official pressure to lay off.

The pilot immediately grabbed the attention of viewers. A short pre-titles sequence shows Wo Fat using a sensory deprivation chamber for the torture. That’s followed by a 90-second main title featuring a stirring theme by Morton Stevens.

The composer initially thought about re-using the theme he wrote for an unsold pilot, CALL TO DANGER. His wife, Annie Stevens, strongly advised against the move, according to a 2010 STORY IN THE HONOLULU STAR ADVERTISER. As a result, Stevens created one of the greatest themes in television history.

The series was conceived by veteran television producer Leonard Freeman, who wrote the pilot. Freeman’s 1967 first draft had a team led by McGarrett, with a mid-20s Hawaiian sidekick, Kono Kalakaua, a third, heavy-set detective and Chin Ho Kelly, who was the Honolulu Police Department’s liaison with Five-O. In the final version of the story, the sidekick became the Caucasian Danny Williams; the Kono name was given to the heavier-set character; and Chin Ho was made a full-fledged member of Five-O.

Freeman & Co. were preparing to film the pilot with American actor Robert Brown as McGarrett. Rose Freeman, widow of the Five-O creator, told a 1996 fan convention in Los Angeles that CBS objected to the casting and, just five days before filming was to start, Brown was replaced with Jack Lord, the first screen incarnation of Felix Leiter in Dr. No. Brown ended up starring in another 1968 series, Here Come the Brides.

Perry Lafferty, a former CBS executive, told the story a bit differently in an interview for the Archive of American Television. His version, though, still had Jack Lord as a last-minute casting.

The pilot had Tim O’Kelly as Danny. When the series was picked up, Freeman recast the part with James MacArthur, who a small, but notable role in Hang ‘Em High, a Clint Eastwood Western film that Freeman had produced.

The international espionage aspect of Five-O remained throughout the show’s 12-year run, though less so in the later seasons. Wo Fat, played by Khigh Dhiegh, made a NUMBER OF RETURN APPEARANCES, including the 1980 series finale. As the U.S. and China began to normalize diplomatic relations, Wo Fat became an independent menace. In the ninth-season opener, Wo Fat attempts to take over the Chinese government.

George Lazenby in a 1979 episode of Hawaii Five-O

Five-O matched wits with a number of other spies played by the likes of Theodore Bikel (who had tried out for Goldfinger), Maud Adams and Soon Tek-Oh. George Lazenby, the second screen James Bond, played a secondary villain in a 1979 episode filmed on location in Singapore.

Five-O wasn’t always an easy show to work on. Freeman died in early 1974, after the sixth season completed production. Zulu (real name Gilbert Kauhi), who played Kono left after the fourth season; he told fans at the 1996 convention about problems he had with Jack Lord. His replacement, Al Harrington as another detective, departed in the seventh season.

Nevertheless, Five-O had a long run. When it left the air, Five-O was the longest-running crime drama, a status it held until Law and Order, the 1990-2010 series.

Lord’s Steve McGarrett emerged as one of the most recognizable television characters. In 2007, 27 years after the final Five-O episode, THE NEW YORK TIMES’S OPINION PAGES summed up Five-O’s appeal.

“Evil makes McGarrett angry, but when he speaks, his voice is startlingly gentle, exuding a quiet control that a beleaguered generation of parents surely wished they had when facing the forces of social decay,” reads the commentary by Lawrence Downes.

The writer ends his piece describing what it might be like if McGarrett was president. He dispatches Kono and Chin to stop illegal immigration and tells Danny that he wants undocumented workers “legalized. Tell Congress to send me a bill. I want it tough, and I want it fair. And I want it on my desk Monday morning.”

In 2010, CBS introduced a new version of the show, with a slightly different spelling (Hawaii Five-0, with a digit instead of a capital O as in the original), a younger McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and a Danny with more attitude (Scott Caan).

The current series is in its ninth season. For the 50th anniversary of the original show, it will feature a remake of Cocoon, the 1968 pilot. The remake is scheduled to be telecast on Sept. 28.

The 2010s Five-0 has other significant differences than the original. In the eighth season, the McLaughlin and Caan versions of McGarrett and Danny decided to go into the restaurant business on the side. I can’t imagine Leonard Freeman would have approved.

On the other hand, the producers were smart enough to keep the Morton Stevens theme music. Now, as in 1968, it’s still a highlight.