Resurrecting classic television series for a new generation is truly risky business, and it doesn’t often work. There have been a few failed attempts in the last decade or so (The Fugitive, The Twilight Zone, Knight Rider come immediately to mind), and ABC has high hopes for its relaunch of Charlie’s Angels this season. Last season, however, it was CBS who dipped in the classic pool with their resuscitation of their previous twelve-season smash hit Hawaii Five-O. Though names have been carried over from the original show which ran from 1968-1980, it’s really a new day for Steve McGarrett, “Danno” Williams, Chin Ho Kelly, and the rest of the gang.
Hawaii Five-O: The First Season (Blu-ray)
Directed by Brad Turner et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p VC-1 codec
Running Time: 1086 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo French
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, others
Region: no designation
MSRP: $ 80.00
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Review Date: September 11, 2011
The Hawaii Five-O team is a special task force set up by Hawaii’s governor Pat Jameson (Jean Smart in a recurring role) to deal with unusual and potentially life-threatening crimes for the people of Hawaii. With the team granted immunity and pretty much given carte blanche to do whatever is necessary to prevent trouble or root out the bad guys, the squad takes on drug lords, kidnappers, terrorists, and all manner of nefarious baddies during its first season. The team is led by ex-Seal Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) whose father is murdered in the opening minutes of the show’s pilot and around whose murder many season one plots revolve. Second-in-command is Danny “Danno” Williams, an ex-New Jersey-based detective who moved to Hawaii strictly to be close to his daughter (Teilor Grubbs) now that he’s divorced from his British wife (Claire van der Boom). Also brought onto the team are Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim), a disgraced ex-cop accused of stealing money from evidence lock-up, and Kelly’s cousin Kono Kalakua (Grace Park in a stunning gender reversal from the original series), a new police academy graduate who’s a martial arts master and looks swell in a bikini. Toward the end of the season, a new tech analyst joins the team, Jenna Kaye (Larisa Oleynik). Taylor Wily appears in about half the episodes as good-natured shave ice vendor and police informant Kamekona.
The series amps up the action and violence considerably from the original series with a much faster-paced approach to the storytelling while at the same time wallowing in the picture postcard visuals that Hawaii affords. The show offers every bit as much eye candy as the original series in terms of beautiful people and lush locales but also falls victim to its formulaic chases and shootouts which occur in every episode. In order to expand interaction with the principals and give them some depth, the main characters all get involved in crime stories involving immediate family members. McGarrett’s sister Mary (a very unconvincing Taryn Manning in four episode appearances) and Danny’s brother (Dane Cook in one of the season’s best episodes) along with some cousins and the aunt and uncle of Chin and Kono are sprinkled throughout the season. Also retaining ties to the original series (albeit in a new, sleeker, and sexier package) is criminal mastermind Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) who makes appearances in four episodes during the season directly relating him to the deaths of McGarrett’s mother and father and figuring prominently in the season finale.
Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan demonstrate a notable and endearing brotherly affection and an amusing professional rivalry throughout the first season, their performing chemistry together palpable in every episode. Grace Park doesn’t quite convince as a martial arts expert, but the show offers her quite a few chances to wear bikinis and form-fitting clothes while working undercover which show off her more believable physical attributes. Daniel Dae Kim is the more serious-minded member of the team, and his season-long search for redemption from false theft charges while on the police force give him the edge in emotional dramatic appeal. The season is ripe with guest stars; among the more notable appearances are turns by James Marsters (two episodes), William Sadler (who plays Steve’s father in the pilot), Scott Cohen, Peter Stormare, Masi Oka (in the recurring role of the M.E.), Kevin Sorbo, Balthazar Getty, Robert Loggia, Louis Lombardi, Jon Seda, Kyle Secor, Jason Scott Lee, Bronson Pinchot, Nick Lachey, Ray Wise, Troy Garity, Sean Combs, Keith David, Rick Springfield, and James Remar.
Here are the twenty-four episodes from season one spread across the package’s six Blu-ray discs. Names in parentheses refer to the participants in that episode’s audio commentary:
1 – Pilot (director Len Wiseman and producers Peter Lenkov and Roberto Orci)
2 – Ohana
3 – Malama Ka Aina
4 – Lanakila
5 – Nalowale
6 – Ko’olauloa
7 – Ho’apono
8 – Mana’o
9 – Po’ipu
10 – Heihei
11 – Palekaiko
12 – Hana ‘A’a Makehewa
13 – Ke Kinohi
14 – He Kane Hewa’ole
15 – Kai E’e
16 – E Malama (director Brad Turner, stars Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park)
17 – Powa Maka Moana
18 – Loa Aloha
19 – Ne Me’e Laua Na Paio
20 – Ma Ke Kahakai
21 – Ho’opa’I
22 – Ho’ohuli Na’au
23 – Ua Hiki Mai Kapalena Pau
24 – Oia’i’o
The series is filmed digitally and appears on CBS in 1080i 1.78:1 transfers. These 1080p VC-1 high definition transfers clearly outperform their network counterparts offering what is likely the best quality video of any available television series in high definition. Colors are beyond lush (with only occasional fluorescent greens) with Hawaii never looking so gorgeous or appealing. Flesh tones can sometimes seem inconsistent from shot to shot, but on the whole they’re fitting for people living in this tropical paradise. Black levels are good as is shadow detail. The transfers are rock solid throughout. Each episode has been divided into 6 or 7 chapters depending on the breakdown of acts within the program.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix again offers likely the best available audio encode for any currently running program. Though dialogue is well recorded and usually turns up in the center channel, there are some occasional directionalized dialogue snippets within some episodes. Music gets pushed through the entire soundstage and is an enveloping, almost constantly present entity. Ambient sounds are well chosen and placed accurately throughout the various channels with some occasional pans across and through the sound arena. The LFE channel gets a normally thorough workout in each episode either from bass in the music or the frequent explosions which dot the various episodes of the show.
There are two audio commentaries (see above list). The pilot commentary would have been interesting if there hadn’t been a featurette specifically about the making of the pilot which repeats everything in it that is in the commentary. The actors’ commentary later on falls victim to the performers wanting to watch the episode rather than talk (though they do a pretty good job of finding something to say apart from Scott Caan who obviously would rather be anywhere else).
All of the featurettes are presented in 1080i.
There are thirty-two deleted scenes spread over all six discs. They may be accessed within individual show episodes or from the bonus feature menu.
“Picture Perfect: The Making of the Pilot” gives an in-depth look at the preparations for writing, casting, and filming the pilot episode. Shot on a fifteen day schedule, the pilot is then shown to a huge crowd of Hawaiians before the official premiere to overwhelming acclaim. This runs 27 ¼ minutes.
“Legacy” compares aspects of the old series with this refurbished model focusing primarily on the casting of the principals. It runs 11 ¾ minutes.
“Shore Lines: The Story of Season 1” scans the highlights from the first season from pilot through finale in this 30 ½-minute featurette.
“Aloha Action!” discusses the crack stunt team which works diligently to keep the action quotient high in each episode. Some of the season’s most memorable stunts are discussed in this 15 ¼-minute vignette.
“Grace Park’s Hawaiian Tour” finds the actress taking a quick hula lesson, chowing down on some native delicacies, and doing some paddle surfing. This runs 5 ½ minutes.
The season one gag reel runs for 7 ½ minutes.
There are six CBS On-Air promos for the show. Together they run 7 ½ minutes.
There are four EYE LAB/Online promos which run 3 ¾ minutes.
“Re-scoring the Theme Song” introduces us to music director Brian Taylor who conducts the iconic theme song used also as the main title theme of the new series. This runs 1 ¾ minutes.
“Inside the Box” finds actor William Sadler (who plays McGarrett’s father in the pilot) talking about the mysterious Champion tool box which plays such a major role throughout the first season of the show. This featurette is 6 ¾ minutes.
“Inside Comic-Con” has the show’s producers along with co-stars Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim doing pre-release PR work for the show. A quick number of questions and answers are shown in this 6 ¼-minute feature.
4/5 (not an average)
A fast-paced action series with strong ties to its original incarnation but with more character exploration and poignant moments, Hawaii Five-O on Blu-ray will be a must for fans. Right now, it’s to be an exclusive item at Best Buy stores, so fans of the show will certainly want to rewatch these episodes in near-reference picture and sound and with some fun extra features.