On Wednesday, July 6, “Hawaii Five-0” started their seventh season after a Hawaiian blessing on the beach that fronts the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Fans tuned in online to watch Facebook Live feeds of the blessing and were treated to a beautiful sunrise on Waikiki Beach, as well as glimpses of their favorite actors, in real time.
Since viewing the official start of the new season — the Five-0 fandom has also begun their countdown to the television premiere. The season opener will air on CBS on Friday, September 23, following the series premiere of “MacGyver,” the new reboot being spearheaded and written by Five-0 executive producer and showrunner, Peter Lenkov.
Because of Lenkov’s new duties on “MacGyver” many fans have been concerned that the days of “Hawaii Five-0” are numbered. There is always a question every year about the fate of of the show, as it often seems to be on the cusp of cancellation. Fans worry and fret right around March — about the same time that the cast and crew wrap up shooting and start their well deserved hiatus break. When the news came early this year that a seventh season was a go — fans breathed a big sigh of relief.
I often wonder why critics and non-viewers seem to assume that Five-0 will be cancelled. It is a huge international hit, is syndicated on TNT, and can be livestreamed on Netflix. The international audience is as passionate about their Five-0 love as we are in the States. And come September — if there is another “Sunset on the Beach” event — the fans will flock to Hawaiʻi in droves from all over the world.
One of the many critiques is the direct comparison between the classic “Hawaii Five-O” and the current reboot. It gets a little old listening to folks wax poetic about how the show needs to bring back Jack Lord (who sadly passed away in 1998) or that the new show doesn’t hold up to the old. From the start the reboot was billed as “not your father’s Five-0.” It’s not the same show. It shares a title, character names, setting, and some of the basic character structure from the original — all in honor of the show created by Leonard Freeman — but it still stands on its own. It has to — there is a twenty year gap between the last season of “Hawaii Five-O” with Jack Lord and the start of “Hawaii Five-0” with Alex O’Loughlin. Television is not the same animal that it was in 1980 when the classic show went off the air after twelve seasons.
I do love the fact that from the start of the reboot there was an effort to show that, while Lenkov understood the show’s classic Five-O roots, there were significant changes made to take into consideration a modern audience. There was a change in the Five-0 title — CBS decided that the reboot would specifically use the numeral zero to differentiate itself from the original show. There was the change with the character of Kono, originally played by Zulu, now being played by Grace Park. Another change was the ʻohana theme that started with Kono and Chin, originally played by Kam Fong and now played by Daniel Dae Kim, being related by blood.
Then there was all of the modern updates included in the shooting and pacing of the show — camera angles, music, elevated stunts, car chases, explosions, and gunfights.These changes were important to sell the show to a contemporary audience — many who had perhaps never even seen or heard of the original show.
This is why the blessing is so telling of how the show has lasted seven seasons, and hopefully, will last several more. Attending the blessing were several of the producers and many of the main and recurring cast members. Executive producer Lenkov, series regulars O’Loughlin, Kim, Park, Chi McBride, and Jorge Garcia were there with recurring cast members Dennis Chun, Teilor Grubbs, and Shawn Mokuahi Garnett. Co-Executive Producers Bryan Spicer and Jeff Downer and the entire working crew were there to support the meaningful start of the new season.
It was also telling that there were several connections to the classic Five-O. Vicki Borges, wife of the late Jimmy Borges who acted in both the classic show and the reboot, joined in the blessing. And Dennis Chun, who plays Sgt. Duke Lukela, also represents another tie to the original Five-O gang, as he is the son of Kam Fong, who first played Chin Ho Kelly. There really is never a time that Five-0 shies away from their television roots.
Kahu Kordell Kekoa, who conducted the traditional Hawaiian blessing, centered the ceremony around the word ʻehiku, which means the number seven in Hawaiian. Kahu Kekoa also prayed over the team and focused on the theme of “success being rooted in work done with love.”
If anything, this seventh season is definitely one rooted in love — as the team must love what they do to continue on with a seventh year of Five-0. Critics aside, this Five-0 crew has made a name for themselves beyond what they were originally blessed with from their very start.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
As “Hawaii Five-0” got back to work and started shooting this week, executive producer Peter Lenkov posted a quick teaser on July 4 on Instagram. Lenkov’s pic of the front cover of the season seven premiere episode, 701 “Mākaukau ʻoe e Pāʻani” had fans wondering what the title meant in English. The Hawaiian translation is basically “Ready to Play.” To be fair, this may not be the translated title that script writers Peter Lenkov and Eric Guggenheim had in mind when they wrote the episode. We’ll have to wait and see what the official translated title is when the press details for the episode are released.
In Hawaiian, mākaukau (pronounced mah-kow-kow) means “able, competent, capable, prepared, ready” and “pāʻani” (pronounced pah-ah-knee) means “to play or sport.” So the type of “play” the episode will focus upon, is still up in the air — but thinking back to the past six years of season premieres — the game will most likely be a very explosive and exciting one.
Unfortunately, there is no official word if there will be a “Sunset on the Beach” red carpet premiere for season seven in Waikiki, which usually happens a few weeks before the national television premiere. But Lenkov did say during a post-blessing interview with Billy V from Hawaii News Now, that they are trying to find a date to hold the event in Honolulu. So fans should not give up hope just yet.