“Book ’em Danno.”
It’s been 30 years since we last heard that phrase. Still it persisted in the modern lexicon along with the term Five-0, which is still shouted in high-crime areas in cities all over the country whenever a police presence is felt closing in on the bad guys. Hawaii Five-0 ended in 1980. That’s when Tom Selleck took over the sets and production crew on Hawaii to work as Magnum P.I. until 1988 when it all closed down for good, or did it? Wouldn’t you know it, the show has been resurrected and became the hottest new drama on television last year. A younger Steve McGarrett and company are back in action and Hawaii …the world might never be the same again. Roll wave…
Steve McGarrett (O’Loughlin) is a Navy Seal, and his latest mission ended with the murder of his father. The Governor of Hawaii has offered him a special unit with complete immunity and means to tackle the tough cases and look into his father’s death. He’s allowed to assemble his own team. His first choice becomes his own partner. Danny “Danno” Williams (Caan) is a detective on the Honolulu Police Department assigned to his father’s case. He’s a divorced father of a young girl. The two work well together, but there’s a ton of buddy cop bickering on this one. Next on the team is Chin Ho Kelly (Kim). He’s a disgraced Honolulu officer who was accused of stealing a ton of money. He didn’t do it but ended up resigning in shame. He was Steve’s father’s last partner when he was a cop, and Steve believes in him and brings him on board. It does cause friction with the local cops who tend to shun Chin. The final member of the team is Chin’s cousin and newly graduated from the Academy. She’s Kono (Park), and she’s the bright-eyed rookie with high ideals and a knack for sophisticated tech and a competition level surfer.
The first thing you need to know is that there have been a lot of changes to the formula. Steve McGarrett is a much younger, hipper and more active. He no longer rolls in at the clean-up to bark orders. This Steve is an ex-Navy Seal who is quite accomplished at weapons and hand-to-hand combat. He’s the primary investigator in the whole thing. Alex O’Loughlin has been trying hard to get a successful series running. He started out as a vampire on the short-lived Moonlight and went on to another series called Three Rivers which lasted even fewer episodes. But give the television executives some rare credit here for believing he could run a quality show. It looks like the third time really is the charm.
There are other notable differences in this version of the classic television series. The team uses some serious high-tech to catch their bad guys. Of course, most of it didn’t even exist during the first show’s run, but it was never about state-of-the art gear. This one shows off plenty of futuristic toys. The cars appear to be mostly Chevy models, where the original show was actually renowned for its deal with Ford/Mercury to supply the rides. In a nice nod to those days Steve is working on his father’s old car which looks a lot like the original car Jack Lord drove in the first show.
We also are seeing this series from its inception. The first series started full-stride. The first show rarely held over story lines or arcs from one episode to another. This version buys into the modern idea of having a major story and mythology running through the show. And so, while each episode is mostly a stand-alone case, there is the ongoing conspiracy as Steve is investigating the death of his father and eventually his mother as well.
So with all of these changes, what makes this show work so well? The most important element has to be the characters and the actors who play them. O’Loughlin and Caan develop almost instant chemistry, although I do think they take the bickering banter a little too far sometimes. When last we saw Daniel Dae Kim he was finishing his 6 years on Lost, also filmed in Hawaii. Lucky for us he got the job. Lucky for us, too. He’s quite good in the role, and it’s nice to see him have a more active and English-fluent character. Grace Park comes from the new Battlestar Galactica and brings probably the most balanced character to the show. She actually has a life outside of the office. She’s the geek smart member of the team and she can kick butt as well as the guys. You can really see a lot of Scott Caan’s father, James Caan, in the kid. He has those manners of speech that remind us of Sonny Corleone. He’s a huge find for this series. One of the surprise breakouts is local actor Taylor Wily as KameKone. He’s the show’s Huggy Bear. He owns a shave ice company, but he’s an ex-con with a lot of connections. He’s a huge-looking guy with a heart of gold. This amateur steals every scene he’s in. These characters might not reflect anything from their earlier counterparts, but they are all very compelling in the way they work together. It’s a nice team, and the Hawaiian locations don’t hurt any either.
Each episode is presented in its original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1. When you’re shooting in Hawaii a show almost has to look good. This one does manage to capture the bright colorful world of the Islands. They kept the episode count to just four on each disc, so you’ll get solid bit-rates, and that means less compression issues.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track does a good job of bringing the unique sounds of the islands to your speakers. Dialog is just perfect, and then there’s that theme song performed by many of the same musicians who did it 40 years ago.
Deleted Scenes and Commentary on select episodes.
Legacy: (11:39) They do talk a bit about the original show, but the focus here is really on the casting.
Picture Perfect – Making The Pilot: (27:07) The pilot was directed by Underworld creator and Kate Beckinsale hubby Len Wiseman. This feature focuses on the style and look for the show the he and the crew created.
Grace Park’s Hawaiian Tour: (5:25) The actress introduces us to some native folks and culture.
Re-Scoring The Theme Song: (1:43) Go into the recording studio.
Inside Comic Con: (6:22) The cast and crew invade the San Diego convention.
Shorelines – The Story Of Season 1: (30:26) This one has a mystery and a warning. It says part 1, but I couldn’t find part 2 anywhere else on the set. I don’t know what gives here. It’s also not on the last disc but gives away important spoilers for episodes you would not have seen yet. Stay away unless you’ve already seen them all.
Aloha Action: (15:14) A look at the stunts and explosions.
Gag Reel: (7:33)
Inside The Box: (6:47) A tour of the contents in the toolbox Steve gets from his father with all of those clues.
It’s a good thing this one got picked up for a second season. The season finale is one of the most exiting finales I’ve seen in a while. It leaves the team split up and Steve in jail framed for a huge murder. It’s all about to be resolved as the new season begins soon. Here’s your chance to get all caught up in case you missed the first year, because you’re not going to want to miss the second. Like the ageless series that came before this one is going to become a classic. And “Everybody loves a classic”.