comscore New 'Hawaii Five-0' stays true to original formula | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Lee Cataluna

New ‘Hawaii Five-0’ stays true to original formula

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For all the concerns about how the new "Hawaii Five-0" would be changed so much from the original (Kono is a woman?!) so as to be unrecognizable, the reboot is actually much like the old standard, particularly on the hallmarks that made the first one so iconic.

For starters, new Steve McGarrett might not have the shiny black dye job, but Alex O’Loughlin is every bit as stiff as Jack Lord was. Original McGarrett was so stoic that when he smiled it was like you could hear his face crack. O’Loughlin’s McGarrett is written like that, which is comforting to those who liked wooden Steve McGarrett better than the eyebrow-wiggling Thomas Magnum.

Both versions play loose with locations and place names, and both have moments of pronunciation failure. It took Jack Lord a few years to get "Kalakaua" right. Hopefully O’Loughlin will have a long run in this role so he can learn some street names.

And yes, the pidgin. Half the island audience fell out of their chairs with the "you speak bird" line in the pilot. Other moments sounded like they used Mrs. Dog Chapman as their dialect coach. But that’s very much in the tradition of "Five-0." Don’t you still cringe when you think of McGarrett calling Zulu "you big kanaka"?

Like the original, the talky scenes are incredibly long. Though the action is heart-pounding, when the characters stop to explain their back story or to spoon-feed the audience the writers’ incredibly complicated plots, the scenes go on like they were adapted from a stage play that was adapted from a novel. "You and I are going to have a long talk later," Danno tells Steve. And sure enough, they do.

Both versions have crimes that only McGarrett understands and victims only McGarrett cares about. In the ’70s version, audiences met a new victim each week, and usually there was nothing for us to relate to except a girl in a short skirt with heavy eyeliner or a little boy with sad eyes. In the new pilot, it was a girl in a Quonset hut with sad eyes. Poor thing. What’s her story? Doesn’t matter. McGarrett is on it.

Overall, the new show is gorgeous to look at and a fun way to spend an hour on a Monday night. There is already a connection Hawaii residents feel to the production (yay for hiring local actors, but there’s an empty spot on the guest-star roster that only Jimmy Borges can fill). Does it accurately depict Hawaii? No, but it wouldn’t be very entertaining to watch cops in Waikiki tentatively asking homeless campers to please move off the sidewalk. Hopefully the show will have a long and successful run in Hawaii, or as we say in bird, "Geev ‘um, braddah."

Lee Cataluna can be reached at


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