by Deborah Harter Williams
The original Hawaii Five-O, which ran from 1968 until 1980, was the longest running crime show on American television until it was passed by Law & Order. And now it’s back.
Originally Five-O referred to the fact that Hawaii was the 50th state. Now “Five-0” has become vernacular for police all over the country. In the reboot it’s now “Five” with a zero instead of an O and it’s Alex O’Loughlin as the son of an HPD officer but not of the original McGarrett (played by Jack Lord). Scott Caan plays Dan “Danno” Williams (originally James MacArthur).
In 1968, Hawaii had been a state for less than a decade. Jack Lord was a bit camp with his pompadour hair (although Joe Mannix seemed to have gone to the same barber). Each episode ended with “Book’em, Danno” as the ever-present sidekick (6 inches shorter than Lord) took the perpetrator off to jail. In the new Hawaii Five-O Scott Caan is the sidekick and has the hair, a slicked-back style, that caused one critic to dub him “dudetastic”.
The success of the show thus far seems to be attributed to the Caan-do factor, i.e. if you like him then you like the show, if you don’t, you don’t. He is the New Jersey guy who has moved to Hawaii to be near his daughter and ex-wife. I enjoyed the by-play with the daughter, but his petty little-brother conflicts with McGarrett are as annoying as when adolescents do it. It’s an entirely different chemistry from the original.
Deep in the DNA of every procedural drama is the desire to emulate the success of NCIS. But you can’t have an NCIS without a Gibbs, that crusty older guy with gravitas. For this, Hawaii Five-O has taken on Terry O’Quinn (Lost/Avatar) and on the bad-guy side will be welcoming Ed Asner as August March, a supposedly reformed criminal, who was part of the original series. The show has also upped their quirk-quotient with a regular role for Masi Oka (Heroes), as Max Bergman the M.E.
In the new series women get to do more than act as secretaries, dragon ladies or muumuu-clad informants. Lauren German and Grace Park, who both guest-starred on the late Human Target, get to kick up their heels and kick-ass as well as drive fast cars and fall to the dirt as things explode. And that’s progress, ladies.
The reimagined Hawaii Five-O is brought to you by the wonderful folks that got you Lost and on Fringe, writer/producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. From Lost they brought along Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho Kelly and the above-mentioned Terry O’Quinn. There’s some talk that the next Star Trek Movie, which they are writing, will have some scenes shot in Hawaii (can you say jungle planet?).
But what if?
In 1996 Stephen J. Cannell (Rockford) wrote and produced a one-hour pilot for a new Hawaii Five-0; it was made but never aired. It starred Gary Busey and Russell Wong (21 Jump Street) as the new Five-O team.
Originally producer Leonard Freeman offered the role of McGarrett to Richard Boone (Paladin).
Learn more about the new show on their website.
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