By Wayne Harada
Sunday’s après-football “Hawaii Five-0” was an entertaining spectacle; you knew, from the start, that a tsunami was not going to actually level Honolulu, and that McGarrett & Team would come to the rescue and figure out the pieces without the big splash.
Indeed, the episode was a bogus, inspired by real-life threats for all of us who live in the Pacific basin, when a quake triggers an alert, and in very isolated cases, an actual disaster. The CBS rendering was technologically an achievement in storytelling, but not without some outlandish implications. It surely must have been inspired by the frequent alerts we face from actual warnings in the past.
But if “Five-0” seeks to develop elements from life, the writers need only look at incidents from the police blotter earlier this week.
• That guy with a rifle, in a home invasion incident at Kualoa, where the road was shut down for a couple of hours, prevent traffic on the Windward side, before cops were able to take him into custody. Indeed, a backstory could have been fictionalized — what was it the dude needed and why?
• That theft of recycled stuff, from a Hawaii Kai site, that led to a lockdown of several Kailua schools as a result. Was there more valuable loot — diamonds, cash, military secrets — in the recyclables?
• The recall of local food products and sauces, potentially causing botulism. Mysterious germs in the marinades? A plot to use food as a means to spread a virus?
“Five-0” can create a multitude of fictional storylines, maintaining a reasonable template of credibility in its retelling, when it employs a real-life incident to develop for television.
Certainly, it did just that when it took tsunami alert to spin out a make-believe tale with the resonance of the real thing.
But we knew better, didn’t we?
We could filter out certain elements: That somebody could actually falsify the trusty tsunami warning system; that the decision to clear beaches with disaster-level fervor and with snarled freeway traffic could happen, or not; that those anticipating The Wave would rush to the market to buy fresh, unprepared food trays at the market (the point here is to buy edibles that don’t require power to heat or cook, since electricity would be among the first casualties of the tsunami, unless you want to have a hibachi party); that boats berthed at the Ala Wai Yacht the Harbor would still be anchored in port when the general m.o. is to get the crafts out to the open sea or tucked in a harbor not in direct aim of the waves.
It was clever to link the doctored warning to the $10 million (from a stash of $28 million) McGarrett earlier “stole” from the state to pay off ransom to free Chin Ho Kelly from instant death when a bomb was anchored to his body. Remember?
This episode demonstrated the increasing bond of the McGarrett, Danno, Chin Ho and Kono, especially in the time of duress and need. Each one comes to bat for the other, no matter the consequences.
There were some niggling tidbits: It was totally proper to focus on the Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach, but the criss-crossing car runs from there to the Kahala home of the missing tsunami guy who held the key to the faux warning, was a bit much, what with the clock ticking. And in one scene, when McGarrett and Danno were in a car and said they were heading to Ewa, but weren’t they on Kalanianaole heading in the opposite direction, to Hawaii Kai? OK, OK, we protesteth too much.
There were touches, featuring Dennis Chun, real life son of the late Kam Fong Chun, as a policeman in the segment. And to discover that Danno has parenting issues — no sitter for his daughter Grace — in an emergency situation, so he hauls her along dutifully, depending on Kamekona, the Waiola Shave Ice man, to babysit.
Fun, too, to see Al Harrington (as Mamo) again, who turns in the best line of the night regarding the tsunami that wasn’t: “Somebody’s blowing smoke up somebody’s okole.”