Taste vs. Fun

I’m having a problem and that problem is: I think I love Hawaii Five-0.

This is perhaps not the wisest thing to confess if I want to maintain any credibility as a reviewer, but given a choice between a show that is ingenious-but-subtle and a show that is awesome-but-dumb, nine times out of ten I will choose dumb. Entertainment value > lasting impact, almost every time.

I don’t have to tell you which of those two categories Hawaii Five-0 falls into. It’s a remake of a show that was already campy and, well, let’s be honest: the theme music really tells you everything you need to know about the overall tone.

That said, Hawaii Five-0 actually has some serious merits. For one thing, there is the general visual attractiveness. Between the location settings from the Honolulu shooting area and the constant parade of tanned people who belong in swimwear, there’s not much to be seen in the way of ugly. Some of the filler shots are a little grossly over-colored (an unnecessary measure, if you ask me), and the general cinematography of the show is average at best, but as a whole this is a good-looking show.

It also has potential for some really good procedural-type action, which I didn’t expect. This is perhaps just mainlander/Seattlite ignorance on my part, but I didn’t realize what great potential Hawaii had as a setting for international crime. Good to know that the episodes won’t be tourist incident after tourism-related incident. Because that would get real old real quick. Mostly because when you’re only dealing with tourists, there’s not a whole lot of opportunity to blow things up. Start writing storylines revolving around international illegal arms dealers, the bomb potential increases. Which leads me nicely into Hawaii Five-0‘s next merit, the action sequences. All the bang-bang-shoot-’em-up a girl could want, and excellently choreographed hand-to-hand fights besides. There’s a whole lot to love there.

My favorite part of the show, though, is the blooming Steve and Danno bromance. Move over Castle and Beckett and Mulder and Scully, I have a new favorite procedural twosome. It is in the interaction between these two that this show’s really strong element can be found – the writing. I suppose that’s to be expected from a show produced by script geniuses Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. The dialogue between Steve McGarrett and Danny Williams, writing and delivery, is easily the best thing this show has going for it. The back-and-forth is quick, funny, and not at all contrived, and it works as a vehicle for giving us character information without making us bleed from boredom. And it allows for some of the more ingenious moments, like the way that the original Five-0‘s signature line “Book ’em, Danno” has been revived without seeming entirely forced.

That is all very good stuff. Naturally, though, I do have some major beefs with what we’ve seen so far. The second episode’s repeating refrain of “I’m sorry I called you a dictator.” I don’t know why, but that just grated on me. Grace Park‘s total lack of body mass makes buying her as a tough girl a bit of a stretch. And then there’s my whole list of wardrobe complaints, like Steve McGarrett’s technicolor double shoulder tattoos, the probably unavoidable Hawaiian shirts, and that gilded pompadouric disaster on Scott Caan‘s head.

For the most part, though, my reaction to Hawaii Five-0 is a very positive one. Maybe it’s easier for me than it is for some to love this show because I never saw the original and therefore don’t have to deal with that whole “But it’s different! Waaah!” thing. But seriously. This show is kind of awesome. And it seems to be getting fairly respectable ratings for a 10pm timeslot. Maybe Alex O’Loughlin isn’t the Angel of Death* after all? (I live in hope.)

* Alex O’Loughlin starred in Moonlight, which made it 16 episodes before being cancelled. Then he moved over to Three Rivers, which lasted for all of 13 episodes. And he co-starred with Jennifer Lopez in The Back Up Plan, which flopped so bad it hurts. So his track record? Not so great with the helping things survive. Clearly attractiveness isn’t everything.

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