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DVD Review: Hawaii Five-O – The Sixth Season

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Jack Lord returns as Steve McGarrett in another thrilling and fun season of Hawaii Five-O. His toupee still manages to defy gravity. His ability to drive continues to baffle DMV officials. And he remains Hawaii’s biggest perennial badass since Don Ho.

Despite there being a lot of people who tend to denounce the show, somebody behind Hawaii Five-O must have known what they were doing to keep the formula alive and well up to its sixth season (their lucky streak ran from 1968 until the twelfth season ended in 1980) — even some of the “more popular” or “cult” series like The Mod Squad or Starsky & Hutch didn’t make it that far. Some argue that it was because there was a lack of original programming on TV at the time (bollocks — there’s less-original shit on television now than there was then), while others claim that the show was kept alive by the persistence and ego (but mostly ego) of series star Jack Lord. While I tend to believe the latter (especially the “ego” part — and you thought Shatner was bad!), I also like to believe that Hawaii Five-O stayed alive so long because it was a fun police drama set to the absolutely gorgeous backdrop of Hawaii. So there.

Hawaii Five-O: The Sixth Season starts out with a killer season premiere entitled “Hookman” in which the amazing real life private investigator J.J. Armes guest stars as a vengeful man whose arms were blown off in a botched bank robbery several years back. With two hooks where his appendages once were, the assassin takes his mark at the policemen he felt wronged him, leaving the murder rifle behind with gold plate attached bearing the fallen officer’s name.

Other highlights in the this season pit McGarrett and his faithful crew (James MacArthur as Danny “Danno” Williams; Al Harrington as Ben Kokua, and Kam Fong as Chin Ho Kelly) up against a yacht drifting into the bay carrying the bubonic plague (“Charter For Death” — McGarrett has to go into quarantine for the episode, but still manages to keep his sense of style about him by wearing his collar up!); an entire clan of white trash killers come to the island and start to murder people for only a few dollars (“One Big Happy Family,” guest starring Slim Pickens and Bo Hopkins); and the local pimps go to war with the hood that is overtaxing them in the “blaxploitation” episode “Tricks Are Not Treats” (featuring Glynn Turman, Ron Glass, Gregory Sierra, and Pat Morita). Other notable guest stars in this season include Don Stroud, Victor Buono, A. Martinez, Perry King, Cindy Williams, Anthony Zerbe, Casey Kasem, Richard Yniguez, Frank Cady, and Alan Fudge. Series regulars Harry Endo (as Che Fong, the best forensics guy ever!), Herman Wedemeyer (Duke Lukela), Richard Denning (Governor Jameson), Glenn Cannon (D.A., John Manicote), and Al Eben (Doc Bergman) are on hand in several episodes to help the stories move along, and season six also marks Jack Lord’s directorial debut (episode #6.19, “Death With Father”).

In keeping up with their previous releases of the last five Five-O seasons, CBS/Paramount’s six-disc set of Hawaii Five-O: The Sixth Season brings us all 24 episodes from the series’ 1973-1974 run, each of which has been digitally remastered and looks better than ever! Even the English mono stereo soundtrack sounds like it has received a makeover — but the secondary Spanish mono stereo audio track still sounds like shit like it originally did on TeleMundo back in the '70s and '80s. English, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles are available for each episode.

Since CBS/Paramount still have not bothered to call James MacArthur or Al Harrington (the only two remaining cast members of the original series — we only recently lost the lovable Harry Endo in February ‘09: rest in peace, Che) for interviews regarding their time spent on one of television’s most well-known police dramas, we are forced (once again) to be content with original episodic promos as the set’s only special features. The promos can be accessed individually before each episode or you can opt to play them all from the main menu — which continues to baffle me, since there still isn’t a ‘Play All’ option for the episodes themselves.

No matter how hokey the show can get and no matter how hammy Jack Lord can truly be sometimes (but hey, he’s still the shit), Hawaii Five-O remains a perennial favorite amongst vintage television lovers, fans of tasteful police dramas, and anyone who loves to see the beauty of Hawai’i in general — for all of you, Hawaii Five-O: The Sixth Season is a must-have. 

Book 'em (oh, damn — I promised myself I wouldn't say that!).

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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.
  • sapphiretaurus

    Jack was nothing like Shatner. What stories are you going by? The nasty rants in the tabloids? The generic labeling and unverified accusations from anonymous crew members? The information I found was nothing but that. Jack was a producer on the show and had the right to be in charge, and the rumors spread about him in the press were all just name-calling and accusations. There were many who worked with Jack who got along with him. The stories told about Shatner are far worse. They were attributed to people who spoke on record. Jack had no control over whether the show stayed on the air or not. He said so in a 1976 interview. The show stayed on the air because it had solid writing and acting, superb photography, an egaging cast anf guest stars, and original music.

  • trthmster

    The show is excellent. Losing Kono was a bummer. I really like Lords take on a hard boiled detective. it was an excellent counter point to the genial, unthreatening Columbo. I do love Columbo, but Lords sometimes curt comments, and down to business attitude was enjoyable to watch. Especially when he lambasted Danno for using a ” abysmal pejorative.”. Would love to read more stuff like this. Namely, about Jack Lords ego fuelled antics. Thanks, old T.V. buff, Benicia California.

  • Martin

    HAWAII FIVE-O was the BEST police type show made so far. It makes 80% of the current police look like scuz. The show was premium grade not full of arrogant airheads like I said 80% of the cuurent. I have not seen a good police show since CBS’s the District and Walker went off. Today’s show operators and networks should take time to sit down and watch a 1972 Five-o or a 1974 Mannix.