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Thread: For a Milion... Why Not? (Season 4, Episode 8)

  1. #1
    This was an innovative episode which could have been 3.5 or 4 stars if it was done right, but unfortunately the story had a number of flaws and head-scratchers.

    The episode begins with what appears to be a bank robbery of a time-locked safe, starting shortly before the safe is supposed to open. However, one of the three robbers comes down with symptoms of what appear to be a heart attack, and the criminals are forced to flee with just minutes before it would open with the millions of dollars inside.

    Once the three make it to the car, it's revealed that the symptoms were faked, and that there is some other plan in the works.

    It turns out that the gang consists of five people:

    - Hawkins (Sam Melville), the leader, the ringleader. He is an angry Vietnam vet who had been shot in the stomach, and has a chip on his shoulder against both the government and the antiwar protesters who hassled him upon his return.

    - Fred Noonan (Al Harringon), an ex-con with a history of bank robbery, who works for a Tiki doll company, and is one of the henchmen of the group.

    - Blumberg (Jack Kruschen), an older man who is the office manager of the same Tiki doll company, and is increasingly resentful of his much younger boss who mistreats him.

    - Ray Galvin (Robert Fields), a dance instructor who is both a henchman of the group and tasked to romance one of the bank employees.

    - Carol Lindsey (Leigh Christian), a pretty young blonde who works at the bank, who is romanced by Galvin and brought into the scheme.

    Danno leads this investigation. McGarrett is oddly tied up at a murder trial in Hilo, and communicates with Danno several times by phone. At one point, he begs the judge to return to Honolulu "for one night" to help with the investigation, and the judge denies him! It is unclear why the episode was written this way, as McGarrett provides no help to the investigation, and his short scenes on the phone were simply a frustrating distraction. Was Jack Lord busy with something else, and only able to appear in a few brief scenes? The lack of McGarrett is noticeable in this episode, and is unfortunately one of its flaws.

    Hawkins' plan was to attempt a fake robbery, abort it at the last minute due to the phony heart trouble, and then wait for the bank to move its $6,000,000 cash reserves elsewhere, and then hijack the armored car.

    This plot point sounds creative, but it's actually stupid when you think about it. As the robbers were about 3 minutes from accessing the safe, why not just complete the initial robbery, and then be done? Either way, they still had to get away in the exact same fashion! All they were doing was taking additional risk by planning the armored car hijacking.

    Putting that aside, the real gimmick in this episode was the plan to get the money off the island. McGarrett explained to Danno on the phone, "Nobody could get cash like that off the island", which by itself is a dumb statement, as it could easily be shipped off at a later date without any suspicion. Since Hawaii is a US state, there is no customs process in shipping items to the mainland, nor would a package containing the money be X-rayed.

    But let's ignore these immediate plot holes, and examine the rest of the episode.

    Carol Lindsey provides all of the details of the bank to the rest of the gang, and even the bank manager states to Danno, "They knew everything about the bank", including the number of employees and the time lock schedule for the vault. For some reason, Danno and the rest of Five-O never consider investigating the (relatively few) bank employees, regarding an inside leak! Whoops! Additionally, nobody suspected that same insider might give out information regarding when the money would be moved from the bank to the armored truck, and where the money would be going. Whoops again! Looks like they needed McGarrett in charge, after all.

    There's some internal strife within the gang. Carol suspects that Ray's romancing of her was not genuine, and he was simply using her for the information she had. Eventually Ray comes clean and admits he doesn't want any serious relationship, and dumps Carol "for her own good", promising her the $50,000 for her part of the scheme (which seems like a severe underpayment, given that she was the second-most important person to the entire operation!) Carol immediately informs him that she wants a million for her part, and that she left a letter with her attorney detailing everything, just in case something happens to her. When Ray tells Hawkins about this, Hawkins suspects that this is a ploy to double Ray's part (Ray was already due a million for his participation). Hawkins points a gun at Ray, stating that Carol's million will come entirely from Ray, and states that he can "romance old ladies" to support himself, a reference to Ray's job as a dance instructor. Ray oddly agrees to this and continues as normal as a member of the gang, even though he and Carol are apparently broken up, meaning he'll get nothing! What??? (I supposed it's possible he agreed off-camera to split the million with Carol, but that's never stated.)

    Blumberg is initially upset that Hawkins shot dead a printer they worked with to forge a document (Glen Cannon), but quickly gets over it and forget that anything ever happened. Hawkins clams that he murdered the printer in order to "make everyone here accessories to murder" in order to ensure their loyalty. This made little sense, and in fact the printer's murder becomes a big factor in the group's plan being discovered by Five-O at the last minute. The printer seemed to have a handle on everything and seemed to legitimately want to keep his mouth shut, so why kill him, especially given that his payment was presumably a small fraction of the $6 million score?

    Analysis of the letters used by the printer allows the lab to figure out which ones were used for the final document produced prior to the murder. They come up with 4 numbers in red and 8 letters with a space in black. It's revealed that it's still "40,000 combinations" of possible things to have printed, so "the computer" is consulted. Laughably, instead of the computer spitting out the relatively few words which would make sense, it simply cranked out 120 pages of combinations, and the Five-O team (minus McGarrett) is stuck going over them one-by-one on the blackboard! LOL! That's the most absurd scene, and even more absurd is when Danno somehow figures it out after they went through about 20 of the 40,000 combinations.

    Turned out the words printed were "Tiki Gods", the name of the Tiki doll company where Noonan worked. And how did Danno recognize that being the right two words so quickly? Because Noonan was the only former bank robber on the island who wasn't in jail or gravely ill (what?), so he was interviewed at the beginning of the episode, and Blumberg gave his alibi. This convinced Danno that both were involved, so they pieced it all together from there.

    Another ridiculous element of the episode involved the armored truck. After a fairly clever ruse to stop the truck at the end of a weird white tunnel (anyone know where that is?), under the guise of a cop directing traffic around a disabled vehicle, they kill the guards and take the entire truck, with the plans to ship the truck in a giant crate to Oakland. As Mike pointed out in his reivew, it made no sense why they didn't simply ditch the truck and take the cash at the time of the heist, especially since they had an escape vehicle with them at the time!

    The "trick" here was that the truck (with the cash still inside) was shipped to Oakland, disguised (via the fake invoice printed earlier) as a large shipment of Tiki dolls. However, the shipment was 20,000 pounds heavier than it was supposed to be, thus tipping off Five-O exactly which crate to look for.

    It's not clear why Five-O didn't simply contact the ship on some emergency band and divert it elsewhere, rather than barely miss catching the bad guys at the end, in a fiery shootout. It takes a number of days for such a cargo ship to get from Hawaii to Oakland, as it's about 3000 miles to travel.

    The "Oakland, California" setting at the end was obviously shot in Hawaii, with hills in the background which do not at all resemble the Oakland port area. Noonan vanishes in the final shootout scene. Hawkins dies after throwing a grenade and then trying to escape in the armored car. The other three come out of the warehouse and surrender. Danno calls McGarrett and says, "Two tried to make a run for it, they didn't make it", but Noonan is never shown running, nor do they show him killed! Was this a cut scene? It's not surprising that the writers chose to kill off Noonan and Hawkins, as they were the two directly responsible for the murders in the episode, while the other three were just accomplices.

    Shortly before Five-O shows up, Hawkins claims that he has plans to "set things right in this country. We're gonna stop them from burying us with peace and poetry and pot." Presumably he's referring to using his $3 million share to start some kind of right wing militia group, but we never get to find out exactly what he means.

    The $6,000,000 cash is shown being loaded into the armored trucks, though we don't actually see the money, as it's in white bags. The bags are not very large, so presumably this cash is in the form of larger ($500, $1000, $10000) bills, all of which were in circulation in 1971. If they were $100 bills, it would require 60,000 bills, and those small bags weren't large enough to carry that type of money. (I once carried $140,000 in cash between safe deposit boxes, which was 1400 bills, and it was a lot bulkier than you'd expect.)

    Mike gave this episode 2 stars. I give it 2.5 stars because it had an interesting premise and some creative scenes, but it definitely doesn't deserve more than that, due to all of the plot problems.

    The episode could have been a lot better with the following plot modifications:

    - Instead of an intentionally botched first robbery, have that robbery actually botched (perhaps a shootout with security guards where the robbers narrowly escape?), which then requires improvising to later hit the armored truck.

    - Remove all of the nonsense about the printer being shot, and the silly scene of the letters being reconstructed. Instead, the printer gets paid off, doesn't get shot, and keeps quiet.

    - In the armored car heist, the bad guys simply drive away in the vehicle they rented, after hitting the truck and grabbing the money.

    - Instead of Ray having to give up his entire million (and inexplicably staying with the gang anyway), he's forced to split his million with Carol.

    - Instead of shipping the entire armored car, only the cash is shipped, again disguised as Tiki dolls (but a small shipment, obviously).

    - Five-O discovers the plot by connecting Noonan (who was already a possible suspect) with Carol, perhaps through an eyewitness account of them meeting at some point, and then searches the Tiki Gods logs and figures out that a shipment was falsified.

    There you go... a much better episode had I been a script supervisor. Too bad I was probably just barely conceived when this episode was likely shot in mid-1971!

  2. #2
    I like it Todd! You pointed out the good and the bad. One of my biggest problems with this episode is when they decide to take the entire truck. The guards up front are dumped on the side of the road. What about the third guy in the back!? All we see is that he gets gassed. Did they move the money with a dead guard inside all the way to Oakland!? (ewww!)

    And in the shootout at the end, the truck blows up. Was there a firewall (I suspect there was) between the front and the back!? This doesn't make any sense because I get they need to stop the crooks, but wouldn't one of the objectives be to recover the money?

  3. #3
    Originally Posted by Bobbi View Post
    I like it Todd! You pointed out the good and the bad. One of my biggest problems with this episode is when they decide to take the entire truck. The guards up front are dumped on the side of the road. What about the third guy in the back!? All we see is that he gets gassed. Did they move the money with a dead guard inside all the way to Oakland!? (ewww!)

    And in the shootout at the end, the truck blows up. Was there a firewall (I suspect there was) between the front and the back!? This doesn't make any sense because I get they need to stop the crooks, but wouldn't one of the objectives be to recover the money?
    haha, I wondered that too.

    The truck was on fire, and when I first saw it, I wondered if the episode was going to end with the money burnt up.

    Instead, it was declared recovered! What a mess that entire final scene was.

    There's a good chance my mom saw this episode while I was in the womb, so I guess I might have actually seen (well, at least heard) this episode first run!

  4. #4
    Here's a funny tidbit about Leigh Christian, who played the hot blonde bank employee.

    Her Wikipedia claims that she made a comeback to the acting and modeling world in 2012. I find the second part highly unlikely. She was born in 1945. Did she expect to get modeling work at the age of 67? Since Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, I have to imagine that she was the one who added that part.

    I'll give her credit though. Aside from being a bit too thin for my taste, she was one of the hottest Five-O guest stars of the series.

  5. #5
    You brought up some good points and outstanding points on For A Million...Why Not? Some good additions and solutions on how to make the episode better. I wished to see the 6 million dollars. They could have some in rolls or stacks and the rest in the bags. It's a small complaint I have. Agree with the printer Carlson. I would have paid him his small share and he would have kept quiet. It would have been even better if McGarrett was working the case minute one. Instead, he was at the Trial on the Big Island. It's 1 of the best criminal crew from Blumberg to Hawkins to Carol. They don't have much time to off-load the money into boxes or another vehicle. It appears they escape from the big maintenance shed with a few seconds to spare. HFO arrives on the scene moments later. I agree about the money and it's weight of the armored car. It alerted HFO the weight of the shipment. It's a creative episode that I enjoy. Can see why people find some problems with it. I probably would have McGarrett start on the case from the beginning and mention the upcoming trial. JC

  6. #6
    A few other things they could have done in For A Million...Why Not?

    1. Have some surveillance of the bank employees and focus on Carol as she is seen with these group of conspirators. Danno then notifies the Bank President Shaw. A fake shipment run blessed by Shaw is commenced to smoke out the gang. Have HPD and HFO in the armored car ready for the gang to approach. It could have been a fire fight with injuries on both sides.

    2. Instead of Carlson the printer being killed, the HFO team could have say Chin on surveillance and him noticing Carol meeting with Hawkins and Noonan. Putting two and two together. HFO and HPD ready for the confrontation.

    3. I think McGarrett investigating the case from the beginning might be the easiest improvement. He might have seen it was an inside job from the beginning. This could have led to an intense confrontation with Hawkins and Noonan firing at the armored car and the HPD and others inside the armored car returning fire. I agree there are many things that could have been considered from a writing standpoint. JC

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