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.
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.
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 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.
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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