By Wayne Harada
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.
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