Hawaii Five-O Series Premiere Review: A Successful Reboot

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As one of the most anticipated shows this season, Hawaii Five-O had a lot of pressure on it... and if the series premiere was any indication, the light-hearted drama won't have a problem living up to this hype.

I really enjoyed the new version of this classic program. It appears that CBS kept all the parts of the original show that worked and updated the parts needed to be modernized. Take the theme song, for example, an iconic tune with just a few new tinges of awesomeness.

Hawaii Five-O Characters

Alex O'Loughlin comes in as Commander Steve McGarrett of the U.S. Navy. He is recruited by the Governor of Hawaii to lead a special team to help rid the state of the worst of the worst criminals. I love O’Loughlin. I am so very glad that he got a better show than last year’s failed Three Rivers, as Hawaii 5-O takes full advantage of all of his skills.

Scott Caan is recruited as a New Jersey detective, Danny Williams, transplanted to Hawaii to be close to his daughter. I was wondering how they were going to work this character as a Hawaii resident. My fears were put to rest instantly when you realize that he's a loving dad willing to deal with Hawaii just to be closer to his daughter. Some great comedic touches to this included the ringtone for his ex-wife being the score from Psycho.

Daniel Day Kim is Chin Ho Kelly, who was kicked off the force but comes back when recruited by Steve. Of our starting characters, Chin is the only one who has grown up and resided on the island. He is also connected to the last member of the team, Kona Kalakaua.

The always wonderful Grace Park plays Kalakaua, recruited to the unit just before she graduates from the police academy.

Given how much the world has changed since the original series ran from 1968 to 1980, I was happy with the overall structure of the show. McGarrett is now an ex-special forces Commander who is action-oriented and the cases they will be dealing with are going to be a bit larger than your typical cop show. If the writers keep the stories centered on threats to Hawaii and sometimes the United States, I think that it can succeed.

Normally in a pilot, you will see some clunky interactions with the cast as they get familiar with each other and the characters. But O’Loughlin and Caan must have gone away to summer camp together before they started shooting. Their banter, fights, and discussion were nicely done. Moreover, Caan possesses such great satirical humor, you can’t help but laugh when he asks a handcuff suspect, laying face down who is  struggling, “where are you trying to go?”

There were two things in the pilot that I am concerned about and will be watching for in future episodes:

  1. Overuse of fire fights. In one hour alone, they had three major fire fight scenes. While this does make for an incredibly action-filled pilot, it also means you have to rush all your character introductions to fit them in. I am hopeful this was just the writer’s way of opening the show with a bang and it will level off in upcoming episodes.
  2. Underuse of guest stars. James Marsters was cast as Victor Hesse, who McGarrett has been chasing around the globe for five years. Marsters might have gotten three minutes of total screen time. William Sadler was cast as John McGarrett, Steve’s father and got less than two minutes of screen time. It seemed a waste to cast such great names for roles that we didn’t see much of. 

Still, it was a solid start. Browse through a few Hawaii Five-O quotes from the episode and chime in with your take on it.


Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (193 Votes)

Jim G. is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


The original show is a masterpiece. If the new show wants to succeed, it needs to slow down the tempo, way too fast paced. The start Theme is too short, and the end credits are too fast. The SOB words are not needed. However the filming location shots are great. The shows existance will depend on the writers. I feel that it would have a better chance if they had gone with entirely new characters. We'll see.


good work .how many episodes are there?expand the theme song .a few more seconds .


haole is not a derogatory term..it is a Hawaiian term to note White men just as Kanaka is a Hawaiian male..give it a rest!
Stop looking for social correctness...it is their language people.


I'm a big fan of the original.
I liked the give and take between McGarrett and Danno. I wish they would slow down the tempo and take more time for a plot to develop. Why should he find his father's killer in the first episode?
Couldn't it be stretched out for 1/2 or the whole season? Producers: take a cue from the original and get good writers who know how to make interesting plots that make you think a little!


so the term is haole, not howies, and actually it is a somewhat controversial term for white guys. not usually used as a compliment, if ya know what i mean.


I think it has real potential. Loved the depth in the pilot episode. They explored the characters instead of making them cardboard cutouts. But yes, I concur with the firefight thing... great opener, don't rely on the same thing again, or it will become just another violent show, instead of an action show with cerebral qualities.


@Shambles, good observations, I will be watching McGarrett a bit closer now. After rewatching the episode this morning I noticed also that the writers don't assume we are simple and would miss things if they didn't explain everything. Like the use of the term "Howie" for "white guy/non-islander". It was used several times and I figured out what it meant, it was a nice touch. Caan also had a few quips I caught like when O'Loughlin twisted his hand around he mumbled "what are you ninja" which again, was very subtle and nicely done. I have high hopes for the show if they can just not over think it to much. Too many revisited shows have over-thought the process (looking at you Knight Rider and Bionic Woman!)


I am amused that there is a secret, there is a connection with Danno's and Steve's case, intricate emotions about family members are discussed, Steve has a large amount of money to give to informants and his dignity is not scorned in his self evaluation, bad cops and the bad guys will always play a role in this show and the four of them can always face the music and tolerate each others wanton conversations. The one liners are brilliant and brazen. And I like the idea that the writers and producers have a solid frame of reference of all kinds of crime that evolve constantly in the world and expunges it with military and intelligence ease and denigration without remorse. I loved the way McGarrett was on the phone in the car saying I did my job to the governor and now you have to do your job! Is luck on McGarretts side or is he just the physical strength and distinguished personality and skills needed for the island? He is a pillar to be reckoned with and I loved it.


Alex is HOT!!!! Loved him in Moonlight, 3 Rivers and this one. Hopefully the network won't screw over the viewers by changing time slots every other week and their various other idiocies that make it difficult to get involved in a show you know they're going to cancel for some lame reason.


It was good. Great casting

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Hawaii Five-0 Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Danny: We shouldn't be doing this without backup.
Steve: You are the backup.
Danny: I am the backup. I hate him so much.

McGarrett: Tell me you know how to swim.
Danny: I know how to swim. I swim for survival, not for fun.