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Hawaii Five-0 1.01 – Pilot

The cast of CBS's Hawaii Five-0


Genre: Police Procedural

Grade: B+

Verdict: Watch

Too Long, Didn’t Read: A sexy update to the 70s classic, the new Hawaii Five-0 offers something interesting beyond a decent script and stunning locales.

When my mother first found out that CBS was updating her favorite Hawaii Five-O for this fall, she couldn’t be described as anything less than ecstatic. Even before seeing the show, she kept going on about how it was easily her new favorite series this fall, especially since it stared her darling Alex O’Laughlin from Moonlight. I, however, groaned at CBS rehashing yet another franchise instead of creating something new and interesting (though looking at the ratings, CBS wins while new and interesting ie. Lone Star, complete bombs). Now there is going to be three CSIs, two NCISes, two Criminal Minds and an update from a 1970s franchise. How many police procedurals can one network have? (This doesn’t count Blue Bloods either, though that’s more of a family drama).

And you know what? I like Hawaii Five-0. It’s mindless, but it was beautifully shot and has a great veteran cast that caries a surprisingly funny, charming, and witty script. The action is intense and well-directed, creating a sexy new drama that shows signs of an overarching plot.

Alex O’Laughlin plays Steve McGarrett, “the best of the best” during his time at Annapolis. After terrorist Victor Hesse (Buffy‘s James Marsters) murders his father during one of McGarrett’s missions,he returns to his home of Hawaii to investigate the crime and take things into his own manly, manly hands. There, Governor Pat Jameson (24‘s Jean Smart) greets him and offers McGarrett a force “without the red tape”. Does it make sense? Not really, and only separates the squad from cops because now the action can flow without having our good guys wait for a warrant.

O’Laughlin plays McGarrett well, portraying an effective law enforcement agent dealing with his father’s murder with relative believability. Most of the O’Laughlin’s charm, however, comes from his playful (and hateful) banter with Danny “Danno” Williams (Varsity Blues‘ Scott Caan). Caan brings a huge amount of charisma to the role with a distinct Jersey accent. Danno easily receives the best lines during the pilot, and his outright annoyance with McGarrett serves as the main comic relief. Beyond his humor, Danno is also a committed dad who seems to be losing his daughter Gracie’s affection (guest star Teilor Grubbs) to an un-seen step father (The Shining‘s theme is Danno’s ex-wife’s ring tone). It’s amazing how well Caan plays off of other actors, especially O’Laughlin and Grubbs.

Lost‘s Daniel Dae Kim and Battlestar Galactica‘s Grace Park are also in the pilot, but both are pushed to the sidelines. Neither provides very compelling adaptations for their characters Chin and Kono, but this is also because their dialog seems haphazardly written if just to provide them some course of action during the pilot . Some of the direction they’re given is also questionable; are we really to believe that Kono is going to punch a man in the face at a beach just because he crossed in front of her while surfing? They both are introduced into the squad with little fanfare and are out-of-place compared to their counterparts. It’s imperative that showrunner Peter Lenkov develops them more and allowed to grow since so much of the series is based on of the group dynamic.

There’s also signs of an overarching storyline: there’s a mole in the police department, and Marster’s character escapes. If these plot points continue beyond the occasional episode’s B-story, it could further separate Hawaii Five-0 from other more insipid shows of its genre and help it stand out even more.

This is O’Laughlin third series in three years for CBS, the other two being the vamp drama Moonlight and medical drama Three Rivers. Hawaii Five-0 already is the most promising of the three, its premiere garnering higher ratings than any of his earlier attempts to star in a CBS show. While Hawaii Five-0 is a fairly by-the-books police procedural, its cast and script elevate it above mediocrity to create a fun and picturesque Hawaiian series.


One Response

  1. […] Hawaii Five-0 (CBS – B+) Verdict: Watch […]

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