Not Your Father’s “Five-O”

Hawaii Five-O was a big hit on 1960s and ‘70s television that helped to put Hawaii on the map … the visitor’s map, that is. Today’s re-boot is different in style, but still excels at doing what we in Hawaii like it to do: make people want to come here, to visit or to live.

Hawaii Five-0

[Image Caption: On location with Hawaii Five-0! Photo Credit: E-PR for CBS]

The setup is unchanged: “Five-O” is a plainclothes state police unit, with gubernatorial immunity for whatever they have to do to apprehend criminal masterminds and forestall catastrophes. The execution too is the same: locations and car chases are all about Oahu’s tropical scenery, not its GPS coordinates – wherever they say they’re going, they’re not driving toward it. (And there’s no state police, either: each of the counties operates its own police force).

What’s changed since the ‘70s are the dynamics of the main characters. Gone is Jack Lord’s deadpan, by-the-book team leader. Alex O’Loughlin’s version of “Steve McGarrett” is an ex-Navy Seal, haunted by a family tragedy, and quick to disregard limits and warnings. He does, of course, still tell his sidekick to “Book ‘em, Danno!” But “Lt. Danny Williams” (Scott Caan) is no quiet yes-man: he’s a bantam-rooster from Jersey, in a non-stop gab-fest with McGarrett. So intense is their repartee that, in one episode, they confused and thereby overpowered a gunman who had the drop on them. “Chin Ho Kelly” (Daniel Dae Kim) and “Kono” (Grace Park) are now cousins – the former a tech-savvy stud, and the latter a slender surfer-girl; both, however, are erstwhile Honolulu cops who have occasionally run afoul of the law. And since CSI-type shows are all the rage, a nerdy medical examiner (Masi Oka) is a series regular, too.

Hawaii Five-0 Blessing

[Photo Caption: Daniel Dae Kim (Chin Ho) and company receive a blessing prior to beginning production on Season 3! Photo Credit CBS]

The new show has yet to do any major filming on the Big Island, though in 1974 its predecessor did set an episode here, featuring a mad scientist who threatened to detonate explosives that would cause the volcano to erupt and bury Hilo in lava. (Mauna Loa has, historically, sent lava down to Hilo, but no man-made explosion could force it to do so.)

In addition to sheer size, the Big Island has two unique attractions that that might inspire Five-O’s writers to weave a plot. One of our three active volcanoes (Kilauea) is erupting; and astronomical observatories cluster at the summit of Mauna Kea. In Hawaii we say “Hana hou” for “encore;” and the third season of the new Five-O has already begun shooting. Perhaps, come September, we’ll see some Big Island sights ….

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