Normally a review of Hawaii Five-O would focus on the recently departed James MacArthur and his role as Danno. But Hawaii Five-O: The Tenth Season represents the end of the run for Chin Ho Kelly (Kam Fong). MacArthur left the show the next year so we’ll hold off his memorial until that release. After a decade on the beat, Kam Fong left the series. He brought an air of authority to the role of Chin Ho with his experience as a Honolulu cop. He wasn’t merely an actor following directions when he surveyed a neighborhood for a suspect. He knew the area and where exactly to look. This small trait was essential for his character since his time was limited on a majority of episodes. Often his role consisted of getting orders from Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) and quickly reporting his findings. His shrinking line count could have allowed him to vanish without notice, but Chin Ho went out with a bang.
“Up the Rebels” involves bombs being hijacked from the military in Hawaii so they can be shipped to Northern Ireland. The IRA agent disguises himself as a priest to look extra innocent. “You Don’t See Too Many Pirates These Days” brings another bout of hijackings. This time an off-shore ship gets taken over by a band of outlaws. McGarrett digs around to find out the true nature of the cargo and the crime. “The Cop on the Cover” lets a reporter tag along with McGarrett while he tracks down a kidnapped child. Jean Simmons (Elmer Gantry) is the reporter. It wouldn’t be a ‘70s TV show without a guest role from John Rubenstein (Family). He plays the title role of “The Friends of Joey Kalima,” a young cop that gets nailed on charges of being part of a bookmaking scheme. McGarrett does his best to protect his new pal. “The Descent of the Torches” murders an archeologist near King Kamehameha’s grave. Geraldine Page (A Trip to Bountiful) is the widow that wants justice.
“Shake Hands with the Man on the Moon” mixes NASA with a real estate scam. A creepy developer hires an ex-astronaut to pitch his latest development on the island. While this seems like the usual swindle, there’s a body count building up. “Deadly Doubles” gives a superstar twosome. The episode revolves around Soviet tennis players looking to defect. McGarrett does his best to stop an international incident. While it’s a rather tepid script, the action features Tim Matheson (Animal House) and Kurt Russell (Escape From New York). That’s right, Jack Lord deals with Snake Plissken. “Deep Cover” brings even more Soviet style trouble to the islands. Maud Adams (Octopussy) runs an operation eager to snag defense secrets. She’s like a sexy Wo Fat. “Tsunami” uses a natural disaster warning to pull off a heist.
“A Short Walk on the Longshore” puts McGarrett undercover on the dock. He’s there to bust up a thievery ring that’s taking off with booze, smokes and drugs. He means serious business when he slaps on a fake mustache. Chin gets plenty of time here hitting up contacts for information including a stripper. “Tall on the Wave” gives Danno a life outside the office. He’s a judge at a major surfing competition. However the fun ends when a surfer’s girlfriend turns up dead. What’s worse it the surfer is his pal. He’s too close on this case, but won’t give up. “When Does the War End” appears to be the start of the Weirdness that dominated the final seasons of the show. An ex-Japanese businessman’s assets are being destroyed by a nutjob using World War II hand grenades. The unreality is that the rich guy’s daughter is dating a local cabbie that turns out to be the bomber. What are the odds? Anne Francis (Honey West) takes part is a rather goofy reveal. Watch this one with your favorite umbrella drink. “Frozen Assets” ices a shady cryogenics company run by Peter Lawford (Ocean’s 11).
“A Death In the Family” ought to get a spoiler alert. This is the end of Chin Ho. When Kam Fong knew the end was near, he thought he was going to just disappear from the show. This is what happened to both Kono and Ben at the end of their run. Viewers weren’t given any explanation why they turned in their badges. Kam Fong was rather shocked to discover his character was going in the grave. But it worked for the episode. You immediately know something strange is up since McGarrett wants him working undercover in a pool hall to bust up a crime syndicate. Chin Ho even gets to wear a disguise. Things backfire when the mobsters blow Chin Ho’s cover and ventilate him. McGarrett must catch the killers and bust the syndicate. He even raids a cockfight for leads. The ending has McGarrett put a fresh twist on “Book ‘em, Danno.”
While it’s getting obvious that the weirdness was encroaching, Hawaii Five-O: The Tenth Season keeps up the island crime action. The death of Chin Ho brings a sense of mortality to a unit that appeared God-like. In a strange bit of casting Kam Fong revived his character in 1997 when Stephen J. Cannell made a pilot. Nobody had told Cannell that Chin Ho had died on the show until post-production. However this goof didn’t matter since the network didn’t pick up the series. Even though Fong passed away in 2002, his legacy continues on the new Hawaii Five-O since his son plays Sgt. Duke Lukela.
“Up the Rebels,” “You Don’t See Many Pirates These Days,” “The Cop on the Cover,” “The Friends of Joey Kalima,” “The Descent of the Torches,” “The Ninth Step,” “Shake Hands with the Man on the Moon,” “Deadly Doubles,” “Deep Cover,” “Tsunami,” “East Wind — Ill Wind,” “Tread the King’s Shadow,” “The Big Aloha,” “A Short Walk on the Longshore,” “The Silk Trap,” “Head to Head,” “Tall on the Wave,” “Angel in Blue,” “When Does a War End?,” “Invitation to Murder,” “Frozen Assets,” “My Friend, the Enemy,” “A Stranger in His Grave” and “A Death in the Family.”
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer quality isn’t quite up to the same snuff as earlier seasons. Hard to tell if it’s from them changing the film stock or did they soften things up so Jack Lord and his crew looking a little younger. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. You still get the fine levels when McGarrett says, “Book ‘em, Danno.” The episodes have English subtitles.
Hawaii Five-O: The Tenth Season brings to an end the work of Chin Ho Kelly as part of McGarrett’s loyal crew. Even though he didn’t play a pivotal role in most of the episodes, his departure brought along the weirdness of the final two seasons. His screen presence made things seem a little bit more realistic. Aloha, Chin Ho!
CBS DVD presents Hawaii Five-O: The Tenth Season. Starring: Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Herman Wedemeyer and Kam Fong. Boxset Contents: 24 episodes on 6 DVDs. Released on DVD: December 14, 2010.
Tags: Escape From New York, Hawaii, Hawaii Five-O, Jack Lord, Kurt Russell, Steve McGarrett