Book ’em

Fol­low an elite task force who calls it­self Hawaii Five-0 as it goes about bust­ing crime.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By MELODY L. GOH en­ter­tain­ment@thes­

Aloha: A re­boot of the hit cop se­ries of the 1960s of the same ti­tle, Hawaii Five-0 stars (from left) Daniel Dae Kim, Scott Caan, Alex O’Lough­lin and Grace Park.

YOU don’t have to move to Hawaii, lis­ten to bor­ing old au­dio clips, or go through a DIY phrase book to learn the Hawai­ian lan­guage. In­stead, just tune in to Hawaii Five-0.

Sure, you prob­a­bly won’t be able to speak the lan­guage flu­ently or hold proper con­ver­sa­tions with a lo­cal, but at least you’ll know the im­por­tant words and phrases like malama ka aina which means “re­spect the land”, lanakila (vic­tory), nalowale (for­got­ten) and of course, ohana (fam­ily), which many of us learned years ago from Dis­ney’s hit an­i­ma­tion Lilo & Stitch.

These words are ac­tu­ally episode ti­tles of the brand new cop drama sim­ply ti­tled Hawaii Five-0. And if you have watched the first two episodes shown this week on AXN (Astro Chan­nel 701), then you would know that there are a lot more Hawai­ian phrases ca­su­ally bandied about in the di­a­logues.

The show is a chip off the fa­mous old block from the late 1960s, which tech­ni­cally makes it a re­make. But don’t call it that, though.

In­stead, it’s a re­boot of sorts, thanks to sev­eral changes and up­dated el­e­ments to the base of the story.

In this new ver­sion, the cen­tral char­ac­ter Steve McGarrett, a Navy SEAL of­fi­cer, re­turns home to Hawaii upon the death of his fa­ther Jack, one of Honolulu’s beloved cops.

Re­quested by the is­land’s gover­nor to stay on and lead a spe­cial task force, McGarrett goes in search of his fa­ther’s killer and along the way, re­cruits a bunch of peo­ple to be part of his team.

They are: New Jersey na­tive Danny “Danno” Wil­liams, rookie cop Kono Kalakaua and Chin Ho Kelly, a for­mer cop with the Honolulu Po­lice Depart­ment who was sus­pected of be­ing cor­rupt.

Each week, the team – the mem­bers chris­tened them­selves the Hawaii Five-0 unit – fights bad a** crim­i­nals, lo­cal thugs, in­ter­na­tional or­gan­ised crime syn­di­cates, etc ... the usual sus­pects, if you will.

Do­ing a re­make or re­boot of a show that had been so highly suc­cess­ful can be quite an un­nerv­ing un­der­tak­ing. This is es­pe­cially so when the orig­i­nal show still has le­gions of fans world­wide who are de­ter­mined not to let any­one ruin the magic of Hawaii Five-0.

“We are a high-pro­file re­boot, and be­cause so many have failed be­fore, peo­ple were ex­pect­ing this show not to work. How­ever, it’s all about un­der­stand­ing the source ma­te­rial. Our pro­duc­ers and writ­ers are all fans of the orig­i­nal so are all fa­mil­iar with the story,” said ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Peter Lenkov at a CBS me­dia event in Honolulu, Hawaii, last week, to pro­mote the se­ries. Also with him were lead stars Alex O’Lough­lin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park.

“We have al­ways been con­fi­dent that the show would be on air. The pres­sure for us is in out­do­ing our­selves ev­ery week.”

Said O’Lough­lin: “It’s dif­fer­ent (from the orig­i­nal), it was a dif­fer­ent time on TV back then. This one is more than just a pro­ce­dural show, it is faster and more ag­gres­sive too. We go for truth and nat­u­ral­ism and to­day’s TV has the ca­pac­ity to bring out the best in that us­ing technology.

“Any dis­hon­est sto­ry­telling has no place in this show, or any show on TV at all. I think this (mim­ick­ing a sig­na­ture move of David Caruso’s char­ac­ter in CSI: Mi­ami by tak­ing off an imag­i­nary pair of sun­glasses and slightly turn­ing his head around) is bulls**t.”

Lenkov goes on­line con­stantly to check out ar­ti­cles and re­views from fans and crit­ics alike, and so far, the feed­back has been pretty pos­i­tive.

“The essence of the show still ex­ists, and we try to pep­per each episode with ‘call­backs’ (or ref­er­ences) from the old show. There are so many fans of the orig­i­nal who were sur­prised by how good this one is,” he noted.

That’s quite a re­lief, ac­tu­ally, since none of the main ac­tors are fans of Hawaii Five-0; some don’t even re­mem­ber watch­ing it.

“My me­mory of the show is vague. I do re­mem­ber stuff like ‘book ’em, Danno’ (a catch­phrase ut­tered by McGarrett to Wil­liams in ev­ery episode) and Jack Lord’s hair. When I got the script I had to watch the show again,” said Kim, 42, who plays Chin Ho.

“The char­ac­ter is dif­fer­ent from the orig­i­nal Chin Ho. In the past, he wasn’t as in­te­gral to the team as he is now. He has po­ten­tial to grow in this one be­cause the show now ex­plores the char­ac­ters more than it used to be­fore, and I think that’s the biggest dif­fer­ence be­tween the two ver­sions,” he added.

True enough, the new Hawaii Five-0 does not merely fo­cus its sto­ries on McGarrett, with Wil­liams play­ing the funny side­kick, Kalakaua as the eye candy, and Chin Ho sim­ply as a by­stander. In­stead,

the show now tries to bring out hu­man el­e­ments in each episode as a way to make view­ers em­pathise, and ul­ti­mately be­come in­trigued, by all four main char­ac­ters.

By the way, the role of Kalakaua, which used to be a huge man in the old show (played by a lo­cal ac­tor/ singer named Zulu), is now a woman.

“Not hav­ing a strong fe­male char­ac­ter in any show in 2010 would be wrong so that’s why we made Kono into a woman,” ex­plained Lenkov, adding that al­though the change re­ceived a lot of neg­a­tive com­ments in the ini­tial stages, ev­ery­thing turned out well af­ter the pi­lot rolled out.

Park noted that since her char­ac­ter is “kind of new”, she did not feel the need to watch the orig­i­nal show. “Mine is so dif­fer­ent from the old char­ac­ter, and I’m not even talk­ing about the gen­der. I think my pres­ence is sup­posed to en­hance the male com­mu­nity in the show.

“Kono is am­bi­tious, smart, has a cu­rios­ity about the world and shoots from the hip. But I don’t think that’s such an ex­treme char­ac­ter that peo­ple can­not as­so­ci­ate with her,” said Park, 36.

O’Lough­lin, last seen in ro­man­tic com­edy The Back-Up Plan with Jen­nifer Lopez, ad­mit­ted that play­ing McGarrett has been quite chal­leng­ing for him.

“He’s one of the most dif­fi­cult char­ac­ters I’ve ever played be­cause I am not al­lowed to be my­self. I feel like this char­ac­ter is a bit rigid,” said the 34-year-old Aus­tralian ac­tor.

Since the pro­duc­ers want the orig­i­nal McGarrett’s char­ac­ter­is­tics to re­main al­most in­tact, O’Lough­lin feels the pres­sure of play­ing him to ev­ery­one else’s sat­is­fac­tion.

“Of course, when I feel like the writer or di­rec­tor misses the mark I will ar­gue with them be­cause I can an­swer the ques­tion ‘ why?’. If you can an­swer why, then you should al­ways get your point across,” said O’Lough­lin, who stopped mid­sen­tence to look at a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle on him given by a re­porter from the Philip­pines and blurted out: “Look how hand­some I was back then, be­fore I turned grey and tired.”

Also not shy to com­ment on his good looks is Caan, 32, who walked into the in­ter­view room with his friendly dog, Dot­tie.

“Alex’s job is harder than mine on the show. I sort of get to be my­self, my char­ac­ter’s the fun one so I stand out more. The hair doesn’t hurt,” said Caan, play­fully ges­tur­ing to his blond locks that were per­fectly slicked back and slightly puffed up on the top. It’s the same hair­style he wears on the show.

“Peo­ple re­mem­ber me from be­ing in the Ocean’s 11 movies (he was also in the two se­quels) but my screen time in all of those was about 10 min­utes. I am hum­bled by hav­ing this part; it’s the best of­fer I’ve got since so many years.

“But I’m not go­ing to be perky and happy all the time about it be­cause that’s just not who I am. I am not a happy per­son. But re­ally, this show gives me the best screen time pres­ence I’ve ever had. It’s the hair,” shared Caan when one re­porter ques­tioned the ac­tor’s lack of ex­cite­ment when talk­ing about Hawaii Five-0.

Caan’s show of dis­in­ter­est that day could also be due to fa­tigue from work­ing long hours on the show, some­thing that all the ac­tors are not too keen about.

Said O’Lough­lin of the tight work sched­ule: “I don’t have free time but I al­ways make time for my fam­ily. That’s the thing about com­mit­ting to a TV show – I know what I’m get­ting into. I knew I was go­ing to be re­ally busy.”

Park, who has been mar­ried for six years to Korean-Cana­dian real es­tate de­vel­oper Phil Kim, doesn’t dwell on the sit­u­a­tion much. “I don’t bal­ance my time, I just work,” she said bluntly.

One might think that the sched­ule would be peanuts to Daniel Dae Kim be­cause of his ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing on Lost, the cult TV show that was shot al­most en­tirely in Hawaii for six sea­sons. Ac­cord­ing to him, though, Lost was so much eas­ier to han­dle than Hawaii Five-0.

“It’s about 14 hours a day; that’s more than Lost! Also, Lost had such a big cast so there would be days when some ac­tors didn’t even have to come in be­cause they didn’t have any scenes to do. But with this one, it’s just the four of us ba­si­cally, and we had to be on set all the time,” he noted.

As for Caan, he doesn’t seem to be tak­ing it all too well. “It’s drives me crazy not to have time. It’s sort of un­healthy do­ing this show be­cause it’s such long hours. But the goal for a show like this is just get­ting through with it,” he said.

Well, all that hard work is ap­par­ently pay­ing off well for the show, if high TV rat­ings (in the United States) are any­thing to go by. n Hawaii Five-0 (2010) airs on AXN (Astro Chan­nel 701) ev­ery Tues­day at 10pm. Orig­i­nal Hawaii Five-0 (1968) airs on week­days at 6.15pm.


Eye on tar­get: Intrepid of­fi­cers (from left) Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Lough­lin), Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park) and Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) out to nab the bad guys in

Scott Caan plays De­tec­tive Danny ‘Danno’ Wil­liams.

Jack Lord was Steve McGarrett in the orig­i­nal Hawai­iFive-O.

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