Everyone knows that most of the "Five-O" episodes were filmed on location in Hawaii, mostly on Oahu island, but this one was filmed in Singapore, and they obviously didn't cheat with it. There was an episode from a previous season supposedly set in Singapore, but I'm pretty sure that one was filmed in Hawaii, with just a few location shots of the real place. And another episode was shot on location in Hong Kong, with McGarrett chasing after Wo Fat. This one is very interesting in its Singapore locations, and it's fun seeing McGarrett and Danno running around the real Singapore. For anyone interested in that country, this episode is really worth a look, as it shows a Singapore that no longer really exists. The Singapore of 1978 was still somewhat of a developing country, and now it's one of the richest places in the world, with the attendant high-end hotels and tourist sites. In the episode, the first shots of McGarrett in Singapore are of him walking along Boat Quay, which is in the center of the city, on the Singapore River. In 1978, that was still a working-class area, with tired-looking Chinese row houses and shops, and Chinese boats filling the river. For anyone who has been to Singapore, since the early 1990s that area has been a gorgeous tourist place, with those same row houses refurbished and turned into restaurants and pubs. Those old boats have all disappeared, and there are mostly tour boats in that area now. It is one of the nicest parts of Singapore, and one that is very popular with tourists. It's interesting seeing how it looked in the late 1970s.
I first went to Singapore in 1989, and it was then just starting its transition to the Singapore of today, with many older, rundown areas getting face lifts, and coming back as tourist havens. Boat Quay was filled with construction equipment, and the Singapore of the show was starting to disappear. That's true of other parts of Singapore that you see in this episode, as well. The cable cars on Mt. Faber, still a big tourist attraction, definitely make a good place for an on screen fight. For those interested in Singapore, then and now, the show is kind of a time capsule, I'd say. And it is cool seeing Jack Lord and James MacArthur away from their usual haunts on Oahu, and in an exotic part of the world.
As has been pointed out, this episode was a nice swansong for James MacArthur, who moved on to other things. I think the episode is so well written, acted, and filmed, that it could have been released as a theatrical feature. It is a two-part episode, with an almost 100-minute running time, so that could have worked, I think. The location-filming really helps, and seeing the actors in the real Singapore make it seem very authentic. And the cast is good, too. Australian George Lazenby, late of Her Majesty's Secret Service, is almost unrecognizable as a sleazy drug smuggler-- but excellent. Barry Bostwick is good, too, as the Annapolis grad gone bad. And Victoria Principal, as his wife, wow! She was always sexy, even when not fighting with J.R. on "Dallas," and she does a good acting job, too.
I moved to Hawaii two years ago, and I've been working my way through the whole twelve years of "Hawaii Five-O" on Netflix. I'm now on season 12, and I hate for it to end. It's fun living here, and spotting places on the show that you recognize. As with Singapore, of course things have changed here since the run of that show, but many places are much the same as then. And even the areas that have changed are still pretty easy to pick out. For example, I often see the police cars on the show drive by where my apartment building now is- it was built in the later years of the series. It really is fascinating to see how Hawaii looked back when the original series was filmed. And even now, you often meet people here who worked as extras on the show, or who had speaking parts of varying sizes. Both the old and new "Five-O" shows are very popular here-- the old one in particular being regarded as iconic, I think. Anyway, living here makes viewing the show very rewarding. And this episode, while for the most part not filmed in Hawaii, is interesting for its location filming in Singapore.