Book ‘Em: The first season on DVD

Sep. 21, 2011 | 0 Comments

BY BURL BURLINGAME / bburlingame@staradvertiser.com

CBS has always packaged its legacy shows well, and the DVD season one collection of the rebooted “Hawaii Five-0” is no exception — although the packaging is minimalist and functional, there’s plenty of extra stuff in here for the fans.

For everybody else, the show’s oversaturated visuals and thunderous action sequences really crank on a DVD system with 5.1 surround sound. The digital transfer looks good, if a bit hard-edged.

The extras kick off with audio commentary overdubbed on the pilot episode by “Five-0” rebooteers Peter Lenkov, Len Wiseman and Roberto Orci. We discover, for example, that they were wondering if Alex O’Loughlin could carry off playing a naval officer, and then, on the first day of shooting, he showed up in Navy dress blues, framed against the USS Missouri. One of the producers marvels that O’Loughlin looks so perfect that he “looks like a strippergram.”

Another laments that they never digitally erased O’Loughlin’s earring holes.

We learn also that fake mountains were digitally added in some shots to make things more Hawaiian-y, that “product placement, baby” is important, and that they were surprised by the amount of rain, and wrote a fierce downpour into an early scene. Of course, the day they shot it, it was bright and sunny.

The audio commentary has these gossipy nuggets, of course. (The producers are highly amused by the Kukui High School merchandising by fans.) The real value is in learning about the real-life problems and constraints constantly facing the production team. Scott Caan was cast late, and every day O’Loughlin would cry out, “Where’s my Danno? Where’s my Danno?” Their first reading was their actual first meeting. How critical was this?

“You’re casting for a band, not for individual solo artists,” explained a producer. “You cast for the OTHER person in the ensemble.”

They’re also seriously under the gun with time constraints in network programming. Seconds count. In the pilot, Taryn Manning, who plays McGarrett’s ne’er-do-well sister, was cut out entirely. But in the scene of their father’s funeral, you could see the top of her head.

One of the network demands, we discover, was to balance the postcard views of Hawaii with, on closer inspection, a veneer of seedy darkness in the corners. CBS didn’t much care about the rough stuff, as long the transition shots were beautiful.

Almost every episode features deleted scenes. These are available separately on each DVD’s “Special Features” and not re-edited into the episode. In the pilot, the deleted scenes were fairly crucial, including an extended expository funeral scene that establishes McG’s relationship with his sister and father and sets up the toolbox scene, a brief, funny bit as Chin browbeats an underage shoplifter and — aha! — James Marsters swimming ashore after being shot.

Each of the six disks contains these deleted scenes, as well as at least one featurette, all of which were produced by CBS’ publicity and promotions crews, so they’re pretty much rah-rah. What did you expect?

“Legacy” is a short that links the new and old shows, including some interviews that seem to be courtesy Emme Tomimbang. We learn that “Five-0” is deliberately more of an action show than a stodgy police procedural, and that Daniel Dae Kim was the first major character cast. He called Hawaii the “fifth character” in the show, that “every episode is a postcard” and that Kim’s pilot shooting overlapped the last days of “Lost.”

“Picture Perfect — The Making of the Pilot” is about exactly that. Oddly, the first table reading was video-conferenced from Hawaii with CBS execs on the mainland, and O’Loughlin and Caan met there for the first time. And Caan had a moustache.

The first shot on the first day was windy and rainy despite a blessing by a Hawaiian kahuna. One producer ran philosophical, “How do you make the elements you don’t expect, work for you?” We’re charmed to see that the actors, like anyone else, record the big stunts on their camera phones.

There’s a bunch of CBS Eyelab promos, including a USC Trojan marching band music video of the theme music.

“Grace Park’s Hawaiian Tour” is a short travelogue that incorporates hula in Kapiolani Park, Hawaiian grinds at Helena’s, stand-up paddle surfing, and shave ice with EVERYTHING on it. Ick.

There’s a music video of the Hollywood stage musicians rerecording the theme music to modern standards — some musicians played on the original version, way back when. They tried a guitar version “and we could not gave been more wrong,” said Alex Kurtzman. “You don’t mess with the theme song.”

“Inside Comic-Con” essays the cast and producers dipping their toes in the gigantic San Diego media convention. They were unsure how it’d play because the “Five-0” premiere was still several months away. True to ComicCon form, the audience was mostly curious about Grace Park wearing bikinis. Lenkov points out that “Daniel and Grace are pretty huge in the ‘genre world.’”

“Shore Lines — The Story of Season One” are quickie recaps of each and every episode, and it’s a good way to get up to speed. Despite all the bang-bang, boom-boom, the theme beneath is always the concept of a surrogate family.

“Aloha Action” focuses on the kinetic show’s wall-to-wall stunts, courtesy coordinator Jeff Cadiente. We learn O’Loughlin loves action and stunts more than acting.

“Gag Reel” is the usual stuff of actors muffing lines and being charming. What’s clear is that the cast and crew are having a good time. We sense it, under the radar. We feel their joie de carrière.

It winds up with the rather weak promo “Inside the Box,” explaining that the Champ toolbox the is the series’ secret weapon, it’s MacGuffin. The writers just have to have clues fall out of the toolbox to gin up a new plot. Maybe some day they’ll explain why McGarrett doesn’t just look at the toolbox’s contents all at once.

We’d show you a brief clip or two to promote the product, but CBS says no. Actually, NO!!! So, fooey. Here’s a “Xena” blooper reel with “Hawaii Five-0″ music. Just imagine the same sort of stuff, but without Lucy Lawless:

The DVD set is priced at $64.99, but amazon.com is selling it for $37.99.
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Burl Burlingame is a features reporter at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at bburlingame@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter.

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