Turning Back Time with HAWAII FIVE-0’s Cast of Characters, Part 3

A deeper dive into Danny, old and new – 

Image #: 8330716 James MacArthur as Det. Danny Williams in the “Hawaii Five-O” episode ‘Full Fathom Five,’ original airdate September 26, 1968. CBS /Landov

Back in the day, the role of Hawaii Five-O’s Danny Williams was played by James MacArthur, who was the recipient of that famous Jack Lord/Steve McGarrett phrase, “Book ‘em Danno.”

That phrase occasionally rears its head in the remake of the series, though it’s obviously not as popular as it was with the original series.

The original Danny Williams was a bomb expert who diffused several explosives during the series twelve-year run.  He was also considered a handwriting expert (there is no such animal in the new series) and an excellent marksman.  (The role of marksman in the new series has shifted to Kono).

Danny Williams also occasionally went undercover in the original series.  In Season Four, Episode 23, “Follow the White Brick Road,” he posed undercover on a ship in the U.S. Seventh Fleet to capture members of a known drug ring.  Then, in Season Eleven, Episode 6, “A Distant Thunder,” he went undercover as a Nazi on a case involving hate crimes aimed at a Hawaiian Congressional hopeful.  He also went undercover in Season Eleven, Episode 3, “Deadly Courier,” to identify an assassination ring which brainwashed innocent people to carry out their tasks.  During this episode, Williams himself was brainwashed to kill McGarrett.  

In the reboot Five-0, Danny Williams (played by Scott Caan) has only gone undercover a couple of times.  In Season Six, Episode 9, “Hana Keaka” (Charade), he went undercover as a college professor to replace a murdered professor.  Then, in Season Six, Episode 25, “O Ke Ali’i Wale No Ka’u Makemake” (My Desire Is Only for the Chief), both McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Williams went undercover as pilots to put an end to a meth epidemic.

Even though he was presumably second in command, in the original series, Williams only  assumed the commanding role of the Five-O team once.  In Season One, Episode 7, “The Ways of Love,” McGarrett went undercover and Williams was then in charge.  In the reboot series, Williams has assumed the leader role in Season Two, Episode 20, “Ha’alele” (Abandoned) and in Season Two, Episode 21, “Pa Make Loa” (Touch of Death).

And certainly in the original series there was no bickering with McGarrett, who was the unquestionable head of the Five-0 unit.  Today’s Williams, however, argues about everything with McGarrett.  No subject is safe.

And there it is – a comparison between the past and present-day Danny Williams.  

Watch Hawaii Five-0 Fridays at 9 P.M. on CBS.