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Friday, 5 of March of 2021

Hawaii Five-0 – “Pilot”

As part of the new fall season coverage, we’re doing what we call audition reviews for new shows. An audition review doesn’t necessarily mean the show will enter the normal rotation, but it will provide an initial reaction to a new series. Especially in light of time shifting practices, we think this is a valuable way to read brief reviews on new series to help you decide if you want to watch the show. For those who watch it live, it’s a good way to begin a conversation about a new series. These reviews will typically be shorter than our regular reviews, and may include thoughts from more than one of our writers.

“Book ’em, Danno.”

Matt’s Take

As someone who is far too young to remember the original series (although it’s importance to television and pop culture are not lost on me) I wasn’t looking at Hawaii Five-0 through the tinted nostalgia goggles that can cloud one’s judgment of a remake. And thank god for that because I had one hell of a fun time watching the pilot.

Hawaii Five-0 sets out to distance itself not only from comparisons to its predecessor, but from run of the mill crime procedurals (redundant) in general. It’s refreshing to see a show blend multiple elements rather than adhere so strictly to one or another. There’s a lot of action and crime fighting and undercover work and investigating all rolled into one. If the show keeps this up past the pilot it will have many clear advantages over similar shows, especially the other CBS procedurals. Maybe that last one is more due to the fact that the target audience for Hawaii Five-0 is not the elderly. Look at you, CBS, trying even harder to aim at those a fourth the age of your usual demographic. Well done.

To attempt to put it in existing terms, I’d say the show works most closely to Burn Notice, but less cheesy. There is humor to be sure, but not the kind of humor that you would get from a show featuring Bruce Campbell as a main character. There’s an episodic bad guy, trails to follow, incidents where each team member has a place to display his/her unique talents, but here we have a well built task force carrying out their duties because it’s their job, not due to some redemption quest or a ridiculous, self-indulgent code of honor.

Well, sort of.

Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) is appointed the head of a newly created task force to track down a terrorist who killed his father. Danny “Danno” Williams (the always amazing Scott Caan) is working a case with a link to McGarrett’s. A reluctant partnership is formed and the resulting banter is top notch. The chemistry these two have from the get-go is enough to make some of the duos on Law & Order hang their heads in shame. Throw in Daniel Dae Kim as Jin-Soo Kwon Chin Ho Kelly and you have quite the cast.

Last but not least (and certainly most interesting) is Grace Park as Kona “Kono” Kalakaua. My extensive research has told me that Kono was a man in the original show, so the choice to make Kono a woman in the remake is very…intriguing. I’d like to believe it’s an attempt to put another strong female character on television. Kono is a cop and is very handy when it comes to hand-to-hand combat as is explored in the pilot. But my gut tells me it’s more likely an attempt to bring in Battlestar Galactica fanboys. Or just boys in general as Kono was in either a swimsuit or her underwear the entire episode. Not complaining, but the motives behind it are thought-provoking.

But don’t let that sway you. I really have nothing bad to say about Hawaii Five-0 based on the pilot. It’s quite the tonal change in my normal Monday night lineup (House and Gossip Girl) and as I stated before: it’s a lot of fun. And it’s Kurtzman and Orci and a certain movie franchise aside, those guys do great stuff.

Karen’s take

Unfortunately, I am old enough to have seen the original program–the good news, however, is that it was a program my dad watched and I was young, so I had relatively little interest.  Does that make me seem less fogey-like?

This show is just fun.  Anyone that asks for more is being silly.  And, even better, it is like the place genre actors go to die (wait, this isn’t Lost, sorry…) it is like the place genre actors go to get a wider reach.  Jin from Lost, Boomer from Battlestar Galactica, and even Spike from Buffy/Angel (that was a pleasant surprise for me)–kinda hard to get better than that for a TV geek.

I get what some critics are saying–that O’Loughlin is a bit stiff (kinda think that is the point), that the show is mostly surface…but it is a really pretty surface.  The main questions for this program is whether it can develop the characters.  They all have strong obstacles in place, and they seem to have reasons to be together, but it can too easily follow the procedural model without even attempting to go deeper.  I always want deeper.  Maybe not Lost deep.  Or even Buffy deep.  But I’d like to grow with these characters as I grow into them.  And I hope they let the relationship between McGarrett and Jean Smart’s character grow.  His immunity will be fun for a while, but he’ll need some sort of struggle to keep his crusade alive.

Either way, though, I am always up for a well-executed and action-packed bit of entertainment, and I’m thinking Hawaii Five-0 is just the right fit.

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