Airwolf (Season One)
Hound Dog | Boise, ID, USA | 05/31/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The DVD release of "Airwolf: Season One" will likely prove to be a mixed blessing for its fans.
The Series and Its Premise:
Airwolf's first season (eleven episodes from 1984) cleverly developed the series' dark (and sometimes heavy-handed) perspective on Cold War espionage in which the Libyans and Russians were portrayed as the scheming, black-hatted villains, while U.S. covert intelligence (known as "the Firm" in this series) was viewed as heroic, white-hatted cowboys, despite having its own ambiguous motives.
Caught in the middle are brooding ace pilot & reluctant hero Stringfellow Hawke (Jan-Michael Vincent) and his loyal co-pilot, Dominic Santini (Ernest Borgnine), who have hidden away the most awesome aerial assault weapon on earth: Airwolf. The enigmatic fate of Hawke's long-lost brother, St. John, who disappeared years before in Vietnam, motivates Hawke to strike a thieves' bargain with the Firm's director, Archangel (Alex Cord): Hawke & Santini will keep Airwolf stashed and fly it on secret missions for Archangel until the Firm can conclusively prove St. John's fate.
With this bold premise, and backed by Sylvester Levay's memorably techno-styled score, the series kicked off the first season with its best episode ever: the movie-length "Shadow of the Hawke," featuring Hawke's fiery showdown with Airwolf's psychotic creator, Charles Henry Moffett (David Hemmings) in the Libyan desert. Flashbacks to scenes from this particular episode would hauntingly reverberate throughout the series.
Also featured in Season One are some relatively superb (if sometimes implausible) entries such as: "Echoes of the Past," "Mind of the Machine," "And They Are Us," and "To Snare a Wolf," in which Hawke must fly Airwolf through a B-52 bombing run to elude a renegade U.S. government operative intent on obtaining or destroying Airwolf at any cost.
At the same time, some of the other episodes from Season One remain merely OK, if not forgettable. For instance, the second episode, "Daddy's Gone a Huntin'," comes to mind, as the intriguing idea of Hawke discovering a long-lost son from Vietnam is toyed with before being ultimately dropped. Further, due in part to an unconvincing make-up job, the young actor (Chad Allen) portraying Hawke's possible son was simply a ludicrous casting choice given the circumstances of the episode.
Nonetheless, despite its occasional flaws, "Airwolf" was far more sophisicated and intelligently written than any other program in the action-adventure genre for that era.
Disc 1 (Side A):
1. "Shadow of the Hawke" (pilot episode): 5 *****
2. "Daddy's Gone a Huntin'": 3 ***
3. "Bite of the Jackal": 4 ****
4. "Proof Through the Night": 4 1/2 ****
5. "One Way Express": 3 1/2 ***
Disc 2 (Side A):
1. "Echoes from the Past": 4 1/2 ****
2. "Fight Like a Dove": 4 ****
3. "Mad Over Miami": 3 1/2 ***
4. "And They Are Us": 4 ****
10. "Mind of the Machine": 4 1/2 ****
11. "To Snare a Wolf": 4 1/2 ****
Rating of Season One episodes: 4 1/2 **** (overall)
The DVD Edition:
Universal Studios, unfortunately, chose to pursue the absolute "bare bones" approach with this release by:
1. With the exception of choosing from three standard languages, there are not any special features. The DVD is completely devoid of cast and crew interviews, commentaries, documentaries, an Airwolf blueprint, or even a snazzy main menu screen. Considering how deliberately "techno" this series was, the potential special features available could have been awesome. Instead, this is a major disappointment.
2. The episodes are not re-mastered, nor were the audio tracks noticeably upgraded. Very ordinary.
3. The few promo photos inexplicably include cast pictures from the dreaded fourth season (without Vincent or Borgnine).
Rating of DVD Packaging & Extras (overall): 1 *
If you choose to purchase "Airwolf: Season One," beware you are getting a half-season's worth of mostly terrific episodes (but little else). Still, we believe this DVD set is well worth the investment at its current price."
It's the helicopter...
P. H. Gantz | Annandale, VA United States | 05/31/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First, some people seem concerned with the packaging and the menu and the extra content. The packaging is cheap, the menu is pathetic, and the extra content does not exist. Personally, I don't really care, but if that sort of thing bothers you, there you go. My thinking is, if Universal is being cheap to make it more cost-effective to release somewhat obscure TV shows, I'm cool with that--bring on The Equalizer!
Next, the acting and writing is not as bad as many shows of the time--or today--but there is certainly far, far better. Related to this was the drift away from the moodiness of the first season in subsequent seasons--like Keanu Reeves, Jan-Michael Vincent is probably best left to act to his strengths, such as they are, which appears to be what he was doing in the first season to good effect. I always thought, and still do, that the perfect accompaniment to a super-helicopter built by a secret government agency is a moody pilot extraordinaire who lives in a remote cabin in the mountains. Far-fetched though it is.
OK, so is this DVD worth getting? I never questioned buying it myself, but even so, I was a little concerned whether it would be as enjoyable to watch now as when I was younger. The answer is, not quite, but close enough. And it's all about the helicopter, so I'd say not to bother getting this if you weren't a fan of Airwolf to begin with, or don't like helicopters. This show is about Airwolf, a completely impossible helicopter that is still way cool. The switches flip, the buttons are pressed, the eerie howling noise begins with the muted whop-whop of the rotors, and off goes this gorgeous, dangerous, awesome machine to do good deeds around the world.
My father taped all the Airwolf shows when they first ran...I eventually made a tape of all the first season 'finales'--the end sequences where Airwolf kicked flying butt. That's how much I liked that helicopter, and I still do. So, although I now wince a bit at the clothes, the writing, and some of the acting--I never liked Borgnine anyway--I still get a thrill watching that helicopter. Yes, they re-use flying sequences too much, but so do many shows. The bottom line is...If you were an Airwolf fan back then, I think it's safe to go ahead and get this DVD.
You know, someone should redo this series, along the lines of Battlestar Galactica. Throw out the hokiness, and keep the good stuff--in this case, keep the helicopter, most of the conceptual background, and little else."
A show that could have been shot today
Clark the Airwolf fan | 03/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What impresses me about Airwolf's first season is the movie-like nature of the plots and action.
The series is not as dated as many of its contemporaries for these reasons:
The locations are remote, not urban (deserts, lakes & valleys)
Plots involve government intelligence and foreign threats
The helicopter is still more advanced than anything out there
Who didn't want to be a pilot when watching Stringfellow Hawke fly high into the Soviet Union to rescue an intelligence mole, or South America or Mexico? And didn't you find yourself humming that tune now and then? I sure did.
The first season has James Whitmore Jr., Lance LeGault, Walter Gotell, David Hemmings, Zora Lampert, Ismael Carlo and David Carradine, all in memorable roles. This is the season that saw Airwolf captured by Libyan operatives, hunted by the CIA and struck by missiles. In the finale, when Airwolf flies through a B-52 bomb run, Lance LeGault turns a particularly memorable role as the government operative hunting Airwolf.
Although this set contains the full first season, the extra goodies we've come to look for on DVDs are sadly scarce. However, I have a magazine on this site called "The Wolf's Lair" that has them. It's a great complement to this set. Look for ASIN B0009JBJC0 or go to www.airwolf.tv"
Bennet Pomerantz | Seabrook, Maryland | 05/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Before the shows JAG, NCIS, Magnum PI and Quantum Leap, There was Airwolf. Created by Donald P. Bellisario, this action adventure story involving a Blue Thunder like miltary helcopter. The show had a good cast involved. Such show performers as Jan-Micheal Vincent(as Stringfellow Hawke), Alex Cord (as Archangel), and Ernest Borgnine (as Dominic) make this show watchable.
The adventure show is not just about the helcopter-its the people who handle the choper. The agency (the government shadow agency) headed by Archangel sends Hawke on mission and Dominic helps. It never said what kind of agent is he, nor do we need to know
There was only 11 episodes in the first season. This box set included the two hour pilot. The bad news is there NO EXTRAS, however the episodes are rewards in themselves. These shows barely ages itself from when they came out in 1984
FYI--The CD soundtrack for the show, Airwolf Themes: 2CD Special Limited Edition is a collectors' item selling for up to $981 - a World Record - on eBay making it the "World's Most Expensive Television Soundtrack." (Wikipedia)
So Universal, when is Season 2-4 coming?
Bennet Pomerantz, AUDIOWORLD