DVD Review: Hawaii Five-0 (The Eleventh Season)

The worst piece of bar trivia was a claim that not once did Steve McGarrett say, “Book ‘em, Danno.” Somehow this was supposed to be as shocking as realizing Humphrey Bogart never uttered, “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca. Except there was no “wow” factor since it was a lie. McGarrett said, “Book ‘em, Danno” to close numerous episodes. It became the opposite of “Aloha.” What’s a Danno? Danny “Danno” Williams (James MacArthur) was McGarrett’s right hand man who handled the dirty work of police paperwork. Hawaii Five-0: The Eleventh Season is the last go around for Danno. The Five-O headquarters have a little more space with only Duke (Herman Wedemeyer) and Danno working next to McGarrett’s office. They’re a tighter unit than ever before when it comes to cleaning up the 50th state.

Many people remember this time as when the show dove into the deep and strange waters off Honolulu. There’s a lot of weird moments in the 21 episodes. “The Sleeper” put McGarrett into the role of super cop when he’s called in to investigate a murder at a government agency. Why the Pentagon wouldn’t handle this case? But somehow if it happens on a Hawaiian island, McGarrett can’t be stopped with a jurisdiction order. “Horoscope for Murder” makes an astrologer a homicide suspect when she predicts a body. Tab Hunter (Polyester) is her friend that might be her excuse or use her as alibi. “The Case Against Philip Christie” is amazingly absurd. We’re really supposed to believe that not only does McGarrett not get out of jury duty, but a defense lawyer doesn’t object to him being selected for his case? “Small Potatoes” makes McGarrett the target of a gambling racket. They will even toss in a woman to make him look even more guilty. “A Distant Thunder” puts Danno to work. He goes undercover to smash up a group of Neo-Nazis before they claim a political target. “Death Mask” sweeps the show up in the King Tut craze. The boy king’s mask gets stolen. Rory Calhoun and Cyd Charisse (The Silencers) get drawn into the ancient heist. “A Long Time Ago” returns a lover of Danno to the island. Why has she come back? To rekindle their love or be part of a criminal enterprise?

“Why Won’t Linda Die?” is another major freakish episode. It’s hard to say what’s really happening except people die and there’s an identity issue. The ending is a big “huh” moment except Jack Lord keeps a straight face. He’s a pro. Disco arrives on “Number One With a Bullet.” Forget the luau. Everyone boogies all night long. Mobster Ross Martin (The Wild Wild West) wants a piece of the mirror ball. Ross gets to put on the make up to play a Hawaiian native. “The Meighan Conspiracy” gives us the treat of Robert Reed flaunting his Brady Bunch dad-fro in the tropical sun. “The Spirit is Willie” calls forth Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.). He’s a spiritualist that might crack a murder case when he goes after the ghost to interrogate. “The Bark and the Bite” clamps down with John Saxon (Enter the Dragon). He’s not after the usual loot. “The Stringer” has star on star crime. Paul Williams (Phantom of the Paradise) is a photographer that snaps an unwanted show of Ross Martin. The crime boss doesn’t like his image taken. He’s going to put a rainbow connection through Paul’s head. Robert Loggia kills pimps in order to save hookers on “The Execution File.” “A Very Personal Matter” is pure revenge when Cameron Mitchell (The High Chaparral) goes after the doctor that gave his kid fatal drugs. “The Year of the Horse” is the season finale that takes McGarrett and Danno to Singapore. They’re out to bust a heroin smuggling operation. McGarrett isn’t merely investigating; he becomes a supercop with knife fights and dangling off cable cars. The guest stars are dazzling with Victoria Principal (Dallas), Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and George Lazenby (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). The former-Bond gets to team up with the former Felix Leiter.

Danno’s swansong doesn’t get too emotional since his departure was not planned. MacArthur has said he went on vacation and didn’t want to return when he got the call about showing up for season 12. He’d booked enough hoods, junkies, pimps and international spies for one character’s lifetime. While this season was rather odd, there were always bizarre tales of how McGarrett seemed more powerful than the head of the FBI. Now it would only be McGarrett and Duke protecting the tropical paradise with a pack of newbies for the final season.

The Episodes
“The Sleeper,” “Horoscope for Murder,” “Deadly Courier,” “The Case Against Philip Christie,” “Small Potatoes,” “A Distant Thunder,” “Death Mask,” “The Pagoda Factor,” “A Long Time Ago,” “Why Won’t Linda Die?,” “The Miracle Man,” “Number One with a Bullet” (two-parter), “The Meighan Conspiracy,” “The Spirit is Willie,” “The Bark and the Bite,” “Stringer,” “The Execution File,” “A Very Personal Matter,” “The Skyline Killer” and “The Year the Horse.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers have a higher resolution than the episodes on the The Tenth Season boxset. You get all the detail of the islands as the ‘80s approached. The audio is mono. The disco soundtrack is louder than usual. The episodes are subtitled so you’ll know what’s being said near the speakers.

There are no bonus features.

Hawaii Five-0: The Eleventh Season wraps up the career of Danno. He made sure Hawaii didn’t becoming a haven for criminals. He was Robin to McGarrett’s Batman. This season is rather weird with the several episodes that lost touch with reality, but this was never a series about actual police cases. Mostly it’s about McGarrett being the toughest cop in the world with his trusted sidekick Danno. They busted a million crooks and Danno booked ‘em all (except for killer that McGarrett had to book himself).

CBS DVD presents Hawaii Five-0: The Eleventh Season. Starring: Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Herman Wedemeyer, Ross Martin and John Saxon. Boxset Content: 21 episodes on 6 DVDs. Released on DVD: September 20, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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