I’ve said it many times this year, but season four was the best season of “Hawaii Five-0” since the reboot premiered in 2010.
I know many fans love season one, but for me, the depth and maturity of the show came to a beautiful fruition this year. I spoke to executive producer and showrunner Peter Lenkov during a fan breakfast in March and he was totally gracious about my appreciation for their work on season four.
This week, “Five-0” fans were thrilled when Lenkov began to leak season five spoilers and announced plans for another Sunset on the Beach premiere in September. Fans will again be treated to a big screen glimpse of the season opener on Waikiki Beach, a red carpet reception line with the stars and live entertainment.
Fans were also abuzz this week over news of the return of several favorite actors, among them Ian Anthony Dale (Adam Noshimuri), James Marsters (Victor Hesse) and William Sadler (John McGarrett). Both Marsters’ and Sadler’s characters are long dead, so most likely they are being brought back for flashback scenes.
Along with all that, fans are also gearing up for the start of season five filming on July 8.
Yes, it’s still a few months until the Sept. 26 season premiere on CBS and we’re still in the midst of repeats from season four. Lenkov was kind enough to answer a few questions recently and share what he thought about the fourth season, his favorite episodes and to dish a bit about season five.
QUESTION: Season four was a blast. We had a fun time with the fan-built episode and enjoyed many wonderful performances. What episodes in season four did you have a special affinity for?
ANSWER: I know you mentioned it, but “Hoʻonani Makua Kāne” (“Honor Thy Father”) was a privilege to do this season. We’d been toying with a storyline about the Japanese internment in Hawaii ever since the first season and this just felt like the right year to do it.
Aside from amazing performances from our cast, our crew really got to shine, from the wardrobe, to the sets, to special and visuals effects, everyone on the crew rose to the challenge – and their incredible work is clear on the screen. The opening Pearl Harbor sequence is one of the best we’ve ever done.
Another favorite this season for me was “Kū I Ka Pili Koko” (“Blood Brothers”), the episode where McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danny (Scott Caan) are trapped under a building. The core of the show has always been the relationships between our characters – they’re a family, they mean everything to each other – episodes like “Kū I Ka Pili Koko” give us a chance to explore the depths of those relationships, get past cases and the carguments and get to the heart of these characters.
McGarrett and Danny, when everything else is gone, they’re brothers. It was an amazing episode to put together and our cast did a phenomenal job.
Q: The addition of Chi McBride and Jorge Garcia to the cast has been very well received. What are your thoughts and reasons for introducing both Capt. Grover and Jerry Ortega to the island?
A: When we brought on both Chi and Jorge to the show, we knew we had found something special. We originally intended for Grover to be a foil in McGarrett’s life, a professional competitor.
But when we got Chi and Alex together, we just saw this amazing chemistry in their interactions. We knew we had to build towards them being on the same team. Chi as Grover brings a strength and edge that’s a welcome addition to “Five-0.”
And with Jorge, we just had such a blast and fun with him, we knew we wanted more Jerry on the show. Jerry provides such a unique perspective to our world and an entryway into cases we might not have gone into before. Jerry adds another angle of worlds to explore.
Q: What was the most difficult episode to write and produce of season four?
A: “Hoʻonani Makua Kāne” (“Honor Thy Father”) might have been our most challenging episode of the season. Between all of the research and work we put in at the script level, and the work our cast and crew did to be authentic and true to the time period: it was definitely an all hands on deck situation to put it all together.
But as challenging as it was, I don’t think it could have come out better. A great achievement for our show.
Q: With Wo-Fat on the loose, what plans do you have for the Shelburne story arc going forward? Can we expect to see the return of Doris?
A: In the world of “Five-0,” the Shelburne story arc is always going forward, especially now that we have both Doris (Christine Lahti) and Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) in the wind.
We just may not see where it’s going quite yet. But we will…
Q: Fans have enjoyed a fun roller coaster ride the last four seasons. How are you planning to deliver the same level of excitement in future seasons?
A: You know, we really strive each season to top ourselves. We don’t want to do the same things we’ve done and seen before. We just keep trying to raise the stakes for our characters – and when we do that well, it’s a hell of a ride.
Q: Is it hard to come up with fresh ideas? How does your writing staff continue to come up with action-packed episodes season after season?
A: It’s always a bit of a challenge to come back each year and come up with adventures for our team.
The great thing about hitting season five is that we just know our characters so well. We know all that they have been through and can build upon on that groundwork to push stories and characters forward. Where we’ve been gives us the path to know where we want to go.
Q: Any new season five writers or crew members that you’d like to tell us about?
A: We’re incredibly lucky to have the best crew in the business and they all feel as passionately about the show as I do. We’re lucky to have our crew ʻohana back for season five.
On the writing side, we do have a few up-and-coming writers joining the fray. Sarah Byrd is joining us from the procedural world of “CSI:NY.” We’re bumping up our script coordinator for the last two seasons, Sue Palmer, up into the writing staff after doing a great job co-writing the Halloween episode, “Kūpouli ʻla” (“Broken”).
Kenny Kyle, who just recently won the Big Break Contest award at the Final Draft Screenwriters Choice Awards will be joining us.
Akeba Gaddis is an incredibly talented writer also joining the ranks as a staffer. If TV writing is something that interests any of your readers, I think our new writers show there’s no one way to break in.
Q: To say fans are excited for season five is an understatement. Can you give us a few teasers?
A: We’re still breaking story for the season, but a couple places we know want to go this season are McGarrett dealing with Catherine’s (Michelle Borth) choice to track down Najib from “Makani ʻOlu a Holo Mālie” (“Fair Winds and Following Seas”) will be addressed in the early episodes.
We’re going to pick up on the whereabouts of Danny’s brother Matt (played by Dane Cook, who went on the run in season one). Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) may find Gabriel Waincroft’s (played by Christopher Sean) return to his life a bigger burden to bear than he expected.
And for Kono (Grace Park), we may be delving into her past in a way we’ve never seen before.
Q: With the addition of Grover to the team, how will the new dynamic play out on screen?
A: Grover’s just another great addition to the team – we got to see some of his budding relationships with the other members (spearfishing with Chin, Danny comforting him when his daughter was kidnapped) – but we really spent a lot of last season building up the relationship between McGarrett and Grover.
We’re looking forward to exploring his dynamic with the whole team.
Q: Any hints on Chin’s relationship?
A: Chin Ho’s still with Leilani (Lindsay Price), but they’re taking it slow, as you can imagine. Malia’s (Reiko Aylesworth) only been gone for two years.
He is moving on, as Malia would want him to, but making big decisions or commitments would be hard for anyone in that position. We may not see big movements in his relationship just yet.
Q: The banter is an integral part of the show for many fans. Do you think McGarrett will be able to handle a banter war on two fronts with Danno and Grover?
A: McGarrett’s the kinda guy that can handle banter on all fronts. I’d be more concerned for Danny being able to handle Grover’s banter. Grover’s a guy who can hold his own.
Q: What can we expect from Kono’s relationship with Adam this season?
A: We’ll be delving into Kono’s past, but also her present with Adam. Adam wants to move forward in the relationship, but Kono might be hesitant. She has an incredibly dangerous job, raising a family in that environment might give her pause. It’s a lot to take in for her.
Q: How many episodes do you plan for in season five? Any plans to involve the fans again?
A: We are slotted for 24 this year. We’ve loved having our fans involved in the process of making our show. We’re definitely thinking about how we can get our fans involved this season.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.