'Hawaii Five-O' first look plus full trailer"'Hawaii Five-O' is great," I texted a friend mid-way through watching CBS' rough-cut pilot screener.
"No way," she texted back. "No way."
"Not 'Lost'-great, not 'Sopranos'-great," I clarified. "CBS-great."
"CBS-great" is its own brand of mostly not-great but often pretty good barn-broad broadcast programming. And "Hawaii Five-O" does what CBS needs: Like "The Mentalist" a couple years back, "Hawaii" evolves the police procedural by a few degrees in a new direction -- just enough to feel fresh, but otherwise highly familiar (full trailer below).
What's interesting about the pilot of this police drama is that only one scene takes place inside a police station, and that comes at the very end. Otherwise, "Hawaii" is set in jungles and beaches and scenic highways and seedy apartments. Hopefully, it's those sort of places where the series will spend most of its time. (It costs more to shoot on location, but it's worth it).
The cast is attractive (duh) and likable. Alex O'Loughlin cannot pull off some emotional heavy lifting that's required of him in the pilot's first act, coming off as merely sulky. His new partner, a wildly gesticulating Scott Caan, turns his role into a scene stealer. Their bromance is the best part of the pilot and thank goodness for it -- if this relationship didn't work, neither would the show. Daniel Dae Kim is here, having strolled over from the set of "Lost," and doesn't make much of an impression in the pilot. "Battlestar" vet Grace Park is also present and somewhat ridiculous as a tough, brawling police cadet who looks maybe 97 pounds when soaking wet -- which, as it so happens, is how we're introduced to her. The pilot has Park in her bikini and she's later ordered to strip to her underwear, while O'Loughlin has one shirt-changing scene -- is this social progress or a roll-back or just to be expected? I don't know, but I wanted to urge Park to eat a heavy dinner at Olive Garden.
Otherwise, there's a lot of gunfire, gorgeous scenery, impatient direction and snappy editing.
If "Hawaii Five-O" doesn't work on CBS, a network where "NCIS" draws 19 million viewers a week, I'll be amazed.
Here's the trailer (more fall TV trailers here). This captures the show really well. If you like this, you'll like "Hawaii Five-O":