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.

Wo Fat 2.0 to be part of Five-0 pilot remake

A still from the Cocoon remake posted on social media by executive producer Peter Lenkov.

You can’t keep a good man — or arch villain — down.

Mark Dacascos, who played Wo Fat 2.0 in the current Hawaii Five-0 series, will be part of a Sept. 28 episode that remakes Cocoon, the pilot for the original 1968-80 Five-O series, according to Entertainment Weekly’s website.

The original Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) was the villain of the 1968 pilot and would bedevil Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) until the show’s final episode.

However, in the current series, which began in 2010, the Dacascos version of Wo Fat seemed to be definitively killed off in a 2014 episode.

This begs the question. Has executive producer Peter Lenkov devised a way to bring his Wo Fat back from the dead? Or will Wo Fat still be dead but appear in a flashback?

Naturally, there are no answers now.

Decascos tweeted out the Entertainment Weekly story. Lenkov, in turn, did a “quote tweet.” (Sunset on the Beach refers to an annual outdoor showing of the first episode of a Five-0 season.)

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Similarities in the Wo Fat, Blofeld reboots

Two villains of yesteryear — Wo Fat on television’s Hawaii Five-0 and Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the James Bond movies — have been rebooted recently. The revivals share a number of things in common.

Mark Cacascos, Wo Fat 2.0.

Mark Dacascos, Wo Fat 2.0.

This time it’s personal: Both Wo Fat and Blofeld now have personal grievances going back to their childhoods against the latest incarnations of Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Laughlin) and James Bond (Daniel Craig).

Those grievances involve parents: Mother McGarrett was a spy and was supposed to kill Wo Fat’s father. She killed his mother instead. Mom McGarrett wanted to adopt kid Wo Fat but wasn’t allowed to do so. Wo Fat eventually swears revenge against the entire McGarrett clan.

Meanwhile, new Blofeld got mad at his dad, who took in orphaned James Bond. So he killed his father, faked his own death and took the name Blofeld (his mother’s maiden name).

The villains decided to make the lives of the heroes miserable: In the 2010 pilot to the new Hawaii Five-0, McGarrett’s father is killed and there’s nothing McG can do about it. It takes quite a number of episodes, but it’s revealed eventually that Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) was behind it all.

Christoph Waltz as Blofeld in SPECTRE

Christoph Waltz as Blofeld in SPECTRE

In SPECTRE, the new-look Blofeld tells Bond that he is “the author of all your pain.” In other words, the new Blofeld was behind the evil of all four (to date) Daniel Craig James Bond films.

The villains like to taunt the heroes by calling them brother: In the 100th episode of Five-0, which aired Nov. 7, 2014, McGarrett 2.0 and Wo Fat 2.0 have one last, knockdown, drag-out fight. They eventually have guns drawn at each other. Wo Fat calls McGarrett “brother.” McGarrett replies, “I’m not your brother.” BLAM!

In SPECTRE, new-look Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) calls Bond “brother” but it’s clear the villain has no use for Bond. Unlike Wo Fat 2.0, new-look Blofeld is still around.

Case study: rebooting an arch foe (non-007 spoiler)

The original Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) gloats when he momentarily has an advantage over Steve McGarrett

The original Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) gloats when he momentarily has an advantage over Steve McGarrett

James Bond fans are debating whether it’s a good idea or not for a rebooted Ernst Stavro Blofeld to be part of Bond 24. What spurred the discussion was A REPORT IN THE MAIL ON SUNDAY saying such a move would occur.

At this point, it’s not known whether that’s really happening or not. Even if it is, fans might know it for sure until Bond 24 comes out in the fall of 2015, similar to how Agent Eve in Skyfall turned out to be a rebooted Moneypenny.

That hasn’t stopped fan debates concerning a 21st century version of Blofeld. Some think it’d be great, especially if a new Blofeld were closer to the character depicted in Ian Fleming’s novels. Others say it’s best to leave Blofeld in the past.

A similar rebooting of an arch foe has been done, and completed, on the rebooted Hawaii Five-0. That series debuted in 2010 on CBS and its 100th episode was telecast Nov. 7. We’re talking about, of course, Wo Fat, who was Steve McGarrett’s greatest enemy in the original 1968-80 Hawaii Five-O.

This post is simply a look at the choices the new series made in rebooting Wo Fat. It’s not meant as predicting or advocating how Blofeld should be rebooted (if he is at all) in Bond 24.

The original Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) was very much the mastermind, manipulating events and spinning schemes. He left the rough stuff up to his flunkies. At times, he even displayed a sarcastic sense of humor.

Initially, Wo Fat worked for China. At the time the original series debuted, the United States didn’t have diplomatic relations with China. In the second half of the series, Wo Fat went independent and in one seventh season episode says the current Chinese government is too soft. In a two-hour episode in the ninth season, he plans to stage a coup, seize power and launch nuclear missiles at the U.S. Wo Fat thought big.

This version of the character didn’t show up all that often and there were some seasons where he didn’t appear at all. Each encounter between Wo Fat and McGarrett seemed more special (excluding a second-season episode where Wo Fat only made a cameo appearance.) Wo Fat gets captured in the final episode. There was no personal connection between Wo Fat and McGarrett (Jack Lord), although the villain came to despise his adversary.

Mark Cacascos, Wo Fat 2.0.

Mark Cacascos, Wo Fat 2.0.

For the new series, there’s a new mean, lean Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos). This Wo Fat is an independent terrorist, though he appears to be welcome in North Korea, which he uses as his base of operations for one episode. He plots, engages in his own fighting and brutally kills people on his own. He also shows up a lot more often — 15 of the first 100 episodes. Wo Fat and the new McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) have a number of intense fights over those episodes.

And, it turns out, Wo Fat’s hatred of McGarrett turns out to be personal from the start, although this wasn’t revealed initially.

This McGarrett has a mother who is a U.S. spy. She had been assigned to kill Wo Fat’s father but killed his mother instead. Mom McGarrett initially tried to raise Wo Fat as her own but her U.S. intelligence bosses said that was a bad idea. As a result, Wo Fat has a big hatred of the McGarrett clan from the start.

For his final appearance, Wo Fat 2.0 tortured McGarrett (and not for the first time on the series). Eventually, McGarrett got free and the two had one last all-out fight. They’re laying on the floor, exhausted, each holding a gun on the other. Wo Fat sarcastically calls McGarrett brother. “You’re not my brother,” McG replies. No more Wo Fat.

Peter Lenkov, the show’s executive producer who also wrote the episode, TOLD TV GUIDE he didn’t initially plan to kill off Wo Fat but, “If he had gotten away at the end, I think it may have seemed ridiculous.”

Wo Fat: classic vs. reboot (spoiler)

Hawaii-five-O-original

Stop reading if spoilers give you anguish. (Although the episode has been out since Nov. 7.)

So, Wo Fat 2.0 met his demise in the 100th episode of the rebooted Hawaii Five-0.

Executive producer Peter Lenkov TOLD TV GUIDE:

When I wrote the outline [for the episode], he wasn’t dead in the outline. And when I started writing the script, it really felt like a natural end to the episode. I had always envisioned following the pattern of the original show, with the last show that we ever do being the capture of Wo Fat. But I felt, when I was writing it, that that felt a little predictable for people who watch the show and know the original one…I felt like if I was going to surprise the audience at any point, this would be it.

In the rebooted show, which debuted in the fall of 2010, Wo Fat 2.0 (Mark Dacascos) was used a lot more than the original Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh). Rebooted Wo Fat appeared in 15 episodes in less than five full seasons. By comparison, original Wo Fat appeared 13 times in 12 full seasons of Hawaii Five-O (which was how the original show was spelled). This counts his appearance in the pilot as only one appearance (even though the pilot was later re-edited as a two-part episode). We’re counting all other two-part episodes as one appearance for for each part. The original Wo Fat didn’t appear at all in seasons 6, 10 and 11.

Rebooted Wo Fat was supposed to be mastermind *and* terrific fighter. Thus, he was lean, mean and a master of martial arts. Portly original Wo Fat was content to be a mastermind who let others do the violence and generally manipulated events. It should be noted that Wo Fat 2.0 had virtual control of Hawaii (at the end of season 1 it was revealed the governor was under his control) but nobody knew it.

Compare Die Another Day vs. Hawaii Five-0

At the start of 2002’s Die Another Day, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is captured on a mission in North Korea. Danny Kleinman’s main titles incorporates depiction of Bond being tortured:

On the Nov. 21 episode of Hawaii Five-0, Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) has been tricked by arch enemy Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) to coming to North Korea. McGarrett is on the receiving end of a similarly tough time. In both Die Another Day and Five-0, sequences set in Korea are shot in a washed out style while scenes at other locations are in bright color. In this clip, the Five-0 team is flying into North Korea (courtesy of a pilot played by Jimmy Buffett) while Wo Fat is torturing McG.

McGarrett 2.0 clearly has never watched Die Another Day

Because if he had, he wouldn’t have gone to North Korea. Or, as somebody said in Return of the Jedi, “It’s a trap!”

As you might gather, we were watching the Nov. 21 episode of Hawaii Five-0, featuring the latest confrontation between Steve McGarrett 2.0 and his arch-enemy Wo Fat 2.0. We’re not even halfway through the episode but he’s already been betrayed by Jenna Kaye (female version of the original show’s spymaster Jonathan Kaye). Lesson for viewers: If somebody says you need to go with them to North Korea, DON’T GO!

Station break. We’ll update this post. And follow us on Twitter as the episode unfolds.

UPDATE I: A friend of this blog tells us that Doug Mossman, one of the regular bit players of the original series, was in this episode.

UPDATE II: It only took 40 minutes, but we finally see special guest star Jimmy Buffett.

UPDATE III: The Korean sequences of this Five-0 episode have the same washed-out look as the Korean sequences of Die Another Day.

UPDATE IV: Wo Fat 2.0 kills off Jenna Kaye, the second female version of a “legacy character” to be whacked by Wo. The first was he woman governor in season 1 (Jean Smart), based on the intrepid Gov. Paul Jameson of the original show. Gov. Pat Jameson was working for Wo Fat, who doesn’t like loose ends. Wo 2.0 eliminates loose ends himself; the original had flunkies who did the killing.

UPDATE V: Will Neal Purvis and Robert Wade call their lawyers tomorrow morning to demand a royalty from this Five-0 episode?

UPDATE VI: How can Kono 2.0 get such great wireless connections IN THE MIDDLE OF NORTH KOREA? (NOV. 24 — watching again she may have been simply in a VERY REMOTE OF SOUTH KOREA JUST SOUTH OF THE BORDER, getting incredibly fast, real-time information about what was going on in North Korea.)

UPDATE VII: This episode would be so much more entertaining if Morton Stevens were still alive to do the score.

UPDATE VIII: McG is freed by his friends and Wo Fat is still at large. Despite the ridiculous elements (love how the Five-0 team waltzes into North Korea and Kono gets a great wireless connection), this was a pretty entertaining episode. Perhaps there should have been a “Special Thanks Lee Tamahori” credit.

UPDATE IX (Nov. 23): Mike Quigley, webmaster of a great Hawaii Five-O/Five-0 Web site has a very detailed review of this episode. He doesn’t like it, only giving it one-and-a-half stars on a scale of four stars. We recommend you check it out BY CLICKING HERE and scrolling down to episode 10 (of the second season).