With CBS having successfully relaunched their Hawaii Five-O franchise in 2010, the third season of the series continued along a very smooth and fairly predictable path. Though the series occasionally veers from the well-worn trail of a police crime procedural, the majority of the episodes follow the safe, reliable formula that have made the show a hit during its three seasons on the air. Slowly ebbing ratings, however, have driven the show from its familiar Monday perch for the 2013-2014 season; it’s scheduled for Friday nights at 9 presently.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Dutch, Other
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 17 Hrs. 16 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case with leaves
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 09/24/2013
The Hawaii Five-O team is a special task force set up by Hawaii’s governor to deal with unusual and potentially life-threatening crimes against the people of Hawaii. Though the team has been granted immunity and pretty much given carte blanche to do whatever is necessary to prevent trouble or root out the bad guys, governor Sam Denning (Richard T. Jones) who had informed the squad last year that their actions would be more closely scrutinized by him softens that stance markedly by the midpoint in season three when the team helps an old friend of his avoid a career-threatening scandal.
The Production Rating: 3/5
At the start of season three, Five-O commander ex-Navy Seal Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) is pleased that his arch enemy Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) has been captured, but the season premiere finds the villain rescued from being held by ex-cop now criminal mastermind Frank Delano (Billy Baldwin). Delano had also set up Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) with the impossible task of choosing whether to save his wife (Reiko Aylesworth) or cousin Kono Kalakua (Grace Park), both of whom had been placed in perilous situations. Though things don’t go exactly as planned for Chin Ho, by the second episode, the team is reassembled and back in action as a unit. It takes a full half season for Chin to shake off his grief and cast an eye for a new lady love. Meanwhile, the fourth team member Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan) spends the first half of the season fighting his ex-wife’s plan to take his daughter from Hawaii and relocate to Las Vegas. Completing the line-up of regularly seen cast: Masi Oka is still around every episode as the medical examiner and Danny’s nemesis, Taylor Wily appears in most of the episodes this season as good-natured shave ice/shrimp restaurateur Kamekona, and Brian Yang makes frequent appealing appearances as forensic analyst Charlie Fong. Steve’s infrequently seen love interest from the first two seasons Catherine Rollins (Michelle Borth) becomes a series regular and welcome presence in season three assisting the team on numerous cases from her job as a Navy tech officer.
If that sounds like the majority of the season is spent on personal issues, that isn’t really the case even though McGarrett’s long-missing and presumed dead mother Doris (Christine Lahti) resurfaces this season in a recurring role curiously tied to Wo Fat and allowing him to escape at the end of the premiere episode. Though the tie between them seems pretty obvious, the show never quite nails down the connection this season. Terry O’Quinn who was in ten episodes in season two as Steve’s old mentor Joe White returns this season for a single mission (O’Quinn was preoccupied with his own series for awhile and thus unavailable for additional appearances). This one again finds Steve going to North Korea off the grid to find the remains of a beloved fellow Navy Seal. Other unusual episodes this season revolve around the return of Edward Asner reprising for the second time a character he created on the original series, an almost scene-for-scene remake of the original series episode “Hookman,” an Oprah-like TV interviewer tagging along with the squad for a week, and Danny’s remembrance of a close call he escaped on a very fateful day in 2001.
As in the previous seasons, the series amps up the action and violence considerably from the original Jack Lord 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 almost every episode. While there is no denying the show can galvanize the viewer with its relentless forward movement toward the solution of its weekly crimes and most definitely has the look and sound of a mini-action movie being made on a weekly basis, there are occasionally absurd plotting problems which the series attempts to gloss over (Chin Ho abducted in the night, drugged, and sneaked into a maximum security prison on the island completely undetected by prison officials, the escaped Wo Fat appearing at crime scenes undetected, an armed Yakuza chieftain getting into the forensics lab of the police station undetected).
Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan demonstrate a notable and endearing brotherly affection and an amusing professional camaraderie throughout the season, their performing chemistry together palpable in every episode and milked for all it’s worth by writers who enjoy the friendly differences of opinion the two engage in during almost every episode. More time is spent this season with Grace Park’s ongoing relationship with Yakuza head Adam Noshimuri (Ian Anthony Dale) who’s promising her he’s making his business legitimate but is being thwarted by his evil older brother Michael (Daniel Henney). Daniel Dae Kim’s performance this season reaches the expected emotional highs and lows of a widower finding a new love interest, and it’s his strongest season to date with the series.
Here are the twenty-four episodes from season three spread across the package’s six Blu-ray discs. Names in parentheses refer to the participants in that episode’s audio commentary. I have used English translations for the titles of the episodes:
1 – Mother’s Day
2 – Doubt
3 – Adrift
4 – Misfortune
5 – Offering
6 – In a Time Past
7 – The Secret
8 – Evil Woman
9 – Death Wish
10 – Field Trip
11 – Guardian
12 – Forbidden
13 – Death Sentence
14 – Scandal
15 – Hookman (director/actor Peter Weller, original writers Glen Olson and Rod Baker, episode writer Joe Halpin)
16 – Warrior
17 – The Game (producer Peter Lenkov, stars Alex O’Loughlin, Grace Park)
18 – Dolls
19 – Close Friend
20 – The Promise
21 – Seek Within One’s Soul
22 – To Take Captive
23 – Family Business
24 – Farewell and Take Care
The series is filmed digitally and appears on CBS in 1080i. These 1080p AVC 1.78:1 transfers clearly outperform their network counterparts offering what is arguably the best quality video of any available television series in high definition and resembling top flight action movies rather than ordinary television series photography. Colors are beyond lush (with the varying shades of green especially vibrant but also with the most striking blues and reds seen on a television series) with Hawaii never looking so gorgeous or appealing. Flesh tones are deeply tanned, but on the whole that’s fitting for people living in this tropical paradise. Black levels are exceptionally good as is shadow detail. The transfers are rock solid throughout with no artifacts glimpsed, not even with those flyovers which generally produce aliasing and moiré patterns in other transfers. Each episode has been divided into 7 chapters.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
The disc offers DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (the basis for this review) and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround mixes. 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 usually hard driving to maximize suspense. Ambient sounds are well chosen and placed accurately throughout the various channels with quite frequent pans across and through the sound arena especially during chases. The LFE channel gets a normally thorough workout in each episode either from bass in the music or the frequent gunfire and explosions which dot the various episodes of the show.
Audio Rating: 5/5
Audio Commentaries: there are two present in this year’s set (see above episode list for the names of the participants). By far the more interesting one is the conversation on “Hookman.” With the presence of the original writers and the guest star/director and new writer, there’s no end of discussion and explanations of the changes made from the original to the new version. The writers also prevent Peter Weller from merely describing what we see on the screen, something he has a tendency to do in his solo commentaries on other discs.
Special Features Rating: 4/5
Twenty-Six Deleted Scenes (HD): spread over the six discs, the scenes are attached to the episodes from which they were excised.
Alternate Endings for “Forbidden” (HD): the aired episode featured the gimmick of the audience being able to vote on the killer’s identity. The disc offers the East Coast winner in the actual episode and then presents the two alternate choices as bonus scenes.
“Hookman” (50:02, HD): the original 1973 episode which was remade this season.
Shore Lines: Season 3 (24:11, SD): an overview of the entire season with the cast and specific crew members discussing the through-lines for their characters and the more memorable episodes from the season.
Aloha Action: Season 3 (20:27, SD): stunt coordinator Jeff Cadiente along with other members of the stunt and effects crews describe the season’s most memorable stunts with behind-the-scenes looks at how things were accomplished.
Script to Screen (8:20, SD): a behind-the-scenes look at how an episode (in this case, episode #23) goes from many drafts of the script through location scouting, shooting, and post-production delivering a finished show sometimes mere hours before it airs.
Hawaii Five-Over the Whole Wide World (14:39, SD): members of the cast mention the show’s popularity around the world and attest to the crowds of fans who meet them wherever they go and listen to their characters dubbed in a variety of languages. Daniel Dae Kim in particular is featured in this spot.
Gag Reel (8:55, SD)
A slightly above average season for one of CBS’ most action-filled series, Hawaii Five-O in its third season makes a gorgeous Blu-ray release. Some care has gone into selecting the bonus features this year as well giving fans some added bang for their bucks.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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