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The Time: Mondays, 10:00 PM, CBS
Revamping the classic 1968 CBS cop drama set in paradise, Hawaii Five-O follows the exploits of an elite police task force headed up by Steve McGarrett. When McGarrett, a decorated Naval officer, comes to Hawaii to investigate his father’s murder, he’s approached by the governor about fronting the squad, which will be subject to no red tape and her direct backing. He accepts her offer and assembles his team. It consists of transplanted New Jersey detective, Danny Williams, disgraced former Hawaii cop, Chin Ho Kelly, and his comely cousin, Kono Kalakaua, fresh out of the academy.
• Alex O’Loughlin – Det. Steve McGarrett
• Scott Caan – Det. Danny Williams
• Daniel Dae Kim – Det. Chin Ho Kelly
• Grace Park – Kona Kalakaua
The Episode: “Pilot”
Naval commander, Steve McGarrett, returns to Hawaii after his father is murdered by the brother of a Russian terrorist that he was forced to kill during a convoy ambush. Upon his arrival, he receives an unusual offer from the governor: she wants him to head up an independent police task force to apprehend the terrorist, Victor Hesse (James Marsters) and others like him. McGarrett thinks she’s working some political angle and initially turns her down. But circumstances surrounding the police investigation lead him to eventually want to take the position. Once the team is assembled, they work a number of angles leading to a discovery of Chinese human smuggling and a showdown on a Chinese freighter with Hesse.
Hawaii Five-O genuinely surprises by how easy it is to watch and actually enjoy. It doesn’t bog itself down with overly heavy drama as some other police procedurals, but rather makes use of its beautiful surroundings to establish a milieu for breezy action and somewhat witty repartee. Perennial CBS also-ran, Alex O’Loughlin, may have finally gotten the starring vehicle that meshes with his heroic on-screen persona. The other three protagonists all serve their roles well and O’Loughlin and Caan particularly mesh well.
The pilot starts off with a quite-better-than-average, Iron Man-style convoy ambush, in which McGarrett and Hesse’s brother are traveling (in a South Korean backdrop that couldn’t be more Hawaiian if all the principals were wearing leis). McGarrett is a square-jawed Captain America type of soldier who has excelled at everything he’s done in his storybook life. But when Hesse gets the drop on the elder McGarrett, and his men on the convoy, things go wrong on both ends of the phone call for McGarrett. He then returns to Oahu where the governor intercepts him with the offer, for McGarrett’s father, a veteran officer on the Hawaii police force, was also a friend of hers.
McGarrett runs into an old acquaintance, Chin Ho Kelly, who was also a friend and protege of McGarrett’s father. But an internal affairs investigation of corruption charges ended Kelly’s police career. On a side note, despite the fact that Dae Kim has appeared in several other TV and film projects, seeing him on Oahu speaking perfect English is a lark. McGarrett also gets acquainted with Caan’s Danny “Danno” Williams, a recent transplant to the island from the East Coast in order to be near his daughter. Grace Park rounds out the foursome as Chin Ho’s surfing cousin, Kona, who’s set to graduate the academy.
Production values are top notch and the show looks fantastic. In addition to the opening combat, there’s also a big shootout on a cargo container ship and plenty of gunfire in between. A nice pace on the introductions, the investigation and the action also make for some light yet entertaining police fare. There are also kernels for future stories involving a mole and a key to which McGarrett was directed by his father right before meeting his end. It’s a much more lightweight take on the original, but not too bad of one.