The Good

The Bad

Airwolf - Season One. This is a such a great show that I feel like I should call Universal and pay them for letting me write about it. I mean, who does not love Jan-Michael Vincent? Who doesn’t love the chemistry he has with Ernest Borgnine? I did not watch this show when it initially aired, but I guess my first question is why did it only run from 1984-1986? This great show, is about the tale of Stringfellow Hawke (Vincent), a renegade pilot who is assigned to top secret missions for the CIA by “Archangel” (Alex Cord). Hawke’s chooses to conduct these missions using Airwolf. A state of the art, totally ahead of it’s time helicopter equipped with awesome firepower and cutting edge surveillance equipment. Together, Hawke and Dominic (Ernest Borgnine), travel around the globe tracking and bringing spies and criminals to justice. Again, I have to ask how in the world this show slipped through the cracks? Okay, I know that having 2 seasons (or maybe it was 3?) is saying something (I mean, it’s not like this show was canceled after the first season), but I just think that Airworlf deserved so much more. Thankfully, I found this show through KDOC in Orange County, and once I started watching it, it became something that I didn’t want to watch so much as I had to watch. In this day and age of hi-tech shows like Alias and CSI, Airwolf - Season One clearly shows that it was there before them all.

Another thing I think is interesting is how these shows don’t look that dated. Okay, the technology looks dated, and the Tangerine Dream-type soundtrack (which I love), isn’t helping matters but at the end of the day, Airwolf al plane, still looks pretty darn impressive. I tend to think that if you stacked this helicopter up against the helicopters the US military uses today, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell which one came first. Also, lets not forget the quiet brilliance of Jan-Michel Vincent. This actor says more with one look, then most actors say in an entire movie. Vincent just being on screen is a production value in and of itself. I guess I am just impressed with how the entire cast of this show really elevated the material. Granted, it seems well written as it was, but these actors turn in very strong characterizations. They aren’t just playing parts of filling in the “types” of a specific role. Everything seems calculated and I don’t know of another show that can boast of 3 solid actors in such important and different roles.

Features

No extras came with this DVD at all. Okay, I can forgive this simply because I am such a huge fan of this show. I mean, it comes with 2 disks and about 9 hours and 52 minutes of pure spectacle and viewing pleasure. Sadly, this is all that it comes with. I am going to plead with Universal right now, on the pages of Movieweb, to please bulk up the second season. I am only saying this because the show will end it’s multiple season run on DVD, and you are going to miss out on really providing the true fans with something special.

Please, when it comes time to make Airwolf - Season Two, scour the Universal back lot. Give Vincent and the others a call, and have that DVD contain interviews and commentaries and anything else you can compress on to those DVDs.

Video

Full Frame 1.33:1. While I have sort of read Universal the riot act for not including any extras, I am going to thank them right now for not making these shows widescreen. I know that they weren’t shot that way, I also know that a lot of times, for DVDs, companies try to make things seem better or more “with the times” by adding little extras that end up doing nothing but messing with original show. Universal has laid off and I am glad they did. This show would not be the same with the little black bars above and below it. Part of what I think makes Airwolf - Season One such an awesome viewing experience, is the fact that this show does have a dated look. It was shot in such a way that it seems like it never cuts. In many respects it looks like the TV shows of old when characters would just walk into and out of a scene with the camera not really moving that much. Why this works so well is because when the actions of Airwolf take place, we are right alongside it. There hasn’t been a ton of extraneous actions before it, and there is no technovibe soundtrack that has pulsated our brains into submission. Everything about this show just works as far as a viewers perspective is concerned. The DVD transfers are also clear and solidly done.

Audio

English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. You know, I am still a bit surprised that these shows, as late as the mid-1980s, were still being doing in mono. Not that I mind or really notice a sound difference (after all, I am deaf in one ear, right?), but it just is surprising to me because I know that great strides in movie sound had taken place some years before that. Either way, once the familiar notes of the Airwolf theme started up, a huge smile came to my face and I could have cared less what type of sound these DVDs had. I set the volume levels to about the middle of the volume bar, and that was all I had to do. I know that people with home theater systems might balk at buying a mono sound show, but I honestly think that the soundtrack and the sound design is such that this show seems much bigger in scope and size then it really is. I would love to have the opportunity to screen this box set on a really good system to hear what it sounds like, and to see what a home theater enthusiast thinks about the level of sound on these disks.

Package

Stringfellow, Archangel and Dominic are staring at us. The looks in their eyes are inviting us into the this box set. To watch the episodes, to examine them and to rethink our thoughts and ideas about the 1980s. The motif is very hi-tech with a mix of orange, black and green. The orange adds a nice touch to the pictures of the characters and the green, with some of the funny lettering around the box, gives this set a small Matrix-esque feel. The back features some pictures from the show with 2 pictures of a guy who isn’t Jan-Michel Vincent. I tend to think that this is the guy who played Stringfellow’s brother in the 1987 TV show, and that is the person in these pictures. I might be wrong however. I do remember seeing this movie (at least I think I saw it) and wondering just who this impostor was. There is a small description of the show as well as some tech specs on the back cover as well. The actual DVD covers have the same cover as the front of this box set, and the back features an episode listing with succinct descriptions of the 11 shows that make up this first season.

Final Word

I think it is pretty apparent that this review is nothing more then a love letter about Airwolf - Season One. I find this show to be stunningly ahead of it’s time, and very prescient with the subject matter. I never get tired of watching these shows, even though I am very familiar with them. There is a grace and swagger not just about Stringfellow Hawke but with the whole show in general. I think that many TV writers and would-be TV writers could do themselves a service by watching and picking apart this great show.

Please Universal, pack the next one with loads of extras!