Pilot Watch: 'Hawaii Five-O'
Keep in mind that in each case, our opinions are based on a pilot that could be completely recast and reworked between now and the fall.
Show: 'Hawaii Five-O'
Timeslot: Mondays, 10PM ET
The lowdown: A remake of the classic CBS cop drama that ran from 1968-80. CBS's favorite actor, Alex O'Loughlin, plays Steve McGarrett, the role originated by Jack Lord. A top Naval intelligence officer, he returns to his home in Hawaii after a notorious terrorist kills his father. He's hired by the governor (Jean Smart) to create a police task force that has complete immunity and authority to expunge the scum by any means possible. On his team, McGarrett recruits Danny "Dano" Williams (Scott Caan), a displaced detective from New Jersey, Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim), who left the force under suspicion of wrongdoing, and Kona Kalakaua (Grace Park), a young but tough rookie who's also Chin Ho's cousin.
What we're saying: The original 'Five-0' delved into the underbelly of paradise, but there was an undercurrent of camp that reflected the era, when the only images most people had of Hawaii were hula girls, leis, and Don Ho. The pilot of the new version is mostly deadly serious, substituting terrorism for organized crime. The pilot, written by 'Star Trek' and 'Fringe' writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, tries to throw some comedic breaks in with the action, mostly via the reluctant and abrasive Dano. But the pilot also showed that the Five-O crew, especially McGarrett, as impervious supercops rather than the normal police officers we saw in the original version.
This is not being positioned as a pure procedural, as there are too many back stories to explore. But if Kurtzman and Orci can infuse McGarrett and crew with some vulnerability and give them some good ongoing cases to pursue (maybe a modern-day version of Wo Fat), the program can gain a toehold in the crowded CBS schedule. If they remain supercops, though, the show will get boring in a hurry.
Based on the '70s hit by Leonard Freeman, "Hawaii Five-O" focuses on a new elite task force, created by the governor of Hawaii. Naval officer-turned cop Det. Steve McGarrett returns to Oahu, where he grew up, to investigate his father's murder and stays to head up the task force. Joining him are: Det. Danny "Danno" Williams, an ex-New Jersey cop; Chin Ho Kelley, an ex-Honolulu detective who was wrongly accused of corruption; and Kono, Chin's cousin, who just graduated from the police academy.
Who's in it: Alex O'Loughlin ("Moonlight") as McGarrett, Scott Caan ("Ocean's Eleven") as Danno, Daniel Dae Kim ("Lost") as Chin, Grace Park ("Battlestar Galactica") as Kono and Taryn Manning ("Drive") as Mary Ann McGarrett.
Who made it: Peter Lenkov ("CSI: New York") wrote the script, and the "Fringe" and "Alias" producing team of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman is behind it.
Thumbs up: It's a little weird to see Oahu as anything else but "the island," especially with Daniel Dae Kim standing in it, but the pilot shows it off nicely. O'Loughlin and Caan seem to be having a good time together, and any time you have Jean Smart in a scene is a good thing. (She guests as the governor). "Lost" fans will love seeing Kim alive and well and speaking great English.
Thumbs down: Highly color-saturated and contrasted a la "CSI: Miami" and not sure it's necessary. While the murder of McGarrett's father is intriguing, the slave-trafficking story in the episode was not compelling.
Verdict: This could work if the writers can remember that Hawaii is not the exotic locale it was in the '70s and focus on character development.
-- Maria Elena Fernandez