It's been 35 years since CBS' original Hawaii Five-O went off the air in 1980, after a marathon 12-season run that saw Jack Lord change out of his dark coat and tie perhaps twice. But while television's gone through lots of changes since then ("Friend him, Danno!"), one thing never goes out of style: a good idea.
And if you run out of good ideas, you can always recycle an old cop show.
CBS, which lives by the motto, "You can never have too many cop shows," revamped this relic that has now gone on for several seasons of its own. The new incarnation may have the same theme song, but it arguably features prettier people, more violence, fewer morals (sexual interludes have been known to include same-sex couplings) and less fabric than the original. And it appears to have dumped the bookish, hard-boiled ethos that made Five-O (then spelled with an O, now spelled with a zero) so anachronistic and distinctive. "The ethos of [the original] Hawaii Five-O was an ethos that liked paperwork," wrote New York Times critic Ginia Bellafante. This new crew hates it.
"Your rules, my backing and no red tape," Hawaii governor Patricia Jameson tells squad leader Steve McGarrett. Translation: you've got a license to kill—or, at the very least, maim—and we won't ask a lot of uncomfortable questions.
Handy, that blanket authority, since McGarrett wouldn't answer them anyway. He's the kind of guy who plays by his own rules, who takes no prisoners, who calls 'em as he sees 'em, and whose dialogue sounds, at times, like it was cribbed right from a Police Squad movie.
He chooses his team with the same sort of abandon Paris Hilton might choose her shoes: Danny "Danno" Williams becomes his partner because it seems like, at first blush, he cares about his job. Kona gets to be on the squad because she looks awesome in a bikini and has a killer left hook. And Chin Ho Kelly? He used to be a cop, but he was kicked off the force after the higher-ups suspected he was taking payouts.
"Did you take the money?" McGarrett asks.
"Then come with us."
I know we're only dealing with an hour-long show with a lot of ground to cover, but I think Hawaii's taxpayers might appreciate it if McGarrett at least checked a reference or two.
Shaking down a cocky bad guy with the sort of panache that would make Jack Bauer proud, McGarrett tells him that if he doesn't start talking, his whole family will be deported and his preteen son will be forced to take up arms in Rwanda. The thug, horrified, cracks. "What kind of cops are you?" he asks.
"The new kind," McGarrett says.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
"Ne Me'e Laua Na Paio"
Investigating the death of a spandex-clad guy who's tossed from the upper floors of a hotel that's hosting a comic book convention, McGarrett jumps on some clues hinting that it may not be a case of superhero-envy gone wrong after all. As he and the team start peeling back the cape-wearing red herrings, they come to believe that the victim's demise is just a drunken case of wrong-place-wrong-time. Then they find the intended victim—an identity thief/burglar. And soon another murder pops up.
Meanwhile, CIA agent Jenny Kay shows up demanding all of McGarrett's files on his father's killer. But McGarrett discovers that she's a rogue analyst interested in the case for her own reasons. The two clash but eventually form a makeshift partnership when she reveals that everything she has leads back to mob mastermind Wo Fat.
As you can see, it's mostly serious business and "Book 'em Danno" routines this time around. But that doesn't mean the producers couldn't find time for a smattering of profanity, a beer or two, a splash of blood on a dead man's face and a few bikini ogles.
Three CPAs from Cleveland take a secret Hawaii vacation during spring break, hoping to have "lots of sex with women who are not our wives." After a wild night that they can't remember, the trio finds a woman dead in the bathtub.
The woman is fully clothed, the water filled with blood and beer bottles. There's a gunshot wound in her temple. McGarrett shows her bloody photo to several people, of course. Elsewhere, a man is discovered dead, stabbed in the neck. Three other people are shot to death. Two corpses sport autopsy stitches. There's a subplot about sex trafficking and slave labor.
College coeds, many in bikinis, frolic in various locales. One has her top ripped off during a pool party. (We see her from the back.) A police officer is mystified that parents would actually send kids on spring break, given the debauchery and drugs involved. The CPAs are shown getting drunk and hitting on every girl they see (often with suggestive one-liners). They imbibe ketamine, which explains their amnesia. One gets punched in the face by a bouncer. Another has part of his hair burned off. Still another wakes up wearing a bikini top. A wife rants about wanting her hubby dead, swearing all the while. We hear "h---," "b--ch," "a--" and misuses of God's name.
A boy's father goes missing on Christmas Eve, and the crew searches for him. Along the way, they discover the father's blood-spattered store (sprays of blood coat banana bunches; floors are stained with crimson puddles and streaks), three dead bodies (one is shown in the autopsy room, his chest marred by telltale autopsy stitches and a shotgun wound) and an illegal moonshine operation. Thus, detectives Kelly and Williams visit Kelly's uncle, who brews his own illegal liquor (neither cop is interested in busting the guy), and we see the uncle imbibe his own brew.
A big fight sequence features a woman bashing a guy in the head and gut and eventually throwing him down a set of stairs, leaving him unconscious. A man is hit in the head with a gun and kicked. McGarrett tells police he ripped out a carjacker's nose ring while giving him a beatdown. Threats include waving weapons and a cop telling his suspect that he wished he could drop him in an active volcano.
A man gets splattered with pig guts. Another walks around with a blood-streaked face. A boy steals money and runs from authorities. A detective turns the other way on a possible charge of tax evasion to get his friend a better deal on a helicopter. Girls in bikinis make background appearances. We hear "d‑‑n" a couple of times, "h‑‑‑" four or five times and "a‑‑" twice.
McGarrett comes to Hawaii to avenge the death of his father, who was gunned down by evildoers. (We see his dad held hostage, face bloodied and beaten, before someone pulls the trigger.) McGarrett visits the bloodstained crime scene, where he meets Danno and tries to steal a toolbox full of clues his father apparently wanted him to have. When Danno tries to stop him, McGarrett takes a job as a special agent for the governor (a position he initially turned down) and commandeers the site.
Viewers witness several bloody shootouts. Danno and McGarrett get shot, and several bad guys die. During a military ambush, vehicles explode. Teammates beat up bad guys and, at one point, each other. Kona dons a very skimpy bikini. Undercover, she poses for the bad 'uns in her underwear. Another woman wears a bikini top. Folks drink beer and say "b‑‑ch," "h‑‑‑" and "a‑‑" with some frequency.
The divorced Danno appears to be a loving dad, though, moving to Hawaii to be closer to his daughter. McGarrett and Co. uncover a human trafficking ring and save lots of people, including one Chinese girl apparently forced into prostitution. (She's reunited with her family.)
Readability Age Range
Alex O'Loughlin as Det. Steve McGarrett; Scott Caan as Det. Danny Williams; Daniel Dae Kim as Det. Chin Ho Kelly; Grace Park as Kona Kalakaua; Masi Oka as Dr. Max Bergman; Taylor Wily as Kamekona; Chi McBride as Lou Grover; Jorge Garcia as Jerry Ortega