Sunday, September 19, 2010
Hawaii Five-0 Is The Best New Network Series
For years CBS has been the U.S. network ratings leader, loathe to drastically change its schedule.
But recent survey's indicate the Tiffany of the networks is servicing an increasingly older audience --the average age of a CBS viewer is now 57 years.
So in May CBS cancelled seven faltering series and introduced three new dramas and two new half hour comedies to its lineup.
CBS is making changes but not radical ones. Old pro Tom Selleck returns to series TV in a police saga Blue Bloods while Jim Belushi plays a lawyer in the hour series The Defenders --the title was once the domain of a famous CBS series starring E.G. Marshall.
But the best of the bunch is the restructured Hawaii Five-0.
Jack Lord is dead, James MacArthur no longer acts. But the surfs still up and there are baddies running everywhere on these islands.
And CBS has placed its trust in young hunk Alex O'Loughlin who may not exactly sport the coiffure of Lord but is steel jawed and manly.
CBS sees something in O'Loughlin that viewers must have missed. The Aussie import has twice starred in CBS shows that tanked in the ratings: first there was Moonlight (2007) followed by Three Rivers (2009).
CBS has to realize there are troubles inherent in the restructuring of such a classic as Hawaii Five-0.
Recent remakes from The Bionic Woman to Knight Rider were lifeless remakes that added nothing but subtracted mightily from the originals.
I remember CBS once tried to refloat Perry Mason with the colorless Monte Markham and paid heavily for that effort.
The new Hawaii Five-0 does have the music. It does have the same splendid locations. And once a week you'll hear the familiar "Book 'em Dano."
That's about where the resemblance ends.
In this version Garrett doesn't work for Honolulu Homicide but heads a special agency established to battle crime funded by the state's governor (played by Jean Smart).
Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman did the successful 2009 reboot of the Star Trek franchise and are aware of the pitfalls. Here they've made McGarrett a vengeful ex-Navy SEALS who roughs it up, soots it out and performs some pretty spectacular stunts whereas Jack Lord in his day would never get his pompadour touselled.
It's sidekick Dano (played by Jimmy Caan's son Scott) who supplies some of the humor. These two guys hate each other at first sight but by the end of the first hour a bromance clearly is brewing.
Ad the role of Kono has been modernized. Grace Park turned a former male character on Battlestar Galactica into her own female version now does the same here. Kono is now a recent police academy grad with strong kick ass tendencies.
And jumping over from Lost there's Daniel Dae Kim as another member of the elite force named Det. Chin Ho Kelly.
Look, this is basic entertainment. You want sometghing brooding and challenging try Mad Men on cable.
CBS knows its audience and knows procedurals sell mightily in the mass TV ,arket.
Some of these reboots have worked, others have failed spectacularly.
But Hawaii Five-0 could make it big as CBS looks to the past for its ratings future.
HAWAII FIVE-0 PREMIERES MOND. SEPT. 20 ON GLOBAL AND CTV AT 10 P.M.
MY RATING: *** 1/2.