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TV Series Review

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.

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Episode Reviews

Hawaii Five-0: 04-24-2015
HawaiiFive0: 12-17-2012
HawaiiFive0: 3-21-2011
HawaiiFive0: 9-20-2010



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






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