The guest stars of “Hawaii Five-0” have been top-notch from the very first season of the show. They are usually seasoned television or movie stars — and sometimes even Hollywood legends.
Whenever I have to choose my top picks, the only thing that makes it hard is keeping the list down to a top five. Choosing the best guest stars from season five is no exception.
During the summer hiatus, my choice for best guests of the season usually creates a lot of chatter. Everyone has their own favorites and sometimes I don’t always choose the ones others liked the best. But I think fans would agree with these choices as many of these actors really helped elevate the season and added stellar star power.
While I was choosing this group of guest stars I thought about the actors who really spoke to me, who really shined in their roles and who fans seemed to have really loved in response. There are a few guest stars who matched this criteria but did not make this list because their characters turned out to be villains.
I think my favorite guest star may surprise some of you, but I especially loved movie and television star William Forsythe in “Wāwahi moeʻuhane” (“Broken Dreams”). He was terrific as ex-HPD detective-turned-private-eye Harry Brown, who helped McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and crew find the killer of hula girl Brooke Waiakea (Delys Kanemura Recca).
Forsythe’s gumshoe character, paired with his smokey voice and stoic looks, helped make the episode more of a film noir crime drama than a typical police procedural. Forsythe was perfectly cast as Harry Brown, and I for one would not be disappointed if the Five-0 team reached out to the detective in future cases.
CATHERINE HAENA KIM
Another favorite based on performance, was Catherine Haena Kim as Kono’s (Grace Park) mom Nani Kalākaua in “Moʻo ʻōlelo pū” (“Sharing Traditions”).
I loved how Kim played a vibrant version of Nani who nurtured a young Kono (Miya Cech) in family and cultural traditions, and also played a more frail and older Nani in an equally believable way. It was lovely to see how many lessons Kono gained from her relationship with her mother, and Kim and Park really played well off each other — as well as Kim with the sweet little Cech. She was a big reason why the episode was really beautiful and touching to many viewers.
Another stellar actress who really showed great vulnerability within her guest role, was Melina Kanakaredes as ATF Agent Kathy Millwood in “Nānahu” (“Embers”).
Kanakaredes was really great as a stressed out and immensely guilty officer of the law, who blamed herself for the crimes of serial arsonist Jason Duclair (Randy Couture). While her role was at times a bit melodramatic, Kanakaredes was able to create a believable character, and one I felt great empathy for in her drive to capture the bad guy.
While Kanakaredes, Kim, and Forsythe touched me in a more emotional way, these next three guest stars entertained me in a more humorous way.
Michael Imperioli played Odell Martin in two episodes, “Pōwehiwehi” (“Blackout”) and “Kahania” (“Close Shave”). Imperioli’s zen surfer/barber character, who grew up privileged and wealthy, only to turn toward the blue collar — and less stressful — side of the universe, is a great yang (light) to McGarrett’s yin (dark).
Their relationship really is one of friendship, but it was really interesting to see McG learn a few things from quick thinking Odell. It was definitely a fun ride to watch the two men work together to bring a very sick young man to justice. I don’t think I am alone in wanting to see McGarrett get another haircut from Odell in season six.
Cloris Leachman as Ruth Tennenbaum in “Kū kaʻawale” (“Stakeout”) was terrific as the nosy next door neighbor who came by to feed and needle her way into McGarrett and Danno’s (Scott Caan) hearts. As much as McG and Danno didn’t need her help, she did give them quite a bit of intel which helped them figure out their stakeout case.
Leachman is a television legend, and her humor may be naughty, but she is a truly funny lady and I loved her addition to the episode. The touching scenes with Jerry (Jorge Garcia) taking her missing fern case to heart added a bit a depth to a role that may have just been set up as comic relief.
Another great comedian who played a very funny role was veteran “Saturday Night Live” actor Jon Lovitz, who was in the same episode with Leachman as well as “Ua Helele’i ka Hōkū” (“Fallen Star”), which was the actual wrap up of the diamond heist from McG and Danno’s stakeout.
Lovitz was hilarious as Barry Burns, a criminal who is quite endearing in a sleazy sort of way. All in all, Lovitz added to the humor of the episode without a lot of slapstick overacting.
Of course, I cannot have a best guest star list without mentioning Carol Burnett, who played Aunt Deb, and Frankie Valli, who played her fiancé Leonard Cassano. I have written a few posts about their lovely performances in “Ka Hana Malū” (“Inside Job”).
What’s not to love about watching two legends play good people getting married and being in love? Sometimes, it’s just nice to see something sweet happen on a show where often times the guest stars don’t always meet a happy every after.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
This week’s CBS repeat was the explosive “Ka Noʻeau” (“The Painter”), where Danno faces Marco Reyes and finds out what really happened to his brother Matt.
Next week CBS will repeat “Hoʻoilina” (“Legacy”) on June 5 and the Halloween episode “Ho’omā’ike” (“Unmasked”) on June 6.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.