Show and Tell Hawai'i

A wicked notion: Ed Asner recreating '5-0' role

December 8th, 2011

Something wicked this way comes.
And no, it’s not “Wicked,” the Broadway musical, which indeed is coming to the Islands next year. Details for that one are forthcoming; but that’s another story.
The website Deadline has reported that the current reboot of CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0” is doing something quite extradordinary in bringing back a character played by Ed “Lou Grant” Asner (who, of course, is the guy who in that floating house in the Disney hit “Up”) to play the same dude — smuggler August March, which he originally portrayed when Jack Lord was Steve McGarrett in 1975 — in a 2012 “Five-0” episode where Alex O’Loughlin is McG.
Huh? It’s either the most brilliant move yet, from the Hawaii-based procedural, or the dumbest. Remember, the characters are the same with new actors and one as a switcheroo, from male original to female. The recurring characters, like Wo Fat and Dr. Bergman, are played by actors from this generation, not the past. “It is thrilling to, for the first time, merge the original 'Hawaii Five-0' and our new show by having the classic, versatile and award-winning actor Ed Asner reprise his role of August March, a character Mr. Asner first played 36 years ago,” said Lenkov, the executive producer of the new “Five-0.”
But how can this unlikely merger, which according to Lenkov, will tap archival footage of a younger Asner to counterpoint the older Asner as the same character, make any sense?
“There is no better way to form a bridge between our reboot and the original series,” said Lenkov.
Huh? Al Harrington, who played Ben Kokua in the earlier “Five-0,” is a living bridge to the past, who had a bit part in season one. But everyone else from the groundbreaking show — from Lord, Zulu (Kono), Danno (James MacArthur), and Chin Ho (Kam Fong) — are deceased. Shouldn't the chapter be closed when returning to the vaults to revive a character playing along a new generation of regulars?
Medical examiner Bergman (now played by Masi Oka) is a continuing character, once played by the late Al Eben. Wo Fat is enacted by Mark Dacascos.
Perhaps logic is not an issue in creating the weekly cop drama. But folks — particularly local fans — still cherish the memory of the original while struggling with acceptance of the reboot. There’s a lot of history and fond aloha out there, so some restraint and delicacy should be observed in robbing the past to fulfill present needs.
What do you think: Good idea? Bad idea?
As some bloggers are beginning to say, maybe another Island show, airing opposite “Five-0,” might be an option to place a homegrown production on a mantel where there’s pride in what viewers elsewhere are also watching. We care a lot; elsewhere, not so much.

One Response to “A wicked notion: Ed Asner recreating '5-0' role”

  1. izulu:

    From the beginning, I thought that having "flashbacks" to the original series would be a great way to connect the original and new shows. However, for me that would work only if the new crop of actors, whose personalities are so different, used new names. For example, O'Laughlin could have been named Sean McGarrett, a progeny of the original. Then, in order to use the familiar "Danno," Caan could have been Dan, Jr. (or even Dan, III)...and so on.

    I continue to follow this show because it is filmed in Hawaii, and should be a boon for the islands. That said however, I'm increasingly disappointed in the direction of the show. Most notably the characters, and the general lack of a "local" feel (except for the scenery).

    One of the great things about the original show was the fairly liberal use of local "talent," including entertainment types like Carole Kai, Jimmy Borges, Melveen Leed, et al. The original series also cast then-unknown actors like Loretta Swit and John Ritter. It was fun in later years to watch re-runs and realize how far those actors had gone.

    The current show seems intent on using already established Hollywood types, which makes the show even less "local." The most recent episode bugged me with the use of Aimee Garcia(?) as the primary kidnapper, who with her dark hair, was perhaps being passed off as looking local. Didn't work for me. In the original series, it was like the episode in which Ricardo Montalban was cast as a Japanese national. Yuck.

    Perhaps my biggest beefs right now, are the current governor and Lori Weston. Gives the show a "mainland" feel just like every other cop show out there. The new H50 is so predominantly Caucasian, with a few Asians thrown in--it sorely needs more Polynesian and/or local types in roles beyond just background.

    Oh, and I would put Kamekona back to selling shaved ice. Shrimp jambalaya in Hawaii...really?!?

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