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Hawaii Five-0 “Pilot”

Photo: Neil Jacobs/CBS

Alex O’Loughlin is back on my TV! Alex O’Loughlin is back on my TV! Wheeeee! Ahem. Full confession: I LOVED Moonlight. I cackled loud and long when TPTB at CBS realized their misstep and bent themselves silly trying to get him back into a project. I abhor medical dramas but I sat through Three Rivers for him. Now he’s back in something much more my speed: a reboot of Hawaii Five-O. The names are the same, the setup is different, and the sensibility is definitely 21st century.

Bundling a can’t-miss cast that includes Scott Caan (coming off of an arc on Entourage and who I enjoy because of my guilty pleasure, Into the Blue), Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), and Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica), the show follows a newly-created police task force headed up by Steve McGarrett (O’Loughlin), a special forces soldier who returns home to Hawaii to bury his murdered father (William Sadler) and is instead enlisted by the governor (Jean Smart!) to kick ass and take names with her budget and resources and complete immunity.

McGarrett has a vendetta to settle—Victor Hesse (James Marsters!), the arms dealer who killed his father, did so out of revenge because McGarrett had taken his brother, Anton (also an arms dealer, played by Norman Reedus) into custody, and during an attempted kidnapping from said custody, McGarrett killed him. McGarrett declines the task force offer until he runs up against Danny Williams (Caan), a New Jersey transplanted detective (relocated to Hawaii to be closer to his young daughter) while rummaging around his dad’s house and collecting his own evidence. When Williams won’t back down from McGarrett taking a toolbox (with TBD evidence) out of the garage, McGarrett rings up the governor’s private number, takes the oath right then and there, and much to Williams’ chagrin, McGarrett suddenly has seniority.

McGarrett convinces Williams to join him and they hit the ground running following up on the latter’s lead. They bring in Chin Ho Kelly (Kim), a disgraced former cop and friend of McGarrett’s dad, who has the island “in” that they need. Kelly was accused of theft and says he can’t be reinstated; McGarrett asks him if he took the money, he says no, and McGarrett says case closed, you’re a cop again. The final puzzle piece is Kelly’s cousin, Kona Kalakaua, a newly-minted police cadet (Park).

The trail leads the group to a human smuggling ring (led by Witchblade’s Will Yun Lee). Kona is made for a cop, all hell breaks loose, and the team follows the bigger lead to a Chinese freighter, searching for one of the crew who killed McGarrett’s dad. While the governor is explicitly telling them to not interfere on the grounds of diplomatic immunity, they’re “I can’t hear you”-ing it down the dock and onto the boat by way of a police cruiser. There they find their suspect and Victor, whom McGarrett dispatches way too quickly (but we don’t close out on whether there’s a body).The episode ends with the new assembled team settling in and Kona and Kelly pitching names for their unit. McGarrett settles his bad start with Danny, gifting him with hotel room vouchers so he can stay somewhere reputable while his daughter visits.

I dug the episode a lot. AOL is a great fit for the role—easy charm that turns on and off when he faces something he doesn’t like (although McGarrett is a bit of a know-it-all). I think his “neener neener” camaraderie with Williams (whom he only calls “Danno” once; it’s an affection assigned by his daughter) could become something great in terms of onscreen partnerships. We don’t have a bead on Kim and Park yet, but I’m always happy to see them working. Jean Smart is forever awesome, so she can work anywhere she damn well pleases. Boo yah that she’s in Hawaii. My only gripe is that we got O’Loughlin vs. Marsters onscreen for about a minute and I could have watched them play off each other the whole hour. I’m glad AOL is back. May this one stick.

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