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Our reviews of Hawaii Five-0: The Fourth Season (published September 25th, 2014), Hawaii Five-0: The Second Season (Blu-ray) (published December 9th, 2012), and Hawaii Five-0: The Third Season (Blu-ray) (published September 23rd, 2013) are also available.
Five-0 is back—hotter than ever!
The original Hawaii Five-O was an impressive TV drama that ran from 1968 to 1980. It held the record as longest running police procedural until 2003 (when it was surpassed by Law and Order). What's even more amazing is that it maintained popularity through one of the most tumultuous decades in popular culture, spawning a raft of imitators and competing shows (think Magnum P.I.). It's been three decades since the original went off the air, and the story of an elite team of cops working in a gorgeous tropical setting still has some pull. After the success of more cinematically inspired shows like 24, the time for a reboot had come. Thus, we get the new Hawaii Five-0: The First Season (Blu-ray), a show that updates the basic formula of cops-on-a-tropical-island, adding a few season-long stories to draw in a new crowd. Though it's not totally successful, this Blu-ray set offers up enough good stuff to attract fans and newcomers alike.
Facts of the Case
Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin, The Shield) returns to the island of Oahu to investigate the murder of his father, where the governor allows him to set up a task force that reports directly to her (since Hawaii lacks a traditional state police force). McGarrett assembles a team of misfits, including the straight-laced Danno (Scott Caan, Ocean's Eleven), his father's protégé Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim, Lost), and former surfer Kono (Grace Park, Battlestar Galactica). In between handling some of the more difficult cases on the islands, the team investigates the death of McGarrett's father. All twenty-four episodes of the show are presented on six discs:
Though Hawaii doesn't have the reputation of a place like Rio, which has an anything-goes reputation (at least during Carnival), there's something about the islands as tropical paradises and places of refuge that works perfectly for a show about misfit cops. Hawaii itself is one of the biggest draws of the show (and sponsors like Hawaiian Airlines and Hilton Hotels and Resorts are probably banking on that). Seeing everything from the gorgeous beaches to the swaying palms in gorgeous hi-def is both fun to watch and makes me want to visit the islands.
The show's other big strength is the cast. All of the main cast are veteran TV actors, and they play around a bit with type here. Those used to seeing him on Moonlight might be surprised by O'Loughlin's driven, almost unhinged performance as McGarrett, and for those used to Scott Caan playing a goofy role (like his work in the Ocean's films) will be surprised that he plays the straight-laced one here. Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park are equally compelling, and bring a nice balance to the team.
Hawaii Five-0: The First Season (Blu-ray) is pretty spectacular. The high definition 1.78:1/1080p VC-1 encoded widescreen image is gorgeous from first moment to last. Black levels and detail are consistent, but this set really shines in its colors saturation. The landscape of blues and greens looks sumptuous, and the Hawaii tourism board should be paying for this show just based on the transfer. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is similarly impressive. It handles dialogue clearly from the center channel, while some of the more carnage-laden scenes make good use of the low end and surrounds.
Extras are surprisingly extensive for a show that isn't a critical hit. We get eight featurettes that cover everything from the season's story arc to how the show's theme was re-imagined along with everything else (strangely, all the featurettes are in HD except for the one about the show's theme). We also get CBS promos, a gag reel, and several episode-specific deleted scenes (a few of them over five minutes in length, which is rare for a network series). Finally, we get commentaries on the pilot (with a pair of executive producers and the episode's director) and on the episode "E Malama" (with the director, and actors Caan, O'Loughlin, Kim, and Park).
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Hawaii Five-0 is an okay police procedural with some room to grow. Where it comes up short is in comparison to the original show. In fact, there's almost no reason this show and the original Hawaii Five-O should even share a name. A large part of the draw for the original series was Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett; he brought a paternal vibe to the show as someone the other cops could look up to. He was also very willing to work within the system, even if it wasn't working as well as he'd like. These aspects are completely absent from the reboot. McGarrett is a fine character for what he is, but he lacks the paternal appeal of Lord's Garrett, and his revenge-bent motivation is a good character attribute, but we've seen him before. He's a little too much Jack Bauer and not enough Jack Lord. In general, I like the idea of a band of misfits, but it does push the show right over into fantasy land. Sure, McGarrett is a former SEAL, and Danno is a stickler for the rules, but Chin Ho is a suspect in a corruption case and Kono isn't even out of the academy when the season opens. Giving a team like that carte blanche and loads of toys is a bit ridiculous.
Also, it's 2012 now. Can we stop treating all non-white characters as interchangeable? I love Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park as actors, but they're Korean-Americans, not native Hawaiians. Is it so much to ask that that a major Hawaiian character be played by a Hawaiian actor?
Taken on its own merits, Hawaii Five-0 is a decent twenty-first century cop show that will have viewers aching for a trip to Hawaii. The excellent presentation of this Blu-ray set doesn't hurt things. However, those looking for a show that emulates the strengths of the original show will likely be disappointed by the changes made in this reboot.
Not guilty, but could be better.
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