Your Hawaiian vacation of pop culture
Copyright 2014-2016 by Dr. Mike Rickard
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After Star Trek was cancelled, William Shatner kept busy by guest starring on TV shows. One of the most interesting was when he appeared on Hawaii Five-O in the fifth season episode "You Don't Have to Kill to Get Rich…But It Helps". When I heard about this prospect, I jumped at the thought of seeing TV's Captain Kirk and supercop Steve McGarrett go mano y mano.
While the episode provides a surprising lack of interaction between Messieurs Shatner and Lord, it is still a very entertaining episode, especially for fans of the Shat. In this edition of Five-O, the Shat plays Sam Tolliver, a good 'ol boy private investigator who comes to Hawaii after his rich friend becomes the victim of an elaborate blackmail scheme. The blackmailers operate under the auspices of a corporation named Veritech, and use computers to help them in finding rich targets who are easy prey.
Doing as only he can do, the Shat arranges things so the blackmailers think that he is a rich businessman. After he lets himself become ensnared in the blackmailer's web, he turns the table on them by videotaping one of their agents trying to shake him down for money. The Shat then confronts the blackmailers at their headquarters and demands a piece of the action (not to be confused with the Star Trek episode "A Piece of the Action").
Meanwhile the Five-O team is looking for a missing woman and trying to figure out how she ties in with the suicide of a wealthy businessman (The not so nice people at Veritech kill her to tie up loose ends after one of their blackmail victims commits suicide). Slowly, the Five-O team piece together that there is an elaborate blackmail scheme going on in the islands.
The Shat plays his ace in the hole against the blackmailers. He has secreted the video of the blackmailer trying to shake him down so he feels that he is fireproof. The blackmailers seem to give in to the Shat's demands, and arrange a meeting at the home of Veritech's head honcho. The Shat is no fool though and he uses his underworld contacts to hire a hitman. He has no intention of leaving without all of the pie.
Unbeknownst to the Shat, the Five-O team have pieced together a little bit of what's going on. They discover that the Shat is going to meet with the leader of the blackmailers and that he is in the market for a hitman. Five-O stake out the blackmailer's home, waiting for their man to get the goods. The Shat hires a hitman but the hitman is one of McGarrett's operatives, Ben.
For those who haven't watched the original Hawaii Five-0, it's important to understand that the show's main character Steve McGarrett was surrounded by some less than competent subordinates. Like paralyzed TV detective Robert Ironside, McGarrett surrounded himself with bumbling idiots that made him look like a genius by comparison. No one epitomized this more than the character of Ben. He was always one step behind the crooks. If he was tailing someone, he'd lose the tail. He would have fit in perfectly with the adults on Scooby Doo who needed a bunch of teenagers and a dog to solve grade school mysteries. This is seen once again in this episode.
The Shat shows up at the blackmailer's home but the blackmailer has a surprise for him. The people at Veritech are not without their resources, and they discover the Shat's true identity after lifting his fingerprints off of an ashtray in their office, and running a background check. The Shat is horrified when he discovers that Veritech has two killers holding his family hostage. The head of Veritech tells the Shat that he wants the videotape evidence to which the Shat complies.
The blackmailer and one of his henchman recognize the Five-O agent with the Shat, and they take the two men hostage. Fortunately for them, the Five-O team shows up in time to save the day. McGarrett tells the Shat that he is looking at some serious charges. The Shat tells him that he's just a country boy who got in over his head. If this were an episode of Star Trek, the Shat would have talked his way out of trouble. Regrettably, he's just a guest star and he has to face the music here.
The Five-O team spends a lot of the episode in the background. The episode really revolves around the Shat doing his best to swindle the swindlers. For a while, it looks like he's going to pull it off but in the end, the blackmailers get the upper hand. It's fun to watch the Shat's good 'ol boy character using his wits to deal with a pretty sophisticated organization.
It's also fun to watch the thespian skills of the Shat as he portrays a Texas private investigator. Some people will find his accent just plan ridiculous. Others will find it to be adequate. Personally I think the Shat does a good job with the Texas accent. If you note the Shat's performance here and his appearance as a Southerner in Big Bad Mama, you might think he was American, and not Canadian. As for the Shat's acting, you either love him or you hate him. Some people think he chews up the scenery while others find no fault with his performance.
For me, it's always a treat to see the Shat in a non-Kirk role. If you look at his resume on the Internet Movie Database, you'll see that he had a lot of guest star appearances during the 1970's. You don't get that kind of work unless you bring something to the table. Not only was the Shat able to find work on the small screen, but he occasionally found work on the silver screen in such B-movie epics as Big Bad Mama, The Devil's Rain, and his 70's tour-de-force Kingdom of the Spiders.
One thing that does stand out about the Shat is the outrageous rug that he sports in this episode. Words cannot describe how bad it is. You just have to see it to believe it.
Speaking of rugs, the one thing I thought was missing in this episode was some interaction between McGarret and the Shat. The two characters don't appear together until the end of the episode and they only exchange a few bits of dialogue. I would have loved to see both of the characters engage in combat. They could even have had a battle between both stars toupees, ala Medusa from the Inhumans.
Despite this shortcoming, this is a fun episode of Hawaii Five-O and the writers showed that they could change things up a bit. If you're a fan of the Shat, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Kirk vs. McGarrett: The Tale of the Toupees
"Ben, you've been doing a good job getting my coffee. I think you're ready to go undercover"
The Shat has to be thinking, "This guy would make a great redshirt!"
The Shat beams down to an island paradise.