I never watched the original version of this show, now being rebooted by CBS, so I really can’t make any comparisons between the two, but I can tell you that I found the pilot episode of the new Hawaii Five-0 to be fun.
CBS staple Alex O’Loughlin stars as the title character, Steve McGarrett, a born and bred Hawaiian who fights as a Navy investigator around the world. After a family tragedy and a run in with a notorious criminal brings him back to his home island, Governor Jameson (Jean Smart) offers him control of a new task force who’s sole job it is to keep Hawaii safe and run the bad elements to ground. McGarrett initially refuses the position and goes off to investigate that family tragedy. While doing so, he crosses paths with Detective Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan – my favorite character of this new series) and a confrontation between the two forces him to realize that the only way he’s going to get to the bottom of his personal mystery is to take the Governor up on her offer.
Williams has personal issues of his own, including an ex-wife who uprooted his daughter to Hawaii from New Jersey, forcing him to move to the island despite the fact that he dislikes the beach. Williams and McGarrett clash, like most buddy-cop duos do. Of the two, Caan is my favorite. He brings humor and energy to the series where O’Loughlin is more stoic.
Enter Daniel Dae Kim, who plays Chin Ho Kelly, who gets recruited by McGarrett because of his own cop background and familiarity with the island natives. Chin then brings in his cousin, Kono Kalakaua, played by Grace Park, who is a newbie cop with a rocking body and sweet surfer moves. By the end of the episode the four of them are firmly established as the new task force, intent on taking down the bad elements of the island with a lot of impunity backing their moves.
The pilot is big. There’s a lot of action, a lot of stunts and many beautiful, panoramic shots of Hawaii. The grandiose pilot evokes memories of another big pilot shot in Hawaii – Lost. But this show isn’t like that complex, mysterious show that just ended its run in 2010. Hawaii Five-0 is more playful and certainly less serial. In the press room at Comic Con, I asked producers whether they intended for the show to primarily be a procedural. They confirmed that we would see a lot of stand-alone episodes, but McGarrett’s family issues in the pilot do lead to a season-long story arc.
Remakes are often an uncertain business, but these types of procedural shows seem to find long-running homes on the CBS network. While O’Loughlin’s past shows on the network (Moonwalk, Three Rivers) didn’t last, he now has an established show name, a gorgeous setting and other well-known actors behind him, so it will be interesting to see whether Hawaii Five-0 finds a permanent spot on the schedule. You may not have to tune in each and every week, but if you’re looking for some escapist fun, then this show is for you.
Hawaii Five-0 premieres on Monday, September 20th at 10:00pm ET/PT on CBS.