The new incarnation of Hawaii Five-O takes the best of the old series -- the rockin' theme song and gorgeous locale -- and wisely left the rest for people to remember fondly.
Only the characters names were retained, which is a good thing if you ever watched the sleep-inducing original with a stuffy Steve McGarrett wearing an out-of-place suit and tie solving crimes with all the excitement of a Dragnet episode. Just the facts, ma'am. His signature exit line became "Book 'em, Danno," after he tracked down the bad guys and sent them along for justice to be served. All neat, clean and by-the-book. And quick trivia, the title came from Hawaii being the 50th state. Sorry, no cool insider code.
The new Hawaii Five-0, which airs 10 p.m Monday on CBS, explodes like a pipe bomb. Right from the beginning, the viewer gets tossed into a war zone, with explosions, leading to grisly murders, more explosions, car chases, more explosions, fights, more explosions, and a lot of bodies. This cop series is more 24 than CSI, with the emphasis on the high octane action.
And instead of McGarrett overpowering his subordinate Danny "Danno" Williams, the two are on fairly equal footing with the buddy banter coming fast and furious.
McGarrett's a decorated naval officer who leaves his active duty status to become the leader of an elite task force to rid the island of the bad guys. Jean Smart fills in as the Governor who gives McGarrett free rein in bringing down criminals. But the real reason he takes the job is to track down his nemesis, an international terrorist, and the man who murdered his dad. Alex O'Loughlin's never going to be picking up an Emmy for his acting skills, but this is a role that suits him perfectly: nothing too taxing on the acting muscles and lots of beauty shots.
Danny's a New Jersey cop who comes to the island to be near his 8-year-old daughter, who now lives with her mom and very wealthy step-dad. Scott Caan should be arrested for grand theft the way he steals every scene he's in. Caan evokes a lot of the screen persona of his dad, James. Both know how to play cocky guys with a sense of humor. As Danny, he doesn't take kindly to McGarrett's overbearing style, and may be the first person who puts him in his place -- although McGarrett knows how to knock him on his backside. They're working on their relationship.
Daniel Dae Kim doesn't leave the island after his stint on Lost. Now, he's the disgraced former Honolulu cop who gets a second chance when McGarrett adds him to the team. Kim's left the angst and anger back on the Lost set. Right now, he's just on cruise control and probably relishing the fact that he doesn't have to keep track of any mythology. This is one series where you can put your brain in neutral and just enjoy the ride.
There's also plenty of fun for vampire fans. O'Loughlin's turn as vampire detective Mick St. Claire on CBS' ill-fated Moonlight convinced network executives he had real star power if given the right vehicle. His antagonist on Five-0, terrorist Victor Hesse, is played by James Marsters, best known as Spike on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. When the two mix it up in a furious fist-fight, you almost expect the fangs to bust out.
Producers also tapped Battlestar Galactica's hottie Grace Park as the sexy rookie cop Kono Kalakaua. Park can play vulnerable to fool the criminals, but she's all whoop-ass when she needs to be. Her acting skills may be lost on those tuning in just to see her stripped down to a bikini or releasing her clothing to prove to a crook she's not wearing a wire.
Unlike the previous Hawaii-based series Lost, Hawaii Five-0 won't be sparking intricate speculations on what it all means. It's just a vacation spot to give your brain a rest after work.