‘Hawaii Five-0′ Series Premiere Review & Discussion

Published 5 years ago by , Updated September 21st, 2010 at 7:58 am,

hawaii five 0 premiere Hawaii Five 0 Series Premiere Review & Discussion

Creating a new series can be a daunting task, but when Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Peter Lenkov set out to re-make one of the television’s most iconic police dramas, they’re shooting for a very high bar. Their intent was to please fans of the original series while modernizing this 70s classic. Of course, in today’s television environment, Hawaii Five-0 needs much more than fans of the original series tuning in – it needs to capture the younger market.

With the casting of Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park as Chin Ho Kelly and Kona Kalakaua, CBS hoped to tap into the boisterous fan base of television’s most popular sci-fi dramas, Lost and Battlestar Galactica. And, to fill the shoes of television’s most iconic police duo, Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan are this generation’s Detectives Steve McGarrett and Danny “Danno” Williams.

Now, the question remains: Will the talents of Kurtzman, Orci and Lenkov behind the scenes and the talents of O’Loughlin, Caan, Kim and Park on screen make for television’s new hit drama?

Preview (courtesy of CBS)

Upon returning to Hawaii to investigate his father’s murder, decorated Naval officer Steve McGarrett is recruited by the Governor to head up an elite new police task force: his rules, her backing, no red tape. Their first case involves tracking a weapons dealer connected to McGarrett’s father’s murdered


The pilot in itself is a self-contained story. With little editing (and a little bit of lengthening), this pilot could easily be released into theaters and people would happily pay the price of admission. Upon first news of a Hawaii Five-0 remake, I wasn’t sold on it. Even with Kurtzman, Orci and Lenkov behind it, I could not comprehend how a remake of a 70s television series would be interesting or all that different from what is currently on the air. Sure, it’s set in beautiful Hawaii, but that doesn’t make it different or special. Remember, Dog the Bounty Hunter is also shot in Hawaii.

hawaii five 0 cbs 02 Hawaii Five 0 Series Premiere Review & Discussion

And, to be honest, Hawaii Five-0 isn’t anything new or different from what’s on television today. In theory, it’s exactly the same as many other TV shows, but in its execution is where this series shines and sets itself apart from the rest. In almost every way, it does everything better than any other series. It takes the simple elements of police procedurals that have become stale and implements them in new and refreshing ways.

What Kurtzman and Orci have learned from working on Transformers, Star Trek and Cowboys & Aliens can easily be seen on the screen. Typically, I don’t discuss the look of a television series because the budget and time constraints don’t often lend themselves to creating the outstanding visuals that one sees in films these days. Fortunately, Kurtzman, Orci and Lenkov have pulled off the seemingly impossible and created not only one of the most beautiful series on television, but have done it to such a level that there are many times in the pilot that you’ll believe you’re watching a full-length feature film.

Where a typical television series would cut away in a specific scene – because it’s cheaper and easier to film – Hawaii Five-0 not only continues the shot, but it also follows the action. Take, for example, a scene in which a mid-level drug lord jumps out of his two-story house. As the criminal runs to the window, a typical television series would cut to a shot of him jumping out of the window and then cut to a shot where it shows him hitting the car. Instead, the camera follows the action throughout. In one single shot, we see him run to the window, jump out of the window, fall and land on the car – a visually pleasing scene, no doubt, but one that also helps to intensify the action and excitement of that specific sequence.

hawaii five 0 KoOlauloa 06 Hawaii Five 0 Series Premiere Review & Discussion

In terms of plot, the circumstances that initiate the series (the murder of Steve McGarrett’s father) are nowhere near as poignant or as entertaining as the storyline that evolves when Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Det. Danny Williams (Scott Caan) partner up.  Caan and O’Loughlin shine when they are together in a scene. Like some of the best duos in television history, they are able to play off of each other perfectly. This really helps sell the series.

Of course, Lost and Battlestar Galactica fans will be tuning in to see Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park fill the roles of Chin Ho Kelly and Kona Kalakaua. While CBS has been putting Kim and Kelly front and center for Hawaii Five-0 promotion, they’re more or less ancillary characters in the pilot. Hopefully, that will change once we get the required back-story out of the way.

If one were to raise any complaints with an almost flawless pilot, it would be the episode’s final fight scene. Much of the pilot is spent on tracking down the killer of McGarrett’s father, Victor Hesse (played by James Marsters), but when the confrontation between McGarrett and Hesse finally happens, it’s over quickly. While the fight scene between the two is action-packed and fun to watch, it was over just too quickly. Sure, the pilot implies that Hesse is not dead, but still, I would have liked to have seen a bit more. Hopefully, we will when these two foes meet again.

hawaii five 0 cbs 01 Hawaii Five 0 Series Premiere Review & Discussion

Hawaii Five-0 is easily the best pilot of the new season, but with so much time and money spent to produce the pilot, I’m interested to see how subsequent episodes will match up in terms of look and feel. Was this a one-time thing or can Hawaii Five-0 consistently produce great looking, highly entertaining episodes week-after-week.

Final Thoughts

Hawaii Five-0 has more to prove than any other new television series. Thankfully, Kurtzman and Orci’s remake of this television classic exceeds all expectations. Not only does it bring something new to the tired police procedural, but at times you’ll swear that you’re watching a film. While Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park and Alex O’Loughlin have been touted as the show’s stars, it is Scott Caan who brings it all together and makes this series work.

Hawaii Five-0 airs Monday’s @10pm, on CBS


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  1. I watched the premier tonight and I thought it sucked. The acting appeared stiff and the writing contrived. They were trying to deliver witty lines and they failed miserably.

    This series has created an underwhelming first impression.

    • I felt the same way about another series that premiered tonight. I’m trying to keep in mind that the pilot isn’t always the best episode by which to judge a series. Changes are usually noticeable between the first and second episodes, be they casting or set changes. Here’s hoping they’ll have the bugs worked out soon.

      • That was an absolutely awful show. No way this makes it a full season. Completetely hackneyed and without any artistic value. A show about shooting people only. Will never make it.

    • Maybe, but the original had horrible acting and a sometimes lame script, yet it all came together to make a classic.

      • Wrong, the original didn’t have horrible acting, some bad acting from certain guest stars, but not the main cast, and the lame writing was relegated to certain episodes from the later seasons. The original could not become a classic with horrible acting and writing all around.

        • Well, when you’re considering the ridiculously awful cast of the remake, one cannot fault the original for bad acting.

          I mean, how does one top the bad acting masterclass put out weekly by Alex O’Laughlin.

          By the way, in the two intervening years, CBS has only had reason to regret sticking to O’Laughlin (who must have naked pictures of Les Moonves as CBS continues its mindless devotion to his bad acting) as the ratings kept dipping and there is no doubt CSI Miami in its 15th season wold be topping Hawaii 5-0.

    • I pretty much have to echo it–after 22 minutes, I shut it off and I doubt I’ll watch the rest, since I DVR’d it. Bad writing, stiff acting, cliches aplenty, etc. There were some cool things with the action, shooting and editing, but it just gets too click and contrived after a while.


  2. Wow, I felt the opposite. I thought it was a decent cop show set in a beautiful locale. I thought the two main actors had great chemistry – it’s hard to get that across from the very first episode.

    I could have done with some of the overly loud rap music transitions, but other than that for me this is going on my DVR season pass.


  3. I would also tone down some of the music.

    The opening was true to the original, which is as good as it gets. I liked it.

    Please, please, please include episode titles. Did I miss it, or was this episode nameless?

    Alex O may be stiff, but Jack Lord had a certain stiffness too. It worked for him, of course, he had gravitas that this kid doesn’t have. Alex O is easy-on-the-eyes, and that might be good enough.

    Steve McG was as by-the-book as they come. No Five-O cop would hit a suspect with an ashtray and still be a cop. That was one of the few departures from the original. Does that mean we were naive back then, or that our standards have dropped that low today?

    I loved seeing Steve McG’s dad’s car … which seemed to be the original Steve McG black car. Nice touch.

  4. BEST SHOW OF THE NEW SEASON WITHOUT A DOUBT. As a matter of fact, my only compliant is that its too short!

  5. “Being easy on the eyes” is not good enough. O’Loughlin was bland and uninteresting. I though Caan did a much better job. However, this might be explained away with the poor writing.

    Since when are 20-somethings(or even early 30′s) “Commanders?” I know, I need to suspend disbelief but I suppose it comes down to this being cast to actors that are too young for the roles.

    I agree that pilots are not always a good indicator on how good a series can become. But, this show has to get much better or it will be short-lived.

    • Joe,

      The lead actor is 34 so the Commander rank isn’t quite THAT much of a stretch IMHO.


      • I said the exact same thing last night. Far fetched.

    • I had a big problem with McGarrett. He should have been at least 40+ years old and a little rougher around the edges. The new McGarrett didn’t do anything for me at all. I thought Danno and Chin were the only good characters.

  6. Did they utter the, “Book um Danno” line?


    • yes 790 LOL.

  7. I think I should have watched this show instead of ‘CHASE’. :|

  8. i cant bevieve u guys review this but not nikita which is amazing despite being on the cw.

      • So is “Nikita” a rehash of the prior TV series or does it assume that series never happened? I first found the story with Fonda’s Point of No Return, but the original movie La Femme Nikita was far better in terms of acting and emotion.

        • I never watched the Peta Wilson series, but they’ve borrowed heavily from both the La Femme Nikita and Point of No Return films. The originality of this new series comes from Nikita herself and, more importantly, who she is in the lore of that world. I won’t announce the secrets in case you plan to watch, but, before they revealed the twist it felt like a virtual remake of Point of No Return.

  9. they just need to develop the characters more. but its a start. hope they actually show who actually live her – which is mostly east asian/pacific islander -or mostly japanese and flip. to be accurate. be ashame if it becomes another los angeles. can’t imagine that though, not with kim or park.

  10. I cannot believe most of you thought this was a bad pilot! It did everything the first ep needed to do — provide a backstory, establish setting and tone, and develop short-term and long-term conflicts. It has high production values. What you refer to as O’Loughlin’s “stiff” acting is a way of his character trying to find his father’s killer without letting his emotions get the best of him; he’s compartmentalizing.
    Also, I know someone who was a Naval Commander in his mid-30s. According to IMDB, O’Loughlin is 34, so reaching that rank IS possible.
    If you think it’s so easy people, write a script or a short story. Typical TV script is 60 pages long (according to the book “Screenplay” by Syd Field). I’m writing a novel — similar process. Don’t act like you know how to do it better until you prove you can.

    • If it were easy to write a decent pilot then maybe this show wouldn’t have sucked so hard. :p

      I agree that it provided a backstory, established setting and tone, and developed short-term and long-term conflicts. What it didn’t do was give us interesting characters or an entertaining story — also things a show needs to do.

      At any rate, you don’t have to write a TV pilot in order to have an opinion about one.

  11. Let hope its premier gitters. The writters needed to get every police cliche ever done into the opener. The feisty rebel officers,trying to do there job including the mis judged female, but the “man” got in there way.
    Now the govenor has opened the doors and let loose the dogs of war. And justice will be served. Maybe it will get better, lets give it a try, but it will have to be quick, maybe if they introduced one more character, how about a southern women who used to be a police chief that had an affair with her boss, and worked at the jefferson as a foresnic palobotanist, searching for aliens, until her lover went missing on an air liner over an island that was the eppy center of time travel, discovered by vampires. She can be the straight person in the series

  12. The new Hawaii 5-O is that in name only. There is no resemblance to the original except the extremely shortened theme song and names of characters. Totally preposterous story line with illegal actions by law enforcement (something the old crew would never do — hitting a suspect??!!); extreme violence. About as cerebral as a kick in the face. Just like the reboot of Knight Rider, expect cancellation within months after the newness and viewer curiosity wears off.

  13. RE: “Also, I know someone who was a Naval Commander in his mid-30s.”

    Yes, and Doogie Howser was a physician at 16. It is just rather preposterous, given his demeanor.

    I guess it is easy to suspend disbelief when we are talking about fantastical productions like “Avatar” — but shows like this are supposed to have some level of believability.

    I’ll watch a few more episodes but that has started off in poor fashion.

  14. Dissappointed pilot. The usual me-too, ho-hum cliches, (the ship container full of chinese people), the stiff main (superman) actor, Grace Park’s bikini clad eye candy, lots of make-believe shootings. Got boring after the first half-hour. Come on writers, SURPRISE ME with a good twist.

  15. I enjoyed this show, and agree that things should settle. These days, a new program gets 5 minutes to become a hit or bam, it’s gone. Hawaii 5-0 was a story that I could follow, not the convoluted mess that some shows have become (Lost, FlashForward and now The Event). What I want to the story to run from the first minute to the last, not constant “six days ago” crap.

    • Thanks, killer clown, but I didn’t write the review – our TV guy Anthony Ocasio wrote it (although I agree with him). :)


      • well I apologize to Mr Ocasio is was reading on my android !!!!! his review was spot on to me !!!! bravo SIR

  16. Opinion8:Brilliant; you got Shakespeare and about 7 current shows in that one comment.
    Alex O: I so love him that I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. We need more smiles from him and he’ll be less stiff. He got better at the end. If we could get a shot from behind, while surfing or something–seriously, he was a world-class butt.
    Scott Caan: What a surprise. He’s going to be the scene-stealer in this one. Great lines, great delivery, good chemistry with Alex’s character.

    Let’s give it more than one viewing before we trash it. It’s better than Chase or The Event.

  17. I enjoyed this episode and will definitely be watching next week. Good review Vic.

  18. That was one of the most painfully cliched shows I’ve seen in a while. And the dialogue was like a clinic on how to present exposition in the most boring, uncreative manner possible.

    I’ve seen Castle a few times. It’s no classic but it’s a heck of a lot more fun than this drek. There’s no way this will compete with it.

  19. The show had no chemistry and that was disappointing. Usually in a buddy/buddy cop movie there is that moment of compromise, perhaps even friendship that defines the chemistry between the two characters. In this pilot, that seemed to come too soon. They should have carried over or even intensified the antagonistic relationship between Dano and McGarrett into two or three episodes with higher degrees of stress compounding the relationship between the two. Then, there could have been a revelation of some kind that sort of brought the two to a mutual respect and perhaps even established the basis for a friendship.

    I didn’t think the acting was particularly bad, but the writing was flat. The was nothing cerebral about this episode. No thinking required.

    • lookingforward,

      No chemistry? Really? Wow.

      And this is a weekly, non-serialized TV series – they establish the relationships in the pilot so they can jump right in.

      My only worry is that it starts strong and falls into a formula – you know, the standard “save the young, hot daughter of the old flakey scientist guy who’s been kidnapped by the bad guys” which is what shows like The A-Team, Knight Rider, etc. devolved into within a couple of episodes after their pilots.


  20. I love all the pseudo-intellectual film critique some people are spewing here. Get a grip and stop trying to sound smarter than you actually are. This is a remake of a 1970s television crime series. Exactly what were you expecting out of an eighty minute pilot? This isn’t Shakespeare. This isn’t even Dashiell Hammett. This is an action oriented crime drama with humor tossed in. It’s aimed at people who like CSI in all its permutations. Period. For what it is, it’s an enjoyable way to waste an hour of your time.

    • I meant 40 minute… lol.

      • This show wasn’t half as clever as a middling episode of CSI. There simply wasn’t ANYTHING in it we haven’t seen before.

  21. Hawaii 5-0 was not even a good waste of time.

    • Ditto that. i am taking it off my dvr list. sigh. what a disappointment.

  22. Re: “This isn’t Shakespeare…It’s aimed at people who like CSI in all its permutations.”

    I like CSI and I thought this was a colossal failure. Granted, others have come back from poor pilots (The Unit comes to mind) but it is the exception not the rule.

    If you like mindless cliches and poor chemistry between shallow characters, this might be up your alley.

  23. I enjoyed it very much. Very action packed. It looked like a movie but will later on? The original Hawaii 5-0 stayed on 13 years I’ll be shocked if the reboot will be on 13 weeks!!!

  24. Re: “My only worry is that it starts strong and falls…”

    Yikes! Id this is starting out strong for you, what is starting out weak?
    {Rhetorical question}

    I find that my time watching TV is very limited. I just don’t put up with mediocre, time-wasting products.

    I want to be engaged, entertained, and want more.
    Did not happen.

    • Joe,

      This isn’t meant to be a “deep” show – it’s semi-light entertainment. I’d say it’s along the lines of Magnum P.I. in tone, a little more serious. If that’s not your bag, fine. Plenty of other deep and more depressing and disturbing shows on the air.

      Me, I liked it.


      • There was nothing wrong with the show’s tone. The plot, characters and dialogue were another story!

        I’d certainly rather watch DVDs of old Magnum episodes than this (assuming it doesn’t improve).

  25. I love this show it looks like a buddy cop movie

  26. Re: “Plenty of other deep and more depressing and disturbing shows on the air.” Vic

    I think many of us get it. You like this and think it is good enough to waste your time.

    For many of us, it’s not good enough and we will see in the coming weeks whether a series like this is good enough to pander to low common denominators.

    Unless it changes dramatically, I don’t think it will be.

    If it is, you will be happy waste your time with it, while others seek quality entertainment elsewhere.

  27. A little too rapid fire moving from scene to scene for my taste. The original had a story line develop that you could follow coherently. This show has great potential but does not need so much action as in the pilot. I would like to see more character development and reduced quick cuts. Please, no rap music. It has no place.
    Jean Smart as the Governor doesn’t work and where is Steve’s secretary for office realism? They better schedule time for scenes in Steve’s office (like the original) or this will not work. This should not be just another “hip” cop show like Starsky & Hutch. Please spare us that. Still, this show can work if they remain true to much of the original series. And yes, the scene with Steve’s old (now dusty) big black Mercury Marquis was an excellent touch of class. I hope they include more moments which harken back -but no remakes of Wo Fat. Just tone down the tempo and don’t try to impress us with “cool.” The show does not need “hip.” Maybe Steve should wear the old blue Nixon suit (LOL).