Wipeout!: The Racialicious Review of Hawaii Five-O 1.1

By Arturo R. García

The Good News: Hawaii Five-O managed a casting coup in attracting members of three of the biggest sci-fi shows in recent memory: Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), Masi Oka (Heroes) and Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica).

The Bad News: Hawaii Five-O? More like Hawaii Five-Bro.

Unfortunately for fans of the actors listed above, the rebooted series’ new creative team – Peter M. Lenkov and the Star Trek & Transformers 2 writing duo of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci – shoves them clear to the back of the room from the get-go.

But, hey, at least they kept the theme song in one piece.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Indeed, Oka doesn’t even show up in the pilot episode, and Park and Kim are only around long enough to get introduced (Park is Kona, the Hot Rookie; Kim is Chin, the Tech Guy/Native Guide), with the bulk of the episode devoted to McGarrett’s forceful enlistment of Danny Williams, which gives Scott Caan the chance to play Martin Lawrence to Alex McLochlin’s Will Smith. Problem is, McLochlin is more Joseph Fiennes than Will Smith. And you saw how that experiment worked out. But, Caan knows how to work the bickering-partner formula, which boosts both characters.

And boy, does this McGarrett ever need a boost. Whereas the original was a grizzled cop with a seriously cool coif who just happened to have served in the U.S. Navy, the new-jack version literally walks off a chopper into command of his own Untouchables-style task force, by direct order of the governor, and who OF COURSE knows how to speak the local dialect. Yet somehow he’s still surprised that the natives don’t immediately take to him.

The reason for McGarrett’s crazy-fast promotion actually could have given us a good year’s worth of storylines: his dad was killed as a result of a botched convoy hijacking by Victor Hess (James Marsters). Between Marsters and Norman Reedus, who shows up way too briefly as Victor’s brother Anton, that’s plenty of quality villainy, the kind of potentially strong antagonists you need to make your hero believable. Instead … well, the bright side is, no body was found, I’ll just say that. How do you say “blew your wad” on the islands?

That feeling of wasted opportunity permeates the whole 42 minutes and change of this episode: given a critically-credible cast and a beautiful set of surroundings, the early indications are that the 2010 version of this show just imported the wrong things from its’ predecessor. Is it too late to hit Restart?