If you’ve ever read much about Alex O’Loughlin, the Australian actor playing the lead role in Hawaii Five-O, you’ll know he’s been trying to become a TV star with American network CBS for quite some time. First there was Moonlight, the vampire series that was cancelled right before the whole vampire craze really took off. Then there was Three Rivers the medical drama that bombed even worse than Moonlight.
Now, there’s Hawaii Five-O – and third time’s the charm.
What you need to know about Hawaii Five-O is that it’s nothing special or out of the box. This isn’t The Good Wife or Blue Bloods – both network procedurals that rise above the pack. This is just a well-made, well-acted production with name value and a great theme tune that does what it sets out to do – nothing less, nothing more.
Aussie actor O’Loughlin plays Steve McGarrett (the part originated by Jack Lord), a no-nonsense Navy SEAL. We’re introduced to the character during a terrific opening action sequence (which has sadly been completely spoiled by all the promotional material and reviews) that sets up his entry into the elite crime fighting task force set up by the Governor of Hawaii (played by the always awesome Jean Smart).
The crime fighting task force is endowed with a complete absence of checks and balances – which creates great potential for high drama and an unusual degree of ethical ambiguity. McGarrett recruits wise-cracking Detective Danny Williams (Scott Caan) into his team and the team soon settle into a familiar (though entertaining) antagonistic buddy cop routine. Caan is the best thing about the show (and was nominated for an unexpected Golden Globe), bringing comic timing, rugged charm and a surprising level of dramatic depth to the role.
The other members of the team are former cop Chin-Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim, not having to leave
after making Lost) and his police academy graduate cousin Kona Kalakaua (Grace Park of Battlestar Galactica). Once the team has come together Hawaii Five-O swings into the familiar beats of a police procedural for the rest of the pilot. A very good cop show, but a cop show nonetheless. Hawaii
The pilot, directed by Underworld helmer Len Wiseman, looks fantastic and Wiseman brings an air of confidence and flair to proceedings that the material doesn’t necessarily deserve. As the series moves along there are hints of a return to an ongoing story but it isn’t compelling enough to warrant watching every episode of the series.
The action sequences, a key element of a show like this, are excellent in the pilot and suffer slightly as the series goes along and spends less money. But for the most part O’Loughlin is a convincing action lead – even if he is trying to match Taylor Lautner and Matthew McConaughey in terms of general shirtlessness. Grace Park also looks excellent every time she is gratuitously put in a bikini or her underwear, which is often, at least initially.
Hawaii Five-O has been a relative hit in America, which means it should be around on our screens for a little while yet. So should you watch Hawaii Five-O? Absolutely, if you like well-produced police procedurals with good looking cast members, cool catchphrases and fantastic theme songs. But if you have limited television watching time and like your dramas with some depth, feel free to give Hawaii Five-O a miss.
SCORE – 6/10. Better than average, but only just.
WORTH WATCHING FOR
- Scott Caan’s charismatic performance
- Fantastic locations and visuals
- Decent-to-excellent action sequences.
- Rocking theme tune
- ‘Book ‘em, Danno.”
WORKING AGAINST IT
- A lack of depth or innovation
- Straightforward plotting
- Not the world's most engaging supporting cast.