Hawaii Five-0 [CBS, Mondays, 10/9C] features characters whose names are familiar, and the setting that comes with the title, but it is not your father’s/grandfather’s Hawaii Five-0. It is a fast-paced, well written, fresh take on cop shows that has energy to burn and charisma to spare.
It starts with a conversation between Cmdr. Steve McGarrett [Alex O’Loughlin] and a terrorist [Norman Reedus] and ends with a bit of rule-breaking that qualifies as epic. In between is a fun ride with quirky humor, sudden violence, human trafficking and the death of a former cop who had been working on a special, very secret case before he left the force.
The opening conversation between McGarrett and the terrorist, Victor Hesse [James Marsters], is about the Hesse’s brother, who is being transported to a secure location by McGarrett. Victor and his men have invaded the home of Jack McGarrett [William Sadler] and promises that if anything happens to his brother, Anton, the elder McGarrett will die. Something deadly happens to Anton and Victor kills Jack.
When McGarrett returns to Hawaii for his father’s funeral, the state’s governor, Pat Jameson [Jean smart] asks him to head up a “no rules; full immunity” taskforce to handle threats of this nature. McGarrett declines, but reconsiders when he attempts to follow up on something his father said before he died – and Detective Danny Williams [Scott Caan] gets in the way. The result pairs the two badly mismatched investigators with fiery results.
A leads takes the two into the world of arms dealers and human traffickers and the taskforce gains two more members: Chin Ho Kelly [Daniel Dae Kim] and his cousin Kino Kalakaua [Grace Park]. Before they’re done, the new taskforce may well precipitate an international incident.
The reboot of Hawaii Five-0 works extremely well on all fronts. The characters are interesting and engaging; the action is pretty much movie quality; the bad guys are chosen for their resonance in current affairs, and, hey, Hawaii!
The premiere was written by Peter M. Lenkov [from a story by Lenkov and Alias/Lost/Fringe writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci – who masterminded the reboot]. It gives us sufficient background on the main characters to make them feel real to us and then incorporates them into a big – dare I say splashy – event. One of the coolest aspects of the premiere is that the original never did tell us how McGarrett [Jack Lord] put his team together, so seeing this McGarrett do that is particularly rewarding.
The cast is pretty darned excellent, too. O’Loughlin smolders as McGarrett, though he seems to struggle to reach some of the most devastating moments, but the rest of the cast helps out with even better performances – especially Caan as Williams. One of the best moments comes when we learn the origin of McGarrett’s line, “Book ‘em, Danno.”
Len Wiseman [the Underworld trilogy] directs the pilot with panache. This hour of TV flies by in what seems like no time at all – and yet, we never feel that things are rushed, nor does the character development seem insufficient.
The premiere ep of Hawaii Five-0 is one of the season’s two best pilots.
Final Grade: A+
Photo by Mario Lopez/Courtesy/CBS