This has been a huge time for the classic series Hawaii Five-0. The show has enjoyed a rebirth with a brand new version of the show that ended up being one of the best rated new shows of the last television season. The DVD releases have continued to the point where we find ourselves seeing the second to last season now out on DVD. The final season is expected to arrive next year, and we’ll be closing the books on one incarnation of the show and continuing on in the same tradition with the new series. It’s a good time to be a Hawaii Five-0 fan.
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 fifth 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.
There are some excellent highlights to share in the 11th season: Danno is brainwashed and programmed to carry out an assassination in this Manchurian Candidate-like episode Deadly Courier. The target? Steve. Next the series takes the 12 Angry Men path with The Case Against Philip Christie. McGarrett is that lone voice during a big trial. The season ends with the two-part episode The Year Of The Horse. The Governor is framed, and it’s up to the team to clear his name.
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.
The packaging has changed from the box of slim cases to the more standard single-case with inside flip pages. Otherwise, the only real disappointment here is the lack of extras outside of short promo bits. I hope that the guys have saved the best for last and will give us a fitting final season release. When the final season does arrive, “Book me, Danno”.