The elite crime-fighting team of “Hawaii Five-0” is back in the islands — this time with more bikinis, fewer stiff suits and a remix of the series’ classic theme song.
The remake of the legendary series, which ran for 12 seasons from 1968 to 1980, debuts Monday at 9 p.m. on CBS with a legacy to live up to.
Like the original hit show, the new version’s cop team hunts down criminals, often ending with the catch phrase “Book ’em, Danno!”
But the rebooted version aims to add more witty banter, character backstory and edginess to the formulaic detective work of the first series, which preceded a generation of crime dramas such as “Magnum, P.I.” and “Law & Order.”
“You can do great action, and we do,” said executive producer Peter Lenkov. “But what’s fresh and different is the character development and humor.”
Filmed in Hawaii, “Hawaii Five-0” aims to appeal to viewers by taking them to island scenes shot at sun-soaked beaches and landmark locations including Pearl Harbor, ‘Iolani Palace and Waikiki.
Alex O’Loughlin is replacing the original Detective Steve McGarrett, played by Jack Lord. As a former Navy SEAL, the new McGarrett has been recruited by Hawaii’s governor to lead a task force against criminals and terrorists intruding into the United States through its Pacific islands.
“He’s part mercenary, and his tactics are pretty crazy. He does whatever he needs to do to get the job done,” O’Loughlin said during a break from filming on site in Honolulu. “We have respect for what came before us, but we’re not drawing from the old show.”
Unlike his predecessor, O’Loughlin is more likely to go into a suspect’s house wearing a bulletproof vest, guns blazing. The Australian actor has Lord’s big shoes to fill after previously playing the lead in “Three Rivers” and “Moonlight.”
Alongside McGarrett is sidekick Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan), a by-the-book detective who’s less than pleased with McGarrett’s full-speed-ahead attitude.
“I don’t think that he’s a bad guy or anything,” said Caan, who has appeared on “Entourage.”
“I just think he’s crazy,” he said. “That sets up the butting of heads and the personality clash.”
Rounding out the four-member team are characters Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua. Both were part of the original series, but this time they should get more prominent roles because the show won’t rely as much on McGarrett alone.
Another big change: Instead of Kono being the burly man seen in the series’ first run, the character has been transformed into a swimsuit-wearing rookie cop played by Grace Park.
“To be able to have the experience all over again and revisit it with fresher eyes — that’s something people look forward to, to have a new different experience,” said Park, who previously starred on “Battlestar Galactica.”
“Otherwise, we would’ve just rereleased the old DVDs again.”
The show’s reinvention of itself will emphasize more teamwork rather than always making McGarrett the primary hero, said Daniel Dae Kim, who plays Chin Ho Kelly.
“Our goal isn’t as much to improve on the original series as it is to adapt it to modern audiences,” said Kim, best known for his role in “Lost,” which was also filmed in Hawaii. “There’s a different storytelling style now.”
The show’s premiere coincides with the 42nd anniversary of its first run, which started Sept. 20, 1968.
Its writers hope to avoid the mistakes that led to the cancellation of other recent remakes such as “Knight Rider” and “Bionic Woman,” Lenkov said. Both of those shows lasted only one season.
The characters in “Hawaii Five-0” will be more three-dimensional than during the series’ first run, with their own troubled histories, unpredictable family ties and personal mistakes, he said.
Viewers shouldn’t expect the new McGarrett’s hair to always stay in place or for his decisions to always work out.
“Our Steve McGarrett — he’s a little more flawed than Jack Lord was,” Lenkov said. “That’s what makes him an interesting character. There’s a little grayness to him. I didn’t want him to be a superhero.”