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Five-0 Redux

Beating the sophomore slump

Drug dealers blowing up their own confiscated stash doesn't make it any easier to find them — it only makes McGarrett more angry. (Courtesy CBS)
McGarrett and the rest of the Five-0 team are back in action next week after a brief hiatus. (Courtesy CBS)

“Hawaii Five-0” started its second season off with a bang — the team scattered to all parts of the island, McGarrett in jail for murder, Danno not only a fish out of water but a cop without a partner, Chin Ho sporting a shiny new HPD lieutenant’s badge, and Kono on her way down bad-girl street. New friends like Joe White and Lt. Gov. Denning arrived to help the team, and old friends like Jenna Kaye — and enemies like Victor Hesse — seemed to have switched sides during the summer hiatus.

Of course, this all made for a compelling start to the show’s sophomore effort, which is often the season that historically can make or break a show; it is always the one that is most scrutinized by viewers and critics alike, and is typically the hardest season to get through. Gone are the days of, “Oh, it’s season one, they’ll work out the kinks,” and, “Not a bad start for their first season.” No more getting a free pass for filming hiccups, bland villains or uneven plotlines. The honeymoon is officially over.

The second season needs to work or the show can face the dreaded “C-word.” And I don’t mean “celebrate-we’re-home-free.” Yes, that’s more than one word but definitely better than being cancelled, which would make many fans (yes, MANY, contrary to “Five-0” haters) very unhappy.

So it makes sense that “Hawaii Five-0” has taken a lot of risks this season. They had to, in order to woo more viewers, as well as keep the current ones entertained and continuously committed. The risks have been many: They’ve rolled out the red carpet for guest stars, traveled to different islands and foreign lands, and will soon crossover again with another hit CBS show, “NCIS: LA.”

Characters have broken out of jail, visited the famous Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, been tortured in North Korea, jumped out of an airplane, finessed a skydive rescue, delivered a baby, gone under the sea in search of treasure, staged an oceanfront wedding, donned tuxedos, driven the wrong way on a one-way street, and shot lots and lots of bad guys and one innocent husband. Crooner Jimmy Buffett flew them into North Korea, classic television star Patty Duke helped them break a case, and veteran movie star — and proud papa — James Caan would join the cast tomorrow if most of us had our way in the “Five-0” writers’ room.

It has definitely been a challenge this season to combat the dreaded sophomore slump. The breaking news a couple weeks ago that series star Alex O’Loughlin was taking a break from the series to “receive supervised treatment for prescription pain medication due to a recent shoulder injury,” and the continuing Monday night ratings battle against ABC’s popular “Castle” and NBC’s highly pumped (but full of hot air) new series “Smash,” has not made this season an easy one.

We have lost a few great characters this season: Jenna Kaye was killed by Wo Fat after revealing her secrets and helping to save Steve in North Korea; Joe White is “in the wind” running from Wo Fat; and who can forget the unceremonious dumping of homeland security officer Lori Weston (although I’m still unclear why she was fired by the governor)? And don’t forget about the Shelburne question and a few other unresolved demons that will have to be faced in order for Steven to protect his sister and his new Five-0 family.

But we also met a few great characters this season, namely private detective Tony Archer — Anthony to the ladies — played by James Caan, and the deceptively sleazy Capt. Fryer, played by Tom Sizemore. We also learned more about our favorite recurring characters, such as Max Bergman (Masi Oka) — who knew of his love for fast cars and warp speed? And then there’s Kamekona (Taylor Wily) — you have to love a man who loves Spam and can lie faster than he can peel and eat shrimp — as well as our favorite geek god, Charlie Fong (Brian Yang).

I’m still hoping for more scenes and information about the Fongster; perhaps we can see him outside the lab every now and then? But maybe that is what is in store for season three.

Overall, we can definitely see that beating the sophomore slump is not an easy task. But “Hawaii Five-0” seems to have hit the beach running and has been ready for all kinds of waves this season, and whether the waves have been glassy and smooth or completely blown out, fans are determined to enjoy the ride.

Luckily for us, “Hawaii Five-0” was just renewed for a “junior” year — so we’ll have our Five-0 team for a third season.

Redux Side Note:

The Monday, March 19, episode, “Kālele,” will be a “Five-0” blast from the past, as Ed Asner makes his reboot debut reprising his “Hawaii Five-O” character, August March, who helps McGarrett clear his sister, Mary Ann. I’m sure fans will be happy to see Alex O’Loughlin still on board, as well as Taryn Manning’s season two return. However, I sort of doubt the McGarrett reunion will be anything but “happy.”

But like Jack Lord used to always say: “Be there. Aloha.”
Wendie Burbridge is a published writer, playwright and a teacher of literature and fiction writing at Kamehameha Schools-Kapālama. Reach her on Facebook and on Twitter.

22 responses to “Beating the sophomore slump”

  1. . says:

    Great Recap Wendie! 

  2. Myles Yamamoto says:

    Awesome recap of season 2 Wen!!  I am officially doing the Snoopy happy dance that #H50 was renewed for Season 3 XD.

  3. Krista Geiger says:

    Awesome Job Wendie as always 🙂
    Mahalo for always taking the time to write this kick butt blog and sharing it with us!!
    Aloha Krista

  4. Anonymous says:

    You know there are people who have great ideas.  There are people who have the talent to put those ideas into motion.  There are those who have the talent to put those motions into words.  You are one of those people. 

    As usual, as I read your post, I am sitting here nodding my head and agreeing with everything you say.  You are so right about the sophomore jinx.  It has happened numerous times.  As you know I was a huge LOST fan and of all the seasons, season 2 was my LEAST favorite.  Like you said, they tried to keep it fresh, tried to keep the momentum going and as a result they hit a lot of snags and had to make a few adjustments during the season.  They even had to “bury” a couple of huge mistakes.  But LOST came through it and survived for 6 fantastic seasons.  H50 will do the same…hopefully last even longer.

    I am so beyond thrilled that H50 has been picked up for it’s 3rd season. I am happy for all fans who didn’t have to suffer through until mid-May and the Upfronts in fear that CBS would bail on our show.  I’m happy for the entire cast and crew who work so hard to bring this wonderful entertainment to our TV screens every Monday night. But I am especially happy for Alex. 

    After Moonlight and Three Rivers, Alex finally has an out and out HIT. The fact that CBS has made this early announcement can, hopefully, take some pressure off his fragile shoulders.  We know he’s the type to take on a ton of responsibility for the success of the show.  Having this taken care of, he can concentrate on fully recovering and getting back to as close to 100% as he can without having to think he needs to rush back to “save the show”.

    Congratulations to everyone in #H50NATION

    • Wendie Joy says:

      Thanks Linda for your thoughtful comment. I was going to write a character by character update, but then I thought- you can find that info anywhere… this was more interesting… how H50 can get through this second season. Thanks for the LOST comment- very interesting comparison:) Aloha, WJ

  5. Anonymous says:

    Many thanks for the great recap Wendie! I’m very happy that H5-0 is going to have a 3rd season. I haven’t been this hooked on a show since ER (back in the day with George Clooney).  Hmm, guess I have a real soft spot for gorgeous men! I’m sure Alex is feeling the relief – now he can get on to getting better and kicking that demons butt. I’m already starting the countdown to S3 and look forward to my favorite Core4 team ruling the air!! Congrats Alex, Scott, Daniel, Grace, Masi and Taylor – can’t wait for September!!

  6. Wanda says:

    As always a fantastic read.  So happy for H50 Season 3.  Great that CBS shared this with us 2 months earlier than usual.  Great news for Alex and all Alex fans. Love the show Love the  way Alex and Scott riff off of each other. 

  7. Diane says:

    Thanks Wendy for your recap.  I am beyond thrilled that we will have another season of H50. You’re right about the Sophomore season being the toughest.  There were some glitches, but for the most part it was a great season. 

    Since Alex is going to miss a lot of the remaining episodes, I was so happy to know that we get to see a happy and healthy Alex back in September.  I love Scott, Daniel, and Grace, and the show needs them just as much,  but it just would not be the same without Alex also. I’m so glad he will have the time to get well.

    I’m excited to see that Daniel gets in a major story line, and can’t wait to see Danny and Chin with Callen and Sam in the crossover episode.   And our resident quirky Medical Examiner, Max gets a background episode, which I’m also looking forward to.

    Congratulations to all the cast and crew of H50, and to all us fans who can relax knowing we get another season of our favorite show.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Season two has definitely had its ups and downs but the quality and writing has been lacking particulary since episode 2.13 onwards with the odd exception. I hope the show makes some changes in season 3 and we get more of a balance again and more interesting stories. There didn’t seem to be any direction this season and its a shame we lost Jenna and hopefully we’ll get to see Joe again which was another storyline that got lost somewhere along the way.

    Can’t say I enjoyed the addition of characters like Fryer or Tony Archer and hope the producers don’t keep up with this overuse of guest stars next season.  I don’t think I’ve ever watched a show where the guest stars take over so much.

    Hopefully Alex will be back fit and healthy for season 3 as he’s the glue that holds the show together for me.  I can’t say I’m interested in watching any episode without his presence.  Hopefully we’ll see a little more character development next season as well and a little more consequenses as to what the characters have had to deal with.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sorry I’m late to the H5-0 renewal party! But hey, better late than never – as in “not being renewed!” Thank you, Wendie, for a really good retrospective on where H5-0 has gone during this sophomore season.  It’s definitely been unsettling – an entirely different vibe from the fun and over-the-top antics of our bromance buddies and friends during season 1.  It’s been a much darker, more serious ride, –  taking a lot of chances and asking a lot from its fans.  I can’t say I’ve loved every minute of it, that just wouldn’t be honest.  I cringed and gagged and yelled a lot more this time around, but you know what? I’m still here, and so are millions of other fans.  H5-0 producers now know they have a solid fan base that is willing to give them the leeway to change up storylines, mix up the players, introduce new characters – and get rid of some. H5-0 fans, as has been shown in recent weeks, are the best in the world – supporting the cast and crew through the pitfalls of production tv.

    The fun is still there, though! I’m looking forward to the remaining episodes of Season 2, and I intend to continue supporting the 5-0 team as I’m sure Alex would want his fans to do. I’m going to do my best to look on the bright side of an unhappy situation and refrain from weeping when someone is not present in an episode. But I will certainly be joining the happy cart when all 4 team members are back together.

    Can’t wait for Season 3 and a new set of adventures for H-50! 

  10. Anonymous says:

    Increasing the viewer numbers is probably not in the cards.  The show has its following, it now needs to hold on to what it has.

    • Diane says:

      I disagree.  I think H50 can increase its fan base.  I’ve seen it happen with other shows like NCIS, which I watched from the start, while others were watching American Idol.  It is now the #1 show on TV.  I also saw its spin off, NCIS LA increase its viewers each year.  Both of these shows do have a better time slot, and NCIS LA has NCIS before it.  I did not like NCIS LA that much for the first 1.5 yrs, but now I think it has come a long way since the characters have been developed.  I think H50 will gain viewers as it continues, and they find their strengths, with the original 4 and supporting characters.  I’m not saying it will be NCIS, but I believe it will improve. Hopefully for many years to come.

  11. So now that Daniel Dae Kim is crossing over into the NCIS LA show and not Alex, I wonder how the storyline will change…  They will have to change the writing in both episodes H5O and NCIS-LA with Alex out…  I liked the writing setup with Alex and Sam and a past SEALs storyline…  I am sad that will not happen now…  Not really convinced that DDK and Scott as a team will gel in a storyline with Sam and Callen has well as Alex and Scott would have…  I was hoping for only one missed episode (Masi Oka Story in episode # 20) not the cross over episodes…  even my kids are very disappointed!!!  With Alex in California for rehab, to bad they couldn’t have had a couple outtings to do some taping with him for the crossover….  I am going to cry if Alex misses much more….  Get better soon Alex, we all miss you!

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