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Five-0 Redux

Fans embrace season eight changes


    “Hawaii Five-0” series star Alex O’Loughlin thanks fans for their support of the show during the “Sunset on the Beach” event celebrating season eight.

We are halfway through season eight of “Hawaii Five-0” and viewers have begun to make their feelings known about the many changes producers have made to the popular police procedural. Fans were asked this week via social media what they thought about the cast and character changes. For the most part– fans have been thrilled with the new look and tone of the show.

Ratings for the CBS Friday night line-up– which along with “Hawaii Five-0” includes “MacGyver” and “Blue Bloods”– have placed the network first in viewers fourteen times this season. “Blue Bloods” was the best in viewer numbers (9.45m) last Friday, Jan. 19, with “Hawaii Five-0” following second with (9.14m). Five-0’s lead-in, “MacGyver” finished third (7.68m).

With such strong ratings, it seems likely that CBS will renew the show for a ninth season. Still, fans were very nervous about the possibility that the exit of Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park marked the end of their favorite show

So when I posed five questions about the current season to fans– what they thought about the addition of Meaghan Rath as Tani Rey, and Beulah Koale as Junior Reigns; what they thought about Ian Anthony Dale as Adam Noshimuri working a new division of Five-0; what thought about Chin (Kim) and Kono (Park) not being in the episodes, but being frequently mentioned; and what they thought about the stronger inclusion of the newest cast members: Taylor Wily  as Kamekona, Dennis Chun as Sgt. Duke Lukela, and Kimee Balmilero as Dr. Noelani Cunha.

The last question I asked was what they thought about their favorites, including Alex O’Loughlin as Steve McGarrett, Scott Caan as Danny Williams, Chi McBride as Lou Grover, Jorge Garcia as Jerry Ortega, Shawn Mokuahi Garnett as Flippa, or any of the other recurring characters in the show.

Click here for more “Hawaii Five-0” coverage.

For the most part, fans seem to be quite in love with the two newest members of the Five-0 cast– Meaghan Rath and Beulah Koale. Fans said “breath of fresh air” many times in their responses about the two young actors and their equally refreshing characters. David Jackson of Topsail Beach, North Carolina said in an email that “Meghan and Beulah are excellent additions. Meghan has great range, displays it very effectively, and isn’t afraid of her role. The same can be said of Beulah.”

Linda Stein of Philadelphia said something quite similar in an email. “It’s fun to have a rookie around again, and now we have two. They bring a true vitality and an energy to the show. I love Tani’s toughness and no-nonsense way (along with a tenderness and vulnerability where her brother is concerned) and I’m getting a real kick out of Junior and his “Sirs” and “Cap.” It’s fun to see a young SEAL full of enthusiasm and, yes, a bit of hero worship toward Steve.  These two, both characters and actors, have made me fall in love [with the show] all over again.”

Belle Anderson added an interesting note in her email about Rath and Koale and their interaction with fans on social media. “Tani and Junior have been the perfect additions– new team members and ohana that we didn’t know we needed until they were there. Their introductions were handled seamlessly and should be a model for other shows trying to have new characters accepted. They’ve brought both a lightness and a potential for more dramatic storylines surrounding their personal backgrounds. Also, Meaghan and Junior have been a delightful addition to the cast for those of us who enjoy the behind the scenes interactions. They have lifted the atmosphere on set and evidence that it is possible to combine extremely hard work with some lightheartedness.”

Fans also appreciate how the team calls Tani and Junior “The Kids” and they like that McGarrett, Danny, and Lou have become mentors to both characters. Silvia Kaffke of Germany wrote in an email, “For me, both [characters] are really an advantage [to the show]. Steve is now a more adult character and he is a kind of father figure for them. “Hawaii Five-0” is getting older and I think some fresh input was needed. But I also really like both [additions] and the storylines they are adding.”

Most of the comments about recurring cast member Ian Anthony Dale and his elevation to the main cast have been positive. Fans are curious to see how the story around his character, Adam Noshimuri, will continue, as Grace Park, who played his wife, Kono, is no longer a part of the show. Virginie Dubosc of France wrote via Facebook, “Ian proved with his other shows (“Salvation” and “Murder in the First”) that he is a very talented actor who deserves to have a regular role on the show.”

Belle Anderson also commented on how we fell in love with Adam while we watched him fall for Kono, how they went on the run together, and then finally reunited and married– only to have Adam go to prison for manslaughter. “I have always adored Adam. I loved [Adam] and Kono as a couple and I’m glad the show has remained committed to their relationship staying the same, even though Kono is working away from the island.”

Another part of Anderson’s comment was about Adam’s new position in Five-0. “I’ve always enjoyed the mutual respect it seemed Steve and Adam held for each other and have enjoyed watching it grow into a true bond between these two. I really enjoyed the episodes following his return when, by chance, he ended up helping Steve and the team out. I’m glad Steve entrusted him with the gang-related case as he is certainly the most qualified to track an organized crime syndicate. With his experience turning one legitimate he would know everything needed to track things back to their source. There hasn’t been enough of [Adam’s storyline] yet for me to judge how I like the new division idea. I like it in theory as long as there is still crossover with the rest of the team. If it’s handled as a completely separate entity resulting in mostly split episodes I may be disappointed.”

Several fans commented on how they disliked “split” episodes– when there are two cases running in one show. It always makes fans a little dizzy with the back and forth between two totally separate cases, and many complain that it takes away from focusing on the main characters. But overall– fans are waiting to see how Adam and his new role within Five-0 will pan out.

Fans are certainly split between missing Chin and Kono. Many commented on how much the missed and loved the two character. Yet, some have not thought twice about the absence of two members of the original team. It’s a very different reaction to what many called “the end of Five-0” when Kim and Park left the show. Fans do appreciate that they are still mentioned and that it seems they are still connected to the Five-0 ʻohana. Belle Anderson summed it up perfectly in her email, “This has been one of the nicest surprises of the season.  Not only have there been mentions but they have seemed entirely natural. It’s clear that Steve and Danny miss them, which allows the fans to do the same without any bitterness.”

David Jackson also commented in his email about how the two characters are “being treated fairly by the show. I think this is a credit to Peter Lenkov, he seems to remain loyal to previous stars. He let Michelle Borth return for a few shows, why not leave the door open for Chin and Kono?”

Claire Kelly, of Auckland, New Zealand wrote in an email, “the characters were a huge part of the success of “Hawaii Five-0” and they are not dead so why shouldn’t they be mentioned? It would be weird if they weren’t mentioned at all.  Love how sometimes it’s photos on the wall, others it’s retelling a story– it ties everything together.”

Karen Dritto of Staten Island, New York, had an interesting take on what could happen with Kono’s character. “I honestly believe that both Chin and Kono’s storylines were done and over long before they both announced their departure. I like the fact that they’re mentioned from time to time but, honestly, I don’t miss them. I thought that I would like to see Kono return for continuity with Adam’s story, but now I know I’d be happy if the writers would mention that she returned to the island, had a baby, and is very happy being retired and a stay-at-home mom.” wrote Ditto via Facebook.

While fans still grapple with how they feel about the loss of Kim and Park– and their characters on the show– Rhonda Fay summarized what many fans are thinking about this season, in her comment on Facebook. “I was worried about the missing cast members this season, but honestly the episodes have been written in such a way that I do not even think about [who is] missing while watching.”

Fans had a lot to say about the expansion of the cast and the elevation of Hawaiʻi actors, Chun, Wily, and Balmilero to series regulars. Linda Stein wrote in her email, “I love that Taylor, Dennis, and Kimee are now [in the] main cast. It was long overdue. We had a great Kamekona centric episode earlier this season and Noelani has been seen more and more. I wish we could get an episode centered around Duke. I’d love to get a great background story about all his years at HPD.”

Belle Anderson complimented all three of the Hawaiʻi actors in her email, “I think this has worked really well with Kamekona not only appearing more but also starring in a very dramatic episode involving his kidnapping and resulting in Toast’s murder. It just cemented his place as not only a beloved member of the ohana but also an important asset for Five-0. I also can’t get enough of Noelani and it seems to me like she is also such a great team asset that I love seeing more of her. Add in Kimee’s great sense of timing and chemistry with the rest of the cast and this was definitely a winning move.”

Like other fans, Anderson wished for a Duke-centric episode. “I have always been a huge fan of Duke and Dennis Chun. My disappointment is I really haven’t felt like I’ve seen an increased presence despite his promotion to a regular position in the cast.  He may be appearing in more episodes but it hasn’t satisfied my dream of an episode where Duke is working side by side with the team on some sort of Duke-centric case. This is another thing I hope to see down the road.”  

If fans agreed on anything about the changes in season eight, it was their collective love of their favorites McGarrett, Danny, Lou, Jerry, Flippa, and other recurring characters, like Officer Pua Kai, played by Hawaiʻi actor, Shawn Thomsen. While all agree that the show centers around McG and Danny, they still love the other main and recurring cast members.

Linda Stein commented in her email what many fans also wrote about, the relationship between Steve and Danny. “They are the cornerstone that holds the entire thing together for me. I love the restaurant storyline and really hope Danny’s dream of what it could be like in the future comes true. When Danny is away from the office, I love when Steve teams up with Lou. Lou is amazing. He can scare me to death, he can make me laugh and he can make me cry. He’s a fantastic character. I’m also really liking how Jerry has taken over as ‘master of the magic table.’ I was wondering who would take that duty after Chin left and Jerry fills the bill perfectly!”

Many fans expressed their love for Lou and Chi McBride’s portrayal of the ex-Chicago cop. Belle Anderson expanded on her comments about the cast. “I’m glad Lou finally received closure on both of his Chicago storylines. Chicago will always be a part of him but as Max said ‘Hawaii has claimed (him) as one of its sons.’ I think the show is better for both Chi’s dramatic talent and spot-on comedic delivery.”

There were many fans who left comments about how much they loved the show and this current season. Claire Kelly wrote in her email about what makes the show work on all levels. “The combination of the cast is what makes this show so awesome– they all have a role to play in its success.”

Tammy Hanse from Glasford, Illinois wrote on Facebook, “this season rocks the charts! I was seriously afraid that this might be the last year of my favorite and it would end with our guys starting a new career with their restaurant, but with the ratings so high, I have hopes for the show to go on several more seasons.”

Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright, and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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