TV Review: New Version of ‘Hawaii Five-0’ Books a Fine Reworking

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CHICAGO – Describing Steve McGarrett’s new resume, the Governor of Hawaii intones, “Annapolis, five years Naval Intelligence, six years in the Seals…the best they’ve ever seen.” Immediately this is not your Daddy’s Five-0. Alex O’Louglin is McGarrett and Scott Caan is Danno in CBS’s “Hawaii Five-0,” debuting Monday, September 20th, 2010, at 9pm CST. Television Rating: 4.5/5.0
Television Rating: 4.5/5.0

Based on the famous 1960s series, the new version of “Hawaii Five-0” is modern, grittier and much more frenetic. The producer team, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, are the same writing team that reworked the last year’s “Star Trek” film franchise into a new model, and they do the same thing for “Five-0,” using the same character names but giving them new purpose and direction.

Naval Officer Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Louglin) is shown in South Korea as the story unfolds, pursuing the leaders of a terrorist cell. He finds only the brother of the main insurgent, and a call comes in on a satellite phone. It turns out that the main insurgent, in a wild quid pro quo, is holding McGarrett’s ex-cop father in his home in Hawaii. As the communication goes back and forth, two shots are fired. The brother and the father are dead.

When McGarrett comes back to the islands for the funeral, the Governor of Hawaii (Jean Smart) has a proposal. It turns out the same insurgent is suspected of running an illegal immigrant trade for cheap labor and prostitution. The Governor wants to put together a special law enforcement team, with McGarrett at the helm, to bring down the corruption in her state. It takes a hidden recording in his father’s home – alleging deeper corruption – to convince McGarrett to take on the challenge, spurred on by a cop from New Jersey named Danny Williams (Scott Caan), who is now on the Hawaii Police Department to be near his daughter.

On the Beach: Scott Caan (Danno), Daniel Dae Kim (Chin Ho), Alex O’Louglin (Steve McGarrett) and Grace Park (Kona) in ‘Hawaii Five-0’
Scott Caan (Danno), Daniel Dae Kim (Chin Ho), Alex O’Louglin (McGarrett) and Grace Park (Kona) in ‘Hawaii Five-0’
Photo Credit: CBS-TV

McGarrett puts together the team – a native Hawaiian ex-cop named Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim), who worked with his father, Kelly’s cousin Kona Kalakaua (Grace Park), a fresh recruit from the police academy, and of course Danno, whose unconventionality clashes with the straitlaced military man Steve McGarrett.

Like they did with Star Trek, Orci and Kurtzman joyfully bring back the feel of “Five-0,” but with a modern twist that allows for GPS tracking, military techniques and a little cop buddy sensibility thrown in. The complex story felt fleshed out, and the motivations to get the bad guys were sound, with all of the characters. Even the current popular TV notion of the über-dedicated super cop seems to make more sense in this version, simply because they imbue McGarrett and Danno with some personality and vulnerabilities.

The actors playing the cop team, Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, have an excellent chemistry, which again moves the premise to a more comfortable place virtually immediately. Caan adds a necessary humanity to the paradise, admitting that he hates to swim or surf, and is basically there to make sure his daughter has her father. The stoic McGarrett needs the more reckless Danno.

Police Ball?: The Gang Goes Formal in ‘Hawaii Five-0’
Police Ball?: The Gang Goes Formal in ‘Hawaii Five-0’
Photo Credit: CBS-TV

The show has one of the same key characteristic of the recent “Star Trek” movie: All of the characters have a casual air and a completeness to their identities that instantly attract a story. Chin Ho is the disgraced cop, his cousin is an impulsive surfer girl, and the background Hawaiian eccentrics all add to the flavor of the potential for this series and provide an appropriate island essence.

The great catchphrase of the previous “Five-0,” “Book ‘em Danno,” also gets a key expression and space in this new version, set up like an expository joke and punchline. Modern audiences could make this new visit to Hawaii a weekly habit, if only to be so effectively arrested.

”Hawaii Five-0” premieres Monday, September 20th at 10pm EST/9pm CST on CBS-TV. Check local listings for channel location. Featuring Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, produced by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2010 Patrick McDonald,

Clau's picture

Great review

I love your review. It talks about everything that’s good in the H-5O pilot and can continue to make the show good, without unnecesarry positive or negative judgements of quality for which there is still not enough information. You really seem to know what a review of a first glimpse of a TV show is. Thanks for really helping the common TV viewer to make decisions.

Kim in Hawaii 's picture

Hawaii Five - O premiere!

Still on a high from watching the premiere at home in Hawaii. Great review and synopsis. I was curious what the mainlanders would think of the show!

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