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