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.
It's possible that the popularity of Lost's tropical background played some role in resurrecting this slicked-down update of the famous cop show that ran for 12 solid seasons starting in 1968. There's certainly a strong travelogue element in the 2010 remix that includes glamorous tourist hot spots, rundown native shantytowns, and the sultry, photogenic wilds that make up most of the 50th state. The production team is careful to work in an amalgam of Hawaii's distinctive geography, along with enough stunt-filled action, pyrotechnics, and sexy style to make it appealing enough for an audience that probably doesn't remember Steve McGarrett, Jack Lord, or the inimitable drumbeats of the show's classic theme song. That rousing opening number, the beautiful backdrops, and the starring characters' names are pretty much all that's left over from the original Hawaii Five-0. Rather than the robotic, just-the-facts demeanor that defined Jack Lord's authoritative presence as the special cop squad's commander, the new Steve McGarrett (Aussie hunk Alex O'Loughlin) is an ex-Navy Seal who dives into foot chases, gunfights, and dangerous situations whenever possible, bringing a dreamy, heartthrob charisma that's the exact opposite of Jack Lord's steely, low-key magnetic charm. His number two, Dan Williams (a buff and tough Scott Caan), is a New Jersey transplant who plays dyspeptic foil to McGarrett's impetuous and often illegal whims in the name of crime fighting, telling him that he's crazy, but then backing him up all the way. Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim, a survivor from the Lost ensemble) is a disgraced cop brought back to the job by McGarrett, and Kono (Grace Park) has transformed from a hulking bruiser into a swimsuit model fresh out of the academy and with martial arts moves galore. This special task force has been designated by the governor (Jean Smart) as an elite major crimes unit that works outside the police chain of command, and often flaunts the rules to get their man. In an overarching plot thread, that man is the shadowy bad guy responsible for the murder of McGarrett's parents, eventually revealed to be Japanese yakuza leader and master villain Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos, who also played "The Chairman" on Food Network's Iron Chef America). When not focusing on Wo Fat and the elaborate mystery that reaches into the upper echelons of government, the episodes are based around the Five-0 team chasing terrorists, hostage takers, modern-day pirates, and a variety of desperate criminals. In nearly every situation McGarrett is given cause to go rogue by taking pretty much everything personally. Danny (or Danno, as in, "Book 'em, Danno!") is always there to remind him that he's crazy to cross so many lines, but also has his back in every tough spot McGarrett gets them into. In fact, the whole team is always there for each other with lots of interaction that teases out the personal lives of every character. It lends a touchy-feely tone to the show that was never, ever part of the Jack Lord-era Hawaii Five-0, but which helps this reboot by adding an emotional element that sometimes even bleeds into the action. And plenty of action there is. Shootouts, hand-to-hand combat, elaborate practical stunts, on-set special effects, and CGI enhancements all give the show a brisk and exciting pace, even if the scripts tend to rehash the same kinds of criminal setups. To keep it in the same high-tech league as other series such as NCIS, Criminal Minds, and the CSI franchise, Five-0 also has a command center filled with the latest computer gadgetry to keep them a step ahead in a world of state-of-the-art crime. The 24 episodes in this season-one set end with a fiery cliffhanger that clearly lets loose a big can of worms for the Five-0 team to track down in season two. Also included in the six-disc package are the usual outtakes and gag reel, commentary on two episodes, and a bunch of short pieces with self-explanatory titles like "The Story of Season 1," "Aloha Action!," "The Making of the Pilot," and "Re-scoring the Theme Song." They're a mixed bag, but the episodes themselves are consistently grade-A in bringing a contemporary, hyperbolic flair to a show that first came on the air more than 40 years ago. --Ted Fry