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One of the bright new stars of the 2010-2011 TV season is "Hawaii Five-0" on the CBS network. The show has done relatively well in the ratings and has put a new, modern look on a show that was a classic favorite telecast from 1968 to 1980. Let's compare them.
Five-0: The Five-0 department, itself, has a different meaning in each show. In 1968, Steve McGarrett was the head of an elite unit of the State Police of Hawaii, known as Five-0, answerable only to the governor. McGarrett and his men were actual policemen and most had started their careers in the Honolulu Police Department.
In the 2010 show, Steve McGarrett is a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy who came home to investigate his father's death (no his father was not the other Steve McGarrett, although that might have been interesting). The Governor asks him to set up a special task force not attached to any police force, and his team named it 5-0 for the 50th state. McGarrett is not on the police force; he remains a Naval officer. Danny Williams is a police detective as are the other two team members, ostensibly on Honolulu Police. McGarrett apparently gets funding and political help when needed from the governor personally.
Steve McGarrett: This is one of several characters that retain the same name in the new show; however in the 1968 show, McGarrett was played with something of an iron fist by Jack Lord. He was definitely in charge, rarely made mistakes and was only close to Danny Williams on his team. He was an ex-Naval intelligence officer.
In 2010 "Hawaii Five-0," Steve McGarrett is played by Alex O'Loughlin, who came to the public eye playing a vampire on "Moonlight." O'Loughlin plays McGarrett as more of a team player who hand-picked his team and trusts them. McGarrett in this incarnation is an ex-Navy Seal and he plays very rough with the bad guys. He is relatively close to all his team.
Danny Williams: Another character who appears in both series is Danny Williams, basically second in command. In 1968 he was played by James McArthur. Then the character was a native of Hawaii and had many connections throughout the islands which were useful to the team. McArthur played well with Lord, which was not reportedly an easy thing to do at the time.
In 2010 the role is played by Scott Caan (son of James Caan). This time the character is written as a detective from New Jersey who moved to Hawaii to be near his daughter. It is a little hard to accept his whining about being in Hawaii, especially this winter, but he does nonetheless. McGarrett puts up with this better than the average ex-Navy Seal would be likely to. He's a good detective though and walks McGarrett through police procedures that he doesn't know.
Kono and Chin Ho: These characters in 1968 were very much supporting actors without too much backstory. In "Hawaii Five-0" 2010, both are natives of Hawaii, Kono is female, an ex-surfing champion and martial arts expert. Her cousin, Chin Ho, was on the police force, had some difficulty and was suspended. He is the tech genius on the team, something not really needed in 1968.
It is good to see the old show translate so well into this century. The new show is obviously more high-tech, a bit more violent, but still with great characters. There is also a repeated villain; Wo Fat has returned to Hawaii as a thinner, but still powerful man. It will be interesting to see what he is up to. The beautiful location is a great backdrop still and hopefully the new show will get as long a run as the old one did.