By Wayne Harada
“Hawaii Five-0” is at a crossroads as it airs “Ho‘apono,” its seventh episode, Monday night (Nov. 1).
CBS has given the reboot series a full-fledged season order of 22 shows; the Hawaii-filmed series has been called the No. 1 drama of the fall 2010 season; but while it is a DVR leader, its viewership has deteriorated since the pilot was launched Sept. 20.
This, just as all the stars seemed to be in harmony and alignment, as the “Five-0” fortunes were fitting like a glove.
But last week was somewhat of the good colliding with the bad.
Last Monday’s episode, entitled “Ko‘olauloa,” embraced the surfing culture with rituals that reflected real life — when one of the surfing community’s beloved in the storyline is killed, the response is widespread and heart-touching. So that ending sequence, with surfers on their boards forming a riveting circle during a service for the deceased, was superbly filmed from the air.
Further, the moment was blessed with Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s iconic voice, performing his powerful and haunting “Hawaii ’78,” a composition of Mickey Ioane, Abe Keala and David Kawika Crowley, that includes the in-Hawaiian lament, “Ua ma ke ea o ka ‘aina ika pono o Hawaii” (the phrase is on the official Hawaii state seal and, appropriately, on the “Five-0” seal, too). It was the series’ first use of Island sounds to frame a scene, and one that achieved an element of perfection.
Aside from the Blue Hawaii drink ordered at the Tropics, supposedly matching the color of aloha shirts worn in the scene, this episode will be remembered by the muttering of “flip flop,” by Daniel Dae Kim’s character Chin Ho, which provoked reaction online and elsewhere; as the actor explained in a tweet, he flagged the faux pas, since he knew that locals don’t use the “f” words, so taped an alternate scene with “slippers,” but was overruled. Yep, rubber slippers are, in local parlance, “rubbah slippahs.”
Then later in the week, dark clouds and shadows formed amid a rainy day here, with the word from the Mainland that the original Danno, James MacArthur, had died of natural causes early Thursday in Jacksonville, Fla., at age 72 — a failing liver among the reasons, according to local friends in the know.
That put an unfortunate lid on plans to involve him in a future episode in the reboot’s freshman season. A good thought and gesture, but too late. Producer Peter M. Lenkov has planned some kind of aloha this week — we shall wait and watch.
Over the past few years, MacArthur had mixed feelings about a relaunch of the show and reportedly liked what he saw of the 2010 model. Several tries to reactivate the “Five-0” franchise — a couple of movie projects had been in the works, and there was that disastrous pilot that never aired but cast MacArthur in a cameo as the governor.
Thus, he once said he’d become disenchanted and detached about the prospects of a relaunch — the fact that he was the lone surviving actor in the original ensemble of Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett, Kam Fong as Chin Ho Kelly and Zulu (Gilbert Kauhi) as Kono didn’t help.
This Monday’s episode finds a Navy SEAL on the lam, with McGarrret (Alex O’Loughlin) caught in a story of loyalty and brotherhood, of family and friends; the show introduces local-born Kelly Hu, in the first of recurring shows, as "Five-0" flexes forward. There are scenes shot at the U.S.S. Missouri and Waiola Shave Ice. Presumably, the Mighty Mo will be properly honored; and let’s hope shave ice won’t be called snow cone.
Some things continue to be sacred here.