HAWAII FIVE-0 Series Premiere Review

     September 18, 2010


I’ve never seen an episode of the original Hawaii Five-0, which is actually kind of impressive given that there are twelve seasons in existence.  The tropical police procedural aired from 1968-1980 on CBS, and the network hopes to capitalize on the brand name as a vehicle for their beloved Alex O’Loughlin with a remake this fall.

The Australian actor has a pair of failed CBS efforts to his name in the vampire-centric Moonlight and last season’s Three Rivers, but the third time may very well be a charm.  This type of police drama is what CBS does best, and with a colorful setting and a strong supporting cast, O’Loughlin has never entered the fall season with better odds of success.  My review after the jump.

When his father is murdered, decorated Naval officer Steve McGarrett (O’Loughlin) returns home to Hawaii for the funeral.  He meets with the governor (Jean Smart), who recruits him to head up a task force with the pitch, “Your rules.  My backing.  No red tape.”  As he investigates his father’s murder, McGarrett enlists the supporting players for his task force.  There’s Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan), who recently moved from New Jersey to be closer to his daughter, followed by disgraced cop Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) and Kelly’s former professional surfer cousin Kono (Grace Park).

hawaii_five-0_tv_show_image_alex_olaughlin_scott_caan_01I’m mostly on the O’Loughlin bandwagon, though he’s more at home playing steely determination than contributing his half of the banter with partner Caan.  Those scenes still manage to crackle, as Caan more than makes up for any deficiencies in the relationship.  We can probably rank the screen duos that Caan is a member of like so:

1) Caan/Casey Affleck in the Ocean’s films
2) Caan/O’Loughlin in Hawaii Five-0
3) Caan/Kevin Connolly in Entourage

But that’s a darn good list to be second on, and a solid pairing to build the show around.  If Five-0 joins the other O’Loughlin shows in quick cancellation, Caan won’t be out of work for too long.  With regard to the other team members, Kim lends some heart to the proceedings, and Park should have fun with a character that lets her throw a punch before she has spoken more than one line.  Although, “character development” didn’t seem especially high on the list of things to accomplish in the first episode.

The pilot, directed by Les Wiseman (Live Free or Die Hard), makes great use of the setting.  It’d be downright shameful for a show with “Hawaii” in the title to be in any way bland, so thank God the cinematography is lush, bright, and beautiful.  Likewise, the action on display was appropriately high-octane, but who knows if that is manageable a few episodes removed from the oversized budget of a pilot.

[Update: I hated the initial update on the theme song update, and said as much here.  Commenter Ryan reminded me that CBS ditched it for a more faithful version.  Much better.]

Hawaii Five-0 should be good for a solid (if insubstantial) hour of entertainment each week.  It’s pretty, Caan is a blast, and it’s the best of the new CBS shows.  Five-0 has a clear path into the hearts of those who have room for one more police procedural in their schedule.

Hawaii Five-0 premieres Monday, September 20th at 10/9c on CBS.