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”.
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 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. Detective 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.
After 6 years on the air, Hawaii Five-O entered its 7th season pretty much unchanged. McGarrett was still on the case with his trusted Danno and Chin-Ho. The Hawaiian settings continued to showcase the locations of the island chain as well as much of the state’s local acting talent. But most of all, the show kept up with the quality of stories.
The season starts off with a bang in The Young Assassins. Danno is being held hostage by some radical group. But their leader isn’t in it for the cause. A Hawaiian Nightmare gives us a crook who will set off a volcano unless the Governor comes up with a cool half million. Bomb Bomb, Who’s Got The Bomb shows us what happens when a senator is threatened by a killer who is about as close as you can get, his own split personality. Talk about saving someone from themselves. In Right Grave , Wrong Body a cop wants his stolen gun back, but not for the reason you might suspect. He’s got a body on the piece that he can’t afford to have found out. What happens when crooks use look-alikes of the Five-0 gang to commit their crimes? Find out in Welcome To Our Branch Office. It’s amazing what just one gun can do in Diary Of A Gun. All just part of another amazing season of Hawaii Five-0.
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.
Short Episodic Promos.
With 7 seasons under their belt, this series was just entering its second half. Few series make it this far. Now there’s talk that the guys running the series Fringe are working on a new Hawaii Five-0 series to air as early as next fall. So apparently there are more island tales to tell. Get yourself ready for the rebirth of a classic by reacquainting yourself with the original. So with 5 more remaining seasons of the original show and a possible return next fall, the question I have for you is: “How long will you be staying on the islands?”