It feels familiar -- same names, exotic location and that classic theme song -- but this is not your fathers "Hawaii 5-O."
Re-imagined for a new generation, this version is wrapped in a slick, modern packaging. With action as fast and furious as the winds of a typhoon, the show takes the viewer for a procedural thrill ride.
Decorated Navy SEAL Steve McGarrett (Alex OLoughlin) is escorting a prisoner when he receives a call from the prisoners brother Victor Hesse (a deliciously vindictive performance by James Marsters). Hesse is holding McGarretts father hostage, demanding the release of his brother. During an ensuing escape attempt, McGarrett is forced to kill the prisoner. Over the phone, Hesse shoots McGarretts father at point-blank range.
McGarrett returns to Hawaii, where he grew up, to investigate the murder of his father. He is recruited by the governor (Jean Smart) to head up a new elite federalized task force that would operate under his rules, her backing and no red tape. At first, McGarrett is only interested in tracking the weapons dealer who killed his father. Upon finding some interesting items his father left for him in a toolbox, McGarrett agrees to head the new team.
He demands the partnership of Detective Danny Danno Williams (Scott Caan), a newly relocated cop from New Jersey. Danno hates everything about the beach, preferring the skyscrapers and concrete to sand and sun. He moved to Hawaii to be close to his 8-year-old daughter and is committed to keeping the islands safe for her. The two have very different approaches on how good police work is accomplished. When Williams asks McGarrett, Should we be doing this without back-up? McGarrett shoots back, You are the back-up.
The chemistry between the two characters is key to the shows success and evident from their first encounter when they meet in the older McGarretts garage and refuse to lower their guns which are pointed at each other. They can barely tolerate one another, swinging from stinging banter to begrudging respect to exchanging fisticuffs. From them, we learn a few unspoken rules of police work. Rule No. 1: When you get someone shot you should say youre sorry. Rule No. 2: When your partner saves your life you should say "thank you," not "you just shot my only lead!" They dont have to like each other; they may even hate each other; however, they do have to work together.
Joining them as members on the new task force are Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim), an ex-Honolulu police officer whose mentor was McGarretts father and who was wrongly accused of corruption; and Chins cousin, Kono (Grace Park), a beautiful, fearless native, fresh out of the police academy who possesses a wicked right cross.
The rebooted "Hawaii 5-O" has not forgotten its roots, and is even proud of being based on the original series, paying homage with touches ranging from the classic line, Book em, Danno, to the featuring of Hawaii, a luau of stunning locales. There is plenty of skin, surf and sun including shirtless OLoughlin and bikini-clad Grace Park as part of the eye candy. The new version shows a Hawaii that is also a place operating at times by its own rules, having its own language and culture, and featuring its native people.
With plots that twist and turn like the road to Hana, a likeable cast, the fast-paced action and production value that feels more like a movie than a television series, CBS may strike ratings gold with "Hawaii 5-O," proving they can produce a more than one season vehicle for OLoughlin.
What Didn't Work
When one of the bad guys asks McGarrett, What kind of cops are you? McGarrett replies, The new kind. This will be the battle for the revamped "Hawaii 5-O." Will it be able to stay that new-but-feels-nostalgic crime show in a highly competitive time slot and a season that is brimming with procedural dramas? Will this be the show viewers are watching or DVRing?
If executive producers Peter Lenkov, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci can maintain the combination of plot momentum and character chemistry revealed in the pilot, then the ratings ocean should provide "Hawaii 5-O" with smooth sailing.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
"Hawaii 5-O" stars Alex OLoughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park, Jean Smart. "Pilot" was written by Peter M. Lenkov based on a story he outlined with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. It was directed by Len Wiseman ("Underworld," "Live Free or Die Hard")
"Hawaii 5-O" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.
About the Author