DVD Review: Hawaii Five-0 (The First Season)

Jack Lord fanatics were panicked when the announcement arrived that Hawaii Five-0 would be revived nearly thirty years after McGarrett finally caught Wo Fat. The network had tried in the past to rework the show with various ideas such as McGarrett’s son taking over the Five-O force or letting Gary Busey be McGarrett. Traditionalist fans were shocked with news that the new Kono was a woman. Although a gender swap isn’t nearly as traumatizing as weekly visits from Gary Busey claiming to be McGarrett. Hawaii Five-0: The First Season really shows how this is more than a creatively bankrupt retread. This is a sweet tasting twist on a traditional Hawaiian TV staple.

What immediately separates the new show from the old series is backstory. There was very little character development during the original episodes. They were all about the case with rarely any small talk. Normally if McGarrett or Danno had a lover from their past arrive on the scene they were either the secret culprit or about to be murdered. Duke rose from beat cop to part of Five-O yet little was known about his life outside of his sportscoat collection. The new versions of McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin), Danno (Scott Caan), Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) and Kono (Grace Park) share a lot of their histories and family dramas during an episode.

The “Pilot” starts off with Commander Steve McGarrett’s unit hauling a busted arms dealer across South Korea. Things get weird when McGarrett’s father calls. Turns out the old man is being held hostage by the arms dealer’s brother. Things don’t end well. McGarrett returns home to Hawaii for his father’s funeral. The governor (Jean Smart) wants him to start up a special police unit that eventually gets tagged as Five-0. He puts together a team including a semi-disgraced cop (Kim), his surfing cousin that’s wrapping up at the police academy (Park) and a brash cop with ex-wife issues (Caan). The quartet are out to stop the major criminals that think Hawaii is their paradise.

The Jack Lord version of the show worked as a cat and mouse game. The show gave as much time to the all-star villains as Five-0 tracking them down. This balance has been altered for the 21st Century. The new version is shorter with time sliced away to make space for an additional eight minutes of commercials. The added emphasis on character’s family life and history also carves away from evildoers’ screen time. The new show ends up becoming more of a police procedural as they hunt down the bad guys. They have a cool hi-tech table that’s a computer screen for linking up their clues to make it more dynamic than people staring in file folders. The lack of actors getting to truly flex their muscles as felons and freaks is a shame. They can’t take full use of Peter Stormare (Fargo) arriving for “Ohana.” He’s part of the kidnapping of a cyber terrorism expert. The good news is the producers go full throttle on the action scenes to make up for the lack of quality time with low lifes. “Ko’olauloa” sucks Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) into the murder of a surfboard CEO. Robert Loggia returns for “Ho’apono.” Loggia had guest starred on the original series. “Mana’o” wins points for having the murder victim being roasted at a luau. Bronson Pinchot (Perfect Strangers) gets to play a little creepy. Rappers get in on the acting game with Nas in “Heihei” and Sean Combs in “Ho’opa’i.” Neither should quit their night jobs. The last living multi-season member of Jack Lord’s Five-0 team pops up. Al Harrington (Ben Kokua during the middle years) returns to action in “Ke Knohi.” Nice to see his comeback since Jack Lord dumped him cold. This episode also brings back the diabolical Wo Fat. Although he’s not as evil looking since Fat’s played by Mark Dacascos. How sinister can the Chairman on Iron Chef be? He’s involved in the death of McGarrett’s father. He’s now bent on eliminating the son. Chef Morimoto makes a cameo this season. Could he be Wo Fat’s secret weapon? No need to mention Dane Cook’s episode as Danno’s brother.

Hawaii Five-0 does a fine job of bringing back elements of the original series without it being a retread. The actors get a chance to own the characters instead of play roles. O’Loughlin doesn’t ape the sanctimony of Jack Lord. Caan gets to exhibit more of an inner life than MacArthur was allowed to expose in Danno. Daniel Dae Kim gets to finally speak English on a TV show. Far as turning Kono into a woman; Grace Park had already made this gender switch as Boomer on Battlestar Galactica. She knows how to play tough without bulking up. Hawaii Five-0: The First Season please this fan of the original series. It unloads a tropical punch to the crime drama.

The Episodes
“Pilot,” “Ohana,” “Malama Ka Aina,” “Lanakila,” “Nalowale,” “Ko’olauloa,” “Ho’apono,” “Mana’o,” “Po’ipu,” “Heihei,” “Palekaiko,” “Hana’a’a Makehewa,” “Ke Kinohi,” “He Kane Hewa’ole,” “Kai e’e,” “E Malama,” “Powa Maka Moana,” “Loa Aloha,” “Ne Me’e Laua Na Paio,” “Ma Ke Kahakai,” “Ho’opa’i,” “Ho’ohuli Na’au,” “Ua Hiki Mai Kapalena Pau” and “Oia’i’o.”

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. There colors are saturated to bring out the tropical greens. The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Stereo. There’s also a French dub in case you wonder what “Book ‘em, Danno” sounds like in Paris. The theme song should test out your speaker range. The subtitles are in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

Audio Commentary on two episodes. “The Pilot” features Peter Lenkov, Len Wiseman and Robert Orci. They deal with the difficulties of reviving a legendary show. There have been quite a few attempts to retool the series before this success. “E Malama” gives us Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Daw Kim, Grace Park and director Brad Turner breaking down their roles and the scenes.

Deleted Scenes are provided for “Pilot,” “Nalowle,” “Ko’olauloa,” “Mana’o,” “Ke Kinohi,” “E Malma,” “Powa Maka Moana,” “Loa Aloha,” “Na Me’e Laua Na Paio,” “Ma Ke Kahakai,” “Ho’opa’i,” “Ho’ohuli Na’au” and “Oia’i’o”

Legacy (11:38) discusses how the new show adapted the old character names. Kono is the biggest change.

Picture Perfect: The Making of the Pilot (27:07) follows the new cast and crew putting the show together. They had the set blessed on the first day of production.

CBS On-Air Launch Promos (3:40) are the commercials pushing the new series.

Eye Lab Online Launch Promos (8:03) are more clips from the show.

Grace Park’s Hawaiian Tour (5:25) is the finest visit to the islands since Elvis in Blue Hawaii. This is my vacation destination.

Re-Scoring the Theme Song (1:43) shows the scoring session action.

Inside Comic-Con (6:22) shows how the geek boys went nuts in San Diego. You know they’re all there for Grace Park.

Shore Lines: The Story of Season 1 (30:26) summarizes the season. Do not watch this until after you’re done watching all the episodes.

Aloha Action! (15:14) breaks down the exciting stunts. They blew up a lot of cool stuff.

Gag Reel (7:32) guess who botches up things the most? There’s a lot of stunts gone slightly wrong instead of botched lines. They shoot multiple cameras so there’s plenty of angles for the screw up moments.

Inside the Box (6:47) deals with what’s inside the toolbox of John McGarrett.

Hawaii Five-0: The First Season revives the legendary ‘70s cop series for the 21st Century. The new version is more dynamic with an emphasis on the members of the elite police team. The new cast is younger and more limber in their pursuit of the bad guys that dare to step foot on the tropical paradise. The bonus features give a good sense that all the producers and actors don’t merely want to draft on the original’s success. They want to pay homage yet blaze their own vision of the characters. They succeed.

CBS DVD presents Hawaii Five-0: The First Season. Starring: Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. Boxset Content: 24 episodes on 6 DVDs. Released on DVD: September 20, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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