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I'm hard pressed to think of a show which uses its shooting location to better effect than Hawaii Five-0. It's also difficult to conceive of another series which employs more action set pieces, both in sheer number and complexity. For a show still in its infancy to already be investing in season-long arcs is rare, but by engaging in these behaviors it guarantees there will be no casual viewing of the show outside of a very few stand-alone episodes.
Facts of the Case
Under the direction of the Hawaiian governor, the Five-0 task force deals with major crimes. Led by Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin, Moonlight) and his partner, former New Jersey Detective Danny "Danno" Williams (Scott Caan, Ocean's Eleven), Hawaii Five-0: The Second Season (Blu-ray) delves more deeply into the show's mythology. Lending a helping hand are cousins (and HPD officers) Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim, Lost) and Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park, Battlestar Galactica).
Picking up right where the Season One finale left off, the Five-0 team is splintered. The first part of the season is spent trying to get the team back together, with individual arcs that follow the team for the rest of the season.
Kono begins the season as a disgraced cop which leads her to work undercover for HPD Internal Affairs, butting heads with the rest of her team for a few episodes until everything is resolved. Then she begins a secret romance with the heir apparent to the Hawaiian branch of the Yakuza (Ian Anthony Dale, The Event) which has fallout to be dealt with in Season Three.
Chin has a happier arc, as he is cleared of all charges resulting from his uncle's embezzlement. This leads him to be reunited with his former fiancée and we have a mid-season wedding.
Danny has one of the more emotional arcs. He begins the season with the revelation that ex-wife Rachel (Claire van der Boom, Rush) is not carrying his baby, then has to help her deliver that baby. He's devastated when daughter Grace (Teilor Grubbs) undergoes kidnapping ordeal, and McGarrett's mid-season departure subjects Danny to an even more emotional turn.
The longest running arc of the season belongs to Steve, who spends the entire season wondering about his father's involvement with crime lord Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos, Iron Chef America). McGarrett starts Season Two in jail, wrongly accused of assassinating the governor's murder, but quickly resumes his quest for answers upon his exoneration. This leads him to reconnect with his former CO Joe White (Terry O'Quinn, Millennium) and the duo pair up to discover the identity of Shelbourne, who has all the answers to Steve's questions.
What Season Two does well is employing action set pieces. From hand-to-hand fights to elaborate explosions, few shows can match the epic cinematic fell this series provides. The action is always organic, with very few moments coming across as gratuitous. Another thing Hawaii Five-0 does well is character development. The comedic repartee and emotional bonds between these characters (especially McGarrett and Danno) takes place during transitional shots; one of the smartest things the writers could do, as the flow of the action is never broken.
Hawaii Five-0 also has a knack for evolving compelling story arcs which not only drive the season but culminate in a finale that clearly leaves the viewer with questions for Season Three. No single character is short-changed, as each of the four members of the task force close the season at the beginning of a new chapter. It's one of the most satisfying season finales I've seen in the genre.
To its credit Hawaii Five-0 does give more than a passing nod to its 1970s predecessor, using actors from the original series whenever feasible, but never to greater effect than when Ed Asner reprises his role as con man "August March." I was never into the Jack Lord incarnation, so I have no problem appreciating this one. It's action-filled with a team of characters I love following each week, and the writers have done a great job delivering payoffs.
Presented in 1.78:1/1080p high definition widescreen, the visuals are specifically enhanced to showcase Hawaii's beauty. The color timing is such that we get deep blacks and blues which are almost indigo at times. The colors of the islands pop and the b-roll plays like a promotional travellogue with scenery to burn. Iconic theme song notwithstanding, the action of Hawaii Five-0: The Second Season (Blu-ray) demands a soundtrack which can hold up to the sound effects and music cues. Thankfully this release doesn't disappoint, as the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix more than holds its own weight. The Blu-ray also includes eight subtitle tracks, a testament to the show's global appeal.
Like the first season release, bonus features are plentiful. A pair of commentary tracks are a bit inconsistent, in terms of tidbits offered, but the featurettes are in-depth with a cumulative run time of more than an hour. There are also a fair number of deleted scenes and a surprisingly long gag reel. Fans may be most impressed by the inclusion of an NCIS: Los Angeles crossover episode, part of a two-part storyline which played over both CBS shows.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The biggest weakness of the season is the introduction of character Lori Weston (Lauren Graham, Chicago Fire) who's introduced to the Five-0 task force at the behest of the acting governor. Just like she's forced onto the team, her "feelings" for McGarrett are equally forced. The character never does the job she was sent to do and her quick departure is anti-climactic.
Hawaii Five-0 2.0 is an action-packed series which more than pleases fans of the genre. Its cinematic nature, compelling storylines, and rich mythology elevate it beyond a run-of-the-mill Hollywood reboot. I find it highly watchable.
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