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 fifth season was no exception to the rule.
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. In the 5th season Al Harrington joined the cast as Ben Kokua, in essence replacing Zulu’s character, who left after four seasons. 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.
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”.
As in previous seasons you can expect some pretty wild episodes. The team is being framed as corrupt when the season opens with Death Is A Company Policy. Danno is in hot water in Pig In A Blanket when he shoots an apparently unarmed teenager. As if things won’t be bad enough, the kid’s brother wants revenge. It’s McGarrett against the mob and a mob boss who wants revenge on him for his son’s death in the unusual three-part episode V For Vashon. The team finds they must protect a team of mom and pop crooks when they run afoul of the mob in I’m A Family Crook…Don’t Shoot. The team protects a Russian mob informant in Will The Real Mr. Winkler Please Die. Enough action to make this another solid year for the island cops.
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.
Five years later and Five-0 was still going strong. There weren’t many cast changes in the show’s 12 year run, but the 5th season brought the minor one talked about earlier. There isn’t any reason to stop your Five-0 collection here at all. This might be typical procedural stuff, and certainly it’s dated but there’s something about this one that remains quite charming all of these years later. What is it, you ask. “Yeah. I can tell you about it. Unique…very special.”