Jack Lord was colder than any of the killers his crack unit tracked down in Honolulu. When someone in the cast displeased him, they disappeared. At the end of season four, Zulu got into a spat with the show’s publicist. Lord had him cut. There was no farewell episode for his Det. Kono character. Al Harrington’s Det. Ben Kokua took his desk without any backstory. Hawaii Five-O: The Seventh Season featured the unexpected end of Harrington’s time on the unit. In the middle of the season he vanished. They replaced his leap over the fence in the opening credits with a faceless fireman. Why Lord axed the co-star is an under-publicized mystery. Any other show would at least kill off the character as a ratings gimmick. Think of all those special CSI episodes where they whack a series regular. Lord wanted the actors gone and their characters not memorialized as fallen heroes. Douglas Mossman’s Det. Frank Kemana took over Ben’s duties, but you won’t see him on the opening credits in Hawaii Five-O: The Seventh Season.
“The Young Assassins” has Larry Wilcox (Officer Jon Baker from CHiPs) go really bad. He’s part of a college radicals that want to change the world with a gun. They’re up for killing people to cause chaos. Det. Danny Williams (James MacArthur) picks the brain of a local college professor to understand where these violent kids are coming from. This allows Danno and the professor to become kidnap victims. It’s up to McGarrett, Ben and Det Chin Ho (Kam Fong) to save them before Wilcox slaughters them. “A Hawaiian Nightmare” has the island under the threat of a geophysicist. The guy has planted explosives around a volcano. He’ll wipe out Hilo with lava if he doesn’t get his ransom. “I’ll Kill ‘Em Again” is a strange flashback episode as Danny Goldman recreates murders from the case files of the Five-O unit. “Steal Now, Pay Later” wraps Casey Kasem (voice of Shaggy) into a hot goods business. “Right Grave, Wrong Body” has a murder weapon reappear after five years. A beat cop becomes concerned with tracking down the liquor store gunman before McGarrett nabs him.
“We Hang Our Own” brings a little Wild West to the big island. Leslie Nielsen’s a rancher who believes he’s the law on his huge compound. When his son is found beaten to death, Nielsen is judge, jury and executioner of the suspect. McGarrett has to bring the law to the land. You’ll forget about Nielsen’s Police Squad persona when he turns on the vengeance while adjusting the noose. His sons are played by Perry King (Riptide) and Bruce Boxleitner (Tron). “The Two-Faced Corpse” turns up a body killed execution style. While getting the ID on the corpse, McGarrett discovers it had two different identities. Keeping up the double theme are guest appearances from two superstars: Jessica Walter (Arrested Development) and Abe Vigoda (The Godfather).
“Welcome to Our Branch Office” doubles up the Five-O force. Frank Gorshin (The Riddler on Batman) and Cameron Mitchell (The High Chaparral) bust into the headquarters in the middle of the night. They are more concerned with photographing the office instead than robbery. Turns out they’re a couple of con men that use look alike actors make businessmen are being shook down by McGarrett and his crew. The odd part is that even though Gorshin’s a great impersonator, he isn’t part of Faux-O team. “Presenting….in the Center Ring…Murder” brings back the sinister Chinese agent Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh). After Nixon visited in China in 1972, the series backed off having Fat torment McGarrett. However they found a way to have him on the show without insulting the communist Chinese government. Hawaii Five-O has the extreme job of protecting a Chinese diplomat that’s on a peace mission to America. Wo Fat has gone rouge and wants to keep a hostile climate between the two countries. He’s brought in a team of assassins, but McGarrett keeps one step ahead of him. Fat’s not giving up since he has a man on the inside wanting to cut down the boss. He plans to turn a circus into a shooting gallery with a sniper rifle disguised as a bicycle. James Hong (Kung Fu Panda) is the translator who might be a traitor. Hong’s sinister nature is exposed by a wicked cigarette holder. The highlight of the episode are dancing poodles in dresses. Why didn’t they have their own show in the ‘70s?
“Hari-Kiri Murder” marks the final appearance of Al Harrington. Don’t think this is a spoiler since nothing critical happens to him during the episode. A bank executive is found dead at a Japanese temple. The guy has put a blade through his gut in the traditional Hari-Kiri method. McGarrett is confused since his investigation shows no disgrace that would drive the guy to suicide. Ossie Davis is a friend of the banker. “Bones of Contention” shines a spotlight on a human fossil. Turns out the bones might not be real. Vic Tayback (Alice) gets into the greasy mess. “And the Horse Jumped Over the Moon smuggles more heroin into the tropical paradise. Things are going well for the operation until one of the key members gets hooked on the junk. Bruce Boxleitner returns as a different character. Speaking of repeat offenders, Nehemiah Persoff pops up as another gangster dad in “Hit Gun for Sale.” Remember him from “Charter for Death” during Season Five? A hitman dies on an arriving flight to Honolulu. McGarrett fears a gang war is about to break out. Mobster Persoff arrives to hang out with his daughter. His two sons are ready to turn the vacation into business. Sal Mineo Rebel Without A Cause is the son that isn’t in the mood to wait for dad to die. McGarrett has to stop the gang war and replacement hitman.
While Al Harrington looked the part of McGarrett’s crew, his Det. Ben Kokua character wasn’t really that missed when he was dismissed. Det. Frank Kemana filled in without a bump since he all about the work than personality on the screen. Not even Danno or Chin Ho seem to have a social life outside of crime fighting. When Harrington was removed from the credits, why didn’t Harry Endo the slot since his Che Fong was always essential to the cases with his crime lab? Hawaii Five-O: The Seventh Season reminds us that Steve McGarrett didn’t become a cop to socialize. He wears a badge to fight crime and not use it as reflector for his suntan.
“The Young Assassins,” “A Hawaiian Nightmare,” “I’ll Kill ‘Em Again,” “Steal Now — Pay Later,” “Bomb, Bomb, Who’s Got the Bomb?,” “Right Grave, Wrong Body,” “We Hang Our Own,” “The Two-Faced Corpse,” “How to Steal a Masterpiece,” “A Gun for McGarrett,” “Welcome to Our Branch Office,” “Presenting… in the Center Ring… Murder,” “Hara-Kiri: Murder,” “Bones of Contention,” “Computer Killer,” “A Woman’s Work is With a Gun,” “Small Witness, Large Crime,” “Ring of Life,” “Study in Rage,” “And the Horse Jumped over the Moon,” “Hit Gun for Sale,” “The Hostage,” “Diary of a Gun” and “6,000 Deadly Tickets.”
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers bring out the colorful nature of Hawaii in the mid-’70s. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The levels allow you to hear “Book’em Danno” clearly. There’s a Spanish dub. The subtitles are in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Episodic Promos (1:00) are attached to the episodes. You can quickly know if you’ve seen the case before. There’s a button to watch all four consecutively in case you want to pick what to watch first on the disc.
Hawaii Five-O: The Seventh Season gives another 24 cases of tropical justice. Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett was the law on screen as he nipped any criminals in the bud. While it’s sad to see Al Harrington disappear mid-season, he doesn’t come close to leaving a void on the force. This is a crime unit that hasn’t a problem replacing members that aren’t named McGarrett. Hawaii Five-O was a crime fighting machine.
CBS DVD presents Hawaii Five-O: The Seventh Season. Starring: Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Kam Fong and Al Harrington. Boxset contents: 24 episodes on 6 DVDs. Released on DVD: October. 20. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Abe Vigoda, Batman, Frank Gorshin, Hawaii, Jack Lord