'Hawaii Five-0': There's shocking, and then there's shocking
I'm sitting here playing last night's season premiere of CBS' "Hawaii Five-0" on my DVR, and it just hit me again how straight-up bold this little show is.
At the end of last season, the Hawaii governor (Jean Smart) was murdered, and the killing was pinned on her hand-picked crimefighter, former Navy SEAL Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin).
And why was the governor murdered?
Because she was in bed with international criminal Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) -- oh, and she ordered the murder of her aide (Kelly Wu), and the whole thing is mixed up with the death of McGarrett's father.
Now, when "Hawaii Five-0" was being developed, and when it premiered in the fall of 2010, Hawaii had a female governor, Linda Lingle, the first Republican in the office since the first guy, who took office when Hawaii became a state in 1959.
At first, Jean Smart's character, Gov. Jameson, looked like a hero, recruiting McGarrett and putting Five-0 together -- answerable to her alone -- to combat crime. Now, it turns out she was the criminal.
And a Navy man was intent on taking her down, not only for justice but for some very personal reasons.
It's a pretty interesting stew -- as I noted previously here at HCTV.
You might think I'm accusing the "H50" producers of political bias, but I have no direct evidence of that. They may have given the show a female governor because the state had one -- or they thought casting Jean Smart was a neat idea, which it was -- and Jameson's political affiliation was never mentioned.
Also, it's not a new idea that a governor could have dirty hands -- witness what's happened recently to former Illinois Gov. Rod "Blago" Blagojevich -- but the idea that one would be hand in glove with an international gangster takes "Hawaii Five-0" to another level.
The show could quite easily have simply aspired to be a competent action-thriller/crime-drama and run for years with its original premise, but in blowing that up, it's now passed into "24" territory.
But I did have a couple of twinges.
After McGarrett's arch-nemesis Victor Hesse (James Marsters, reprising his role from the pilot) gives him an intentionally non-fatal shanking in prison, McGarrett is able to escape from an ambulance and go on the run to prove his innocence.
But, along the way, he beat the crap out of some innocent EMTs and a cop who was just doing his job. I know you're not supposed to think about things like that in a thriller, but I do. One hopes McGarrett apologized and sent flowers, but you know that, in the real world, there would be lawsuits.
As for the explosive ending of the premiere, I'll leave that out in case you haven't seen it, but it looks like Wo Fat is all up in McGarrett's business, in a whole bunch of ways.
I wondered at the end of last season how "H50" would put the pieces back together after tearing its premise apart. Adding Terry O'Quinn -- joining fellow "Lost" cast member Daniel Dae Kim, who is one of the show's stars -- in a recurring role as McGarrett's mentor was a step in the right direction.
Now, there's a new boss in town, Lt. Governor Sam Denning (Richard T. Jones, at left).
As you can see, he doesn't much look like Hawaii's current leader, Governor Neil Abercrombie (at right).
Denning has revived the Five-0 team, but with a few new restrictions (yeah, we'll see how long that lasts).
But one team member, Honolulu PD rookie Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park) is still under investigation by Internal Affairs -- in the person of Capt. Vince Fryer, played by "Celebrity Rehab" alumnus Tom Sizemore.
Now, that's some risky casting, and we're wondering how many papers the talented but troubled Sizemore had to sign to assure the producers that there wouldn't be any issues during his tenure.
(UPDATE: Oh, dear, it looks like Sizemore just got arrested.)
(UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: Luckily for Sizemore, it looks like it was a misunderstanding.)
With big action sequences, interesting casting, explosive plot twists and O'Loughlin looking better than ever, this is one remake that's already living up to the legend.
I don't, however, hold out much hope for ABC's new "Charlie's Angels" -- but I'm always willing to be surprised.