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Years: 1975, 1976
Genre: TV series, Cop, Drama
Country: United States
Starring: Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Kam Fong, Al Harrington
Guest stars: Susan Dey, George Takei, Pat Hingle, Helen Hayes, Charles Durning, Ed Asner, Lew Ayres
Creator: Leonard Freeman
Run time: 20 hours 9 minutes
DVD distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
I still enjoy Hawaii Five-O. After watching eight seasons worth (season 8 comes out March 16th from Paramount Home Entertainment), the show has grown on me more and more. Except for one thing. Wo Fat. This is a show that really does NOT need a supervillain. The Wo Fat episodes are totally useless. And stupid. Steve McGarrett is cool, and he makes badass statements that are cheesily fun in their overly dramatic nature. And he makes these bizarre leaps in logic that only a Superinvestigator could make. Which is also cheesily fun.
But when Wo Fat enters the picture, giving McGarrett a Supervillain foil, McGarrett stops being a cool-ass police detective, and becomes a Superhero. For example, the first episode of Season Eight sees Wo Fat building an entire hospital as a front. Then he accepts a bunch of patients in that hospital so no one clues in to his real motive – stealing military secrets. You see, he has kidnapped a woman whose husband is a high-ranking military official…
He has also created an elaborate ruse where everyone believes the woman has been injured in a car crash and is in a coma in this fake hospital. Which functions as a real hospital. But in fact, he is just keeping her sedated, so the husband will go see her in that hospital, and when he gets there Wo Fat and his cronies can brainwash him on a regular basis and get him to turn over military secrets to them. Seriously. That’s Wo Fat’s plot. I’m not sure he’s a supervillain, so much as a complete idiot with way too much money to waste.
But of course, the only one who can decipher this elaborate plot is Steve McGarrett. Because only he speaks Bad Guy Rich Moron Spy. And immediately, he says “this can be only one guy – Wo Fat!” And of course it is. But Wo Fat isn’t even in the episode. He shows up for a total of like twelve seconds, so he can chortle and tent his fingers and stroke his moustache and do other Supervillain things. But really he’s just there to say “yes, it’s me. Wo Fat. I’m evil.” And then he’s gone.
The rest of the show is great – McGarrett is cheesy, there are babes and Hawaiian scenery, and it’s a lot of fun. But by the eighth season, Wo Fat has run his course. I’m certain he will be there until the end though, because he and McGarrett need to have their One Final Confrontation. Which I assume will take place on a rooftop in the rain and involve a couple of laser-shooting battling robots and a number of burly, brainwashed mind-controlled henchmen.