Written by Hombre Divertido
Hawaii Five-O had enough going for it to keep it on the air for twelve seasons. Not only did it have the beautiful background of Hawaii, but it also had a solid cast that stuck with the show virtually until the end, excellent writing, and much more. One of the big keys to success was the pacing. Though slow compared to today’s fast-paced editing style, in 1972 during the fifth season of this classic television police drama, you really got to see not only the story develop, but each individual scene as well. Many other crime-investigation series would take their lead from Hawaii Five-O, and fill the networks throughout the seventies.
Season five continually displays the evolution of the series from a show that focused on the boss Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) to more of an ensemble. McGarrett was clearly still, and would remain, the brains of the outfit, but there is a clear evolution of supporting characters from season one to season five.
Though sorely missed was one of the most underutilized and enjoyable of the supporting characters for the first four seasons; Kono (Zulu), who rarely had the opportunity to show his thoroughly enjoyable sense of humor, left the series after four seasons and was replaced by Al Harrington as Ben Kukua. Ben was an enjoyable addition, and fit well into the team, but Kono was continually missed. Along with Ben, Steve was supported by the wildly popular Danny “Danno” Williams (James MacArthur) and Chin Ho Kelly (Kam Fong).
There was good chemistry amongst the cast who had really settled into their respective roles by the time season five hit the airways. The format of the shows had also reached a solid level of consistency, as the audience had come to appreciate. Primarily each show would run the same. We were shown the crime, watched our tan team pick up the case, overcome roadblocks, the customary action sequences, and the big reveal at the end. Well formatted, acted, and executed each week.
One of the most enjoyable storylines that was often utilized on Hawaii Five-O, was that of the small time crook inadvertently getting caught up in a much bigger crime, or somehow crossing the wrong people. These episodes often displayed the writers attempts to put humor in the show. A good example in season five is “I’m a Family Crook — Don’t Shoot” starring Andy Griffith as a small-time grifter, who swindles the wrong guy, with the help of his wife and daughter. Though the humor does not always work, this and other episodes following the above mentioned format are enjoyable to watch.
There are several fun aspects to watching these classics on DVD: having the option to watch previews or not, looking for performances by established actors of that era as well as future stars, and picking up on continuity errors. Performances by future stars and established actors abound in season five as do the continuity errors. You can see reasonably good performances by young Dirk Benedict, Erik Estrada, Mary Frann, Meg Foster, Richard Hatch, as well as the previously mentioned Anny Griffith, and also, George Chakiris, Ricardo Montalban, William Shatner, Keenan Wynn, Carol Lawrence, and Patty Duke.
One of the aspects of the continuity issue is the over use of several of the character actors. Too often in this season we see the same character actor playing different parts. Though effective in the roles, the over use is distracting. Also noticeable are wardrobe disappearances and reappearances, as if the wardrobes of that era are not distracting enough. Look for ties and scarves to disappear and reappear in “Chain of Events.” An interesting episode that deals with venereal disease. Also notice how awful the campaign poster is in this episode.
There are a ton of enjoyable and interesting things to look for in these old shows. In one episode McGarrett even refers to an Asian suspect as “Oriental.”
Season five contains a three-episode story line in which McGarrett and his team take on three generations of the same family. An interesting premise that is not executed to its fullest potential as the stories lack depth. The performances of the guests including Harold Gould make these episodes worth watching.
Recommendation: This is good television. All 24 episodes look great and are sure to keep you entertained for years to come. The only bonus material is the promos for next weeks show as narrated stoically by Jack Lord, who ended each one with: “Be here, Aloha.” Hopefully before all the seasons are released, we will get some more extras, but this six-disc set is definitely worth owning.