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Hawaii Five-O: Pilot

CBS’s latest cop procedural is ... well, a CBS cop procedural sans forensics and flashbacks. Hawaii Five-0 reboots the classic ‘70s cop show (1968-1980), adds the occasional bit of grit and personal angst to the tropical paradise setting, and ends up with a show that fits perfectly into the CBS stable of crime shows.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The pilot was an engaging hour with gorgeous scenery and relatively entertaining characters. It was a good bit darker than I expected, particularly the cold open with the convoy assault in South Korea and the murder of McGarrett’s father. After that intense and emotionally brutal action piece, the cut to the peppy opening credits with the classic theme and the sunny locales give me a bit of mental whiplash.

Alex O’Loughlin as Steve McGarrett is ostensibly the lead for the series, but the pilot’s clear breakout character is Detective Danny Williams (Danno). Scott Caan really brought some much needed lightness and exasperated humor to balance McGarrett’s brusque dourness. I understand that McGarrett just lost his dad to a criminal he’d been chasing for five years and he's got exacting bloody vengeance on the brain, but his driven and largely dismissive attitude towards his new partner made him seriously unlikable throughout much of the premiere. At least they gave him a small redemptive moment at the end when he gave Danno the hotel room for his weekend with his daughter. He may not be the gigantic jerk he appeared to be after all.

My biggest complaint about the show thus far is that the unit came together too quickly and caught their first baddie far too easily (despite killing most of their leads along the way). But I tend to watch much more serialized fare --- even the more episodic shows I watch have overarching plot elements that carry through the season -- so a “one and done” story resolution is bound to seem a bit too pat to me. Nonetheless, I’m curious to see how the team dynamic develops moving forward and how the creators fine-tune the balance of light and dark in the series.

Other Thoughts

I was surprised to see James Marsters. I read a fair number of teaser pieces on the show during the pre-season buzz, and I do not remember seeing that he was a guest in the pilot. I wasn’t even 100 percent sure it was him at first. I turned to my husband and asked incredulously, “Is that James Marsters?”

His presence brought a surreal meta-humor to the climactic confrontation between McGarrett and Victor. When they were fighting on top of the shipping containers I kept thinking, “Spike and Mick are throwing down! Can we consider this a candidate for our Top 3 Vampire Fight Scenes?” They actually scored the vampire trifecta with this scene because the pilot was directed by Len Wiseman of Underworld fame.

Despite being fairly standard procedural fare, Hawaii Five-0 is the gift that keeps on giving for cult TV fans. In addition to Alex O’Loughlin and James Marsters, we got Daniel Dae Kim from Lost, Grace Park from Battlestar Galactica, and William Sadler (McGarrett Sr.), known ‘round these parts as Dr. Darrin Tyler, Jaye’s dad on Wonderfalls. I can’t wait to see who shows up next!

The governor referred to wanting to clean up crime on her “island" --- possibly more than once. Is it typical to refer to the entire state of Hawaii as though it is one island? Does she not care about the other islands that make up her state? Or is all the Big Bad Crime only committed on Oahu?

Danno and McGarrett waiting outside the surf shop in those oversize t-shirts was a pretty hilarious sight gag.

Final Analysis: A reasonably enjoyable crime procedural with nice scenery and the potential to develop a fun team dynamic. It may not become appointment TV for me, but I’ll be sticking with it for a few more weeks, at least.

Photo credit: CBS

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.


  1. James Marsters! I had no idea! If I'd known that, I would have watched this last night instead of putting it off.

    And "one and done" is a fabulous phrase.

  2. I liked it better than "The Event." And I don't do cop shows. But I love Alex O'Loughlin, and I actually enjoyed seeing him so tough and brusque for a change. No curls, and they let him keep some of his tatts.

    Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park -- it was weird, like two worlds colliding. All of this favorite show actor goodness might make me watch this one. And hey, they didn't say that they found James Marsters' body, did they? And you're right, Jess -- Scott Caan was terrific.

  3. "One and Done" is my new phrase of the week, I will probably be using that for years to describe episodic television.

    I thought this was fun, fast paced, and relatively engaging. I hope they get a little deeper with plot. Specifically, James took the plunge and the body disappeared... can I hope to see him again?

    Also Mr. Sadler played a main character on Roswell, so the Genre credit is vast. Also Scott Caan has affiliations with Genre movie actors such as Vin Diesel.

    I look forward to seeing if this is something to look forward to or something to forget.

  4. I'm glad "one and done" was such a hit! It's a phrase I've heard before that just seemed appropriate in this context.

    But perhaps I should hold out hope that Victor's body was not recovered and this particular bit of story is not as "done" as it seemed. As I learned well from my years of soap watching, if you don't see a body, the person in question isn't necessarily dead. Hmmm ...

  5. And let's not forget the creepy Luther Sloan from DS9.

    Hey, what happened to anonymous posting?. Please, don't drop that. I hate having to register everywhere nowadays.

  6. Hey, Pepe:

    Sorry about the no-more-anonymous-comments. We're getting hit hard by truly nasty spam and the Blogger spam filter doesn't catch it all. We finally decided we just couldn't take it any more. I hope that won't stop you from posting comments. I hope it won't stop a lot of people from posting comments.

  7. Billie:

    sorry to hear that. I'll keep logging in. I wish Google let me remember different account info for different pages, it would make personal life and work so much easier :(


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