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Four Ways 'Hawaii Five-0' Can Stand Out From Other Procedurals

by Joel Keller, posted Oct 5th 2010 2:45PM
Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan in 'Hawaii Five-0' on CBSWhy has 'Hawaii Five-0' been a ratings success so far? It's not hard to figure out the formula. It's in a good timeslot that served 'CSI: Miami' well for a number of years. There isn't a heck of a lot of competition (maybe 'Castle,' but that's about it). And having Grace Park in a bikini or otherwise sexy outfit every week doesn't hurt.

But after three episodes, the show still has yet to break out from the procedural shell it's in. There have been signs that the show can become more than just a "case of the week" kind of program, but they're minor at best. So far, the show's been carried by some good action, good chemistry between Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan, and the aforementioned Park-in-bikini scenes (can't mention those enough).

Based on those signs, and the legacy of the original series, there are a few ways Roberto Orici, Alex Kurtzman, and their writers can take this show in a direction that makes it stand out from other procedurals.

Use Hawaii more, and not just for lush externals.
Both the original 'Five-0' and its Hawaiian successor, 'Magnum, P.I.,' took advantage of the fact that, even though hundreds of thousands of people live in the state -- most of which live on the island of Oahu, where the show is based -- there is a definite small-town feel there. It's isolated, and families have lived there for generations, so saying that "everyone knows everyone" isn't that much of an exaggeration.

The new 'Five-0' needs to take advantage of this, showing how interconnected everyone really is with each other there. In last night's episode, for instance, Chin Ho and Kono found out their cousin Sid is working undercover with a Samoan gang. But Sid is still smarting from the corruption allegations that got Chin Ho kicked off the HPD, and he refuses to work with his cousin on the case.

Remember, three-quarters of the 5-0 team are natives. Even McGarrett has an extensive history there. Seeing how they wriggle out of sticky situations involving friends and family that are up to no good will shape the characters and make them more than just two-dimensional super-cops.

Scott Caan as Danno on 'Hawaii Five-0'Put more emphasis on Scott Caan. Just three episodes in, it's pretty apparent that Scott Caan's version of Danno is the breakout character of this show. He's intense, he loves his daughter and will do anything for her, and doesn't follow McGarrett around like a lapdog. The writers have wisely given the modern-day Danno his own back story; we know more about Danno at this point than we know about any of the other main characters, and that's mainly because of Caan's performance.

Even though James MacArthur's version of Danno in the original 'Five-0' was an iconic character, he didn't have 10% of the personality we've seen in Caan's version of Danno. That was just how shows were written back in the '60s and '70s; Jack Lord's McGarrett was the dominant character and everyone else was simply there to help him bust the bad guys. The modern-day Danno is a fish out of water -- I give Caan respect for saying "mutz" in the proper New Jersey way -- who is struggling with being a responsible single dad and a 5-0 cop. At some point, Danno's job will put his daughter in jeopardy, and I'm looking forward to seeing Caan's performance as the intensity ratchets up.

Bring back James Marsters. McGarrett needs an archrival, for a number of reasons. The main motivation for McGarrett coming back to Hawaii is to avenge his father's death at the hand of Victor Hesse, and for now, we haven't really revisited that part of his story all that much. The reappearance of Hesse -- remember, his body never reappeared after he supposedly drowned in the pilot -- will bring back all those feelings.

However, Marsters, who plays Hesse, hasn't been signed beyond the pilot so far. But I'm sure Orici and Kurtzman didn't bring him on, with all of his 'Buffy' geek cred, just to have him on the pilot. He needs to be McGarrett's white whale, like Wo Fat was in the original version, popping up a few times per season to torture the cop all over again.

Grace Park as Kono in 'Hawaii Five-0' Give Grace Park more to do. Park needs to be more than eye candy. She proved during her years on 'Battlestar Galactica' that she has the acting chops to play more than just the newbie cop in the group. So far, Kono's only real back story is that she's Chin Ho's cousin. But I'd love to explore more of her background and see if we can mine stories from that (from the descriptions of future episodes, by the way, we might be seeing more of Kono's past soon.).

If Park can play a tortured Cylon, she can assuredly play a conflicted cop. In a bikini, of course.

Are you enjoying 'Hawaii Five-0' so far? What do you think it needs to do to improve?

(Follow @joelkeller on Twitter.)

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pelham60

love the characters but the last episode really pissed me off - he better end up with rachel and all that bull with the governor ticked me off as well - i thought it was a cheap ending...

July 29 2011 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dickn2000b

Another "expert" who thinks he has the answer. Good writers make good shows...PERIOD. This show's writers are no more than average. I stopped watching it after the 3rd episode. It was too boring, too routine.

July 29 2011 at 11:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sknrfile

Look, as long as I can ogle both Scott Caan and Alex O'Laughlin I am a VERY happy camper... lol! Need more swimsuit (or less) scenes.

July 29 2011 at 11:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sandusky Preacher

The show is just fun...plain and simple. I was a regular when Jack Lord and the original cast did their thing. I find the recreation of the characters a real positive, and indeed the background behind Danno drives a lot of the interplay with Steve. It's time to drop the beef between Chin and HPD; that whole thing was overworked in episode three. And, Kono does need a better story line. But, the whole thing is just fun. Ford did it right when it brought back the Mustang. CBS hasn't done bad in bringing back Five-0.

October 07 2010 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

I think the show is A+. Didn't know much about the original show but I have enjoyed the show thus far. I don't think it needs to improve on anything so far. I think a lot of things you talked about will come thru as the season progresses. There has only been three episodes.

October 07 2010 at 9:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen Rumpler

I am just so happy for Alex O'Loughlin and the success that he so richly deserves for trying so hard for a successful show! I really hope that the third time is the charm for him. I still miss him as Mick in Moonlighting, but at the end of the episode Monday night when he smiled, my heart did a definite pitter-patter! I love you, Alex, and lots of luck with the success of Hawaii 5-0!

October 07 2010 at 2:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Radiant

Hawaii Five-0 with a brilliant and charismatic young cast is a very successful and highly entertaining show to watch. No other new shows can match Hawaii Five-0. CBS has a number 1 new show this season.

October 07 2010 at 1:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom

I figure it will take four or five episodes for this show to hit its stride. This is not your father's Five-O.

October 06 2010 at 11:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jacfoster

SOME GOOD IDEAS BUT SHOW IS ON ITS WAY TO BEING BETER YET ALREADY,CHARACTORS ARE DEVELOPING RELATIONSHIPS WITH EACH OTHER AND THAT IS THE MAGIC FORMULA FOR CBS WITH ITS SHOWS (NCIS'S CSI,NY AND OTHERS.IT'S LIKE THEY ARE ALL PART OF YOUR FAMILY.

October 06 2010 at 7:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Poppy

Definitely bring back James Marsters--he's the reason I tuned in in the first place. He was awesome in the pilot, but had so little screen time that I coined a new term-Spikeu-which signifies a typically excellent performance by James Marsters that is intensely entertaining, but not long enough. You know--like a haiku of Spike.

Not to knock the rest of the actors on the show. This is an AMAZING cast and they should all have a chance to shine!

October 06 2010 at 5:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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