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 (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.”

Advertisements

Hawaii Five-0 season 2 gets off to paranoid start

Hawaii Five-0 kicked off its second season with an episode full of paranoia and more than a bit of coincidence.

Trying to keep spoilers to a minimum, here’s a recap: McGarrett 2.0 did, was exonerated (eventually) but not before getting stabbed in prison by the guy who killed his father last season. But that was a ruse because McG was stabbed in such a way to avoid major organs. Dad’s killer figured Wo Fat would eventually silence him so he decided to help McG escape. The Big Kahuna did just that, overcoming two ambulance attendants despite still bleeding.

Also, it turns out McG’s father knew a (now elderly) former Japanese World War II bomber pilot who moved to Hawaii, got rich and wanted to atone for bombing Pearl Harbor. So he backed the senior McG’s secret investigation. And, good ol’ dad, in the course of that investigation did something that conveniently provided the proof that McG 2.0 was innocent. Finally, McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin), despite losing lots of blood earlier in the show, is able to jump from a speed boat to a yacht and come up shooting.

Wo Fat, though, continues to be an interesting menace. Turns out Wo (Mark Dacascos) was involved in a lucrative deal involving materials that could be used to make a “dirty” bomb. And he managed to infiltrate the prison disguised as a guard to silence his former confederate. And somebody who we thought was McG’s ally (another legacy character from the original series who got a sex change in this new version) is really another lackey. Or is she? Based on this episode, there may be other twists.

CBS renews Hawaii Five-0

CBS renewed Hawaii Five-0 for a second seson again putting it at the 10 p.m. ET Monday time slot.

The move came despite the fact ratings had slipped in recent weeks. The show may have been hurt by the Two And a Half Men/Charlie Sheen fiasco, where the supply of new episodes of the comedy dried up because of conflicts with the now-fired star. That, in turn, lessened CBS’s audience for the programs that followed. The ratings for Five-0’s season finale on May 16 improved a bit compared to previous weeks.

In any event, Five-0’s producers can now figure out how to resolve the May 16 episode’s cliffhanger where Steve McGarrett 2.0 (Alex O’Loughlin) was framed for two murders, including the Goveror, by evil mastermind Wo Fat.

Wo Fat 2.0 now No. 1 criminal mastermind of all time

On the May 16 season finale of CBS’s Hawaii Five-0, it was revealed that Wo Fat controlled the Governor of Hawaii. That means he controlled the state. Now, criminal masterminds like to try to take over the world, or least signficant parts of it. But they fail. The revamped Wo Fat, it appears, has taken more territory than his mastermind colleagues. Therefore, he must be the No. 1 criminal mastermind of all time.

You scoff? Well, consider the following:

— Original Wo Fat. He tried to take over China (in the Nine Dragons episode of the original Hawaii Five-O). FAIL. He tried to develop a Star Wars-style weapon system two years before the Reagan administration announced such a project in the original Five-O’s final episode. He couldn’t even recognize that Steve McGarrett 1.0 was right in front of him wearing a fake wig and goatee. BIG FAIL.

— Ernst Stavro Blofeld and SPECTRE. He tried to “inaugurate a little war” between the U.S. and Soviet Union so China could take over (You Only Live Twice). He tried to conduct an auction where nuclear supremecy would go to the highest bidder (Diamonds Are Forever). FAIL.

— Karl Stromberg (The Spy Who Loved Me) and Hugo Drax (Moonraker), each tried to kill off the world’s population and they would take over. FAIL.

— Franz Sanchez (Licence to Kill) had off the president of Isthmus to leave him alone. You could argue he had de facto control of the country except he got killed off by the end of the movie. FAIL.

— GALAXY tried to take over the world with a weather-controlling maching (Our Man Flint). FAIL.

— BIGO tried to take over the world in Matt Helm movies. FAIL.

— Thrush tried to take over the world in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on multiple occasions. FAIL.

— KAOS tried to take over the world multiple times on Get Smart. FAIL.

Clearly, Wo Fat 2.0 is on to something. Instead of a grand goal (taking over the world, taking over a country), he has broken it down to smaller, accomplishable parts. Of course, he did kill the Governor in the May 16 episode, so it’s not entirely clear his control over the state of Hawaii will continue. Still, being an accomplished criminal mastermind, he may have a Plan B. The beauty of Wo Fat’s situation is *nobody knows he has control of Hawaii* except Steve McGarrett 2.0. And McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) is in jail for the Governor’s murder.

Also, Wo Fat didn’t take over just any state. He took over “our extended finger into the Pacific (Ocean),” as the Governor (that is the original Governor from the original Five-O pilot, played by Lew Ayres) put it. That’s not to be confused with the Governor (Jean Smart) who was under Wo Fat’s control in the new Five-0

This is even more impressive because Wo Fat 2.0 (Mark Dacascos) have probably has *less than 20 minutes of screen time* all season long.

It should be noted that Robert Short and Danny Biederman, who tried to develop a Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie in the early 1980s, had a storyline where Thrush had taken over the world (economically) but nobody knew it. That project, though, never saw the light of day, so it doesn’t count.

Congrats, Wo Fat 2.0.

New-look McGarrett and Wo Fat face off on Monday

CBS is using the NCAA men’s basketball tournament to promote a new Hawaii Five-0 episode on Monday in which the new-look versions of Steve McGarrett and Wo Fat have a meeting.

Wo Fat 2.0 has had two cameo appearances prior to this. CBS has been showing repeats the past few weeks as it tries to spread out its 22 first-season episodes for the television season. We’re guessing Wo Fat is behind a subplot that has featured throughout the season. Monday may provide clues whether we’re correct.

Here’s the first meeting of McGarrett and Wo Fat in the new series from earlier in the season:

UPDATE: No sign of Wo Fat after two commercial breaks, but we’re introduced the new-look (and new gender) Jonathan Kaye, who’s now Jenna Kaye. The new Kaye is just a CIA agent (rather than head of the spymaster in charge of the Pacific Rim). She wants McGarrett’s files into his father’s murder.

UPDATE II: Oops. Turns out Kaye is merely a CIA analyst who was trying to bluff McG. Mistake. Wo Fat shown in flashback.

UPDATE III: Kaye provides details on Wo Fat 2.0 who, we’re told, was “one of the good guys” and who U.S. intelligence officials believe is responsible for at least 23 deaths. Wo Fat also responsible for death of Kaye’s financee.

UPDATE IV: Wo Fat finally showed up in the last scene, after the episode’s main storyline was resolved. Wo Fat met McGarrett at a Chinese restaurant, McG had a gun under the table but had to let him go. “Don’t dig too deeply into your family’s past,” Wo Fat says, calling it a piece of “friendly advice.”

New Hawaii Five-0 swipes plot of two episodes of original series

We finally had a chance to catch up with the Jan. 23 episode of Hawaii Five-0. It turns out the show centered around a false tsunami alarm, which was the plot of not one, but *two* episodes of the original show.

One of the original episodes that utilized the plot was called Forty Feet High And It Kills!, which was one of the Wo Fat episodes. That installment involved Wo Fat triggering a false tsunami warning to kidnap an important scientist. The other was just titled Tusnami and aired during the orignal series’ 10th season (scroll down to episode 224 of the preceding link).

We suspect the Jan. 23 episode will be related to the unfolding storyline involving Wo Fat 2.0. But we’ll see. The Jan. 23 episode included a second appearance by Al Harrington, one of the few surviving members of the cast of the orignal series.