Remembering Jack Lord

Humor on Hawaii Five-0

Hawaii Five-0 generally is not considered a comedy show. Even so, it had more than a few

comedic moments.  Here are some of those moments seen in . . .

(Season 1)

This episode is filled with backhanded humor and shrewd plotting and planning.

* Leonard Tokura (Ricardo Montalban) plays cat and mouse with McGarrett. Tokura says Mary Ellen Travers (Karen Norris) was poisoned to which McGarrett replies that no one said anything about her being poisoned. Tokura replies he did not see anyone  shoot or stab her, so he assumed she had been poisoned.

* When McGarrett asks Tokura whether he had any business dealings in Japan, Tokura replies he recently saw a Fu Manchu movie to which McGarrett replies, "That's Chinese, no?"

* When Tokura introduces his daughter, Dee Dee (Carolyn Barrett), to McGarrett, she and the top cop make eyes with each other, much to Tokura's displeasure.

* Tokura tells McGarrett, "If you paid more than $2.95 for that imitation [Samurai] knife, you've been cheated. I suggest you call the police."

* McGarrett uses Dee Dee to set a trap for Tokura. Knowing how much Tokura loves money, he has Dee Dee donate a million dollars to the university. Sure enough, Tokura comes out of hiding and asks Dee Dee to stop payment on the check.

* McGarrett uses HPD officers of distinctly Japanese heritage to get a confession from Tokura to the murder of Mary Ellen Travers. He knows Tokura will assume the officers are Bushido and will do anything, even confess, to avoid them.

"Once Upon a Time"
(Season 1)

If ever an episode needed comic relief, this is the one. A baby is dying, the parents are distraught, and Big Brother is doing battle with the only person who offers hope.

Part I.

* McGarrett is about to leave for Los Angeles. He tells Chin Ho to address the Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Chin asks, "What do I talk about?" to which McGarrett replies, "Law and order." Chin then asks, "For or against?" (Thanks to Kanela for this one)

* In the same scene, McGarrett tells Kono to work with Treasury to track down the source of bogus bills that are infiltrating the Islands. Kono replies, "He gets to make a speech. I get Treasury and all that leg work" to which McGarrett replies, "Us Hawaiians gotta stick together, bruddah."

* When Mary Ann McGarrett Whalen (Nancy Malone) tells Steve that Dr. Fremont (Joanne Linville) is going to cure her baby, he replies, "She couldn't cure a ham."

* The scene in Dr. Fremont's office is terse and unnerving. Yet, when viewed in its entirety, there's a dark humor in her pathetic efforts to persuade McGarrett to drop his charges against her. She starts with flattery: "I like you, McGarrett. You're rare." His reply is "I'd rather take up housekeeping with a cobra." Then, she looks for pity, calling upon her poor upbringing in the hills of Tennessee. She attacks her mother as a superstitious and and salacious old witch to which McGarrett replies, "It's like watching an auto wreck." Then, she offers herself in marriage, saying she suddenly finds herself in need of a man to which he calls her ploy what it is, an attempt to get him to drop his case against her. Finally, she threatens to use the information Mary Ann has shared with her against him and make his life miserable. He replies, "I'm sure you will" and walks out of the office.

* In court, the pro-Fremont gathering is largely elderly and fervent in their pleas on her behalf. It becomes humorous when one old lady begins singing "My Country Tis of Thee."

Part II

* When FDA attorney Zipser (David Sheiner) and McGarrett meet in his car to discuss how to build a murder case against Fremont, they use several humorous expressions, including
   - Eager-beaver quick
   - Give the man a cigar

* When the records clerk (Victoria Hale) offers to help McGarrett with his search, she says they don't usually get many live ones. Most are "prune-faced old geezers with hair growing out of their ears."

* In the same scene, one of those old investigators, Murphy (William Challee), calls the records clerk "Chickie Baby." McGarrett then uses the same expression as he thanks her for her help ("Thank you, Chickie Baby."). He lifts her glasses atop her head and gives her a kiss. As he walks away, her glasses fall back onto her nose, and she looks wistfully after him.

* Mrs. Grant (Beah Richards) says that her son, Chester (Davis Roberts), wouldn't know the truth if it sat down next to him in church.

* The bantering between Zipser and Fremont's attorney, Herbert (William Schallert), in court is hilarious. Perhaps, this is most visible when Herbert declares that none of the expert witnesses knew what a naturopathist was and Zipser pipes up, "A problem shared by Mr. Webster," creator of Webster's dictionary.

Although this is not related to humor, it is interesting: Attorney Herbert explained how the medical and legal definitions of truth are opposite from one another. In medicine, facts are held to be false until proven true by medical experts, while in law, facts are held to be true until proven false by a preponderance of the evidence.

"King Kamehameha Blues"
(Season 2)

The humor in "King Kamehameha Blues" is very reminiscent of the dark humor that existed during the Vietnam War. Nationwide, college students feared losing their draft deferments and offered such statements as, "At least, I'll be an educated dead person" in reference to what would happen to them if they didn't keep their grades up.  In this episode, the subject is knocking the establishment. The dark side of it is that the establishment they are knocking is the Hawaiian royalty. The truth be known, the four college students involved in this episode probably just want to know if they can break into the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum and take the cloak without being caught. That doesn't stop them from displaying the whole hippie bit.

* When Kono finds the cat that the students lowered through the skylight, he says, "And I thought I knew every cat in the Islands." McGarrett tells him to "Take him downtown and book him for trespassing. Tell him his rights and give him some milk and catnip." McGarrett hands the cat off to Chin Ho, who hands him back to Kono and says, "You heard what the boss said: 'Book him!'"

* The hippies provide a lot of dark humor at home, saying Arnie (Brandon DeWilde) "used your pussy cat for a tape measure." Arnie said, "We just knocked the establishment on their status quo" and "We want to put all the haircuts through the ringer." And, then, he says, "I mean, we've even got the biggest cop on the island, McGarrett, climbing palm trees."  The hippies then use the cape as a toreador's cape.

* At Five-0 headquarters, the detectives decide the perpetrators must include someone light enough to be suspended from a pole -- maybe a midget or a jockey.  Kono says, "How about a monkey or a giraffe?" to which Danno responds, "Giraffe?" Kono explains, "A giraffe could reach over and get it, but how do you get a giraffe down through the skylight?"

* While Five-0 is on the beach, surveilling the suspect hippies, Danno is taking pictures of a very attractive girl in a bikini, instead of the suspects.

* When Five-0 arrives at the hippie pad with a search warrant, Arnie tells McGarrett, "You think we stole the cloak. then, tell me how." to which McGarrett replies, "I figure you're the monkey" to which Eddie (Randall Kim) imitates a monkey; "and you're the muscle" to which Johnny (Vincent Eder) flexes his biceps; "and you're -- well, never mind" to which Diana (Jennifer Leak) smiles. McGarrett looks at Arnie and says, "So, you must be the big brains."  As McGarrett and his team depart, the hippies sing, "Aloha oink" to the tune of "Aloha Oe," alluding to the hippie term for policemen, pigs.

Seen parked at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor is the green 1958 Chevrolet, which Billy (Lani Kai) drove in "The Joker's Wild, Man, Wild!" (Season 2).

"The Devil and Mr. Frog"
(Season 2)

Two kidnappers, dressed in Halloween costumes that resemble the devil and a frog, abduct a little boy, Timmy Gainham (Geoffrey Thorpe) and hold him for $300,000 ransom, which his father (Bill Zuckert) pays even as his son is escaping from his kidnappers. “Mr. Frog” (uncredited) falls to his death, and “The Devil,” Gibbons, (Frank Marth) can’t help but spend some of the very hot money.


Gibbons goes to Tot Kee’s (James Hong) office, trying to sell the hot money. He’s already the prime suspect, for Mr. Frog’s body has been found. Tot tells him, “When you shot your partner, you killed your brain. You’re a chicken without a head.”


McGarrett calls a meeting of the four big money launderers. As they arrive, Mr. Ming (Galen Kam) doesn’t fit in the white chair and, giving a shrug to Danno, moves over to sit on the white sofa, while McGarrett looks on in amusement.


Danno says, “I think you all know Mr. McGarrett” to which Mr. Ming says, “Not professionally, only by reputation.”  Tot Kee says, “By which Mr. Ming means all of us hold Mr. McGarrett in the highest esteem.” He goes on to say, “Missy [his secretary (Melody Patterson MacArthur)] sends her best. She’s a great admirer of yours.”


McGarrett outlines the situation regarding the ransom money to which Mr. Ming replies, “I, at least, do not deal in stolen money.” The other three money launderers confirm that they do not, either. The Humber Brothers (uncredited) give their confirmation by shaking their heads. They speak not a single word throughout the scene.


Concluding the meeting, McGarrett walks over to open the door to his office and says, “I’m sure you all want to get back to your office to make an honest buck.”


Gainham enters McGarrett’s office as the others are leaving. He wants progress on the search for the Devil. It seems that he has changed his mind and wants his money back. He says, “After all, I’m only human” to which Danno replies, “Then, we’ll certainly have to find the devil for you.”


Later, when McGarrett and Danno visit Gibbons on the boat, McGarrett says, “We figure you and Pete Colley did it” to which Gibbons replies, “Well, who’s Pete Colley?” McGarrett replies, “He’s a frog who turns into a corpse.”


One question: When Danno tailed Gibbons to the warehouse, why did he scale the post? He could have listened in on Gibbons’ call to Gainham on the ground, after all.


"The Bomber and Mrs. Moroney"
(Season 3)

This isn't a humorous episode, but we do find ourselves enjoying Mrs. Minnie Leona Moroney (Hope Summers). When the story begins, she is conferring with Chin Ho about whether her children can force her to move back to the mainland and live with "a bunch of boring old ladies." She likens their efforts to extradition, so it is no surprise that Chin Ho has trouble understanding what she is talking about.

After Collins (Mark Jenkins) takes control, Minnie Leona stands her ground. She refuses to hold her hands in the air; after all, her arms are tired. She is tired of standing and wants to sit down. As the episode progresses, she declares Collins is nothing but a hooligan, chastises him for being rude and disrespectful to his mother, and plants the seed for Danno to call his bluff by labeling him a yellow-bellied coward. That throws Collins off his guard so that he moves in front of the window, where Officer Olena (Roland Naauao) takes him down.

In the end, Minnie Leona receives the answer to her question when Chin Ho tells her, "I don't think anyone can make you do anything you don't want to do." She replies, "I think you're right!" She is ready to spend the rest of her life in the Islands.

“Is This Any Way to Run a Paradise?”

(Season 4)

* At the Bishop Museum, McGarrett is questioning a historian on Hawaiian gods when the ornithologist, Dr. Weston (Maura McGiveney), walks up, wanting to know who would use rare tern feathers to make a souvenir. She and McGarrett flirt briefly, and he promises to call her if he ever takes up bird watching.

* The arrival of Kaili Kong (Don Lev) in McGarrett’s office. Described in IMDb as the “hippie visitor,” Kong wears a long dress made of two sheets of a tie-dyed fabric sewn together at the shoulders and wears a woman’s wig. As McGarrett tells Jenny, Kong is ready for a visit to the rubber room.

* When Chin questions the maker of the Kaili posters, Joe Lemana (James Canada), Lemana is upside down in a yoga pose. He guesses that he is a suspect in the search for Kaili and wants to know how Chin knows he isn’t Kaili. In response, Chin picks up Lemana and moves him to the side. He's as light as a feather.

* As McGarrett tells the men whose names appear on Kaili’s Death List that their lives are in danger, Lai Han (Richard Morrison) portrays pure egotism and declines police protection. P.S. It is incredible – and highly enjoyable – that Richard Morrison could play characters as diverse as Lai Han in this episode and Runny Gross in “Death is a Company Policy” (Season 5).

* And, of course, Senator Patterson (Fred Titcomb) was seen driving a 1969 Cadillac Coupe DeVille. What else?

"Good Help is Hard to Find"
(Season 12)

This episode is fraught with humor if only because of Ross Martin's wonderful portrayal of kumu chief Tony Alika.

* When James "Kimo" Carew shoves Alika and splashes coffee on him, Alika cries out, as he always does: "Billy Swan! Billy Swan!"  One has to wonder whether Alika can do anything for himself.

* When Guido Marioni (John P. Ryan) recognizes Kimo as one of the detectives questioning Alika, he panics, runs back to his hotel room, and starts packing. Alika appears on his doorstep and informs him that they have a contract, which Marioni will honor. Not to worry, though, they will take care of McGarrett. Marioni insists that they would buy more trouble than they already have if they kill a cop to which Alika replies, "Not kill, Guido . . . Frame! Frame a cop! There's more than one way to skin a cop, you know." This alludes to the saying, "There's more than one way to skin a cat."

Photograph used courtesy of Joe Moore

Jack's note on the picture alludes to his having offered Joe a starring role on the series, which Joe declined.
"Sign of the Ram"
(Season 12)

The principal characters in the episode are humorous. In the first place, there is the greedy gambling boss, Eddie Marco (Antony Ponzini). Then, there is the overzealous astrologer, Jessica Humboldt (Jayne Meadows).

* Eddie Marco has an ego that just won't stop. Besides thinking he can get away with overselling interest in the fighter Pete Shore (Joe Moore), Marco thinks Jessica Humboldt is nothing less than a joke ("Oh! The stargazer! Tell me, stargazer, is the media gonna fall on Pete?" and "Oh! The stargazer! Here we go into space again.") On that point, both he and McGarrett agree, and McGarrett isn't much nicer about it, either ("Ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling").

* Jessica Humboldt's ego isn't suffering, either. She thinks she knows it all and has all the answers -- except that she mistakenly assumes McGarrett to be a Sagittarius. Only at the end of the show does she admit her mistake ("Capricorn! I knew it! Stubborn, opinionated, tenacious, and goat-like.")

* There's a bit of humor, too, in Joe Moore's portrayal of the fighter, Pete Shore, a man with very little self-confidence. Joe Moore is a strong man, who delivers strong news reports for KHON-TV in Honolulu and is said to be the most watched television newscaster in Hawai'i. He appeared in ten episodes of Hawaii Five-0 and is just as well known for those appearances as for his newscasts. In "Sign of the Ram," however, he seems like he might have been hit in the head one time too many.

* And, then, there is the Scott Joplin (or Scott Joplin-like) music that plays as Eddie Marco oversells interest in Pete Shore. It alludes to the scams executed in the movie The Sting (1973), which featured several Scott Joplin melodies.