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Airwolf - Season 1 Review




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Rating
Video:   7/10
Audio:   6/10
Extras:   0/10

Nice Copter!
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
5/25/2005

Reclusive pilot Stringfellow Hawke (Jan-Michael Vincent) is asked to help get Airwolf, a top-secret helicopter, back into the hands of "The Firm." He successfully completes the mission, but refuses to turn Airwolf over until his brother, who went missing in 'Nam, is found. He flies on missions for "The Firm" under the watchful eye of "Archangel," and with the help of his friend Dominic (Ernest Borgnine). The show lasted for 54 episodes (plus the pilot), and then returned as Airwolf II in 1987 with a new cast (24 episodes).

I loved this show as a kid! A sleek, black helicopter with missiles and guns is the coolest thing for a 7 year old. Some kids had Knight Rider, but I had Airwolf! I've never forgotten the theme song, and a rush of memories came back when I started watching the pilot episode.

This 2 disc set includes 10 regular episodes, plus the double-length pilot. The double-sided discs are packaged in standard Amaray cases and a slipcase.

Disc 1, Side A (3:15:38)
Airwolf: The Movie (1:38:03)
Daddy's Gone a Hunt'n (49:34)
Bite of the Jackal (48:01)

Disc 1, Side B (1:39;04)
Proof Through the Night (49:33)
One Way Express (49:34)

Disc 2, Side A (3:18:15)
Echoes From the Past (49:33)
Fight Like a Dove (49:33)
Mad Over Miami (49:35)
And They Are Us (49:34)

Disc 2, Side B (1:39:07)
Mind of the Machine (49:34)
To Snare a Wolf (49:33)

Video

I wavered on the grading of the video for this set. 6...7...6...7, okay, 7. There's a lot of dust in some scenes, and it can be extremely distracting. The stock footage shots are pretty bad, and a few shots of Airwolf zipping around aren't much better. There are other shots which are crystal clear, but those are overshadowed by the poor ones. Night shots appear very dark, and detail is lost. Each disc contains a "play all" feature, and a chapter is set after the opening credits of every episode except the pilot; the video is presented in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

Audio

Universal has included an English mono soundtrack for the release. It lacks the dynamic range of current shows, and sounds slightly muddy. The synth music comes through loud and clear, and the opening sounds just as I remember it. There are English, French and Spanish subtitles for the episodes.

Extras - How we rate extras

Sorry, you won't find interviews with the pilots, or information on how they turned a Bell 222 into the helicopter known as Airwolf. You won't find extras of any kind on this set.

Summary

Every time Universal announces a TV release I hope my breath hoping that we may see some extras, but 95% of the time the set is empty. There could have been some killer featurettes on here.

I was surprised to see Barry Van Dyke on the back of the package since he doesn't appear until season 4. I guess someone mixed up the photos for the show, and no one took a look, or they didn't know the show well enough. There's also a problem with the menus on the set; they're formatted to be in widescreen (1.78:1), except they're displayed in Full Frame. It's not a huge problem (they still work), but someone should have caught this before the set went into production.

I have one very distinct memory related to this show. In the summer of '85 my family went to the opening of a provincial park. My dad worked for the government and had to attend these things, so he brought the family along. Someone he knew had flown there in the helicopter the government owned; a Bell 222. My dad talked to some people and came back to us. He said, "Hey boys, do you want to fly in the same type of helicopter as Airwolf?" Think about that; he's asking two kids if they want to fly in the same helicopter as Airwolf. I'm surprised we didn't pass out with excitement. We walked down a trail to where the helicopter was sitting, but we didn't find a sleek, black copter with missiles and guns. No, we found a boring, regular-looking helicopter waiting for us. It was neat to fly in a helicopter at such a young age, but it was a lesson in "real vs. TV" for an 8 year-old.

I had fun watching these episodes and reliving my childhood, but a few featurettes would have made this a better set.


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