‘Hawaii Five-0′ Recap: Episode 1.01, ‘Pilot’

Episode Title: “Pilot”

Written By: Peter M. Lenkov

Story: When Navy SEAL Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) returns to Hawaii to investigate the murder of his father (William Sadler), he’s hired by Governor Pat Jameson (Jean Smart) to head up a task force charged with busting high profile criminals — criminals like Victor Hesse (James Marsters), the man who killed McGarrett’s dad.

McGarrett fills out the rest of his team with New Jersey transplant Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan), disgraced ex-cop Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) and rookie detective Kona “Kono” Kalakaua (Grace Park).

Surf’s Up: Even though “Lost” is over, Hawaii remains an ever present television destination thanks to “Hawaii Five-0,” the exotic police procedural reboot that premiered this Monday (September 20) on CBS. Already one of the most buzzed about new series of the fall TV season, “Hawaii Five-0″ has a lot going for it on paper: a solid and geek-friendly cast, a high profile director, a memorable theme song and a flashy setting. But somehow, these ingredients produce mixed results.

For the most part, the cast works. Scott Caan is particularly hilarious as Danno, the wise-cracking police officer new to the beaches of Hawaii. “Battlestar Galactica” veteran Grace Park is easy on the eyes as Kono, and “Lost” star Daniel Dae Kim is clearly at home on the tropical island. Alex O’Loughlin is the weak point of the cast, something that’s particularly problematic given the fact that he’s the leading man. Hopefully he loosens up as the series progresses.

Live Free or Die Hard” director Len Wiseman was behind the lens for the pilot episode, and his style certainly shows. The pilot plays like a condensed Hollywood blockbuster, complete with quick cuts and a frenetic camera that rarely knows how to stay still. The action is big and brutal, explosive and over-the-top at every turn. “Hawaii Five-0″ is a small screen effort, but one can easily imagine it playing on the big screen.

Of course, there’s the familiar theme song to consider. If nothing else, “Hawaii Five-0″ is iconic in its sound, and watching the introductory sequence with the classic theme blaring should be an absolute treat for fans of the original series. Likewise, the lush Hawaiian setting is a welcome sight on television, particularly after the loss of “Lost.”

Despite these successful components, there’s something hollow about “Hawaii Five-0.” Given the pilot’s brisk pace, there’s little time for character development and virtually zero forward momentum in terms of plot. The pilot effectively wraps up McGarrett’s vengeance quest, putting a premature cap on a storyline that could have had a compelling run throughout the show’s first season, if not beyond.

If the “Hawaii Five-0″ creative team can provide their more than capable cast with exciting character work and stories, this new procedural could be the real winner of the fall television season. Judging by the pilot episode alone, there’s clearly a lot of style on display here — the real challenge, however, will be finding some substance.

Tell us what you thought of the series premiere of “Hawaii Five-0″ in the comments section and on Twitter!