'Hawaii Five-O - The Second Season'
(Jack Lord, James MacArthur, et al / 6-Disc DVD / NR / (1969) 2007 / Paramount Home Entertainment)
Overview: Filmed entirely on location in Hawaii, the show followed Jack Lord as he played Steve McGarrett, head of an elite state police unit investigating "organized crime, murder, assassination attempts, foreign agents, felonies of every type." James MacArthur played his second-in-command Danny ("Danno") Williams, with local actors Kam Fong, Zulu, Al Harrington, and Herman Wedemeyer, among others, playing members of the Five-O team. Guest stars included Helen Hayes, Ricardo Montalban, Leslie Nielsen, Herbert Lom, Hume Cronyn among others. McGarrett's nemesis is the evil Wo Fat — "a Red Chinese agent in charge of the entire Pacific Asiatic theatre.
DVD Verdict: Nothing lasts 12 years without having something going for it. In the case of 'Hawaii Five-O,' it easy to dismiss it as a typically television crime drama that got lucky by finding its audience and keeping it. The same could be said for Law and Order. Except, in television years, luck usually runs out after two or three years. Gimmicks get old, the formula is figured out, and sharks are jumped so often they don't even complain.
But shows that last five years, much less 12, have to have something besides luck, gimmicks, and great scheduling. Hawaii Five-O had a number of things going for it. First of all, let's be honest. The setting was, and still is so lush and exotic that it is easily intoxicating. Hawaii is beautiful, and most people either live there or want to live there. Filming on location has always been a blessing when it's been done, and probably no more so than on this series.
Next, Jack Lord, playing Five-O chief Steve McGarrett, was one of a long line of no-nonsense law enforcement figures. The strength, integrity, and dedication of these kinds of characters cannot be overstated, and these characters will always have lots of fans rooting them on, not unlike Law and Order's Jack McCoy.
Then, when you turned this show on from week to week you never knew what kind of story you were going to see. It might be a story about thieves, mobsters or murderers, but it might just as likely be about something larger or more fantastic like international spies, assassination conspiracies or the threat of biological epidemics. Even the stories dealing with common crimes were heavily stylized, often pitting the Five-O team against near super-villain type enemies.
In a way, this show mixed the best of police dramas with some of the best elements of stylized spy thrillers, classic detective fiction, and even a tinge of comic book superheroes. It's as if someone took all the best elements of Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Mission Impossible and Batman and somehow came out with a surreal blend of police melodrama and heroic fiction that is fascinating and fun to watch.
Finally, watching shows like this is always a treat because you see so many stars that were either big stars enjoying a working Hawaiian vacation, or lots of up and coming stars before they got their big break. Hawaii Five-O was a natural draw for both categories, and it's fun to watch them and remember when.
It's also fun to remember when you could look forward to hearing one of the best and most recognizable theme songs in television history. Not a small thing when you add it with the other factors. Hawaii Five-O had a lot going for it then, and it has a lot going for it now. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1), but does not come with any Special Features: