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.

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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.”

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.

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 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.

Meet the new Wo Fat

Actor Mark Cacascos has assumed the role of Steve McGarrett’s arch-nemesis, originated by Khigh Dhiegh in the original Hawaii Five-O series.

The new Wo Fat surfaced at the end of the Dec. 13 episode, which you can watch BY CLICKING HERE. It features the return of the man who killed the father of McGarrett 2.0, as seen in the pilot of the new series. It’s revealed that the killer is in the employ of Wo Fat at the very end of the episode.

The last time original Wo Fat appeared? April 1980 when the last episode of the original series ended. Here’s the final faceoff:

1975: ABC (with 007) and CBS (with Hawaii Five-O) try to knock off NBC’s The Rockford Files

September 1975 featured an interesting faceoff between the three U.S. commercial television networks. Both ABC and CBS wanted to try to knock off NBC’s Friday line-up, which was anchored by the private-eye show The Rockford Files.

ABC’s main programming for the evening was a new ABC Friday Night Movie. Most would be made-for-television movies. But not the debut. That honor would go to the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, which was being shown on television for the first time. ABC, as it typically did, made a number of trims, such as the joke told by comedian/diamond smuggler Shady Tree, that trying to find Willard Whyte “was like trying to find a virgin in a maternity ward.”

Over on CBS, the evening was comprised of a one-hour episode of M*A*S*H, which featured the introduction of Mike Farrell’s B.J. Hunnicut character, and a two-hour Hawaii Five-O story featuring another faceoff between Steve McGarrett and his arch-nemesis, international spy/bad guy Wo Fat.

It was quite an evening for lovers of adventure TV. CBS and ABC were unsuccessful, however. Rockford remained on the air (both it and Five-O had new episodes until 1980).

We’re reminded of this because, the 8th season of Five-O, which includes the Wo Fat episode called “Murder — Eyes Only,” came out this week and is available for sale. The set also features another spy-oriented story called Termionation With Extreme Prejudice,” which features the excellent character actor Dan O’Herlihy, directed by his brother, Michael O’Herlihy, one of the most frequent Five-O directors.