Judge Dawn Hunt likes calling out Five-0 at bingo night.
"The adrenaline rush never stops as the Five-0 team pounds their way through all 24 explosive episodes."
It seems as though the third time is not a charm. Though Hawaii Five-0 stumbles in its third season, it's still arguably the best action procedural on television. The dedication to making the show look cinematic is non-flagging. The lengths the stunt teams go to are to be commended, and there is never a lack of drama. However, as before, a lot of the blame falls on the new female characters who feel shoehorned in more than cohesive and legitimate additions to the show.
Facts of the Case
Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin, The Back-Up Plan), his partner Danny (Scott Caan, Ocean's Thirteen), and the rest of the Five-0 team return for their third go around. Picking up from season two's shocking finale, Steve's mom Doris (Christine Lahti, Touchback) returns. Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim, Lost) must deal with his Sophie's Choice and its repercussions for not only his cousin Kono (Grace Park, Battlestar Galactica) but himself as well. Danny has to battle his ex-wife for shared custody of their daughter, who might be moving to Las Vegas.
And that's just our top tier. We have Max (Masi Oka, Heroes) stepping up to the plate for his own story, Catherine (Michelle Borth, Timer) graduating to series regular and Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos, Stargate Atlantis) causing even more problems for the task force. And of course Kamekona (Taylor Wily, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) has a new business venture to spring on the gang.
Let's start with what the season gets right and then attack what went wrong.
There are a lot of things shows do to try and drum up interest, like stunt casting or crossovers, and this season Hawaii Five-0 decides to try out something else: choosing your own ending. In the episode "Kapu" viewers were able to tweet who they thought the killer was and the show was ready with three different scenarios, all of which are contained herein. But the show doesn't stop there. They engage in stunt casting (NFL Pro Bowlers and Victoria's Secret models) and they are able to do something very few shows can. They update one of the original series' most beloved episodes, "Hookman," and as an added bonus include that original episode here to view.
The chemistry between the main quartet still continues to shine through their interactions, and there are few characters whose comedic timing can match Scott Caan's Danny, especially within the genre. And while branching out storylines to focus on the B-team, as it were, is usually a hit-or-miss gamble in the field this season it works very well. Fan favorite Masi Oka shows why he's become so beloved when he takes the reins on an episode but his presence through the rest of the season doesn't diminish at all. He's wonderfully consistent.
So with all that Hawaii Five-0 does to lure viewers in this season and all that I praise them for…just what is my problem? It can be boiled down to just a couple of things: stupidity and the new female characters.
I say stupidity because one of the season-long storylines evolves out of an act of sheer stupidity. Kono is sleeping over at her boyfriend Adam's house (Ian Anthony Dale, The Hangover). The same house where his recently paroled brother Michael (Daniel Henney, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) is staying, as well. She leaves her gun in its holster on the nightstand next to the bed. Really? No gun safe? No maybe not bringing the gun over at all?
To make matters worse, Michael is able to creep up (with a lack of stealth that makes me cringe) to within inches of her face and take the gun and bring it back later at some undetermined time. Are you kidding me with this? An entire storyline that hinges on poor reflexes and an astounding lack of gun safety? Sheesh.
So now we move on the new female characters, Doris McGarrett and Catherine Rollins, who became a series regular this season.
Simply put, Doris hasn't earned anyone's trust, either from McGarrett, or more important, the audience. We may give Steve a bit of room to believe in her since she's his mom and all, but she's not my mom. More than that, as soon as it becomes apparent she's somehow involved with Wo Fat, questions should be asked and answered instead of having Steve seem afraid of questioning her.
But I mean it's not like Wo Fat is a dangerous criminal responsible for killing innocent people, right? Oh wait. But at least he isn't involved in a plot to bomb HPD, right? Oh wait. You get what I'm saying? Trying to keep the mystery of how and why Doris is involved with Wo Fat going all season, indeed having it be a mystery at all, is a choice I don't agree with. Not to mention the way she tries to just swoop in and be Steve's all-too-normal, quasi-embarrassing mom right from the get-go. It not only reads as off, it only serves to emasculate Steve.
What the whole Wo Fat/Doris storyline betrays is Steve McGarrett's character. I'm all for showing someone has more dimensions to them, but learning Steve's kryptonite is apparently women crying? Seriously? Not only does Steve stop questioning his mom when she starts to cry but the same thing happens with Catherine.
And I feel like Catherine's character is shoehorned in this season. She's the placeholder, the convenient go-to without the cool factor. She's supposed to be the female equivalent of McGarrett, his perfect foil. Instead if the team needs someone to roller skate well guess what? Catherine was an ice skater! She reads as generic filler instead of a needed addition to the team. Not to mention a noticeable lack of chemistry between Borth and O'Loughlin which certainly isn't helping matters.
So Catherine already has that forced feeling going against her, but then she agrees to keep a huge secret for Doris though logic would say not to. Doris certainly hasn't earned Catherine's trust, so there's no organic reason why Catherine agrees. And when Steve finds out and is rightly pretty steamed? All it takes is for Catherine to break down in tears and boom! Fight's over. A much more interesting choice would be to have them actually fight and then see what shakes out as a result. This season is supposed to be about how difficult it is to work with someone you're in a relationship with and this choice and others doom that whole season arc.
Any one of those things alone would be something I disagree with but accept and move on from. However, the fact they're all piled on to the same season means there's a side effect I have a hard time with and that's the overshadowing of Chin Ho and Danny's arcs. I know Hawaii Five-0 does its best to inject a sense of humor in its writing and it's very good at it. However just because Chin Ho and Danny have admittedly bummer storylines doesn't mean we're not interested. It seems as though Chin Ho's grief is somewhat put on the backburner and Danny's custody struggles are minimized.
These two storylines represent some of the most relatable aspects the show has ever conceived. How many of us can relate to the life of a Navy SEAL? How many of us are involved with the Yakuza? Now then how many of us have ever lost someone close to us? How many of us know about fights erupting out of custody battles? It's a real misstep to focus on stringing the audience along with the promise of answers (which never come) instead of using both Danny and Chin Ho to help bind the task force tighter and also provide a window for the audience to feel closer to these dynamic characters.
So yes, I feel story-wise there are some pretty big missteps in season three. But what the show does well it does very well. What usually influences your decision to invest in a box set will determine whether or not you plunk down the money for Hawaii Five-0: The Third Season (Blu-ray).
The location of beautiful Hawaii serves almost as another character on the show. The video transfer is carefully timed in order to provide the shots with the most vibrant saturation possible. Only CSI: Miami can compare in terms of the attention paid to color timing for a series. Hawaii Five-0: The Third Season (Blu-ray) makes the most of its 1.78:1 1080p HD, presenting a palette akin to the tropical paradise the series is set in. There are consistently strong colors notably oranges, blues, and blacks, and I have no complaints with the night shots either. Today's crime procedurals rely on music cues to punctuate the action as well as help fill in the boredom of the inevitable montage scenes. Hawaii Five-0 has reliably proven strong in the audio transfer as well, with a full DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. It really provides about as full an audio space as one can ask for with well-defined bass lines and clear dialogue.
Special features include featurettes, a gag reel, plenty of deleted scenes and a couple of commentaries. Most notable of the commentaries is the one during "Hookman" which features the director and writer as well as the writers of the original series' episode from which it is derived. They are all able to point out things which are inserted to pay homage to the original series as well as where the current show deviates. It is fairly entertaining and educational.
While shows like The CW's Supernatural and NBC's Grimm seem to have beaten the curse of being moved to Friday nights, the fact CBS has decided to air the fourth season of Hawaii Five-0 on the graveyard night doesn't bode well for the future of the show. Season three definitely makes some missteps which will need to be rectified in season four or else the show will find itself wiping out big time. If you're a fan of the show Hawaii Five-0: The Third Season (Blu-ray) will find a home on your shelves. Character awkwardness aside this is still one of if not the best action procedural on television. So buy it because you enjoy the cases, not because you're invested in the relationship drama.
The waves are looking choppy, brah.
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