Show and Tell Hawai'i

Five story ideas from the headlines for a struggling 'Five-0'

March 25th, 2012

With a third season starting next fall for “Hawaii Five-0,” the Honolulu-based CBS series, the show’s writers need only check recent news developments for storyline inspiration.
Let’s say it up front: Enough of oblique Sherlburne arcs, return of dead ex-regulars, infrequent and gratuitous comebacks of ex-spouses or new ones, creation of new back stories for the crime-fighting four.
“Five-0” oughtta do what “Law and Order” and its family of spin-off sister series have been doing for years: raid actual headline events, change names to protect the innocent to dodge charges of copy-catting. These factoids may be worked into the usual template of car chases, copter aerials, staff crime-solving along with the customary McGarrett-Danno bickering.
An incident from real life is as good an idea as a fabricated one. Maybe better. Especially since there have been some rather preposterous fiction in this second season scripting — like the notion of taking a chopper to Korea from Honolulu, trying to hitch a ride with the governor, etc.
It’s no secret that our home-grown procedural drama has been struggling to concoct interesting, valid, and relevant yarns in the weekly episodes. The lack of ingenuity is somewhat reflected in the diminishing viewership during this sophomore season. On a related note, there been an increasing scarcity of accolades or nominations in the Emmy Awards (OK, the Golden Globes nominated Scott Caan in the freshman season) and media attention outside of Hawaii that can also reflect a p.r. problem. “Five-0” is not “The Voice,” “Glee,” or “Mad Men,” which receives mucho attention, and admit it or not, it should start emulating the kind of wholeness and marketability of the No. 1 TV drama, “NCIS.”
Guest stars are great (thanks, Ed Asner, James Caan), but the process begins with the scripts.
For a start-up list, I offer five recent events in the community that have caught everyone’s attention and could reappear with some tweaking and invention in future episodes. Certainly, this would provide McGarrett and McTeam with some fascinating fodder.
1 — The six severed fingers of a child, or children, found in a plastic bag in an apartment complex dumpster. Doesn’t have to be the actual site, and the fingers could be subbed by toes, but the notion of found digits and unfound owners, lends itself to some creative sleuthing.
2 — A new theory about a new search for the missing aviatrix Amelia Earheart, who crossed our ports way back when, could even be an inventive “concept” piece, flashing back to time, even filmed in black and white. If “The Artist” can win Best Picture with an old-fashioned gimmick (McG might even tap dance, who knows?), why can’t “Five-0” collect an Emmy? Work in the Wright Brothers; the Pan Am clipper; heck, even the first Hawaiian Airlines airplane. And since the show adores heritage and history, make Wo Fat’s great-great grandpa some kind of villain in the process.
3 — Three victims — two adults and one child — have been diagnosed as having flesh-eating disease. OK, swap the victims to three schools — one public, one private, one home school — and have team sort out the mystery with a teleplay that engages the state health department, food inspectors, hospital administrator, fast food restaurants, the vector folks, among others, to resolve a very complex and confusing situation. Since the show relies on a crime, work one in. How? Why? What’s the RX?
4 — One student is discovered to have tuberculosis, potentially contaminating fellow pupils on two college campuses. Alter the facts a bit and make it two TB victims, coming to Hawaii via separate flights — one domestic, one international — and imagine the concerns and conflicts. McG and Company could have enormous power, with global implications — shutting down the airports, damaging Hawaiian Airlines’ pretty darn perfect record of being the carrier with the fewest timetable delays, getting the governor to paddle his canoe, finally.
5 — Rainstorms yield a lot of crap (literal and otherwise) on our shores, including medical paraphernalia improperly disposed ... into streams and gutters and hence, the beachfronts. Also found: $3 million of gold, in waterproof vessels, that someone intended to cash in with the Gold Guys, but their home is washed away, along with the valuable loot. McG discovers that the gold was stolen from a bank that was embarrassed to reveal the loss. The trail down to the Diamond Head shores crumbles, revealing a skull from yesteryear. A cold case suddenly gets hot.
Sure, sounds silly — but no worse than some of the tales being aired.
Whachuthink? Got more plot ideas? Share one...

17 Responses to “Five story ideas from the headlines for a struggling 'Five-0'”

  1. Manoa_Fisherman:

    The original Five-O took story lines from the headlines. I still remember the Patty Duke episode that was taken from a local crime report of an inmate getting his honeymoon at the taxpayers' expense. See:

    I wonder why she wasn't reprising her character like Ed Asner did last week?

  2. hossana:

    The only storyline that 5-0 should use is how they deteriorated into a glitzy trash and went off the air which it should by the end of the 3rd season. 5-0 is nothing but TRASH...for the viewer with short-attention spans. It lacks poor writing, the acting is amateurish and humorous at best, and the whole glitz of the show is nothing but techno CRAP!!!

  3. greenthumb:

    I have to admit I was a little skeptical when reading the headline -- but after reading your suggestions, I think you have some winners. Too soon on the finger story. However, the Amelia Earhart, TB, and flesh-eating bacteria storylines you suggested have a lot of promise. Ditto your thoughts about Law & Order's approach; that's also why the Vegas CSI has staying power.

  4. twilight:

    The show definitely needs better, more consistent writing for next season. The show truly became unwatchable, and when it finally got better lately, the viewers didn't come back.

    I read that the Catherine character (Michelle Borth) is being added as a series regular for next season. I'm concerned this will be another "Lori" fiasco. Catherine works well as a recurring role for McGarrett, since the central relationship must be McDanno. I don't think having her on fulltime is good for the show since it will potentially detract from the main 4 characters, like Lori (and even Joe) did. Are the producers (or CBS) just trying to add attractive females to the show to try and bring in viewers when better writing would do the job better?

  5. theDman:

    Actually Wayne, your ideas are good, you've got some premises that could be built upon. Now, if Russians terrorists could have caused the rainstorms, the production brass might take notice.

  6. 808crusader:

    I don't know whats funnier, the show or these ideas? LOL.

    Now I know the show is not a great piece of Emmy worthiness, but having it turn into Law and Order???? Are you serious? Watch the ratings take a nose dive faster than a Japanese dive bomber in WWII. You wanna snooze fest? Fine, but keep it on Law and Order.

    If the show needs to do anything better, it needs to make us, the audience, care more for the core H50 squad. And that means more story-lines about their personal life and background. And better integrate that into a case a few episodes from time to time. Thats what LOST did great, it made us care about the characters even through all the crazy story-lines.

    Also it could also slow down the pace of the episodes. I feel there should be a slow build-up to the ending. Build tension and suspense.

  7. twilight:

    I disagree. Most of the season centered around the backgrounds of the characters and I found it to be a major snooze-fest. There was nothing more boring than the stories centering around Danny/Rachel and Chin/Malia. And the dragging out of Shelburne was driving me crazy. The latest episodes, that have been all-inclusive shows without the background stuff, have been the most entertaining of the season. Too many people got turned off by what happened most of the season, and now not even James Caan has been so far able to bring them back.

  8. melissai:

    808--How much money is ABC now making off Lost? CBS wants procedurals that will bring in big syndication bucks years down the road to help pay back for the big costs now. H50 has got to be a very expensive show to make, and doesn't get great ratings. I'll bet the network is really putting the pressure on the producers to de-emphasize the serialized aspect of this show for next season. As far as Michelle Borth, I hope she doesn't just end up another boring character that doesn't add much to the show. She's very pretty, true, but not really a character I found particulary interesting and wanted to see more of.

  9. LizKauai:

    Love the ideas... it could get crazy tho. Throw in some fake reality tv...
    How about 5-0 meets Dog, the Bounty Hunter?
    Something with Trump in it...
    Kitchen stadium- the real hideout of Wo Fat...

    Or... let 5-0 tackle some really thought-provoking issues... human issues... take a lead from The Descendants and Harry's Law...
    I would really like that...

  10. 808crusader:

    So what do you guys want? A more serialized show or procedural. Personally I think procedurals are boring and a dime a dozen. They have boring characters and stories. Serialized shows are more my taste as they have storylines that have more at stake and tell better stories. H50 seems to be struggling at straddling the line between the two. I understand its a cop show and those are usually procedurals but to me that will make it "just another show". Maybe the problem lies with the network. I think it would be a better show on ABC. They don't know what direction they want the show to go.

    P.S Melissa ABC has made a bunch of money already on LOST from DVD sales and merchandise. It doesn't need syndication.

    And twilight, maybe its a personal preference, I find the serial, personal aspects more appealing cause otherwise there would be no reason to care about the characters and then the show. Plenty of the people in entertainment industry always say that you could have a great story but if you don't have characters you like or care about then its nothing.

  11. theDman:

    I think I know what melissai is saying. ABC THOUGHT Lost was really going to make it in syndication, but procedural shows don't cut it, not even on the SciFi channel, so the show revenue is toast. I'll bet you the ABC brass did not think that was the way it would pan out.

    I'm reluctant to say H50 should try that route though. I don't think it would draw any more fans. I DO know Peter Lenkov is dead set against procedural episodes, he has said that publicly.

    They do have the theme of Steve trying to find out what his father was all about. I think that is worthwhile. Danno's story is kind of sketchy, I'm beginning to sense that his storyline is starting to just float along. Kono and Chinn are the ones who have fallen through the cracks to me. I liked their episodes in the first season more than this one. These writers need to learn how to utilize female characters better. That is a HUGE weakness in the writing.

    That, and of course, taking a 2 hour chopper ride to North! I still laugh out loud every time I think about that episode.

  12. theDman:

    hmmm-m, after re-reading the responses, I think I am getting confused on procedural versus serialized...

  13. melissai:

    You're right, Lenkov, as well as Caan and O'Loughlin would be dragged kicking and screaming to do a straight procedural. It will be interesting to see what happens next season. I also agree with you about the backstories of Season 1, especially McG. His backstory is always intereting to me. They didn't overwhelm the show or require you watch every single show to "get it". Yes, if they want to add another fulltime female, then the character has to be well written for. Since Chin and Kono aren't being well utilized, I would like to see more good writing devoted to them.

    At least Harada generated a lot of interest with this one. Resulted in a lot of discussions at work, too.

  14. Helen Pask:

    The reason I watch the show is because we visit your island every couple of years or so from the UK and the scenery is all familiar to us. I really have a problem with the dialogue, the actors especially the women talk too fast and its difficult for us to catch every word. Other than that I do enjoy the show but the storylines could be better.

  15. Cape Cod Patty:

    I love the show and hope they continue to film in Hawaii!!!!

  16. KnightMoves808:

    Stop with all the cameos and focus on a single theme. The run & shoots should take a different route and forget all the deep aerials. Begin with new writers that dare venture out of the realm of cop shows. Too many like and too little variation of the ending "book 'ums."

    We all know its Hawaii-based ok we get it. The mystique coupled with our island's beauty shouldnt be the overall foundation for its presentation. Otherwise as it is now, it has morphed into a dramatic infomercial.

    There are lots of ideas out there but hard to grasp them if you dont have a writer that has spent a considerable amount of time living in the general population. Its not the same as one born or raised here, gets educated abroad and then writes for mainland tv. Its Hawaii and with it cultural uniqueness the core values should be Incorporated into its theme.

    If it were me I'd hire folks like Edgy Lee, Tyler Perry, Andy Bumatai and so on that can come up with a a twist from the humorous side to one that brings local life imitating art to a whole new level.

  17. Kitty Conrad:

    I've been watching the original show. It now seems a little hokey, with Dano being nothing more than someone standing around asking McGarrett the obvious questions and McGarrett having the only brain in sight.

    The new show went overboard in amplifying the so-called tension between the new McGarrett and the new Dano. I'm tired of watching them squabble like they've been married seven years. I'm also tired of Wo Fat. They should kill him off and come up with a new nemesis. And make it a crime-solving show, with only a little humor, not a lot of bad humor.

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