Hawaii Five-O - First two episodes reviewed
Review by Jack Foley
What’s the story? Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) is summoned home to Honolulu to bury his father after he is murdered by a madman. Governor Jameson wants Steve to head up a new elite police unit, and she will give him full authority to get the job done. Initially he turns down the job, but when he meets the man charged with investigating his father’s murder, he changes his mind so he can find his father’s killer himself.
Episode 2 – Ohana: When a former cyber terrorism expert is kidnapped, McGarrett and his team are assigned to find the missing expert in order to protect national security.
Our verdict: CBS’ new-look Hawaii Five-O – which debuted on Sky1 on Sunday night (January 6, 2011) – is a very different beast from its classic 1968 predecessor.
Co-written by Alex Kurtzman, Peter M Lenkov and Robert Orci – who have been collectively responsible for the likes of Alias, Fringe and 24 – the update is all about big set pieces, rapid-fire dialogue and slam-bang police procedure.
It’s almost as though Michael Bay has started directing television such is the emphasis on spectacle over character or even plot.
But given its Sunday night scheduling slot, maybe this isn’t a bad thing. What Five-O lacks in brains it more than makes up for in easy on the eye material.
The pilot episode set the tone well. An explosive stand-off across two countries culminated in the murder of McGarrett’s father and formed the basis for the formation of the new unit dedicated to cleaning up Hawaii’s criminal enterprises.
No sooner had McGarrett returned to Honolulu to bury his father and pick up the trail of his killer, than he’d been recruited by Governor Jameson to head up an elite unit using any means possible to get the job done.
By the end of the hour, retribution had almost been served (the lack of a body suggests we’ve not heard the last of McGarrett’s nemesis Victor Hesse) while the Five-O team had been formed.
This consisted of the straight-laced, no-nonsense McGarrett, the sensitive father Danny ‘Dann’ Williams (Scott Caan), disgraced but honest former cop Chin Ho Kelly (Lost‘s Daniel Dae Kim) and his rookie cousin Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park).
To be fair, the pilot did a good job of introducing these characters while sewing the seeds for future plot developments: corruption within the force, a recurring villain and the shoot first, ask questions if they survive approach to policing.
The second episode was a little more ropey, though, given its threat to national security plot elements and contrived situations.
As with the pilot, all of the villains tended to break out machine guns to do battle with the cops or abduct people from the street, while the supposed twist was a little too easily telegraphed and the ‘revelation’ moment – involving Park’s Kono – poorly handled.
Not even the presence of Peter Stormare as the villain of the week could inject any gravitas into proceedings – although, to be fair, the show is still finding its feet.
There are, however, a number of things in its favour, even at this early, uneven stage.
The bro-mance between McGarrett and ‘Danno’ is fun (packed with witty banter and a begrudging respect), while the play on the legendary catchphrase ‘book ‘em Danno’ is nicely done.
Daniel Dae Kim is a charismatic part of the team, too, displaying a looseness he was never able to in Lost. And Grace brings Nikita-style ass-kicking ability mixed with sex appeal to her role.
The Hawaii locations (of which there are innumerable sweeping shots of) add exotic appeal, while the memorable opening theme tune still manages to get the pulse racing.
It’s the TV equivalent of a great Friday night popcorn blockbuster: slickly produced, populated by great looking characters and fast-moving enough to paper over its obvious flaws.
The best approach to it, therefore, is to put your brain in neutral, kick back on the sofa and simply enjoy the wild, self-consciously OTT ride.
Hawaii Five-O airs on Sky1 HD on Sunday nights from 9pm.