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Capsule TV On DVD Reviews: New Releases from CBS/Paramount

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Good morning, Mr. Phelps. It’s time to don the loudest ‘90s fashion attire you can muster, and hop in your cherry 1968 Mercury Parklane Brougham, as we take a spin down television memory lane. This time ‘round, we visit the action and thrills of Hawaii Five-O: The Seventh Season, Mission: Impossible – The Seventh And Final TV Season, and Nash Bridges: The Third Season.

Hawaii Five-O: The Seventh Season
Once again, the inimitable Jack Lord (as series lead Steve McGarrett) leads his crack shot crew (James MacArthur, Al Harrington, Kam Fong, Harry Endo, and Herman Wedemeyer) of Hawaii’s finest State Police (aka “Five-O”) to battle crazed killers, art thieves, and that dreaded Commie menace, Wo Fat (Khigh Dheigh). In this season, we bid adieu to Al Harrington as Detective Ben Kokua — his episodes are spread out through the season in order to make it look like he was there the whole time, while Douglas Mossman fills in for him while he’s gone. The set contains 24 episodes on 6 single-sided discs.

Guest stars in The Seventh Season include Leslie Nielsen (as a rich cattle rancher), Cameron Mitchell and Frank Gorshin (as a pair of elaborate con artists who replicate the entire Five-O office and staff in order to swindle people), a young Marc Singer, William Windom, Sam Elliott, Casey Kasem, Ray Danton (whose tan is out of control), Sal Mineo (shortly before his untimely demise), James Hong, and Ossie Davis. Danny Goldman, better known as the voice of Brainy Smurf and Gene Wilder’s annoying medical student from Young Frankenstein, also appears in one episode as a creepy copycat killer. Special features are limited to Episodic Promos for upcoming episodes, as they have been in the previous sets.

Mission: Impossible – The Seventh And Final TV Season
Another show, another seventh season. CBS/Paramount has managed to clear their roster of one more classic television series with Mission: Impossible – The Seventh And Final TV Season. Peter Graves, Greg Morris, Lynda Day George, and Peter Lupus (and let’s not forget Bob Johnson’s voice!) were able to have one final 22-episode hoorah before the network gave them the axe (although Graves, Morris, and Johnson would have the last laugh when the series returned for a two-season sequel/revival in 1988), and if the feeling of repetition I experienced with this final installment was just as strong to execs back in 1973, I could see why they canceled it. But that isn’t to say it’s not good. Far from it: it’s still the highly enjoyable and extremely campy series that anyone can sit down and watch.

Once again, the IMF crew goes head to head with domestic mobsters (usually known as “The Syndicate”) and terrorists. Highlights of this season include the appearance of Barbara Anderson as Mimi Davis (filling in for Lynda Day George, who was off of maternity leave — her episodes are spread out much like Al Harrington’s were in the previously-mentioned series), plus a rare episode wherein the IMF crew are thrust into their own affair without receiving orders from the Voice on the Tape (which also happens to be a follow-up episode to Season Six’s “Casino.” Notable guest stars include Robert Goulet, John Vernon, William Shatner, Roddy McDowall, Cameron Mitchell, Dean Stockwell, Vic Morrow, Ed Nelson (who visits Bronson Cave), and Robert Reed. It’s a pity that CBS/Paramount didn’t opt to include any special features (like a retrospective docu/look…anything?) for the final original season of this cult classic. Perhaps the revival series from 1988 will find their way to DVD someday soon along with some bonus material. In the meantime, though, this’ll do.

Nash Bridges: The Third Season
Although it’s nowhere near as “old” as the previous two series, Nash Bridges is definitely as fun. Just as full of himself as ever, the great Don Johnson strolls and struts his way through another ‘90s-fashion-sense-laden season as San Francisco’s most prodigal (if slightly maverick) police detective. But, as always, it’s Cheech Marin that steals most of the show as Nash’s sidekick, Joe. Returning once again are Jaime Gomez and Jeff Perry as Nash and Joe’s cohorts. Kelly Hu joins the cast for a bit here as a policewoman, while Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (Nash’s daughter) is noticeably absent throughout most of the series. Annette O’Toole makes her second-to-last appearance in the series. Highlights include Nash losing his short-term memory (from an explosion) and finding himself practically on-par with his Alzheimer’s-stricken father (James Gammon), the one and only appearance of Nash’s long lost brother, and Cheech Marin’s epic moment playing traffic cop to the Village People’s “YMCA.”

Guest stars this season include Christopher Rich, Tobin Bell, Willie Nelson, Shannon Tweed, Kari Wuhrer, horror hostess Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), Jan-Michael Vincent, moviemaker Robert Rodriguez, Geraldo Rivera, Willie Brown, Anne Francis, and Patrick Fischler. Unlike the previous two seasons on DVD, Nash Bridges: The Third Season has nothing in the way of special features — which is a major bummer indeed (just when you thought the studios were beginning to care…). But, despite the lack of any extras with this five-disc release, Nash Bridges: The Third Season is still a good guilty pleasure (for all of the loud ‘90s clothing if nothing else).

All three of these sets are presented in their original 1.33:1 television aspect ratios. Quality-wise, Five-O and M:I look the best, with Nash Bridges still baring the mark of ‘90s TV technology (damn near every TV show from the 1990s looks like they were filmed on video, even when they weren’t). On the audio front, Five-O contains an English mono stereo soundtrack along with original mono mixes and subtitles in English, Portuguese, and Spanish; M:I gets the full 5.1 remix soundtrack (subtitles and mono tracks in English, Spanish, and French are also included); while Nash Bridges loses the battle yet again, and features only the original English stereo surround with no subtitle options.

Whether you’re dying to see a vintage police drama, a classic “buddy-cop” series, or you simply yearn to see some campy espionage against mobsters, these sets are just what you need.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.