Hawaii Five-0 Gets a Reboot
No doubt to distract us from the lack luster season finales in store for audiences, the networks have announced their fall line ups – most of which will be forgotten by October. For the most part none of the offerings seem poised to lift me out of my Click-Clack, but one did make me gasp – first in horror, then in hmmmm:
- CBS announces Hawaii Five-0 reboot starring Alex O’Loughlin in the role of Steve McGarrett.
O’Loughlin is familiar to television audiences thanks to his portrayal of Kevin Hiatt on The Shield. I’ll admit to being conflicted regarding this project. For starters, the original has a loyal fanbase, while not being especially dogmatic, probably doesn’t understand the need for this reboot when the original is still easily accessible. Sure some factions might be far crabby and offended by any attempt to denigrate the spirit of Jack Lord, but I suspect they’re on the margins or – well – dead.
If it sounds like I’m equivocating; I am! I love the original, but I also love the idea of seeing a lot more Asian faces on television – provided we’re not going the M*A*S*H or The Courtship of Eddie’s Father route. If we’re talking about the Fontanaverse/Simon style of characterization where there are many, many different characters for whom their racial identity presented as a shared trait rather than shared ideology, then I’ve got to get behind this project without hesitation.
Of course, they aren’t exactly selling me on the reboot casting another white person – though, you know I love me an Aussie – in the title role. Would have been all kinds of new hotness if Charles Chun been cast as McGarrett – I know you’re not giving me a wtf look – and the incomparable Tina Chen had been cast as the governor rather than Jean Smart – whom I do very much like, but again, why not do something different with the reboot.
Charles Chun has been on my radar – complete with google alerts – since I was enraptured by his talents in the disposable and craft concealing role as Dr. Wen on Scrubs. Even with the weak material, Chun acted the hell out of his role. What he was able to do with mere moments of screen time – running the gambit from dramatic to comedic – lifted me out of my damn chair. I can only imagine what Chun could shut down if given the opportunity!
Now, Miss Tina Chen. Oh I was a johnny come lately on her, but again, three or four minutes of screen time in the film Three Days of the Condor and I was like, “W-w-what? W-w-who and where can I get MORE.” It’s hard to hold your own against Redford and not because he’s a great actor, but rather because he tended to BE so freaking Redfordy that it was nearly impossible to allow others to shine. Granted, this probably has more to do with his positioning as the world’s hottest and most perfect man in the 70s, rather than any lack of artistic generosity on his part. And his later work – we’re talking Sneakers and on – finds Redford’s presence to have less of a stranglehold on the camera. Anyway, Chen as Janice left an indelible mark on me and I’d really love to see her reintroduced to audiences with all the confetti and fanfare of Robert Forrester.
Pleased to see Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park included in the cast list. Kim scans to me like the pre-Chicago Taye Diggs of Asian actors in terms of everyone knowing he has game, but producers of shows/movies not really understanding WE WILL GLADLY CONSUME MEDIA FEATURING HIM so they can stop tossing mediocre projects his way and then blaming the fact that audiences don’t warm to them on something other than their inability to produce projects worthy of his talents. Kim and I go way back to the ill-advised Richard Gere-with-a-stinky-accent/Bruce Willis-in-a-dizzying-array-of-awful-wigs craptravaganza The Jackal.
Kim gives excellent analysis of casting challenges faced by many MOC, but proves especially frustrating for Asian actors:
There is definitely a categorization of Asian males, in particular. What I mean to say is though the roles might not be overtly offensive, they are definitely secondary and exist only to serve another character. For instance, a lot of roles that I have played have been in support of the leads and I was there to deliver exposition. They’re not stereotypical roles but they are representative of a ceiling that a lot of us face.
He’s way more respectful and kind than need be (believe me, I understand why), given he’s prime action hero/leading man age – 42. Based on his talents. good looks and international appeal he should be at a fame level equivalent to Cheadle or Schreiber, whom I feel are his cohorts (acting wise). The erasure of Asian actors in television and film is pretty much the only logical reason to account for why he’s not getting his pick of scripts. Often in the conversation of the limited representation of POCs on stage and screen the white/black dichotomy, which is false and definitely a derail – overshadows discussions of the glaring absence of all racial minorities in nuanced, non stereotypical roles. Moreover, that “Make my TEEVEE more brown, STAT.” smokescreen doesn’t encourage coalition building in artist communities of color and guess what – it doesn’t get more black folks not robbing check cashing places or rappin’ or snapping their necks on television either!
Ten bucks says he’s got a graduate degree in Fine Arts. I’m guessing Ivy League (I don’t know anything about his training). It’s not even some kind of preternatural ability I have to discern educational background of a person based on the heat waves coming off my screen. No, it’s the knowledge that, generally speaking, lots of POC actors – I’m talking the real craft vectored ones – usually went somewhere to study that shit. Sort of the way that POC artists in other fields often get letters after their names in order not to be dismissed as quickly, though they are certainly dismissed in many cases.
Courtney “COAT NEY” B. Vance immediately comes to mind. MFA from Yale, where oddly enough he seemed to have met his wife, Angela Bassett who – wait for it – ALSO GOT HER MFA from the Yale School of Drama.
HA. Kim attended NYU! Damn, playa’s done Ibsen and Chekov and he’s playing Chin Ho? C’mon now! Get it together, Hollywood.
That said, you know I’ll be right at the screen cheerfully singing, “and Danny Dae Kim as Chin Ho!” along to the theme song, which they better not so much as change ONE FREAKING NOTE. I better get my aviation lesson too!