If it’s Thursday, this must be the mailbag.
Q: Whatever happened to the show “Do No Harm?” It’s about a surgeon who has a split personality. Only a couple of episodes aired, and then it disappeared.
A: In a season where some TV shows have had really bad ratings, Do No Harm was a standout. As the Hollywood Reporter noted, it had “the distinction of becoming the lowest-rated scripted premiere in the history of the Big Four networks” — that is, ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. And with the young adults prized by advertisers, its second-episode numbers were even lower than those for the first. So NBC dropped the show before further ratings damage could occur.
Q: Recently I was watching the original “Hawaii Five-O” with Jack Lord and James MacArthur. I noticed that one of the characters had been replaced — that Kono, played by Zulu, was no longer there but someone was by the name of Ben, played by Al Harrington. Why was there a change in the cast of the program?
A: From 1968 to 1972, Gilbert “Zulu” Kauhi, an entertainer in Hawaii, played detective Kono Kalakaua. The nickname Zulu reportedly came from rumpled hair that to his friends looked African.
According to a story in the Honolulu Advertiser after his death of complications from diabetes in 2004, Zulu “was fired after an altercation with the show’s publicist in which he acknowledged making loud racist comments.” (He was apparently unhappy with the way his character was being presented.) A story in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin after his death said the actor also annoyed star Jack Lord by falling asleep between takes. “He wasn’t that impressed with Jack,” one journalist said. “Zulu thought he was just as important as anyone else on the show.”
Harrington, who had been playing guest-starring roles on the show, was cast as a new detective, Ben Kokua, and remained with the series until 1975; the original version of the show ended in 1980. Harrington, by the way, has also been on the newer version of Five-O, which began in 2010, as Mamo Kahike, a family friend of the McGarretts.
Q: I am a big fan of “Covert Affairs” with Piper Perabo and wondering where it’s been. Her character had just gotten involved romantically with best friend “Auggie” at the Agency, when the season ended. But it never returned. What gives?
a: The spy drama will return this summer, USA Network says. As has been noted here before, some TV series split up their seasons to spread them out over a longer period, and USA does that rather often. But for viewers, it then seems as if a show is back, but for a disconcertingly short period. According to TV.com, Covert began its previous season in July 2012, but took a break in mid-September before returning about a month later; it then wrapped the season in November ’12. In addition, cable seasons tend to be shorter than those for traditional broadcast-network shows — Covert did 16 episodes for its most recent one — so the gap between seasons feels even longer.
Q: Can you tell me who the actress was that played with Billy Bob Thornton in a movie? She was a detective over him and was in “Sucker Punch” as a dance instructor.
A: The dance instructor/doctor in Sucker Punch was played by Carla Gugino, who was detective Cicero working with Billy Bob Thornton’s character Cop in the crime thriller Faster, which starred Dwayne Johnson.
Gugino is a hard-working and admirable performer whose TV credits include a recurring role on New Girl, Political Animals, Californication and Entourage, and who numbers Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Watchmen and the Spy Kids films among her other movie roles. She is also an experienced stage actress.
Q: There was a good Western on, called “Dead Man’s Gun.” Will that be on again?
A: Not that I can determine. The series originally aired on Showtime for two seasons in 1997-99 and followed a cursed gun as it moved from owner to owner. Kris Kristofferson was the narrator of the series, which has been released on DVD. If your local retailer does not have it, I have seen it for sale from online retailers including Amazon.com, Moviesunlimited.com and Deepdiscount.com.
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Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter.