Working in Hawaii on one of televisions hottest shows in the 1970’s was too good a job for most of the cast and crew of Hawaii Five-0. This meant that there was very little cast turnover for the series in general, and none going into the fourth year. Jack Lord saw his star rise considerably, and while he began to see some serious pay hikes, even he wasn’t about to kill the golden goose. With this kind of consistency, fans were never disappointed or turned off by drastic changes in the cast or formula. With this cop show it was all about tropical locations and formula. The fourth season was no exception to the rule.
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 is no shortage of island paradise adventure in this latest outing of Hawaii Five-0. How bad can a season be when it starts off with the unearthing of a couple of skeletons? That’s exactly how season four begins in Highest Castle, Deepest Grave. A ten year old murder leaves only the bones of the man and woman as clues. No, this isn’t an episode of Bones or CSI. This is 1971, and we’re on our way. If old bones doesn’t float your boat, how about the likes of a gangster with flare for murder, and when I say flare I mean hot time in the old island tonight in No Bottles…No Cans…No People. This gangster likes to cook ‘em. Jed Clampett himself, Buddy Ebsen comes to the islands to bilk tourists out of their walking around money in 3,000 Crooked Miles To Honolulu. Looks like Jed’s tradin’ in the cement pond for a big cement wall after McGarrett gets hold of him. A troubled Vietnam vet starts taking sniper shots a the roads of Hawaii, giving an entire new meaning to the term road kill in the episode …And I Want Some Candy And A Gun That Shoots Straight. You know how television detectives always find trouble when they try to go on vacation, right? When McGarrett is away for a trial, an unlikely band of crooks decides to steal six million in his absence. That’s what you’ll find on For A Million…Why Not. Bet that’s the last time Danno wants to be the boss. Captain Al Gore wasn’t saving the planet in 1971, so it’s up to McGarrett to catch these ecoterrorists in Is This Any Way To Run A Paradise. The two part episode 90 Second War has everything from Hot Lips Loretta Swit to a return by McGarrett’s own Moriarity, Wo Fat (Dhiegh). We get a rare look at McGarrett’s past in Good Night Baby…Time To Die. He runs into an old girlfriend. Kolchak’s boss, Simon Oakland plays a Chicago mobster in Didn’t We Meet At A Murder. Finally Danno gets to go undercover in Follow The White Brick Road. He’s a sailor trying to bust a drug ring. Enough classic episodes to keep every Five-0 fan happy until the next season is released.
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 2.0 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.
The filming and stories might be dated, but how can you ever get tired of that island and these cliched stories? Audiences in the 1970’s certainly didn’t, and you won’t either. McGarrett, Danno, and even Wo Fat return for another 24 episodes to put some nostalgia into your tired DVD collection. Surf’s up. The drinks are waiting, and now “you have your ticket”.