STARBULLETIN / 1996
Remember this? Steve McGarrett's cop car, a big, black Mercury Marquis,*
is parked in front of his supposed office, buildling, Iolani Palace.
Almost 40 years later,
'Five-0' still packs a punch
Be there. Aloha.
About the only thing missing from the first-season DVD collection of "Hawaii Five-0": Jack Lord tautly reminding us -- or is it an order? -- during the previews to tune in next week. There don't seem to be any previews in the collection. Nor are there any 1969 TV commercials.
"Hawaii Five-0: The First Season"
(Paramount Home Video)
But it's still possible to time-travel while watching the shows, particularly if you were here while the show was filming. I was on the beach once with an Instamatic and was pressed into service as a teenage "surf photographer" extra for the show.
No contracts, no dough ... but it seemed as though Hawaii people were available and friendly whenever the show needed a hand. KGMB, the CBS affiliate that broadcast the show here, even changed its air time so it wouldn't conflict with "Laugh-In."
It's one thing to watch it on a relatively fuzzy broadcast signal in the distant past and replay it on the dim scrim of fading memory. How does it hold up in the digital age?
For a Hawaii-based show that never set out to glamorize Hawaii -- an amazing number of scenes took place in dusty dumps, scrubby wastelands, dirty alleys, too-sterile hotels, sun-blasted rocks and the back yard of your Waipahu neighbor who never mowed -- the DVD transfer is bright and clean and amazingly clear.
Little things become apparent, some of which show off how well made the show was: The ambient sound sophisticatedly overlaps into the famous title sequence; the opening scene is always grabby and tersely written; each segment has a dramatic arc and a neatly plotted structure; the music is first rate and low key.
And there are elements that characterized the look of the series. Good guys wear suits and ties and never sweat. Bad guys wear aloha shirts and always have a greasy sheen of perspiration. Seriously. McGarrett could sprint up the side of Koko Head in his black suit and arrive at the top without popping a pore.
And their hair! Bad guys have bad hair days all day long, whilst 5-0 operatives never have a follicle out of place. McGarrett's hair is particularly awesome: It sits atop his head like a clenched fist.
In this first season, at least, Kono and Chin have no discernible personalities, although Kam Fong seems to have a twinkle in his eye and Zulu did the impassive, stolid thing that nonwhite actors of that era did to be cool.
And Steve McGarrett is still a cipher, some sort of crypto-fascist robot programmed by government bureaucrats. You watched the show to catch the little twinkles of personality Jack Lord would exhibit on rare occasions.
The package is fairly modest, with no extras other than Emme Tomimbang's splendid TV special on the subject, which is about a decade old but has been recently updated by her. But it all looks and sounds great and, as a pop-culture meditation on modern Hawaii, can't be beat.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
» The type of large, black four-door car driven by "Hawaii 5-0" detectives was usually a Ford Mercury and not a Lincoln Continental, as was indicated in a story on Page F3 on Sunday.