I have a theory about the new Hawaii Five-O. It’s not exactly profound, but then again, this update of the classic 1970s cop show program isn’t exactly profound. To be blunt, it's a lot like its real life setting of Hawaii.
Hawaii has been a mysterious and beautiful exotic locale for decades now. It’s laid back atmosphere, tropical weather, and stunning landscape made it a perfect destination to escape from the mainland. But people kept coming and some stayed and soon enough the things that made Hawaii so unique are gone. However, this is mostly confined to the larger islands and around the coast. Hawaii can still be a mysterious island the further in you go and the more willing you are to travel off of the paved roads.
Hawaii Five-O is exactly like this. It has all the flash and pretty images of Hawaii, but it also has the potential to be a really engaging and dynamic show if the writers and producers are willing to go deeper into the story. While watching last night's premiere, I kept thinking, “wow this looks pretty, but it feels so fake.” It was like walking along a man-made beach and then walking along natural shores. Again, not the most profound statement ever made, but this show isn’t Shakespeare.
However, the pilot was good if you based it solely on conveying the necessary information to set up the series as a whole. Holy hell, did this episode have major exposition! So let’s get this all out of the way just like the episode! Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) is a navy bad-ass who doesn’t play by the rules. His dad gets murdered and the governor assigns him to a task force to track the killer. Of course, he doesn’t agree to it at first and meets Danny "Danno" Williams (Scott Caan). They get in a fight and he accepts the position just to piss Danno off. He meets his dad’s old trainee Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) who was kicked off the force. There is a drug dealer suspect they need to question and Kelly brings on his (hot) cousin Kona "Kono" Kalakaua (Grace Park) to help infiltrate the criminal circle. Fights, gun shots, guns malfunctioning at really convenient times, shots of the Hawaiian sunset and the inevitable “book’em Danno” ensue and, voila! We have the pilot episode!
So what was good? The riffing between O’Loughlin and Caan was fantastic. Caan is at his best when he’s playing the slightly pissed off smart-ass trading jabs with someone who pissed him off (see Ocean's Eleven). The super saturated look of Hawaii was a refreshing change of pace for dark court room's and police precincts (just like CSI: Miami and Law and Order: LA!) that provide most of the settings for CBS shows. Dae Kim wasn’t given much to do besides spout out informational essentials, so his effectiveness is rather hard to judge at this point (also, I think it should just be said now, it’s really weird to see him post-Lost with no accent).
The pilot did its job of giving us all the info we needed. Now that its all out of the way, hopefully the show will give us more of the fun stuff (like O’Loughlin and Caan ranking on one another) and less of the boring police stuff that we have seen so many times before. It’ll be worth checking out next week and a few weeks after, but don’t think too much about it. If it seems droll and you want to change the channel, I doubt you’ll miss anything revolutionary.
Oh yeah, there is also Grace Park in a bikini, surfing, and punching dudes out. That might be worth checking out each week.