Season seven has been an interesting one for “Hawaii Five-0” fans. The high points seem to have cemented an eighth season, yet in the last few months, the show has experienced several sad surprises. While their renewal is not officially confirmed — the stellar ratings and increased viewership are among the reasons why “Hawaii Five-0” is a perfect candidate for another season.
Since the start of their lucky seventh season, Five-0 has experienced great ratings, in part because of their hot new lead-in show, “MacGyver,” coupled with its position as the lead-in for another top CBS show, “Blue Bloods.” Friday night on CBS seems to be the hottest TV ticket in town, and their streak doesn’t seem to be cooling off anytime soon.
While there has been many great moments — not everything is always sunsets and mai tais for our favorite show. The year started off on several high notes, especially after the beautiful sunrise blessing in July, and the awesome spectacle of the “Sunset on the Beach” red carpet premiere in September. While the 150th episode “Ka Makuahine a me ka Keiki kāne” (“Mother and Son”) could not compare to the epic 100th episode from season five, the celebration of “Hawaii Five-0” reaching yet another milestone, was a great moment in the burgeoning legend of the contemporary reboot.
Still, while ratings have improved and the show has not only gained new viewers, but also new actors– it’s the loss of a few cast and crew members that have made quite an impact on the loyal fandom.
In January, Masi Oka, who plays Dr. Max Bergman, left the show to have more time to focus on other projects close to his Los Angeles home. Oka also felt that the Max Bergman story had run its course. Max’s farewell episode, “Ua hoʻi ka ʻōpua i Awalua” (“The Clouds Always Return to Awalua”), aired on January 14 and gave Max– as well as Oka– the kind of send off a beloved character and actor deserves.
Yet, it was the news last week that Five-0 stunt coordinator Jeff Cadiente was leaving the show for new adventures that really spun the fans for a loop. After seven seasons of Emmy-caliber stunts, fight scenes, shootouts, car chases, and explosions– the fans definitely wondered not only what would happen to the amazing stunt and stand-in crew of their favorite show, but also where Cadiente was headed next. Fans have grown to love the candid stuntman and director, who is very popular on social media and quite open with fans. He often posted behind the scenes pictures and videos of stunt work, car stunts, and explosions, and was always gracious with fans online and at Five-0 events.
It seems as if fans have been saying aloha to more than their fair share of cast and crew members, as last November they were shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Keo Woolford, who played HPD Det. James Chang from the start of season two until season six. Woolford suffered a stroke in his home, and passed away a few days later. His memorial in January was a moving tribute to the talented actor and kumu hula. He will be sorely missed by Hawaiians and Five-0 fans around the world.
Still, Five-0 perseveres, and with the addition of some fresh new faces, and interesting storylines, season seven is not just a year of saying good-bye. The new actors who have joined the recurring cast, all seem to help with the continued growth of the show.
The season premiere introduced us to Dr. Noelani Cunha, played by Hawaiʻi actress Kimee Balmilero, who eventually took over as medical examiner after Max, Masi Oka’s character, resigned. Balmilero is the first Hawaiʻi actress to fill the shoes of a series regular like Oka. This is a definite change, as some of the newer recurring cast members, are not local actors. Julie Benz, who plays Inspector Abby Dunn; Sarah Carter, who plays McGarrett’s (Alex O’Loughlin) lady friend, Lynn Downey; and Rosalind Chao, who plays new Governor Keiko Mahoe — are great additions to the show, but of the four new ladies, only Balmilero is a Hawaiʻi actress.
I did appreciate that the latest “Hawaii Five-0” governor, played by veteran film and television actress Chao, is of the correct Hawaiʻi demographic, as over 50% of Hawaiʻi residents identify as Asian or part Asian. I like Benz as Chin’s (Daniel Dae Kim) newest girlfriend, but she has not been on very much this season after getting a series regular spot in CBS’s newest police drama, “Training Day.” She plays Holly Butler, a madam, who is also the girlfriend of Det. Frank Roarke, played by the late Bill Paxton.
Some of the more adorable additions to the show, like Londyn Silzer, who plays Chin’s niece, Sara Diaz; and Chosen Jacobs, who plays Lou’s (Chi McBride) son, Will, have really helped to develop the adult characters on the show. We have been lucky enough to see Chin act like the perfect father with Sara, and seen Lou’s softer side when it comes to his son. Even Danno (Scott Caan) has shown a different fatherly side with Will, who happens to also be dating his daughter, Grace, played by recurring cast member Teilor Grubbs.
Grubbs moved to Los Angeles early in the season in order to gain more acting exposure and audition for other projects. The H50hana, headed by Lisa Woo, and Amy Bakari of TeamH50, threw her a farewell Tweetup last October to wish her good luck in her new acting endeavors. She will continue in her role as Grace Williams, now commuting to Hawaiʻi to shoot future episodes.
While we love our recurring cast members, some of the guest stars this season have been equally fantastic– this includes Claire Forlani as former FBI profiler, Alicia Brown; Elizabeth Röhm as fifty-shades-of-crazy Dr. Madison Gray; and Willie Garson, as former art swindler and forger, now crime scene clean up expert, Gerard Hirsch. Other guest stars who have had an impact was George Cheung as Wo Fat’s father in the 150th episode; Bumpy Kanahele as himself in “Ka laina ma ke one” (“Line in the Sand”), and Max Gail as Kalaupapa resident Bill Walker in “Ka Pāʻani Nui” (“Big Game”).
The last two episode mentioned brings me to the types of storylines I have really enjoyed and felt really reflected the true history and legend of Hawaiʻi. While both stories are fictional, they are steeped in the history behind the Hawaiian sovereignty movement; the tragic past about Kalaupapa and Hansen’s Disease; as well as the story of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and the annexation of our island nation by the United States. Many people outside of Hawaiʻi do not know this history, so I was thankful that several plotlines this season have focused on the truth behind our island home.
Still, while this season has been a bit rocky — with many changes happening on all sides of the Five-0 screen — there is one clear element that has not changed. The desire by fans and viewers alike that the show will continue on into season eight — and beyond.