Judge Ben Saylor wonders if a hurricane could have mussed Steve McGarrett's hair. Probably not.
Our reviews of Hawaii Five-O: The Complete First Season (published March 6th, 2007), Hawaii Five-O: The Second Season (published August 22nd, 2007), Hawaii Five-O: The Sixth Season (published June 15th, 2009), Hawaii Five-O: The Third Season (published January 28th, 2008), and Hawaii Five-O: The Twelfth and Final Season (published January 10th, 2012) are also available.
"Aloha, suckers."—Steve McGarrett to a group of criminals thwarted while trying to flee Hawaii.
Hawaii Five-O continues its rollout onto DVD with the recent release of the fourth season of this long-running crime show. And with three years behind it, the show is still pretty solid television, as this set demonstrates.
Facts of the Case
Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord, Dr. No) is the leader of "Five-O," an elite state police unit that investigates cases involving murder, kidnapping, robbery, international espionage, and more. Along with McGarrett, the unit includes Danny "Danno" Williams (James MacArthur, Third Man on the Mountain), Chin Ho Kelly (Kam Fong), and Kono Kalakaua (Zulu).
The 24 episodes included on this set were broadcast between Sept. 14, 1971 and March 7, 1972, and are presented as follows.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" appears to have been the mantra going into Hawaii Five-O: The Fourth Season. The show maintains the same formula already firmly established by the third season: a generous mix of storylines, a plethora of guest stars, and gorgeous location shooting in the Aloha State.
In Hawaii Five-O: The Fourth Season, viewers are treated to a slew of different cases for McGarrett and his team to crack. The first episode, "Highest Castle, Deepest Grave," involves Five-O's investigation of a double murder that happened 10 years earlier. This episode is interesting because of the psychological undertones: McGarrett falls hard for a dead woman. In another episode involving a psychological bent, "Wednesday, Ladies Free," the team has to stop a serial killer who puts a blonde wig and makeup on all of his victims. This episode has a clever twist that is sprung on the viewer even after the killer is caught. Another standout is "Skinhead," where a local soldier (chillingly portrayed by Lee Paul) is accused of raping a Hawaiian woman. Not only does the show touch on racism (the soldier drops a racial slur about the girl in the presence of Kono, whose reaction marks a rare show of emotion from the character), but it also features another clever twist. In a more light-hearted (and really, rather silly) vein, there's "Odd Man In," which marks the return of veteran actor Hume Cronyn (Lifeboat) as the wily master of disguises Lewis Avery Filer, a character who first appeared in season three. This time, Filer goes so far as to dress as a woman to evade the police. And of course, it wouldn't be Hawaii Five-O without the return of McGarrett's perennial archenemy Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) in the two-parter "The 90-Second War." A quibble: Why do the schemes of Wo Fat, an international espionage agent, invariably involve Hawaii? And why, when Wo Fat's scheme involves a threat to national security (in other words not just the state of Hawaii), is McGarrett put in charge of the entire case? I mean, I get that the showrunners wanted to give McGarrett a constant foil, but the whole thing requires a degree of suspension of belief.
It wouldn't be a season of Hawaii Five-O without notable guest stars, and as I said earlier, this season's no slouch: Look for John Ritter, Vic Morrow, Buddy Ebsen, Annette O'Toole, Donald Pleasence, Herbert Lom, Jackie Cooper and Loretta Swit, among others. And of course, Richard Denning (Creature from the Black Lagoon) turns up in several episodes as the governor of Hawaii.
As for the main cast, again, the status quo is maintained with season four; this is still basically "The Jack Lord Show," and his hair is as unmovable and jaw as square as ever. And while the actor doesn't display the greatest range in the role, what he does is what is appropriate to the character. And he does get to flex his acting muscles a bit in a few episodes, such as the afore-mentioned "Highest Castle, Deepest Grave" as well as "The 90-Second War," where he has an emotional reaction upon learning that he's not paralyzed following an attack by Wo Fat. And in "Skinhead," he has some dialogue where he forcefully states why he wants to catch the man who raped the Hawaiian woman.
With Lord in the driver's seat, there's not a whole lot for James MacArthur, Kam Fong or Zulu to do, but I still say they're critical components of the show, and they all get little moments to shine: Danno goes undercover as a sailor to catch a drug dealer on "Follow the White Brick Road" and leads an investigation of an armored car hijacking in "For a Million, Why Not"; Chin Ho gets angry when a criminal threatens his wife; and Zulu gets his afore-mentioned outburst during "Skinhead." (Speaking of Kono, most Hawaii Five-O fans are probably aware that this season was Zulu's last on the show.)
Paramount Home Video's DVD presentation, like the show itself, doesn't tinker with the formula of previous releases. The six discs are housed in three plastic slim cases that go in a cardboard sleeve. Episode synopses and airdates are printed on the back of each case. Video and sound quality are the same mostly-high levels that I found with season three, and for special features, again, all we get are episode promos for some of the episodes, each featuring Jack Lord's signature signoff, "Be here. Aloha." By this, the fourth season, the prospect of getting anything of substance in the special features department is becoming less and less of a realistic possibility.
Beyond the standard grumble about the lack of good special features, there's nothing about this set that wouldn't cause me to recommend it to fans of good television.
No need to book this one, Danno. Not guilty.
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