New 'Five-O' off to promising start
By Wayne Harada
A new "Hawaii Five-O" pilot will soon begin filming here, as CBS strives to reboot, recycle and reinvent one of television's iconic shows.
But should the "Five-O" franchise be tampered with? Is Jack Lord, the original Steve McGarrett, rolling in his grave? Does lightning strike again?
It's not the first time that the network is attempting to reignite the magic that was "Five-O."
Remember the earlier debacle with Gary Busey? Recall the recent plan that would have a McGarrett son carry on dad's crimefighting mission? Remember all the buzz of a big-screen reincarnation with bigger names?
Is nothing sacred?
On the one hand, no one can replicate the stilted charm of Lord, who put style and starch in his McGarrett character, and played it with precise control for 12 seasons, from 1968 to 1980, then the longest-running police drama (since eclipsed by "Law & Order").
The show was groundbreaking in its time — the first to shoot entirely in the Islands, with daily rushes sent back to the West Coast (hey, this was before the digital age) — and was a boon to Island tourism thanks to images of the mythical state police unit battling crime and evil-doers in a tropical paradise. The vistas were truly marvelous, particularly during Mainland winter storms.
Imagine what good a sun-baked environment on the tube would do to spur visitors here now, in the wake of the recent whiteout on the East Coast and the lingering down economy.
Which brings up casting. Alex O'Loughlin (pronounced oh-lock-lin), an Australian, has been tapped to take on the Lord/McGarrett challenge, and those are big shoes to fill. He has to curb his Down Under accent; he's kind of a young hunk, which makes him marketable; and he's an apparent darling of the network, who had him starring in two failed CBS shows: the vampire outing "Moonlight," where O'Loughlin played Mick St. John for 16 episodes in 2008,and the medical drama "Three Rivers," where he portrayed Dr. Andy Yablonski for a mere 10 episodes earlier this season. So will three be his lucky charm?
For years, there has been talk about a movie version of "Five-O," with names like George Clooney, Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas and Alec Baldwin heading the rumor mills. More recently, there was that "Five-O" junior-grade update plan, where a McGarrett son named Chris would head the elite police on the big screen.
The 2010 revival heading this way already is blessed with the presence of Daniel Dae Kim, who was the first signed to the show, in the role ofstate police officer Chin Ho Kelly. He's the first "Lost" star to find momentum after the ABC show's closure this season.
Behind the scenes, there are savvy show magicians, with a pedigree of growing success, to tweak "Five-O": "Fringe" writer-producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who also were the screenwriters of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and "Star Trek," and Peter Lenkov, a producer of "CSI: New York."
Movies continue to scope previous TV hits for renewed life, and vice versa, but failures outnumber hits. The losers: "Dragnet," "Starsky and Hutch," "Miami Vice," "I Spy," "Land of the Lost," "The Dukes of Hazzard," "The Addams Family," "The X-Files," and "Bewitched." Among the triumphs: "Mission: Impossible," "The Fugitive," "Star Trek," "Charlie's Angels."
"The A-Team" arrives this summer with Liam Neeson, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper and Rampage Jackson, and in a twisteroo, "The Exorcist" will be revived this year with original director William Friedkin downsizing the 1973 horror thriller for a TV mini-series.
The beat goes on and on and on.
Let's hope this "Hawaii Five-O" captures the spirit and flavor of the old, and inspires a new generation of potential visitors to the 50th state. That was a bonus mission of the original. The new one should retain the solid formula of yesteryear — "Five-O" always had solid storytelling based on mythical but logical good-vs.-evil battles — without excessive violence or expletives. Just check the frequent syndicated airings or those season DVD collections — they're classic.