DVD REVIEW: AIRWOLF – SEASONS 1, 2, 3, 4 BOX SETS / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: VARIOUS / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING JAN-MICHAEL VINCENT, ERNEST BORGNINE, ALEX CORD / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 8TH
It’s hard to believe that it’s been thirty years since “The Lady” took to the air. Airwolf was different from the other hi-tech series of the time. Unlike Knight Rider, Street Hawk, or even Blue Thunder, Airwolf was set in the “real” world.
When the super chopper is stolen by its inventor, it isn’t taken to a thinly veiled but unnamed “hostile foreign power” – it lands in Colonel Gaddafi’s summer palace in Libya, to be liberated by the moody and sullen Stringfellow Hawke (Vincent) and his upbeat sidekick Dominic Santini (Borgnine). Only, Hawke then steals the helicopter and refuses to give it back to the government until his brother, listed as missing in action in Vietnam, is found and returned to him.
This begins an uneasy truce between “The Firm”, personified by Archangel (Cord), and Hawke. Hawke will fly Airwolf on missions of national interest in which the government can’t or won’t admit involvement, and in return, they will continue the search for Hawke’s brother.
For three seasons, terrorists, spies, saboteurs, double agents, evil industrialists, corrupt officials and gangsters were ruthlessly hunted and eliminated – death from above, literally, in a series that had high production values, if you’ll pardon the pun. Story-wise, the series has dated very well, but bear in mind that it was set in the pre-mobile, pre-internet era.
Then came the tepid fourth season, which, unfortunately, saw our heroes go out with a whimper rather than a bang as the show was recast and the intelligence community’s best-kept-secret weapon was handed over to Hawke’s previously missing brother, Santini’s niece, and a Company agent in a bargain basement cash grab that used stock footage from the original three seasons whenever Airwolf was called upon to fly into action.
Celebrate three decades since she took to the air, by all means; but out of respect, let’s leave the fourth season in the box – it’s like Doctor Who with a new Time Lord at the TARDIS controls.