Have you ever walked down the street and heard a chorus of “Five Oh” making the rounds? In street lexicon that means the police. It’s a warning to the drug dealers and any other illegal activities that the police are on the way. That’s just one of the ways that Hawaii Five-0 has invaded our pop culture. Who hasn’t heard the phrase, “Book him Danno”? It’s no surprise, because until Law & Order, Hawaii Five-0 was the longest running crime drama on television. It started in 1968 and didn’t end until 1980 when the production staff and facilities were immediately retooled to produce Magnum P.I., which was an unofficial spin-off of Hawaii Five-0. While he never actually appeared on Magnum, Five-0’s McGarrett was often referred to by characters on the series. The series continued for a few years in syndication where the episodes were all mixed up. These DVD’s allow the first chance since their original broadcast for these episodes to air complete and in the correct order. While continuity wasn’t huge, as there were few actual story arcs beyond the episodes, there were minor changes that made the show look strange in syndication. The final season was aired under the title, McGarrett.
The cops of Hawaii Five-0 were not city cops, but rather Hawaii’s version of the State Police. Leader McGarrett (Lord) answered directly to the Governor. The team included Danny “Danno” Williams (MacArthur) who was McGarrett’s right hand. Danno was great for kicking in doors or infiltrating a mob family. Det. Chin Ho-Kelly (Kam Fong) provided the local cop element to the team. This was in reality a straightforward typical cop drama. The Hawaiian locations and scenery added the unique style that kept the show fresh, even though they were recycling the same stories that other cop shows had already done. Perhaps it is the Morton Stevens theme that is most memorable from the show. The opening had that great cresting wave along with some drumbeats. Finally those familiar notes overtook the screen, and there was no mistaking what you were about to see. There was plenty of action, car chases, and even boat chases to keep the adrenalin pumping full time.
There were some heavy guest stars in the third season of Hawaii Five-0. Among them you’ll find: Harry Guardino, Ann McCormack, Simon Oakland, Barry Atwater, Anne Archer, Joyce Van Patten, William Schallert, Joan Van Ark, Tim O’Connor, Roger C. Carmel (Harry Mudd), Pernell Roberts, and Jock Mahoney. Still, even with a solid guest cast, Jack Lord dominated the series with a commanding presence and often ridicules mullet.
Each episode of Hawaii Five-0 is presented in its original broadcast full frame format. There’s not a lot to love in this transfer. The picture is almost always grainy. There are too many overt instances of compression artifact. In general this was not a carefully prepared transfer. I’m sure Paramount expects the fans to take it as it is. Colors are fair, but there is a subdued overall tone to the entire presentation. Black levels suffer the most and are quite poor.
The Dolby Digital Mono track delivers exactly what you are looking for and nothing more. The dialog is clear, and that’s all you’re going to get out of this minimalist presentation. If you’re looking for the nostalgia of watching a ten year old television show, Paramount decided to make the experience authentic by delivering a ten year old sound.
I vaguely remember watching the show during its initial run, so these DVD’s were a bit of new ground for me. Unfortunately the settings aren’t as exotic any more, and I’m sure Hawaii has changed quite a bit since then. The stories were always highly derivative but presented with enough style that it was an enjoyable show to watch. I’m not sure that anyone but serious fans will find the cost of 12 DVD sets worth the admission to relive these particular memories. I foresee these sets coming down considerably in price in the future, and that might be your best bet. However, the flip side to that theory is that if there aren’t enough of these early sets sold, future seasons could be in jeopardy of not being released at all. “It’s a wild story.”