By TIM GOODMAN
San Francisco Chronicle
The entire point of remakes is that there are no good ideas on television anymore. No, wait, scratch that. The entire point is that by feeding you something you might be familiar with — and perhaps liked the first time around or in reruns — it’ll be that much easier to sell it to you again without all the explaining.
So, do you need “Hawaii Five-O” explained? Not the one from some years back with Jack Lord. The one from 2010 with, um, Alex O’Loughlin as McGarrett, and premiering Monday at 9 p.m. (on KGMB). Sure you do, so here’s what CBS says in an almost believable way:
” ‘Hawaii Five-O’ is a contemporary take on the classic series about a new elite federalized task force whose mission is to wipe out the crime that washes up on the islands’ sun-drenched beaches. Detective Steve McGarrett, a decorated naval officer-turned-cop, returns to Oahu to investigate his father’s murder and stays after Hawaii’s governor persuades him to head up the new team: his rules, her backing, no red tape and full-blanket authority to hunt down the biggest ‘game’ in town.”
OK, if you just threw up in your mouth a little bit, don’t worry. It’s not that bad. In fact, it’s almost impossible to mess up a series shot on location in Hawaii and featuring Grace Park in a bikini. You would have to make it turn it into a sci-fi comedy to really mangle it. Although the first 15 minutes may have you thinking they’ve overdone it on the action steroids, the show calms down after that. You’ll get Scott Caan as Danny “Danno” Williams and Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho Kelly. Park plays Kono Kalakaua. There appears to be no Wo Fat of yet, which almost kills it, but perhaps he’ll surface later.
“Hawaii Five-O” is nothing but entertainment. It’s eye candy. Waves, sun, island culture. A bad guy surfaces, McGarrett goes to work. Danno books him. End of story. Sometimes there are gun battles. Fists fly. That’s all there is, folks. It’s not rocket science. True, watching the original is more fun. And more cheesy. But waves are waves. Hawaii is still pretty. And if you’re looking for anything deeper than that, you’ve landed on the wrong island. “Lost” is over. Let your mind take a break.
By Jonathan Storm
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Ten years ago, CBS came out with a ballyhooed remake of “The Fugitive,” the classic ’60s series in which a wrongly accused physician scrambled to stay ahead of his dogged pursuer. Few people paid much attention to the other show that premiered that night.
It was Bruckheimer’s first network show, a little thing called “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” It “has more hooks than a tuna boat,” wrote one of the critics (me) who noticed, relegating “The Fugitive” and all its hoo and bally to a distant second place: “Too contrived.”
Bruckheimer wins again. The unheralded show this time is NBC’s “Chase,” about not one, but many, chases, and it has the hooks. It faces off at 9 p.m. against “Hawaii Five-0″ the remake, and as remakes usually are, “Five-0″ is too contrived.
CBS pulls Alex O’Loughlin out of mothballs to play Steve McGarrett after the failure of “Moonlight” and “Three Rivers.” He’s still handsome, but no longer a vampire, nor a doctor. Now he’s the world’s greatest Navy action hero (hey, it works for “NCIS”), who returns to his home state of Hawaii, where Jean Smart has segued from interior decorator (“Designing Women”) and first lady (“24″) to governor.
She gives him carte blanche to round up the villains. But first he rounds up the new cop — after they meet cute, pointing guns at each other. Danny Williams is just in from Jersey so he can be closer to his daughter, who called him “Danno” because she couldn’t pronounce “Daddy.” See what I mean by “contrived”? James Caan’s son Scott, also handsome, plays the part.
They bicker incessantly, even after Daniel Dae Kim of “Lost” and his hot cousin, Grace Park from “Battlestar Galactica,” join the squad to give it a little local color, even if they both have Korean ancestry, and there are about as many Koreans in Hawaii as Puerto Ricans.
The only new guy in the “Chase” squad of Texas-based U.S. marshals is another East Coast kid, all buttoned down, D.C.-style. But he soon learns to untuck his shirt and run with the rest of ‘em: the appealing mixed bag of types that populates most Bruckheimer projects.
With a strong woman at the forefront, this one is slightly reminiscent of “Cold Case,” though Kathryn Morris was much more of a china doll than tough gal Kelli Giddish.
She plays the cowboy-booted Annie Frost and does most of her own stunts, which, though they don’t carry the highfalutin, techno-savvy baggage of ex-Navy action heroes, are exciting and fun.
Sure, they’ll run and run and run some more in every show and catch the fugitives at the end. This is meat-and-potatoes television. But if the baddies are as well-drawn as Travis Fimmel’s murderous character in the pilot, there’s also a tasty order of creamed spinach on the side.
By CHUCK BARNEY
Contra Costa Times
When someone attempts to make over a successful television show, they almost always bungle it. “Bionic Woman.” “Knight Rider.” “Melrose Place.” They’re just a few notorious examples of recent reboots that quickly crashed and burned.
So when I heard CBS was going to remake “Hawaii Five-0″ — a show that I maniacally cherished as a kid — I instantly experienced a case of cold sweats. “How many ways are they going to screw this one up?” I wondered.
But consider my mind happily blown. CBS has presented viewers with an exciting gift this fall. Their “Five-0″ update not only doesn’t stink, it’s an action-packed, easy-on-the-eyes thrill ride that is slicker and sexier than the original series that aired from 1968 to ‘80. It also contains a sense of humor that the stone-cold serious Jack Lord version lacked.
Stepping into Lord’s shoes as Detective Steve McGarrett, Oahu’s crime-fighting Big Kahuna, is Alex O’Loughlin, who after two strikes with CBS (“Moonlight”; “Three Rivers”) is getting his third — and probably final — swing.
And what a contrast he brings. Gone are the lacquered black pompadour, steely stare and granite jaw. Yes, O’Loughlin’s McGarrett is still a stoic man on a mission, but there’s an engaging hang-looseness to him. He prefers T-shirts to dark suits and isn’t shy about stripping them off to show off his rippled abs.
In tonight’s high-octane opener, McGarrett, is introduced as a decorated Naval intelligence officer who is out to crack a terrorist cell. But the murder of his estranged father brings him home to Hawaii, where the governor (Jean Smart) persuades him to stay and head up a new elite police task force. Explosions ensue. And gunfights.
The most dramatic — and best — change is McGarrett’s relationship with his sidekick Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan). In the original, Danny, played by James MacArthur, was little more than a stage prop, doing what he was told, no questions asked.
But in “Five-0″ 2.0, Danny has transformed from yes-man to wing man. He and McGarrett are more like equals — equals who engage in verbal (even physical) sparring matches. Their smack-talking banter helps to keep things playful, and Caan is a scene-stealing delight.
Rounding out the highly appealing cast are Daniel Dae Kim (“Lost”) and Grace Park (“Battlestar Galactica”). The latter brings a feminine touch that was virtually nonexistent in the testosterone-laced original. But better not cross her. This feisty surfer-chick packs a mean punch.
Even with all the updates, fans of the original will be pleased to see that some things haven’t changed. That iconic theme song is still intact. The Hawaiian scenery is still presented in all its blazingly beautiful glory. And we even get a heartwarming “Book ‘em, Danno” line before the first hour expires.
It helps that executive producer Peter Lenkov was a big “Five-0″ fan as a kid who watched the show religiously alongside his dad. With Lenkov at the helm, the franchise appears to be in good hands.
It also helps that the original wasn’t exactly “Masterpiece Theatre.” As much as some of us loved it, we can’t deny that it had its cheesy elements and was often stiff and stodgy. In its latter years, some episodes were just plain awful.
In other words, there was room for some contemporary improvement. And with that mission accomplished, “Hawaii Five-0″ just might be one remake with staying power.
By MARK NIESSE
Associated Press Writer
HONOLULU — The elite crime-fighting team of “Hawaii Five-0″ is back in the islands — this time with more bikinis, fewer stiff suits and a remix of the series’ classic theme song.
The remake of the legendary series, which ran for 12 seasons from 1968 to 1980, debuts Monday at 9 p.m. on CBS with a legacy to live up to.
Like the original hit show, the new version’s cop team hunts down criminals, often ending with the catch phrase “Book ‘em, Danno!”
But the rebooted version aims to add more witty banter, character backstory and edginess to the formulaic detective work of the first series, which preceded a generation of crime dramas such as “Magnum, P.I.” and “Law & Order.”
“You can do great action, and we do,” said executive producer Peter Lenkov. “But what’s fresh and different is the character development and humor.”
Filmed in Hawaii, “Hawaii Five-0″ aims to appeal to viewers by taking them to island scenes shot at sun-soaked beaches and landmark locations including Pearl Harbor, ‘Iolani Palace and Waikiki.
Alex O’Loughlin is replacing the original Detective Steve McGarrett, played by Jack Lord. As a former Navy SEAL, the new McGarrett has been recruited by Hawaii’s governor to lead a task force against criminals and terrorists intruding into the United States through its Pacific islands.
“He’s part mercenary, and his tactics are pretty crazy. He does whatever he needs to do to get the job done,” O’Loughlin said during a break from filming on site in Honolulu. “We have respect for what came before us, but we’re not drawing from the old show.”
Unlike his predecessor, O’Loughlin is more likely to go into a suspect’s house wearing a bulletproof vest, guns blazing. The Australian actor has Lord’s big shoes to fill after previously playing the lead in “Three Rivers” and “Moonlight.”
Alongside McGarrett is sidekick Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan), a by-the-book detective who’s less than pleased with McGarrett’s full-speed-ahead attitude.
“I don’t think that he’s a bad guy or anything,” said Caan, who has appeared on “Entourage.”
“I just think he’s crazy,” he said. “That sets up the butting of heads and the personality clash.”
Rounding out the four-member team are characters Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua. Both were part of the original series, but this time they should get more prominent roles because the show won’t rely as much on McGarrett alone.
Another big change: Instead of Kono being the burly man seen in the series’ first run, the character has been transformed into a swimsuit-wearing rookie cop played by Grace Park.
“To be able to have the experience all over again and revisit it with fresher eyes — that’s something people look forward to, to have a new different experience,” said Park, who previously starred on “Battlestar Galactica.”
“Otherwise, we would’ve just rereleased the old DVDs again.”
The show’s reinvention of itself will emphasize more teamwork rather than always making McGarrett the primary hero, said Daniel Dae Kim, who plays Chin Ho Kelly.
“Our goal isn’t as much to improve on the original series as it is to adapt it to modern audiences,” said Kim, best known for his role in “Lost,” which was also filmed in Hawaii. “There’s a different storytelling style now.”
The show’s premiere coincides with the 42nd anniversary of its first run, which started Sept. 20, 1968.
Its writers hope to avoid the mistakes that led to the cancellation of other recent remakes such as “Knight Rider” and “Bionic Woman,” Lenkov said. Both of those shows lasted only one season.
The characters in “Hawaii Five-0″ will be more three-dimensional than during the series’ first run, with their own troubled histories, unpredictable family ties and personal mistakes, he said.
Viewers shouldn’t expect the new McGarrett’s hair to always stay in place or for his decisions to always work out.
“Our Steve McGarrett — he’s a little more flawed than Jack Lord was,” Lenkov said. “That’s what makes him an interesting character. There’s a little grayness to him. I didn’t want him to be a superhero.”