'Hawaii Five-O - The Fourth Season'
(Jack Lord, et al / 6-Disc DVD / NR / 2008 / Paramount)
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 playing members of the Five-O team.
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.
Some of that is inevitably due to the infinitely more sophisticated production values of the series that have followed in its wake; Five-0's technology, sets, and other practical elements are laughably primitive by current standards. Problem is, the cheese factor extends to pretty much every other aspect of the show as well. Most of the action sequences are utterly tension-free, and the pace is frequently glacial, with interminable scenes bogged down by talky exposition.
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.
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.
And it goes without saying that it was the inspiration for Miami Vice, but this was no pastel color version of Honolulu. You can forget Don Ho singing Tiny Bubbles. McGarret looked more like a hardnosed FBI agent than he did the chief detective, running his crew like drill sergeant. James MacArthur may have seemed a little soft but he provided the necessary relief to Lord's hardboiled command. Kam Fong played the memorable Chin Ho through most of the series also.
In conclusion, 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) enhanced for 16x9 TVs but does not come with any Special Features; save for Episode Promos.