Friends, readers, and fellow story-lovers, lend me your ears–for I have come to proclaim the awesomeness of a new favorite TV show of mine, Hawaii 5-0!
I have my sister Katie to thank for introducing our family to this show. She’d already been a fan of CBS’ rebooted Magnum P.I., but when Magnum had a crossover episode with 5-0, she decided to try the first season of the latter. Before long we were all hooked. While Joy and I were laid up with our broken bones we watched an inordinate amount of Hawaii 5-0, to the point where I’d wake up in the middle of the night for my pain meds and realize I had the theme song in my head on loop 😂
Like the still-running Magnum P.I., Hawaii-5-0 (which ran from 2010 to 2020) is also a reboot: the original police procedural of the same name ran from 1968 to 1980. But it isn’t a sequel; these new characters aren’t related in any way to the old ones, though the writers do include a few clever nods to the original series. It takes place in Hawaii, obviously, and tells the story of an elite task force charged with investigating everything from murder to bank heists to human trafficking to terrorism.
The 5-0 team is small and tight-knit; they work with the Honolulu Police Department a lot but they are separate from them, answering only to the Governor and often dealing with cases involving the FBI, the military, and even the CIA. But Hawaii 5-0′s strengths lie not in its high-stakes (and occasionally over-the-top) storylines. They lie instead in the show’s flawed but endearing heroes, and in its consistent emphasis on justice, even–and especially–for “the little guy.”
Readers, allow me to introduce you to Steve McGarrett, an ex-Navy Seal who returns to Hawaii in the very first episode after his father’s murder. When the Governor offers him the opportunity to form a specialized crime-fighting task force, Steve initially refuses…until he realizes there’s far more to his dad’s death than meets the eye.
Steve is valiant. He’s more concerned with transcendent principles of justice than he is with the written law–which does get him in trouble sometimes. But he is also intensely loyal, a champion of underdogs, patriotic to the core, and appropriately distrustful of the government. Oh, and did I mention that he turns into melted better around his girlfriend Catherine? He is made of True Husband Material, ladies.
Then there’s Steve’s right hand man/Best Bro Forever, Danny Williams. Whereas Steve is Hawaii-born, Danny hails from New Jersey. Yes, let that image of “Rulebook-Following New Englander plopped in the middle of the Beach Culture Capital of the World” sink into your head for just a minute. Do you see the potential for hilarity here? Okay, now force this Rulebook-Following New Englander to work with the Eternally Optimistic Ex-Navy Seal who’d probably use the Rulebook for toilet paper. The results are priceless.
And yet Danny isn’t there just for comic relief or to be a foil for Steve. He has a compassionate heart as well as the ability to appeal to a wavering criminal or accomplice’s conscience. He’s also a divorced father, and the only reason he moved to Hawaii was so he could be close to his daughter, Grace.
(*whispers*) But he’s still really, really funny.
Other members of the task force include Chin Ho Kelly, a wrongfully-disgraced former cop, and his cousin Kono Kalakaua, a police academy graduate and a skilled sniper. The ultra-nerdy Dr. Max Bergman serves as medical examiner. Captain Lou Grover, a no-nonsense Chicago native, joins the team in later seasons along with Jerry, a lovable conspiracy theorist who gets a job as 5-0’s “special consultant.” (Apparently there are new team members in the last couple of seasons, but I’ve haven’t gotten to those yet.) And then there are the recurring villains, Wo Fat and Gabriel Waincroft, who are just as engaging and well-written (in a far more terrifying way!) as the heroes.
All our heroes get their own unique personalities and detailed storylines–and these storylines range from being completely engrossing (like Steve’s search for “Shelburne”) to frustrating (like Kono and Adam Noshimuri’s overly sensational romance). Regardless of the quality of the plot, however, you get to a point where you know how each character will lend his or her skills/personality to a certain case or situation. You know, too, that no matter how difficult or horrible a crime scene might be, they will do their very best to bring the criminals to justice.
And honestly, there’s something deeply satisfying about this. For the most part in Hawaii 5-0, the good guys win, the victims and/or their families find some measure of peace, and the bad guys receive their just desserts. It appeals to our ingrained sense of The Way Things Ought To Be, and it makes you appreciate the real people who risk their lives every day to protect others and try to do so with honor.
There are some scenes or episodes we do skip, so be aware of that if you decide to give Hawaii 5-0 a try! Some crimes are just too hard to dwell on, and some of the romance can get a bit too steamy. But for the most part it’s a fantastic show, and I know I’ll be sad when I finally get to the last season!