The video tapes discussed in the article below are no longer available, except from sites like Ebay. These videos have been superceded by the release of the show on DVD, which started in March, 2007. You can order the DVDs directly from amazon.com via this link.
Columbia House Customer Service wrote the following to me in early 1998:
"You will be pleased to know, we are planning to offer episodes of Hawaii Five-O later this spring. We are planning to offer 10 volumes in the series. At this point, additional information is not yet available. You may contact us in March or April, we will be happy to provide any available information at that time.
"Historically, we release a number of episodes in any new series, review consumer reaction, and based on how positive the response, make the determination whether or not to release more episodes. In effect, the collector market determines how many episodes are in fact released."
The tapes included the 1968 pilot movie ("Cocoon") and the following episodes:
King of the Hill
Over Fifty? Steal
Highest Castle, Deepest Grave
Rest in Peace, Somebody
The Jinn Who Clears the Way
The "Vashon" trilogy (three episodes on one tape)
Pig in a Blanket
One Big Happy Family
I'll Kill 'Em Again
How to Steal a Masterpiece
Retire in Sunny Hawaii -- Forever
Unfortunately, as of 2005, they are not available at all from Columbia House of Canada and e-mails to Columbia House in the USA suggest limited availability there. The tapes are still available from time to time on auction sites like Ebay.
The response of one fan who received the initial tape was quite enthusiastic:
"I, too, rec'd my long-awaited copy of "Cocoon," and it was worth it! The quality is as if the film is new. The colors are true and bright, the images sharp and clear, and the SOUND is PERFECT!!
"It's interesting to see the original pilot, which I believe this was. McG was a much looser guy in this show than in the series. Chin Ho was too funny, always bursting into Steve's office and shouting, 'Chin Ho Kelly here to save the day!' and Steve saying, 'Shut up and sit down.' It was very weird, though, seeing someone else playing Danno (and yes, he called him 'Danno' in that first show), instead of James MacArthur. Boy, am I glad he came along!
"As someone else in this newsgroup said, it makes you never want to see another FAM episode again. No choppy editing to confuse you, no bad sound that fades in and out, and the quality of the picture on the Columbia vid far exceeds anything FAM has done with their much-bragged-about (by them) 'digital remastering' of the originals. And, without commercials and with extra footage, it was 105 minutes of JL -- what more could a gal want? :)
"I recommend this to all fans. It costs some, but the quality makes it worthwhile, in my opinion. I, too, am off to write a line to Columbia House to thank them and encourage them to make more, more, more!!
However, there have been complaints from other people posting in alt.fan.hawaii-five-o that scenes are missing from some of the Columbia House tapes:
In the pilot episode, for example, McGarrett is being "conditioned," submerged underwater while Wo Fat and others look on. A scene that's cut out of the Columbia House version has McGarrett cursing out Wo Fat, and fantasizing about other things. McGarrett speaks (after he's been in the cocoon for about 7 hours) to Wo Fat, saying that "Mr. Wo Fat goofed" and that he can hear; then Wo Fat confirms this to the technician. That whole sequence is missing. On the other hand, this original pilot has a completely different beginning and end titles than the two-hour movie (or two-part episode) usually broadcast as well as scenes near the beginning where McGarrett enters the Iolani Palace and where Chin Ho makes his first appearance. These, and the exceptional colour of the print make this a must-have item for all Five-O fans.
Another cut occurs in the beginning of "Over 50? Steal!", when Filer has hit the small jeweler, and has set up the binoculars for McGarrett to see him at the phone booth across the street, Che finds a "big fat thumbprint" on the lens of the binoculars. McGarrett says, "All this junk and we got one thumbprint?" but that line is cut out of the Columbia House version. Che says his line, and they cut to another scene.
In "Highest Castle, Deepest Grave", the conversation in Hawaiian between Mondrago and Akea is omitted.
"Nine Dragons," my favorite episode, suffers from a mediocre print in the Columbia House edition. There are scratches throughout, and some major damage like in the scene where McGarrett bids farewell to the Chinese girl Suzie and at the end where Wo Fat is watching his handiwork on the TV monitors. I don't understand why this print is so bad, when Viacom distributes a version of this show to TV stations which seems to have "Family Channel"-style revamped color and doesn't have these flaws.