Monday, June 27, 2011

The New Hawaii Five-0

By Keith Antigiovanni

CBS' new Hawaii Five-O premiered on September 20, 2010 over 40 years after the original Hawaii 5-0 premiered on September 20, 1968.

I was curious to see how well the producers would keep the show in its' original format and was surprised that they had most of the details correct. To make a quantifable comparison I would give a point for every detail that was similiar to the original series.

First the remake gets four points for getting the name of the characters correct (McGarrett, Williams, Chin Ho and Kono). Another three points for getting the same sex (McGarrett, Williams and Chin Ho) and another three for the same race as the original characters (McGarrett, Williams and Chin Ho). McGarrett's original Black Sedan is missing (-1 point) but he still drives a vehicle (1 pt) and they have the same office as in the original, Iolani Palace (1 point).

Another point for having the character of the Governor, a (-1) point for casting a female (Jean Smart) but two more points for 1) givine the governor the same name (Jameson) as the original and another for making sure 5-0 reports directly to the Governor.

They did not receive a point for the sex and race of the Kono character since the original Kono was a Hawaiin male while the current Kono is an Asian female. Although I would like to give a bonus point because the female Kono is quite beautiful but she does not bring the humor and physicality that the original Kono (played by Hawaiin character actor Zulu) brought to his role.

The actors who play Steve McGarrett and Danny Williams have the right look (McGarrett- tall, dark haired, Williams-short, blonde-haired) but the personalities appear to have been switched.

The original McGarrett was played by the unforgettable Jack Lord whose presence could dominate every scene. The new McGarrett played by Alex O'Loughlin does not have the fiery personality of Jack Lord nor his domineering presence but does have the handsome features.

Another feature that is lacking from O'Loughlin is his lack of polish as the chief of Hawaii's State Police. How can one forget Jack Lord in his black and blue suits, clean cut appearance and perfect hair? O'Loughlin comes across as quite ordinary with his casual wardrobe, Don Johnson-like stubble and short cropped non-descript hairstyle.

Enough about McGarrett. The actor that has been most impressive after the first season is James Caan's son Scott Caan who plays Danny Williams. Caan brings an impressive swagger to his role which is reminiscient of the late Jack Lord in contrast to O'Loughlin's quiet performance.

Unfortunately Caan is also lacking the polish of his predecessor James MacArthur with his stubble, and hybrid-casual/formal appearance.

Another mistake is the chemistry between the two stars. In the original TV series McGarrett and Williams were very much like Batman and Robin without the "camp". McGarrett was older and served as Danny's mentor while MacArthur's Danny had a strong enough personality to challenge Lord's McGarrett when necessary.

In the 1968 series Danny would never think about antagonizing McGarrett because A) he had too much respect for him and B) he had a fear of his superior and knew when not to push.

The 2010 version is completely off in this respect. Danny comes across as a rude, boorish East Coast transplant who hates Hawaii and will openly taunt his boss while McGarrett seems to be timid and lost for words most of the time during their frequent exchanges. The dialogue is more suited to a Starsky and Hutch or Car 54 remake than Hawaii 5-0.

The new Chin Ho Kelly played by Daniel Dae Kim is interesting since the writers gave him a backstory from an original 5-0 series episode when Chin was accused of taking bribes to support his huge family. Chin was eventually cleared by McGarrett and the boys. Kim's Chin is considered a pariah by the HPD (Honolulu Police Department) for taking bribes except in this case it is unclear whether he had actually taken the bribes or not.

As previously written the new Kono (Grace Park) looks nothing like Zulu. She is a beautiful young Asian female who looks a modern day Charlie's Angel. The two actors are so different that it is impossible to compare but the producers get a negative for not casting a Hawaiin male in the role.

Next is the opening theme. Again the producers get a point for getting the right theme and the right images to match the theme. Both are updated versions of the original but neither create the excitement or beauty of the original series.

If you are the producer and you have a new version of an old hit TV show why wouldnt you use what was great about the original series like the iconic theme but this is nothing new for Hollywood.

The camera work also needs improvement. It has the 1990s-2000s shaky camera technique which is distracting to watch. It would be nice if these TV shows could set the camera down and keept it steady long enough to follow a scene but this is just part of bad trend since the early 1990's.

Overall the new Hawaii 5-0 is marginal which by Hollywoods' current pathetic standard of TV make it very impressive. Given the amount of Police shows on TV and their long runs the past 20 years the new Hawaii 5-0 should be on for the next 10 years.

Book em' Danno


  1. After watching both themes again the main difference is the length of the opening.

    The original was one minute while the new opening is 35 seconds. The new opening is rushed and does not create the excitement of the originally show.

    Oh well, at least its the same theme.

  2. It would also be nice if they can add the wave footage after each act to help build tension the way the original TV show was able to do it.