Five-0 Redux: Guest stars shine on ‘Five-0’

May. 24, 2014 | 15 Comments

BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser

While the reboot of “Hawaii Five-0” is known for its action and use of modern technology, one of the elements it shares with the classic show is featuring notable guest stars.

Season four had several amazing guests — Jorge Garcia was so popular he became a series regular, and Carol Burnett brought down the house with a Thanksgiving serenade. Some guests garnered a mixed response; Melanie Griffith, Darryl Hannah, and Nick Jonas were loved by some and loathed by others.

Regardless, if you liked a guest star or could have done without them, the names and faces that worked alongside the Five-0 team probably helped elevate the showʻs overall ratings.

So in true Five-0 Redux fashion, I picked several guest stars I enjoyed watching and who melded well with the team. My basic criteria for picking these five were that I liked their character or at least liked hating them, I was moved by their performance in some way, and they evoked a reaction from the team which added to the drama of the episode.

You may have other choices, so feel free to post who they are and why you liked them in the comments section. I know there were guests who were just as great as my choices, so don’t shoot the messenger — just add them below.

Scott Caan and Alex O'Loughlin with guest star Corbin Bernsen in a scene from “Kūpouli ʻla,” (“Broken”). (Courtesy CBS).

Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin with guest star Corbin Bernsen in a scene from “Kūpouli ʻla,” (“Broken”). (Courtesy CBS).


CORBIN BERNSEN

While I don’t usually watch “Hawaii Five-0” repeats during the hiatus, I found myself watching “Kūpouli ʻla” (“Broken”) with guest star Corbin Bernsen as the wealthy man who bankrolls the unconventional treatment of his son, which leads Five-0 to his door.

Bernsen, who made his mark on television with “L.A. Law” and in film with “Major League,” played a more conflicted character in “Hawaii Five-0.” Bernsen was candid about his time on “Five-0” when he spoke with Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter Mike Gordon, and said he took the role of Upton as a tribute to his mother, the late actress Jeanne Cooper, who guest starred in the original “Hawaii Five-O.”

I had forgotten how great Bernsen was in the annual Halloween episode. His character was determined to save his son from the insidious disease of addiction. While his efforts were very misguided, I was glad he wasn’t really a bad guy. Perhaps overzealous and warped by wealth, but in his core, not a true villain.

In the lavish Halloween party scene, I thought Bernsen was just going to be playing someone rich and cocky who likes to show off his money and power. Yet the end of the episode, when he’s led away in handcuffs while crying apologies to his son, was heartbreaking.

MICHAEL MADSEN

While we’re on the topic of fathers, Michael Madsen definitely was someone who was interesting to watch as a man deserving of our distrust and dislike, yet who yearned for love and understanding.

Special guest star Michael Madsen is Roy Parrish, an escaped convict who is desperate to clear his name and reunite with his daughter. (Courtesy CBS).

Special guest star Michael Madsen is Roy Parrish, an escaped convict who is desperate to clear his name and reunite with his daughter. (Courtesy CBS).

Madsen played escaped convict Roy Parrish, who kidnapped McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) in order for our dynamic duo to help him clear his name and prove to his daughter he really was a nice guy.

Madsen, who made a household name for himself playing really bad guys, made a 360-degree turn in this episode. While I was not a fan of how he tormented Gracie (Teilor Grubbs) over the phone, or how he treated Steve and Danny, I did like the fact he was so determined to get to his daughter, make sure she knew he was innocent, and tell her how much he loved her. He definitely got to Steve with his story, and we all know Danno was moved because of his own love for his daughter.

While I’m sure Madsen will not be a popular choice amongst the fans, I definitely thought he brought something to the table in this episode. I was very sad to see him die at the end, as he would have been a fun character to have return to the show.

JAMES SAITO

There are not enough words or space in this blog to write about all the emotions I felt watching this episode. James Saito’s portrayal of a man who carried the weight of a generation persecuted by racism, fear, and ignorance, was simply amazing.

Special Guest Star James Saito-- out of his make-up-- with fellow "Hawaii Five-0" actor, Dennis Chun, at the special JCCH Remembrance Day ceremony for the Japanese Internees. (Courtesy Amy Bakari).

Special Guest Star James Saito– out of his make-up– with fellow “Hawaii Five-0″ actor, Dennis Chun, at the special JCCH Remembrance Day ceremony for the Japanese Internees. (Courtesy Amy Bakari).

Saito was stellar in what fans call “The Pearl Harbor Episode,” not only playing an 82-year-old man with such realism and dignity, but also helping to educate those not aware of a very shameful time in American history.

Saito’s acting career started in the late 1970’s and one of his first major roles was in the television drama “Farewell to Manzanar,” which depicted the internment of the Wakatsuki family. He also has guest-starred in shows like “Person of Interest,” “30 Rock” and “Blue Bloods,” among others. He also played Dr. Frank Chen in the short-lived series “Eli Stone,” starring Jonny Lee Miller (who now plays Sherlock on CBS’s “Elementary”).

The reaction by fans to this episode, as well as Saito’s character, was almost surreal. Fans around the world reacted with disbelief, wondering if it was really true that we interned Japanese Americans during World War II. Fans as far away as France were so moved, they reached out to the Japanese community in Hawaii to pay their respects.

While the writers gave Saito words to speak, what really made this episode was his ability to tell the story of a young boy who became an angry young man, then became a determined older man, who only wanted justice for his father and his family. The expression on Saito’s face when he takes McG and Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) to the spot of the old internment camp, and when his family katana is returned to him, had me weeping.

When he apologized to Ezra Clark (Jack Axelrod) and when he told McG about knowing his grandfather and giving him the baseball mitt, I’m sure there wasn’t a dry eye watching those scenes.

CAROL BURNETT

While Carol Burnett may not need any kind of introduction, as many of us grew up watching her variety show, she continues to appear on television. In recent years, she’s appeared on shows like “Glee” and “Hot In Cleveland,” as well “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (where she was nominated for an Emmy). Burnett is no stranger to Hawaii fans who remember her from “Magnum P.I.” as recurring (and hilarious) character Susan Johnson.

Special Guest Star Carol Burnett was perfect in her comedic timing and her touching ending song. (Courtesy CBS).

Special Guest Star Carol Burnett was perfect in her comedic timing and her touching ending song. (Courtesy CBS).

Her turn in the Thanksgiving-themed episode was a reunion of sorts with recurring cast member Larry Manetti (who played Rick in “Magnum P.I.”).

Aunt Deb’s backstory included the fact she gave up a successful singing career to take in Mary Ann and Steve after Doris was “killed.” I was not surprised at Burnett’s humor and how well she fit in with the cast; it was as if she had always dropped in for holiday dinners.

This time, Deb was in town to tell her family that she was dying of cancer, but it didn’t seem to hold her back from getting into a bit of trouble with Sgt. Duke and causing McG to have to spring her from jail after she tried to buy some pakalolo (marijuana). The best part was Burnett singing at the end of the episode, which was a perfect way to incorporate Aunt Deb’s farewell to her hanai (adopted or foster) children and a bittersweet way to tell them how much she loved them.

I really hope Deb finds some wild cure in South America and comes back to visit her family. She really is a gem and I loved watching her on the show. She made everyone laugh, and her presence really helped bring Steve and Mary Ann closer. It was wonderful to see brother McG help Mary Ann in a way that did not involve him bailing her out of jail. Aunt Deb really needs to come back because at some point Joanie is going to need a grandmother to aid in driving Uncle Steve crazy.

Can’t you see Burnett being perfect in that role?

REDUX SIDE NOTE

If you are missing your “Five-0” fix every week, don’t forget TNT also replays episodes from season one through three every week. Usually the episodes air Wednesdays or Thursdays; check the schedule at TNTdrama.com.

Next week, there will be two season four repeats on CBS: “Pukana” (“Keepsake”) will air Wednesday, followed by “O kēlā me kēia manawa” (“Now and Then”) on Friday.
———
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

  • Dina

    Love it – as always!!!

    • Wendie Joy

      Thanks Dina!

  • Terry FiveOs

    I also loved Carol Burnett and hope to see Aunt Deb back (cured!) as well. McGarrett needs this strong, fun-loving woman in his life.

    In my opinion, two of the most impressive performances from guest stars this season came from young actors; Christopher Sean and Sasha Pieterse. As Malia Waincroft’s brother Gabriel, Sean portrayed an a misguided young teen, just as well as he did a crime boss and stone-cold killer. And Sasha Pieterse was positively chilling as a home-grown terrorist.

    Although his role was a small one, DJ Qualls broke my heart as a homeless, disturbed victim of medical experiments in the Halloween episode, “Kupouli ‘la.”

    But if I had to pick just one character I’d really like to return in Season 5, it would have to be baby Joan. Watching Steve, Chin, and Danny babysit Mary’s adoptive daughter was pure joy.

    • Wendie Joy

      Oh those were great too! I loved Christopher Sean. I need to do a “Little known but awesome actors on Five-0″ post… I also liked BooBoo Stewart. Well- it’s settled- have to do a part two…. Thanks Terry!

  • Brenda

    I agree with Terry’s comments. Carol was just the best of the best and we must have more baby Joan in Uncle Steve’s future. I also liked Nick Jonas in that role. I thought he played the aloof psychopath well. It’s what I would have expected from that character who had no regard for anyone but himself.

    I just love that H50 has the clout to pull some great guest stars.

    • Wendie Joy

      Thanks Brenda! Good choices- and yes, I’m with you and Terry- more baby Joan next season:) Aloha, Wendie

  • Sam

    Hi Wendy,
    thanks for giving us a Redux during the hiatus; always looking forward to read it.
    I agree with four of your five picks. Michael Madsen though gave me nothing. He never managed to make me feel for him. To prove his innocence he took two cops hostage and threatened to kill them? Sorry, but I couldn’t develop any sympathy for that long time criminal. Maybe because the scenes in the car were way too long and rather boring.
    There were many great actors playing great roles in season 4; very hard to pick just five. Some of the young ones were absolutely great. Christopher Sean and Sasha Pieterse are absolutely worth mentioning. Her performance with Alex in the blue room was chilling.
    I also really liked Nick Jonas as the world class hacker, he did a really good job, and I’m sad that his character is gone.
    Who I hope to see again is Xzibit as Dekker. I think he’s an interesting character.
    Who I hope to never ever see again is the horrible miscast of Danny’s mom in the form of Melanie Griffith. Just ugh. Sorry, but that character and the performance were just not my thing at all.
    And can we please get more baby Joan? I will even tolerate Steve’s terrible sister. Yeah, not a fan of her either. ;-)

  • Manu

    I liked so many of them.
    For me it is a tough choice between Carol Burnett and Jorge Garcia, even though I thought Michael Madsen was amazing in his episode and Nick Jonas was very good in portraying Ian ( I’m also biased because i actually met Nick on the day of shooting at the airport ;)) Final choice has to be Carol Burnett! She was so good, at the same time funny, emotional, strong and sweet. She brought out a lot of emotions from Steve as well, her interaction with Alex was brilliant. I wish they could bring her back at least for one more episode. And I’m really looking forward to Jorge being a regular in S5

  • Angela Gerstner

    Excellent choice of guest stars although there were several others that could be added in a part 2 of this blog – like Boo Boo Stewart or even Nick Jonas – although I’m not as impressed with Nick’s unemotional portrayal of a psychopath on H50 anymore after a certain H50 fan who met him at the SOTB4 premiere commented that Nick appears to be equally unemotional and one-dimensional in real life. Oh, well…

    If someone had asked me to name the Top 5 guest stars on Season 4, Corbin Bernsen probably wouldn’t have come to my mind right away but he was really good, too.
    And although I didn’t like his character’s approach of kidnapping my favorites Steve and Danno, Michael Madsen would have been in my Top 5, too, because the episode with him (especially the ending) was quite moving and that was partly owed to his performance – but also to the story as such.
    Unlike some other fans, I also agree on Melanie Griffith being one of this season’s Top 5 guest stars because Scotty and Melanie have great chemistry and play mother and son quite convincingly. It might have been helpful that they “practised” before because they played mother and son in one of Scotty’s theatre plays back in 2012 in L.A. Speaking about Melanie and her talent as an actress – Many fans probably don’t know that she received the “Cine Merit Award” here at the Munich Film Festival two years ago where I managed to catch a glimpse of her. I wished I had known back then that she would be on my favorite show later on.

    But back to your blog… There were two guest stars who were so brilliant and outstanding and whom I absolutely loved on the show that I would rather just pick my personal “Top 2″ – which are James Saito and Carol Burnett!
    James’ “stellar” performance, as you so pertinently call it, made me cry repeatedly, too. Definitely one of the best guest actors ever on the show – if not the best. But then the entire episode was a masterpiece, in my opinion.

    Carol Burnett played the caring, lovable and humorful aunt all of us would love to have! The episode with her was one of my favorite ones in a season that was so good that I’d have a really hard time picking favorites episodes from – because there were so many I truly enjoyed watching. Like you, Wendie, I wished aunt Deb would find a magic cure for her cancer so we could enjoy Carol’s return to the show. I would absolutely love to see her as aunt Deb again!

    Mahalo for another excellent blog!

  • Linda M. Stein

    Finally home from the Outer Banks and on to Redux…and what a great one it is! I agree with every guest star you mentioned Wendie. I especially agree with you and others about James Saito. Not only was the “Pearl Harbor Episode” a magnificent piece of TV, James’ performance was Emmy worthy. The scene when Steve and Chin take him back to the site of the interment camp was stirring and when he uttered the line about his mother…. “can you hear her cry?….I still can” was breathtakingly and heartbreakingly beautiful. This episode and James’ outstanding performance in it was a masterpiece.

    I can’t let a blog about guest stars go by without mentioning Jorge Garcia. As a fan of LOST who never missed an episode, I adore Jorge and the only thing better than seeing him as a guest star was finding out he is going to be a regular.

    There is nothing I can say or add about the wonderful appearance of Carol Burnett. As you say, many of us grew up watching her variety show and I hear she may be returning to Five-0 to guest again next season. I hope it’s a return in remission and not a final goodbye. I don’t think my heart could take it.

    Oh and YES….please bring back baby Joanie! That baby is just the most adorable little thing and I just love the interaction between her and her all her uncles. I really hope we get to see her toddling around Casa McG next season messing up Uncle Steve’s perfect little world while Uncle Danny sits back and enjoys the show. That would be priceless!

  • jlopie1

    I have to say I like ALL the guest stars sited in your Redux, as well as the ones mentioned in the comments, Wendie! I really don’t have a favorite. I just think it’s impressive that H50 can draw so many talented actors all the way to Hawaii to dim their part!

    I guess out of all the remarkable actors listed as guests, my favorite has to be Carol Burnett. Not only was it a joy to see her on the screen again, but her part was so well written, and brought such a new dimension to Steve’s character, that I think the saga of the McGarrett family took a giant leap forward with that particular episode. It showed how Steve and Mary Ann’s lives were completely uprooted, and the life of their Aunt Deb was permanently altered, by the fake death of “Mom.” The devastation exhibited by both Mary Ann and Steve upon learning of Aunt Deb cancer indicated how much their time with her was the only real semblance of a normal family life either of them had. If Steve and Mary Ann were ambivalent towards Doris up to this point, both of them certainly have ample reason to despise her now. Carol Burnettlayed Aunt Deb with humor, love, a touch of regret, and just enough panache to show us, the viewers, that this lady still has what it takes to be on our television screens!

    Thanks for the interesting review this week – have a wonderful weekend!

  • KAD1228

    My favorite was Carol Burnett! It would be wonderful if she could return. The same goes for James Saito. The other 2 were ok, nothing to write home about, esp Madsen. While I like him in small doses, Jorge will prove to be either stellar and a bit of comic relief or another underutilized, haphazardly written character to be tossed away. Time will tell.

    Thanks for the great review. How about an article on the younger actors who graced the screen over the season!!

    Happy Birthday!

  • Amy Denton

    MORE Baby Joanie! My mother’s name was Joan and it’s not a name that you see being used very often any more so…I also LOVE seeing them all with the baby. By next season, she should be walking! And tall enough to get into Uncle Steve’s stuff. :-)
    More Aunt Deb! She is wonderful. It’s tv after all, she doesn’t have to die.
    More of James Saito. He is a gift to the acting world.

    I’ll be honest and say, with a couple of exceptions, I had no real idea who most of the guest stars were. I had heard of the names of couple of them. I knew what a couple of them looked like but that was all. I didn’t really care though because the show was still great.

  • Diane

    I loved Carol Burnett, but I have always loved her. I’m hoping for some miracle cure, procedure, or new drug that makes her live longer. Anything at all that will bring her back as Aunt Deb. Need see Baby Joan as well, the baby they had, had such wonderful expressions. We need to see more Mary, too. Some don’t like her, but I do. Loved all the others you posted as well.

  • edmattes763

    Others are liking the episodes that I did … Carol Burnett as Aunt Deb and the great way she interacted with Steve, Mary and baby Joan. The Pearl Harbor episode with James Saito was the best of the year for me. I concur with Linda. Just reading the quote “can you hear her cry … I still can” brings a lump to my throat again. But I would add Elaine Tan as the Chinese agent who was also good. She might make a good recurring villain. (And of course James Caan from a couple of seasons ago.)