It’s no secret that Hollywood has all but given up on original ideas. If they can take something with brand recognition (for example: this summer’s A-Team movie), slap on a new coat of paint, and ultimately make a buck or two, they are all for it. It doesn’t matter that the end product is something that vaguely resembles the primary source, and usually leaves a residual bad taste in everyone’s mouth. So as it goes in Hollywood, what once was old can now be: newer, sexier, faster, younger, and lamer. This fall’s TV season is no exception; we have: reboots (Nikita), spinoffs (Law & Order: LA), and blatant rip-offs (The Event) all over the tube.
So with that in mind, you can imagine my trepidation when approaching the new version of Hawaii 5-0 on CBS. Aside from the killer theme song (seriously one of the best theme songs, and don’t worry, they don’t mess with it too badly), I didn’t know too much about the original series which aired on CBS from 1968-1980. Turns out, it’s probably better that way. The new Hawaii 5-0 (that’s 5-zero this time, not 5-letter o) is really only a remake in: name, location, a catchphrase, and theme song. You don’t really need to know anything else to enjoy this surprisingly watchable police procedural set in the nation’s 50th state.
Here’s the rundown:
Alex O’Loughlin (Moonlight, Three Rivers) plays Det. Steve McGarrett, a Navy SEAL who is compelled to return home to Hawaii following the death of his father. McGarrett is approached by Governor Patricia Jameson, played by the great Jean Smart (24), to assemble an elite unit of cops to take down corruption in the great state of Hawaii. McGarrett is skeptical, but after discovering that his late father had been investigating the same in-state corruption, McGarrett agrees to sign on.
McGarrett’s first recruit is Det. Danny “Danno” Williams, played by Scott Caan. A haole cop from New Jersey who is only in Hawaii for one reason: to be near his daughter. Williams hates life on the island almost as much as he hates McGarrett. The two spend most of their time together bickering, and the pilot is all the better for it.
The next member to join the team is Det. Chin Ho Kelly, played by Daniel Day Kim (Lost). Kelly is an ex-cop with a past. Kelly, an old high school friend of McGarrett’s, has been black listed by the police force for possibly accepting a bribe.
To round out the troop Kelly suggests McGarrett hire his cousin, Det. Kona “Kono” Kalakaua, played by Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica). Kono is a young, surfer chick with an attitude (the best kind) who also happens to be graduating from the police academy soon.
As far as pilots go, Hawaii 5-0 hangs 10! The pilot is directed by feature-film director Len Weisman (Live Free or Die Hard and the Underworld movies), and cost a cool $8 million to produce. It was also written by the team of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman who are responsible for penning the successful Star Trek reboot last year. With an $8 million budget the team has put together a pilot that works as a series opener, but also as a mini action movie. That’s why it wouldn’t hurt to give this one a try.
Hawaii 5-0 marks O’Loughlin’s third outing for CBS. It’s clear the Eye network firmly believe that O’Loughlin is their leading guy, and they’ll be damned if he isn’t a star. O’Loughlin certainly has the hunk factor, brooding, and stubble down, but it truly is Scott Caan who steals the show. Caan plays Williams as a quick-witted, smart ass cop who has the chops to back up his sharp tongue. I would tune in every week just to watch Caan, he’s that good.
The thing about Hawaii 5-0 that will keep you coming back, and what separates itself from other series of the like, is the attention to character. With the exception of Park’s Kona, who apparently is there only to be in a bikini, we are treated to as much character development as we are action scenes. And that is saying something because there is a ton of action in the pilot. But keep in mind that aside from the character work and underneath the flashy veneer of stunning location shots, sexy actors, and machine guns, the new Hawaii 5-0 is still a by the numbers cop show with lines like this:
Token bad guy: “What kind of cops are you?”
McGarrett: “The new kind.”
It’s when Hawaii 5-0 takes itself too seriously when the show begins to drag. That’s why it is nice that Caan can bring the funny at just the right time. If these types of shows are your thing, and you like having your weekly episodes tied up in 42 minutes (not that there’s anything wrong with that) then there is no question you will love the new Hawaii 5-0. If you are more a fan of serialized TV, let me still suggest you give Hawaii 5-0 a shot. If you can get past the typical procedural cheese, you’re looking at a fun hour of TV Monday nights.
(Image courtesy of CBS)