Part buddy series, part action, part police procedural, Hawaii Five-0 throws it all at the screen, including an iconic theme tune and a favourite catch-phrase.
For twelve years Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) was crime-busting in downtown Honolulu, against a lush backdrop of sand, surf, and exotic locales. There was a famous catch-phrase and an even more famous theme tune -still one of television’s most iconic.
Now CBS is rebooting the series with Australian actor Alex O’Loughlin in the central role.
As if to prove a point, the opening sequence sets the scene with a stunts and action aplenty.
We meet Navy SEAL Steve McGarrett (O’Loughlin) escorting a terrorist en route in rural South Korea. With its sweeping mountains and palm trees, this is clearly an Hawaiian location. The scene sees McGarrett contacted by arch rival terrorist mastermind Victor Hesse, who has his father at gunpoint back in Hawaii. Say bye bye, dad. After hearing a gunshot, McGarrett is endowed with a need for vegeance that will doubtless resonate across the series. Cue the theme tune (no they haven’t dumped it).
Jean Smart plays Hawaiian Governor, Patricia Jameson, with a straight face. She offers McGarrett the chance to lead his own crack team of crime-busters to eradicate her State of crims. He’s initially reluctant, but will soon be given the impetus to take her up on her offer and handpick his team.
Amongst the team are former cop and school pal Chin Ho Kelly, played by Lost’s Daniel Dae Kim. Given he is actually of Korean-US descent it’s becoming clear this show requires a suspension of disbelief. Check the fake rain and the very dry McGarrett walking in from a downpour, and you’ll know what I mean.
But the best is saved for Detective Danny Williams (Scott Caan) whose ringtone from his wife is the Psycho shower theme. Williams is a tough guy whose soft spot is his single daughter. His first scene with McGarrett, a Mexican standoff, quickly establishes an abrasive relationship between the two. This bubbles along nicely across the episode, with crackling dialogue and humour.
The final member of the troupe is Kelly’s cousin, the smokin’ hot, surfin’ police graduate Detective Kona Kalakaua (Grace Park). Sexy chick with gun and surfboard? Look out, Nikita.
Throw in hip-hop music, sweeping aerial shots, a chase, shooting, fist fights, explosions, a high use of golden filters …. I’m just about ready for an Hawaiian kitchen sink. But it’s all good.
Crime procedural plots (and the odd signposting) aside, this is a show that looks set to make the most of it action and the buddy rapport between its two lead men.
There is also some fun to be had teasing us with the “Book ’em, Danno” line and its derivation.
O’Loughlin fits the action hero like a glove, and after two short-lived US series, deserves a big, broad hit. US ratings would suggest he has found one, or rather, that the US has finally found him. Caan may yet surpass him.
This is a testosterone, sandy cop show that lives by its own rules (ironically, Miami Vice did similar things in Florida many years ago). If they can survive even half as long as the original they should consider themselves pretty lucky.
Hawaii Five-0 airs 8:30pm Sundays on TEN.