If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Now, in the interests of fairness, I need to start this review by stating that I missed roughly the first fifteen minutes or so of the Hawaii 5-0 remake. So, with that being said …
Hawaii 5-0 is a remake brought to us by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci who have both writing and producing credits on the series. These gentlemen brought us such film remakes as “Star Trek,” “Transformers” and the good parts from “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (Shut up, it had good parts!). It’s been my experience that the key to a successful remake of a property is the inclusion of Orci and Kurtzman who seem to be very good at including enough nostalgia to hook long time fans (ie the apparent decision to scrap a more “modern” sounding
version of the famous theme music and use a version closer to the original) while at the same time writing a quality story to bring new fans to the property.
Alex O’loughlin and Scott Caan play Det. Steve McGarrett and Det. Danny Williams respectively who’re the two main characters in the show. McGarrett is a former naval officer (possibly Navy SEAL, I wasn’t clear on that point) whose father is taken hostage and killed by an international arms dealer (played by James Marsters so immediate yay!). The Governor of Hawaii (Jean Smart who most people will remember from “24”) recruits McGarrett to form a police task force that, according to the promotional people at CBS will be “his rules, her backing, no red tape” and while it begs the question of why there’s a scene where McGarrett calls the Governor and wants her to have the Coast Guard keep a Chinese transport ship in port to which she responds by panicking and claiming he’ll cause an international incident, at the same time I’m left thinking “could be fun.”
Joining the pair are Daniel Dae Kim as Det. Chin Ho Kelly and Grace Park as Kelly’s cousin Kona Kalakaua (aka token Hawaiian name that no mainlander could possibly spell or pronounce properly). Most people will know them as Jin Kwon on “Lost” and Lt. Sharon ‘Boomer’ Valerii on “Battlestar Galactica” respectively. Personally, I couldn’t help but think of them as the requisite “Asians playing Hawaiians.” Fortunately, Dae Kim and Park are both skilled enough as actors for me to get past that stereotype very quickly.
The best way to sum up the episode is like this: Our lead characters are introduced, they argue a bit, we get some backstory, the supporting “local” characters are brought in, everyone bonds while chasing down the
bad guys, bad guys die, episode over. There’s fun banter, Grace Park’s character punches a guy out three seconds after she comes on camera … it is what it is. Entertaining.
The pilot episode appears to have been loaded up with major motion picture talent both in front of and behind the camera (the episode’s director brought us the Underworld franchise) and while there are no 20 million dollar actors, I was able to recognize enough names to be able to comfortably conclude that CBS has a great deal of faith in the show. I’m hopeful that this is a good sign of things to come.
Unfortunately, while I saw plenty that I liked, what I didn’t see was anything truly new. The story that is presented here is entertaining, but something I’ve seen done plenty of times before. Perhaps even better. If you’ve ever asked yourself what “Bad Boys” would have been like as a tv series with white people in the leads, this episode will give you your answer. With all the detective shows presently on TV (and come to think of it, most are on CBS) Hawaii 5-0 needs to work harder to make itself stand out from the pack.
The best case scenario I see from the pilot episode is to go the “Nash Bridges” route where you have stories about police officers who you know full well are taking on cases that no cop would ever be able to come within a hundred feat of without hearing the words “above your pay grade” at least five times, but it’s entertaining enough that you really don’t care. Worst case? Going the “Knight Rider” route of relying on special effects, overblown action sequences, and not giving a crap about story until after you’ve already been cancelled.
As I said, I enjoyed myself during this first episode, but I admit to being leery. I enjoyed the start of the “Knight Rider” remake as well, but that went down hill. FAST. With “Hawaii 5-0,” I’m willing to recommend giving it a few episodes. Get a feel for where the show’s headed before deciding whether to watch it or skip it.