It’s understandable, really. First of all, the old Hawaii Five-O series ran for twelve years and it was pretty popular. Second of all, Big Chicken, even though he was only in two episodes, was pretty damn memorable.
His first appearance, in a first season episode called “…And They Painted Daisies on His Coffin”, introduces us to the Big Chicken smarm. In the episode, off-duty Danny chases and ends up shooting an armed “kid” (they called him a kid; I called him twenty-five). Only, surprise! The victim’s girlfriend takes her now-dead boyfriend’s gun and runs off so it looks like Danny killed an unarmed “kid”. An investigation ensues and wouldn’t you know that dope pusher Big Chicken is involved? He thinks the law is cool. You can tell by the way he breaks it. Unfortunately, he doesn’t feel the law is so cool by the end of the episode.
Like I said, you get a hint of his smarm the first go-round. But it really comes on full-force and pretty much evolves into shudder-inducing creep later in the first season in an episode called “The Box”. The first time you see him, he’s in the prison shower (which is apparently some sort of broken pipe trickle), singing while some of his cohorts jump and beat a man. It’s unnerving and creepy and smarmy and just plain wrong.
The episode involves McGarrett entering the prison after the scuffle in the prison shower turns into a sort-of riot, but mostly hostage situation. It’s then that Big Chicken really turns it on. He weasels better than any weasel, ingratiating himself to the guy that his boys (one of whom is Al Harrington, who went on to play good guy Ben later) were whipping only a little while before in an attempt to get McGarrett killed. It’s a total slime act and the tension between Big Chicken and McGarrett has a real uncomfortable passion to it. His skeev level is off the charts.
I want to take a shower after I watch that episode (but not in a prison because no).
To me, the greatest part of this character is that it’s Gavin MacLeod playing him. When you think Gavin MacLeod, you think Captain Stubing, happy Loveboat guy, making dreams come true for his passengers and being an adorable father to his adorable daughter. Or maybe you think Murray Slaughter, TV writer and desk neighbor of Mary Richards, a good guy with excellent timing when it comes to insulting Ted Baxter.
You don’t think of him as a creeper’s creep.
I’ve seen him play a jerk before. He was a pretty big one an episode of The Big Valley. But to see him play the lowest of scum in such a slimy, skeevy way sticks with me. Kudos to him for that.
And kudos to Big Chicken.