Synopsis by Bruce Eder
The feature-length pilot for the TV cop series Hawaii Five-O was unveiled on September 20, 1968 -- the series itself premiered in a one-hour time slot the following week. In the pilot, we meet Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord), the hard-nosed, fiercely independent head of the elite Honolulu-based state police unit known as "Five-O" -- McGarrett is a tough, relentless enforcer of the law who, according to local legend (and the press) "takes orders only from the Governor -- and God." In the opening minutes, he learns of the death of Hennessey, an old friend from his days in the Office of Naval Intelligence. The authorities -- including the local chief of Hennessey's own agency -- want to rule the case an accidental drowning, a mishap while swimming; except that McGarrett knows that Hennessey couldn't swim, and that trained agents don't die in "accidents," especially when they're working on a case -- and he proves that it was murder. But that opens up a much darker truth -- Hennessey was working on a case that seemed to link the seemingly unrelated deaths of American intelligence operatives around the world, all of whom talked before they died, potentially jeopardizing America's entire Far Eastern intelligence network. McGarrett vows to solve the case that killed his friend, but discovers he will get no help from Brent (Leslie Nielsen), the local head of Hennessey's agency; and while Brent's deputy, Miller (Andrew Duggan), is sympathetic, McGarrett doesn't trust him or his motives. McGarrett finally goes right to the top, and is asked by the Pentagon's top intelligence officer (James Gregory) to put himself out as bait for the killers, to break this case and turn their activities against them -- at the risk of his own life. That brings him into the hands of Wo Fat (Khigh Diegh), a top Chinese agent who has been using sensory deprivation as a means of interrogation and brainwashing. Can McGarrett survive a torture that has already killed five top agents?