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BY MARK TURNER
It seems like whenever anyone in the film or TV industry decides to remake a popular series they always get it wrong. They either try to spoof the original poorly or create a show that is similar in name only. But when they do get it right it’s a sight to behold. Such is the case with HAWAII FIVE-O.
The original classic series in the '60s and into the '70s was known first off by its guitar-twanging theme song performed by The Ventures. With scenes of the islands, surfers and hula girls, we were introduced to a special task force that fought crime in Hawaii. Led by Steve McGarret (played by Jack Lord), the show was an instant hit that lasted past the 10 year mark.
The new series uses the same names and locations but twist them just enough to bring them into the 21st century. Hawaii has changed quite a bit since the '60s and it shows just in the opening credits which continue to use the same toe tapping theme song. So how do we change characters?
To begin with McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) is now a Special Forces commander whose transporting the brother of an arms dealer named Hesse (James Marsters). As Hesse’s men attempt to snatch the brother back, the transport goes wrong, the prisoner dies and Hesse kills Steve’s father. Returning for the funeral and to catch the arms dealer still in the islands, he’s offered the job of creating a special law enforcement branch in Hawaii with no holds barred, put together by the governor (Jean Smart). He turns her down and sets out on his own to seek revenge.
The officer in charge of the investigation is Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan). A Jersey cop transplanted to the islands to be near his daughter (moved there by his ex) he’s not at all an islander. The two meet as Steve checks out the crime scene of his father’s murder and Danny catches him there. After finding a few more pieces of the puzzle, Steve agrees to the governor’s request and now the pair forms an unlikely team.
As they track down leads a few other characters join them. Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) is someone Steve knew from the past, a man his father trusted. He’s on the outs with the Hawaiian police department because they suspected him of stealing money. A simple denial is all Steve needs to trust him. When the time comes for an undercover female agent, Chin brings in his cousin Kono Kalaua (Grace Park). A week from graduating the police academy, but saddled with her cousin’s legacy, she jumps at the chance to be part of the team.
With pieces of the puzzle coming together and the team assembled, they go out in search of Hesse to bring him to justice. Keep in mind, we’re just talking about the pilot here. The rest of the series is just as exciting and fast paced.
The rapport between the characters is crucial to what makes this series work as well as it does. They joke with one another, they get angry at each other, but in the end they work together and work well. Each actor brings something special to their roles as part of the team. O’Loughlin is big on action, Caan the family man who cares about his friends, Kim has ties to most of the community and Park is the fresh face who’s taking it all in. If the actors could not meet the requirements of the stories being told, it would all fall apart. But each does an amazing job.
In other episodes the team takes on Serbian mobsters, gangs connecting to the mainland, foreign ambassadors and someone fans of the original show will be glad to hear about. McGarrett has an arch foe in this series carried from the original in Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos), an criminal genius who appears in various episodes, or at least his name, from the get-go. By the first season’s conclusion, he turns the world of this team around in a cliffhanger that leaves you guessing.
If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon for this show, now is the time. The new season just started and there’s little doubt that it will have as many thrills, as much action and great stories as season one has. Pick up the first season and climb aboard now. This is one series that not only is worth watching but is worth adding to the collection on your shelf.
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