Directed by Danny Arnold et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 1215 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese
MSRP: $ 54.99
Release Date: January 22, 2008
Review Date: January 18, 2008
They say that the third time is the charm, and in the case of CBS’ Hawaii Five-O, its third season certainly was its breakthrough year. For the first time since it began, the show found itself among the top ten shows on network television. And one of its directors received an Emmy nomination for his work during this season. Admittedly, looking back on the series almost forty years after the fact, it’s a bit slower paced and more simply plotted than crime dramas of today. In its day, however, the location color photography gave the show an identity unique to network TV, and viewers continued to respond in great numbers during the next several years.
Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) heads the Hawaii Five-O crime unit branch of the Hawaii state patrol network. Since they work for the state rather than the local police department, the unit reports directly to the governor of Hawaii (Richard Denning). Second in command is Danny “Danno” Williams (James MacArthur), and also part of the team are the immense Kono Kalakaua (Zulu) and Chin Ho Kelly (Kam Fong). Reigning Red Chinese gangster Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) makes very infrequent appearances as the thorn in McGarrett’s paw, a shame since the actor’s quiet menace adds terrifically to any episode that he’s a part of.
Most of the cases are the usual crime dramas involving kidnapping, theft, blackmail, or extortion, and viewers are usually clued in early as to the identity of the perpetrators. However, occasionally, the writers throw in a real mystery that allows the audience to play detectives themselves in attempting to discover whodunit. The mysteries aren’t especially clever or thickly plotted, but the change of pace from the routine crook or gangster chase is nice. I wish more episodes were traditional mysteries.
Naturally compared to the quick paced, flashy crime drama procedurals of today (the three CSIs, Bones, and Medium being among the most unique), Hawaii Five-O might seem rather plodding and unimaginative. Stars Jack Lord and James MacArthur do bring charisma and sincerity to their roles that maintain interest even in cases that on the surface don’t seem very challenging (the two other detective working with them are rather poor actors). We also got to see just a little bit of the two lead characters’ emotional lives with women this season. And, as the episodes are all self-contained (or at most two-part episodes), there’s no worry about following long range story arcs through multiple episodes as so many shows do today. Give the producers fifty minutes of your time, and you’ll see a case from beginning to end.
One of the real joys in watching a show of this age is to see the amazing line-up of very worthy character actors who parade through the episodes. Some are in the prime years of their careers while others will have shows of their own at some point in the future. Among the famous performers I noticed during this season are Gerald O’Laughlin, Ed Flannery, Nancy Wilson (as a heroin addict!), Harry Guardino, John Vernon, Anne Archer, Eric Braeden, Vera Miles, Martin Sheen, Dewey Martin, Madlyn Rhue, Simon Oakland, Andrew Duggen, Lloyd Bochner, Paul Burke, Don Stroud, Hume Cronyn, Joan Van Ark, Patrick Duffy, Albert Salmi, John Marley, John McMartin, Hope Summers, Tim O’Connor, Monte Markham, Jock Mahoney, Don Chastain, and Pernell Roberts.
Here’s the rundown for the third season’s twenty-four episodes with an occasional comment about an unusual outing:
1 - And Time to Die
2 - Trouble in Mind
3 - The Second Shot
4 - Time and Memories
5 - The Guarnerius Caper
6 - The Ransom
7 - Force of Waves
8 - Reunion
9 - The Late John Louisiana
10 - The Last Eden
11 - Over Fifty? Steal (a rare comedic episode for the show)
12 - Beautiful Screamer (a worthy showcase for co-star James MacArthur)
13 - The Payoff
14 - The Double Wall
15 - Paniolo
16 - Ten Thousand Diamonds and a Heart (a caper episode, my favorite of the season)
17 - To Kill or Be Killed
18 - F.O.B. Honolulu - Part I
19 - F.O.B. Honolulu - Part II
20 - The Gunrunner
21 - Dear Enemy
22 - The Bomber and Mrs. Moroney (another standout showcase for James MacArthur)
23 - The Grandstand Play - Part I
24 - The Grandstand Play - Part II
The original 1.33:1 aspect ratio of the TV broadcasts is reproduced faithfully in these transfers. Visual quality varies from episode to episode, but most of them feature good sharpness and accurate color reproduction in any scenes filmed on soundstages. Location work can vary from adequate sharpness to soft and sometimes dirty. There are occasional black and white scratches that aren’t badly intrusive, but without anamorphic enhancement, moiré patterns and line twitters in cloth patterns and car grille work are very noticeable. Edge enhancement also shows up from time to time. Each episode has been divided into 8 chapters (9 chapters if you play the promos).
The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is decoded by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. Representative of television sound recording for its era, the track does its job adequately. There isn’t any hiss, pops, or other audio artifacts, but obviously the track lacks fidelity in comparison to audio tracks on today’s TV crime dramas.
Most of the episodes have introductory promos lasting for a minute giving viewers a taste of the show ahead. (They were originally aired as previews for the next week's episode.) The viewer can choose to watch the show with or without the promos.
Hawaii Five-O hit its stride in its third season, and while this box set is light on extras, the shows themselves are addictive and despite hipster dialog and wardrobe that date the show sometimes, the performances of the two leads and a great line-up of guest stars make for an entertaining walk back in time.