On paper, “Hawaii Five-0” appears destined for can’t-miss success, offering a pre-sold name, an attractive cast and a stunning location. But the expensive pilot — millions were spent on front-loaded explosions — doesn’t necessarily indicate smooth sailing, relying as it does on playful banter (more like frat-boy hazing) between the leads that grows tiresome even before the hour’s over. There are nice distractions, to be sure, and this is a better fit on CBS than another copshow, “Hawaii,” was on NBC; still, booking ’em, Danno, might be easier than keeping ’em.
Opening with several bangs, the series introduces Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin, in his third CBS starring stint in as many seasons) as a Naval officer recruited by Hawaii’s governor (guest Jean Smart) to head an elite crimefighting unit. McGarrett resists at first, but eventually relents in order to pursue a vendetta over a personal loss and begins assembling his crack team.
They include Chin Ho Kelly (“Lost’s” Daniel Dae Kim), whose hard-charging ways have earned him a B.S. assignment; and Chin’s cousin Kono (“Battlestar Galactica’s” Grace Park), a just-graduated trainee who makes her first appearance in a bikini and later strips down to her underwear. In practical terms, this is known as “effective asset management.”
Finally, there’s Danny Williams (Scott Caan, who’s arc-ing on”Entourage”), a local cop/divorced dad who doesn’t exactly click with McGarrett, warily viewing him as a Stevie-come-lately. So they spend most of their time sniping at each other, which at least provides an explanation (in the one really clever bit) for why McGarrett insists on referring to his lieutenant as “Danno.”
Writer-producing team Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (“Fringe,” “Transformers”) join Peter M. Lenkov in overseeing the “Five-0” reboot. Perhaps wisely, they retain the Ventures’ memorable theme and the style of the opening credits (mostly, anyway), while going for a more muscular, higher-octane approach than the Jack Lord version hugely popular in the 1970s.
Admittedly, those weaned on the original are only a peripheral part of the audience CBS covets, and the pacing required a modern-day makeover. Still, the raw materials — from the island setting to the underused Kim and Park — have more potential than punch in the pilot, resulting in just another crime procedural with a nifty blue-sky backdrop.
Granted, all the networks appear to have calculated that light escapism is the order of the day, and for CBS that may be especially appropriate. Heck, weave in enough beach shots and some Eye network viewers may not even realize they’re no longer watching “CSI: Miami.”
While that’s hardly a crime, score “Five-0’s” first assignment as a missed opportunity — or, more charitably, a Diamond Head in the rough.