Altogether now, Dah-dah-dah- Dah Dah! Hawaii Five-O is back. (This time around the o is a zero) The original show ran from 1968–1980, which made it the longest running crime show in American television history, until Law & Order beat the record in 2003. The original series became a classic of such gargantuan proportians that thirty years after its demise, the show has become a legend .
Many things contribute to this legend: the suave, steely demeanour of Jack Lord, as the inimitable Steve McGarret and his catch phrase–Book ’em Danno, murder-one. Then there is the unique and widely copied on location concept, that made the Hawaiian Islands a co-star of the show—a masterful juxtaposition of Eden like paradise with crime hell. Then there was that theme tune… in conjunction with the opening credits, designed by Reza S. Badiyi, no television show before or since has opened with such impact. Hard acts to follow.
The legacy of the original show leaves the 2010 remake with much to live up to. There are the same bonkers plot lines naturally. If you thought Hawaiian policing was all about stolen surf boards, tiki-toting tourist drunks and inappropriate beach attire, you would be wrong. Hawaiian policing involves international terrorist conspiracies, rogue spies, drug toting criminal master minds and mob boss histronics.
More automatic weapons than a Mexican border town, more explosions than an Iraqi election and more casualties than a Steven Segal movie trailer. Throughout this carnage the hairstyles of Alex (McGarrett) O’Loughlin and Scott (Danno) Caan remain unruffled. This is no mean feat, as Caan’s pomaded quiff is almost as big as the diminutive actor himself. But Caan is the perfect sidekick and what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in passion, windmilling his arms demonstratively at the slightest provocation, a charming if startling attribute, somewhat reminiscent of Tim Roth of Lie To Me fame.
Stylistic distractions aside, Hawaii Five-0 is a valiant attempt at bringing this crime-time staple up to date. The question is, does it need bringing up to date? Having watched several episodes of the new series, it is clear that the new show is taking cues from other contemporary shows in terms of gore and body count. It is also clear that the producers are hoping that O’Loughlin’s heartthrob looks and good-guy resolve will be a substitute for Jack Lord’s steely charisma. I hope that works out for them, because if this show is going to run for twelve seasons like the original it will have to focus more on plot and characterization and less on the holiday brochure distractions.