Death in the Family

The original, starring Jack Lord and James MacArthur, still going strong after almost 50 years.

Death in the Family

Postby North » Thu Feb 23, 2017 9:45 pm

Finished up season 10 on my trainer this morning (I use a stationary bike in front of my old TV and xbox in the basement during the winter) and was pleasantly surprised by this episode. If you put aside the obvious stupidity of having Chin undercover when we've watched him deal with hoods all over Honolulu every week for 10 years and you forgive the way overdone emotions of Chin when he's about to get shot, Steve when he's crying and the killer begging for his life at the end it is otherwise a well done episode. The acting by many of the guest stars was quite good (especially the head of the Kumo (did I spell it right?)). The story was interesting and the process it was solved was entertaining with good story pacing.

I've always wondered what led to the decision to write Chin out of the series? Was he considered too old? (He actually looked better in the last seasons, lost a lot of weight) or was it a budget cutting decision or did Kam get greedy and they wouldn't pay? He was quite limited in his acting ability but his character added something to the ensemble, there was something very sincere and heartfelt about him.
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Re: Death in the Family

Postby Vrinda » Thu Feb 23, 2017 11:01 pm

What I was told by Kam's son, Dennis, and by a friend of Jack Lord's whom I have gotten to know very well over the past three years, was the honest truth - which would not interest the tabloids - that Kam wanted to retire. He was 63 years old when production on Season 10 wrapped in December of 1977, and with the daly grind of working on a TV show, it undoubtedly took its toll. He was also the butt of a lot of practical jokes on the set.
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Re: Death in the Family

Postby North » Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:59 pm

Thanks,

It makes perfect sense since if there was an ugly fight he would have refused to participate in that last episode and they would have just made him disappear like they did with Kono and Ben.
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Re: Death in the Family

Postby Mr. Mike » Fri Feb 24, 2017 7:53 pm

From my report of the 1996 Mahalo-Con:

When asked about his demise at the end of the tenth season in #238, A Death in the Family, Kam said that he originally wanted Chin Ho to "retire gracefully," and fought the idea of having his character murdered. There was even talk of the production company suing Kam for breaking his contract! Then someone told him that it was an honour if you were a regular in a TV show and you were knocked off ... this meant that no one else could play your character. Later Kam said it was a Hollywood superstition that "if one of the regulars leaves, the show falls down." Someone in the audience said, "Oh, this must mean that everything after the fourth season [when Zoulou left] was no good!"
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Re: Death in the Family

Postby epaddon » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:41 am

Looking at the production schedule numbers on the episodes, didn't Kam actually shoot one more episode *after* his death one?
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Re: Death in the Family

Postby North » Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:46 pm

There are three episodes that played earlier in the season that have a later production number than this one but I don't recall if Chin was in all of them.
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Re: Death in the Family

Postby epaddon » Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:21 am

He's definitely in one of them which is why I remembered. It's interesting in that it was really not common at that time for the actor playing a character who gets killed off to appear in that episode where it happens. A lot of the time it would happen when the actor left under bad terms and they did the "death" through an off-camera announcement (John Amos on "Good Times") or video editing (Robert Lansing in "Twelve O'Clock High"). The only one I can think of prior to Kam was John McIntire on "Naked City" back in 1959.
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Re: Death in the Family

Postby John Chergi » Sat Apr 01, 2017 1:55 am

I've watched Death In The Family about 5 times and I liked it more with every watch. Chin Ho showed his courage and strength staring down certain death from Rego. Don't see why they would put Chin undercover in Chinatown or give him a hidden microphone or wire if he was made. HFO could have listened in from the office. Outstanding acting by Pahou & Rego and a good performance by Chin's daughter who literally finds the smoking gun. I would give Death In The Family a solid 4.5 stars in my 6 star system.
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