'Five-0' could learn tips from success of 'NCIS'

September 26th, 2011
By

CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0” has its work cut out as the second show of the second season debuts Monday (Sept. 26). After all, its sophomore season premiere last Monday must have been shocking disappointment, especially for diehard fans of the Hawaii-filmed procedural.
Reason: “Five-0” was a step behind ABC’s “Castle” in the 9 p.m. timeslot here (10 p.m.) on the Mainland.
The number No. 1 television drama is “NCIS,” which has maintained its Tuesday night grip in the Nielsen ratings, with a spin-off “NCIS: Los Angeles” following the original and benefitting from its Tuesday timetable.
“Five-0” perhaps could take a lesson or two from CBS’ No. 1 procedural, since “NCIS,” which attracted 19.55 million viewers last Monday, with a 4.2 rating among the esteemed adults 18-49 demographics. (Its peak was a 22.85 rating during season eight; it beat the competitors in its ninth-season opener). It bested ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” (10.74 million) and Fox’s “Glee” (8.91 million), despite a somewhat weak launcher for “NCIS,” which had to wrap up last year’s shoot-up and move ahead.
Led by Mark Harmon as Leroy Jethro Gibbs, “NCIS” has a loyal base because its stories are tight and tidy, for the most part. Its ensemble is like a family — charismatic and likeable, with idiosyncrasies that are remarkably effective with quirky developments. Like “Five-0,” there’s a bit of baggage in backstorying characters, but involvements either fade or repeat without slowing the pace.
As a rerun staple on USA, “NCIS” has become a model of how to play out the rhythm of workplace people in a manner that is credible and contagious. There are fewer extra characters — fewer story arcs, thus fewer complications — to drive the momentum of storytelling.
Its co-creator and producer, Donald Bellisario, has Island ties of sorts; he earlier produced “Magnum P.I.” starring Tom Selleck here; his other earlier credits include “Quantum Leap” and “Airwolf.” Chas. Floyd Johnson also is a co-producer; he was a “Magnum P.I.” producer.
It starts at the top: Gibbs is focused and forceful as the head of his team. On “Five-0,” On the other hand, Alex O’Loughlin as Steve McGarrett has yet to rise to the call of a take-charge leader. There’s time to build that foundation, and McGarrett needs to be bit more steely, shoving the story ahead instead of continually looking at the past.
For no particular reason — except that I watch both “Five-0” and “NCIS” every week —let’s do an unscientific comparison of “Five-0” and the original “NCIS:”

“HAWAII FIVE-0” / “NCIS” SIDE BY SIDE

Who/What “Hawaii Five-0”

The team
Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin),
Danno Williams (Scott Caan),
Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim),
Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park)


Who/What "NCIS"

The team
Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon),
Anthony“Tony” DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly),
Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), Abby Sciuto
(Pauley Perrette), Timothy McGee (Sean Murray),
Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll), Donald “Ducky”
Mallard (David McCallum); Jenny Shepard
(Lauren Holly) and Caitlin “Kate” Todd
(Sasha Alexander) were regulars killed off earlier

Mission
"Hawaii Five-0"
Fight crime in Hawaii; “Five-0” is an elite police
task force organized by the governor

Mission
"NCIS"
As the law enforcement and counter-intelligence
wing of the Navy, it investigates Navy and Marine
Corps crime

Leadership
"Hawaii Five-0"
McGarrett is often outshadowed by
Danno


Leadershi
p
"NCIS"
Gibbs always stands up and supports his
team vs. the director

Repetition/
character quirks

"Hawaii Five-0"
McGarrett to Danno’s “Book ‘em, Danno” quote
to cuff a baddie; McGarrett vs. Danno verbal
arguments while driving/crime-fighting

Repetition/
character quirks

"NCIS"
Gibbs always hits DiNozzo on the neck,
sometimes with affection, more often as a
disciplinary whack; Ziva’s weekly malapropisms;
Ducky’s chats with dead people; Abby’s thirst
for large-sized soda drinks; Gibbs’ appetite for
caffeine (coffee); McGee’s “other” life as an author
with a pseudonym; DiNozzo’s playboy mode;
DiNozzo’s and Ziva’s love-hate feuds; Abby’s goth
dress and infatuation; DiNozzo’s needling of
McGee, the resident “probie”; Ducky’s good-son
stance re his late mother; Ziva and Gibbs: bad drivers

Recurring
family ties

"Hawaii Five-0"
McGarrett: trying to solve father’s murder;
McGarrett: father was with HPD but dismissed for
alleged corruption; McGarrett: grandfather was a
casuality in WWII’s U.S.S. Arizona bombing;
Kelly: bad cop past continues to haunt him;
Danno: love-hate relationship with ex-wife Rachel,
along with devotion to daughter;
Kono: loyalty to “cuz” Kelly causes her to steal;
McGarrett: Sister Mary had a brief recurring role
in season one
Recurring
family ties

"NCIS"
Gibbs: a fractured devotion to his
father; Gibbs: a frequent remembrance of
slayed wife and daughter; Ziva: confused
loyalty to late dad and late brother she killed;
McGee: protective of kid sister;
DiNozzo: frustration with his lovable dad with issues

Quibblers

"Hawaii Five-0"
McGarrett purportedly speaks Hawaiian and
Chinese; Danno vs. McGarrett’s verbal fisticuffs
usually in the car en route to crime-fighting;
Kelly's awkward handling of pidgin; surprise
killings of key secondary characters, like
the governor (Jean Smart as Pat Jameson) taking
a bullet and a public safety liaison (Kelly Hu as
Laura Hills) dying in a car bombing

Quibblers

"NCIS"
Surprise killing of secondary characters, like
Sasha Alexander as Kate taking a bullet, and
director Lauren Holly as Jenny Shepard killed in
action while battling an unknown terminal illness;
Abby has a stuffed hippoptamus that farts; Abby
sleeps in a coffin; McGee’s dog is named Jethro

Claim to fame

"Hawaii Five-0"
Only network series now filming in Hawaii;
a reboot of the Jack Lord “Five-0”;
Scott Caan earned the show’s lone Golden Globe
nomination in season one; show was “Favorite
New Television Drama” in People’s Choice (Jan. 5, 2011)

Claim to fame

"NCIS"
No. 1 scripted show on TV; a spin-off of “JAG”

Common ground
"Hawaii Five-0"
Nominated in a tech category but never won an
Emmy; tapped to join TNT rerun slate beginning in 2014

Common ground

"NCIS"
Daniela Ruah (as Kensi Blye), from “NCIS: Los
Angeles,” appears in a crossover role on "Five-0"
this season; nominated for, but never won an
Emmy; syndicated on USA and Cloo; with a director
(Rocky Carroll, as Leon Vance) overseeing both “NCIS”
and its L.A.-spinoff, meaning frequent crossovers

Location
filming

"Hawaii Five-0"
Setting (Hawaii) is a character, with spectacular
vistas of sea, surf, sky, mountains and the
cosmopolitan flavor that is Hawaii — hands
down, a winnah! Neighbor Island filming this year

Location
filming


"NCIS"
Set in the Washington D.C. area, but
filomed in Los Angeles, with second unit
work for landmark shots

Future

"Hawaii Five-0"
Should run at least three or four seasons,
to guarantee minimum of syndication deal

Future

"NCIS"
Deserves an Emmy for its overall prowess,
progress, and performance

17 Responses to “'Five-0' could learn tips from success of 'NCIS'”

  1. theDman:

    The issue with Hawaii Five - 0 is their reliance on a set formula:

    1) Two bikini shots on the beach
    2) one car chase per episode
    3) at least one explosion per episode
    4) one or more people getting shot to death

    I can understand the fourth item, but they need to start losing the first 3 items because they detract from the storyline, in terms that it makes the show cheesy and cheapens the writing overall.


  2. Harland Ellestad:

    Oh, get off your high horse!


  3. Manoa_Fisherman:

    The easiest way to get higher ratings is to just change the title of "Hawaii Five-0" to "NCIS: Pearl Harbor".

    That way McGarrett and gang get to commit mayhem with the support of the US Goverment, not just the Governor of Hawaii. Stationed at Pearl, the gang can go overseas and wack "Wo Fat" in his country (where ever that may be, since it is not clear if Wo Fat is Chinese or Japanese).


  4. 808crusader:

    I'm sorry but don't try to be like NCIS, otherwise H50 will be just like CSI:NY, the crappy little brother to NCIS and NCIS:LA. Hawaii 5-0 needs to continue to differentiate itself from those franchises in order to build its own brand. It doesn't need a total overhaul, it just needs a few tweaks.


  5. theDman:

    What it really needs is more viewers.


  6. Manoa_Fisherman:

    After watching tonight's episode, I just think this is going to be the last season for this series. Nothing but haole faces all over the place, real typical of the Hollywood syndrome.

    More drama with Tom Sizemore getting arrested in LA, again, than tonight's story. Reminds me of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, with Bullwinkle asking, "Want to see what I pull out of my hat, Rocky?" The bad guys are starting to look worse than Boris and Natasha!

    The worse thing that I can think of that this series portrays is the level of violence that the writers and producers think are necessary to tell a story. Someone with time on their hands should count the dead bodies in Season One and compare it with the first several seasons of the original. Body counts didn't win the Vietnam War and won't win the ratings game, either.


  7. Mark Bradley:

    I am very disappointed in the second season of Hawaii Five-O. I feel that too much time is being spent on the backstories which tends to cause the overall episode to drag along. Additionally, the many backstories that have occured thusfar in the two episodes have been distracting.
    The photography remains very impressive. However, that's is about all that is "local" about the second season of Hawaii Five-O.
    The overall acting seems less engaging than the first season. I am not sure whether the hype associated with the second season caused a "let down" emotionally. However, I hope that the show remains on the air. Currently, I am hanging in there, hoping for the best.


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  9. Tiffany:

    I was very disappointed in last night's epi. Even the season premier let me down. Thought maybe it was because of all the hype. I definitely don't like Lauren German or her character, or maybe it's just her. She is not believable. I think the new title should be All My Hawaii Five 0 or As Hawaii Five 0 Turns since it is now appears to go the direction of a soap opera. Probably going to dvr it from now on. Never watched Castle. Let's try it.


  10. H50 fan:

    NCIS came close to being cancelled in the 3rd and 4th season because of low ratings.
    The writers, producers and cast established their succuss from years of trial and error, faithful viewers and a good time slot.
    If Hawaii 5-0 doesn't thrill you, perhaps you're just watching the wrong show for your tastes?
    I suggest that you need to write, direct, produce your own crime procedural. Sounds like you already know how to make a successful show. Best of luck to you on that.

    H50 has brought a lot of good will, work and tourism to Hawaii since it first aired.

    Maybe it would be best for you be thankful for that and not bother to watch it? Obviously you're not thrilled with it. There are plenty of crime procedurals on CBS and other networks to keep you happy.
    Personally, I am loving this show and it gets better all the time. Thanks to the loyal fans, cast and crew of Hawaii 5-0 for bringing great entertainment into my home every week.


  11. wop ur jaws:

    The question may not be about ratings but the total number of viewers including the ones that DVR the show. I read somewhere that Hawaii Five O last season had the most popular DVR rated show which added millions more viewers each week. The reasoning behind it is that H50 viewers watch other shows at te same time and then DVR for later.


  12. theDman:

    The show may not be a top 20 show, but I don't think it is in danger of being cancelled unless viewership drops below the 10 million mark.


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    It is good materialistic post. Nice to read and easy to understand. Thanks.

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