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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Island-made shows 'Lost,' 'Hawaii' go head-to-head

By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

The general election is six long weeks away, but Hawai'i residents have a critical decision to make, starting tonight:

Photo illustration by Jon Orque • The Honolulu Advertiser
"Hawaii" or "Lost?"

"Lost" or "Hawaii?"

"Hawaii," the NBC cop show set in Honolulu, has been on the air for three weeks, seemingly rebounding from a brutal wave of early reviews.

ABC's "Lost," a survivor drama filmed on O'ahu but not actually set in Hawai'i, makes its much-anticipated broadcast debut tonight.

Both are to spend the fall season going head-to-head Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

But who will win over Hawai'i viewers: the dedicated detectives of the Honolulu Metro Police Department or the 48 survivors of a horrific airplane crash?

And what's the more intriguing backdrop: the rarely depicted underbelly of urban Honolulu or the remote beaches and forests of an unnamed island teeming with mysterious beasts?

While "Hawaii" casts more local actors in supporting and extra roles, both shows use local behind-the-scenes talent, and both provide an economic boost for the state.

So can two shows shot on the same island — playing the same night at the same time on national television — survive an entire season of competition?

Tonight's "Lost" is the first half of the two-hour pilot episode shot here in April. The second half will be shown next week.

The show opens just minutes after an airliner flying from Sydney, Australia, to Los Angeles crashes on a beach, leaving 48 survivors strewn on a deserted island with one jet engine still screaming with potentially deadly power. The 14 main characters emerge slowly, offering glimpses of their personalities and teasing hints about their past lives.

Meanwhile, tonight's episode of "Hawaii," titled "Lost and Found," finds an outraged detective John Declan (Sharif Atkins) hunting down a pedophile who might be the link between a kidnapped 16-year-old girl (local singer-actress Tani Lynn Fujimoto) and a sex-slavery ring.

Other story lines have Officer Linh Tamiya (Aya Sumika) tracing the identity of a skull that washes ashore after 50 years, and detectives Christopher Gains (Eric Balfour) and Danny Edwards (Ivan Sergei) looking for a missing CIA laptop.

So which will it be?

John Aldana of Waikiki was impressed with the "Lost" pilot episode at an advanced screening at Sunset on the Beach earlier this month. But he also likes "Hawaii" and has friends who are extras on the show.

"If I can find two TVs, I'll watch both, I guess," he says.

For those of us who don't have two TVs (or TiVos or DVRs) and aren't willing to engage the higher functions of our VCRs, there is no hedging.

"Lost" or "Hawaii?"

"Hawaii" or "Lost?"

To aid you in this most critical of meaningless decisions, we've compiled a "tale of the tape" based on carefully researched, highly dubious indicators of quality.


"Hawaii": Local crime lord decapitates his enemies with a lei o mano, a traditional Hawaiian shark-toothed weapon.

"Lost": Rampaging polar bear.

Advantage: "Lost." We hope it'll be a cold day in Hawai'i — cold enough for polar bears — before another TV writer walks the Bishop Museum halls looking for bright ideas.

Ideas to thrill a 15-year-old

"Hawaii": High-speed chase in a red convertible; high-speed chase on a pair of jet watercraft; carjackers in Steve McGarrett masks.

"Lost": Stuck on a desert island with Evangeline Lilly, Maggie Grace and Yunjin Kim.

Advantage: "Lost." Did we mention the jet watercraft chase was in Nu'uanu Stream? Yuck.

Who's 'It'?

"Hawaii": Sergei, the former "Crossing Jordan" star and unabashed NFL junkie, has been tabbed as People magazine's latest TV Hunk. Guess it's official, then.

"Lost": Everyone loves a fresh face, and there isn't a lovelier one to be found this fall than outdoor lover Evangeline Lilly's. Let's just hope "Kate" packed a big bottle of sunscreen in her carry-on.

Advantage: "Hawaii." Tough to argue with People. And we hear Sergei can act, too.

HI ties

"Hawaii": Pick 'em: Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa has lived here for 10 years and his father, a career Army guy, was born here; Sumika has a father and brother in upcountry Maui; Peter Navy Tuiasosopo has family in Nanakuli and 'Ewa Beach; Eric Balfour has an uncle on Maui and has been a frequent visitor over the years.

"Lost": The car with the "No Ka Oi" license plate seen up and down the 405 in L.A. belongs to none other than executive producer Bryan Burk. He inherited it from his grandfather, who used to run the Treasure Craft pottery company on Maui. Various cast members have done projects in Hawai'i, including Naveen Andrews, who shot "Mighty Joe Young" here.

Advantage: "Hawaii." Just promise us that Michael Biehn won't speak pidgin anymore.

Geek cred

"Hawaii": Biehn became a sci-fi heavyweight with starring roles in "The Terminator" and "Aliens." Did we mention that he made his acting debut in "Logan's Run?"

"Lost": Harold Perrineau Jr. played the bedreaded "Link" in "The Matrix: Reloaded" and "The Matrix: Revolutions."

Advantage: "Hawaii." If Perrineau had started his career on, oh, "Man From Atlantis," this might have been closer.

One degree of CSI

"Hawaii": None.

"Lost": Grace, Josh Holloway, Daniel Dae Kim, Ian Somerhalder and producer Jean Higgins all have shared their talents with the Starbucks of network TV.

Advantage: "Lost." But "Hawaii" is the hands-down winner in the "One Degree of Logan's Run."

Like dance?

"Hawaii": Sumika studied contemporary ballet at the prestigious Juilliard School. Dance Magazine said her solo performance to a duet from "La Clemenza di Tito" drew an audience reaction that "heralds the arrival of an extraordinary talent."

"Lost": Emilie de Ravin attended the prestigious Australian Ballet School and performed in productions of the Australian Ballet Company.

Advantage: Push. Thank goodness we didn't lose these two to PBS.

Like beef?

"Hawaii": Tuiasosopo was a 300-plus-pound lineman at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. He bench-pressed 225 pounds a then-record 46 times at the NFL scouting combines. Tagawa has studied martial arts for 40 years and is the founder of a discipline called chuu-shin.

"Lost": Terry O'Quinn is a black belt in karate and a former Golden Gloves boxing champion. He worked as a bodyguard before getting into acting.

Advantage: There's no way we're calling this one.

Scorecard: It's a 3-3-2 pick-em. We'll leave it to the Nielsen ratings to decide.

Reach Michael Tsai at mtsai@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-1461.