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This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Hawaii Five-O Pilot is as Shaky as a Hula Dancer

September 21, 2010

CAST Danny “Danno” Williams: Scott Caan , Detective Chin Ho Kelly: Daniel Dae Kim, Steve McGarrett: Alex O’Loughlin, Kono Kalakaua: Grace Park

The updated Hawaii Five-0 premiered last night bringing more stylized banality to a network television schedule already stocked to the ceiling with it. As a result, while being fairly entertaining and keeping some elements of the beloved original, the update also manages to undo much of what made the original so iconic. Turns out it takes more than dazzling scenery or bombastic theme music; it takes actor who can convince you he’s Steve McGarrett. Here’s a tidbit I probably don’t have to tell you: O’Loughlin ain’t Steve McGarrett. O’Loughlin’s McGarrett is stripped of anything approaching critical thinking skills, which are then replaced by bravado combining elements of James “Sonny” Crockett, Thomas Magnum and for some inexplicable reason TJ Hooker. When the elements are synthesized – minus the charm or cheek of those characters – it seems criminal the character is called Steve McGarrett.

In contrast, it’s nice seeing Danno Williams finally gets some propers. Scott Caan’s portrayal of Danno is funny without being silly, though I do miss Danno’s wide-eyed eagerness, which frankly is not to be expected when the actor cast possesses the last name Caan. Chin Ho Kelly, while incredibly bad ass was generally off to the side, so it’s wonderful to see the character – played superbly by Daniel Dae Kim – get so much face time, being the lovely face that it is. Rounding out the team is Kona Kalakaua who hopefully will get beyond her “kid sister” (actually she’s Kelly’s cousin) framing and develop into a more fully realized character. Grace Park, who is a fantastic actress, does what she can to elevate the role, but she needs more to do.

The pilot struggles to blend the origin story with the action, resulting in a rushed job getting these characters acquainted with each other. Then decides it ought to spend the remainder of the program blowing things away. Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve watch a cop show with a whole mess of shooting and kabooms. I don’t particularly enjoy that style of cop show and I especially don’t like it here. I grew up on cops who analyzed things, sweated perps and bantered with the M.E. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about Homicide: Life on the Street was the detectives almost never drew their weapons. So the few times H:LOTS detectives did, the pay off was HUGE. Think: season six finale. Nevertheless, the show with its blend of shopworn CSI aesthetics, attractive actors, stunning locales, pedestrian plots and kabooms, is entertaining and appealing to its demographic group. For better or worse, Hawaii Five-0 will probably run forever; more importantly it is the Hawaii: Five-0 today’s television audiences deserve.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2010 6:48 pm

    My mom was so upset about them remaking this. She’s like “Steve McGarrett wore suits! This guy is all casual!” I apologized on behalf of them.

  2. September 21, 2010 6:48 pm

    aw damn, this is disappointing! I wanted it to be good. I had high hopes last year for the V reboot too, but I lost interest around the third episode. Maybe they can fix it, because I would like to tune into some of those actors every week!

  3. unscrambled permalink
    September 21, 2010 7:20 pm

    I read “shopworn” as “showporn”–it kind of sounds like the latter is accurate.

    As a fellow lover of cop shows in the H:LOTS vein, I agree with you mightily–what a bummer. Note that I still may watch it because Daniel Dae Kim + Grace Park=good.

  4. September 21, 2010 7:31 pm

    This is really disappointing… but thanks Snarky for taking it easy for us sinners. This is one hour I won’t have to regret losing sleep over.

  5. September 21, 2010 8:12 pm

    @unscrambled, yeah who am I kidding? despite reading this review, I’m still going to watch an episode at least once for that same reason.

  6. September 21, 2010 9:15 pm

    On the positive side: They redid the theme so it sounded better than the one from the youtube clip! I was actually satisfied with the version they attached.

    The whole terrorist military storyline put me off right away. But Caan and Kim were fantastic. This show will be great as soon as they kill off McGarrett!

  7. September 21, 2010 9:35 pm

    As a fellow lover of cop shows in the H:LOTS vein, I agree with you mightily–what a bummer. Note that I still may watch it because Daniel Dae Kim + Grace Park=good.

    They are top notch!

    @Penpusher

    The whole terrorist military storyline put me off right away. But Caan and Kim were fantastic. This show will be great as soon as they kill off McGarrett!

    It was an admirable thing to turn what was essentially a vanity piece into a more equitable ensemble drama, but the downside was they had to go bargain basement for the most important role. That said they did get some flash for the previously supporting characters.

  8. Kia permalink
    September 22, 2010 7:11 am

    Why is CBS so determined to make Alex O’Loughlin a star? It’s like the old studio star system where they paid for elocution lessons and to have his teeth fixed and they are going to get their money back come hell or high water.

  9. September 22, 2010 7:58 am

    @Kia, I guess the answer is that promoting him as a star is cheaper than paying someone who already is.

  10. September 22, 2010 11:37 am

    Why is CBS so determined to make Alex O’Loughlin a star? It’s like the old studio star system where they paid for elocution lessons and to have his teeth fixed and they are going to get their money back come hell or high water.

    I’ve been trying to figure that out myself for years. He stars in one dud after another. The audiences have spoken, yet CBS insists are shoving this mediocre dude down our tvs. H50 is hardly appointment tv, but his wooded performance definitely means that I won’t even try to watch this show no matter where I find it.

  11. evmaroon permalink
    September 22, 2010 7:56 pm

    I have to say, I never watched Hawaii 5-O when it was on originally. I like some explosions on TV when they’re warranted, like in last season’s series premiere of FlashForward, but mostly the big bangs remind me I’m not in a Bose-surround system at a movie theater.

    From the sound of it, this remake won’t be around for long. It’s a shame, because I too, enjoy Daniel Dae Kim’s work.

  12. September 22, 2010 10:29 pm

    In more successful former “Lostie” news, NBC picked up the pilot for the Michael Emerson Terry O’Quinn comedy/drama series: working title “Odd Jobs” about two “Black Ops” agents. I wonder if they’ll ever wind up going to any South Pacific island along the way?

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