TCA: A compare-and-contrast primer between old and new ‘Hawaii Five-0’


Exec producers Alex Kurtzman and Peter Lenkov and series stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan fielded lots of questions at their Television Critics Assn’ panel today about how their new version of “Hawaii Five-0” on CBS relates to the original.

1) The original version of the hallowed theme song, after some experimentation with a heavy guitar version that went out with the original pilot, had to be kept.

“It had been suggested at one point that we get a really popular rock star to redo the theme with an electric guitar,” Kurtzman said, adding that they realized “you cannot change the original theme. … This is one of those things that we have to be utterly respectful to, to the point that we found the original musicians to do it.”

2) O’Loughlin’s Steve McGarrett will be different – in some ways.

“I love Jack Lord’s McGarrett. I loved Jack Lord’s hair. I loved Jack Lord’s version,” O’Loughlin said. “Our Steve McGarrett is a little different. He’s stoic in a lot of ways, he’s a military guy. There’s a lot of ways where he’s black and white. … (but) I found a lot of layers to this guy.

“You didn’t know much about the char Jack Lord played, whereas in the pilot you learn a lot about my character.”

3) The show is a “reboot,” not a “remake.”

“For me, the word ‘remake’ suggests we’re doing the exact same thing,” Kurtzman said. “You have to find the spirit of what that franchise is about – you have to be really true to it. And then you have to bring it to modern times. .. That’s why the word ‘reboot’ just feels more appropriate.”

Said O’Loughlin: “I remember the old show from when I was a kid. I remember when the old show was taken off TV 40 years ago. There’ve been a lot of changes in television, in the way we act, stylistically, what we can do with special effects. … It’s not a remake – we’re not picking up where they left off – it’s a reboot.”

4) Though not completely a buddy cop show, Danno has a more proactive role in the new version than in the old.

“When I sort of dove into this thing,” Lenkov said, “and talked to Alex (Kurtzman) about what made the original show so good and so memorable, was the cases week to week. We wanted to go into those characters, but I think we felt we needed McGarrett to play off somebody. Danno would be a good foil. … These two guys would be front and center in this show. McGarrett leading the unit and Dano being his right-hand man, but (working together).”

5) Bonus question: Why is this CBS O’Loughlin show different from all other CBS O’Loughlin shows?

“I don’t want to take anything away from the other shows I’ve done – I worked with some incredible people,” O’Loughlin said. “The thing is, there’s a reason things either work or don’t work in television. I don’t know what the answer is, I just keep blundering to the next thing and hoping.

“If this one doesn’t go, I’m completely bewildered – I have no idea how television works at all.”

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