Five-O: The Complete Series Box Set Review
By JEFF HERMAN
Having purchased the individual season sets, I was not chomping at the bit to buy CBS DVD's initial release in 2013 of HAWAII FIVE-O: THE COMPLETE SERIES, despite the fact that this set was reputed to contain several items that were not available in the season sets: namely, a) an HD-remastered Season 10 set of new episode transfers (the original Season 10 set was the only season NOT remastered, as they rushed it to stores in time for Christmas); b) a bonus disc featuring vintage content about the series; and c) gorgeous collector's packaging, including disc booklets featuring new still images. The reason for passing on this initially: the retail price was over $350 on Amazon, with a small discount that still kept the price above $300.
However, nearly 2 years has passed, and now Amazon has dropped it to below $200, and there are several Amazon Merchants offering it brand-new for under $150, so when the price from one of these vendors hit $117 (or roughly $10/season on average), I went for the double-dip. Happily, I'm glad I did!
The set contains an outer thick mostly-clear plastic slipcover featuring the iconic wave and series logo, which slides over and secures an inner blue box (featuring the rest of the iconic wave art to match up with the slipcover). The box opens to reveal 2 small scrapbook-size collectors' books, with the blue book housing the discs for Seasons 1-6, and the yellow book housing the discs for Seasons 7-12, plus the bonus disc. The pages feature cardboard inserts for the numerous discs, along with still images of the various series regulars from each season, along with gorgeous Hawaiian background imagery and a listing of each disc's contents (episode title and original airdate).
The discs all feature colored disc art (different from the individual season sets' discs) but the content (menus, episodes, etc.) is exactly the same as the original releases. The exception to this are the season 10 discs, which feature the same menus but have pristine new episode transfers, matching the quality of the other remastered seasons.
The bonus disc features the following: a) a vintage PBS documentary with Leonard Freeman, Jack Lord, and various other producers and co-stars, shot during the filming of the 4th season episode "Odd Man In", and is the stand-out highlight of the bonus features, running about 30 minutes in length; b) clips from a vintage 1968 appearance of Jack Lord on the Mike Douglas show, great quality; c) a 'syndication reel' used to help sell the series' reruns to local stations in 1981, featuring lots of ratings info and various clips from the series; quality is pretty low (this can be easily found on YouTube); d) segment from the CBS 1968 Fall Preview featuring Hawaii Five-O, with remastered clips inserted in place of the old original clips; e) segment from "Inside Edition" about Jack Lord and his illness, from the late 90s; and f) various "Entertainment Tonight" segments about the series and its stars, including a brief clip of Jack Lord being interviewed in 1986 at a Hawaii film festival, and also covering the deaths of Jack Lord and James MacArthur. Overall, the bonus content comes to about one hour of new material, and is altogether very interesting, although it's a shame it wasn't made available separately for those fans who faithfully bought each individual season but couldn't afford or justify getting the complete series set.
Overall, this is a gorgeous set, and it's worth the double dip for the reasons noted above, along with the added appeal of having (most) every episode of the series contained in one box set that looks great on your shelf (although it is a tad on the heavy side and much larger than the individual releases).
NOTE: the sleeves hold the discs pretty tightly in some instances, while in other instances the discs are sticking out a little more loosely. Numerous Amazon reviewers have complained that this cardboard configuration has the potential to scratch the bottom of the discs, possibly rendering them unplayable. I highly recommend playing each episode briefly on each disc to verify that there are no manufacturing issues rendering them unplayable, and check the bottom of each disc for any major scratches (I've found minor ones can often be buffed out with cotton swabs and a dab of rubbing alcohol). A few Amazon reviewers noted that Season 4, Disc 3 does not load or play properly; however, my disc 3 played just fine without issue, although I did have a problem with Season 10, Disc 4's "The Silk Trap" not loading. However, I was able to make a copy of this disc using DVD Shrink, and the copy played just fine for some reason. As of this writing, I have not encountered any other issues playing any of the other episodes in the set to date, but I'm only about halfway through checking them.
OVERALL REVIEW SUMMARY: Highly Recommended (with some slight reservations due to disc playability); if you're double-dipping, wait until you find an Amazon Merchant offering it for around $120, or whatever your sweet spot is! You won't regret it if you're a die-hard H5O fan!