Show and Tell Hawai'i

'Hawaii Five-0:' Who can fix what’s obviously broken?

May 12th, 2013

With two more new episodes of its third season on the agenda this and next Monday, amid disappointing and dwindling viewership, CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0” faces a fourth season with challenges galore, the least of which is rebuilding its fan base and improving viewership.
“He Welo ʻOhana (Family Business)," this week's (May 13) show, brings back Doris McGarrett (Christine Lahti) who tries with the help of son Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) to retrieve an incriminating microfilm, while Kono (Grace Park) finds her life in jeopardy as she zooms in on beau Adam (Ian Anthony Dale), who has Yakuza ties.
"Aloha, Malama Pono (Farewell and Take Care)," the season finale on May 20, finds McG making a shocking discovery during a visit to Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos), and a terrorist detainee supposedly on a transport plane to Hawaii, is missing — though four bodies are aboard.
These two shows may not resolve the issue that the series is broken and needs fixing.
But loose threads should be tidied up, to prep for next year. Will there be major changes — unexpected story twists, new revelations, tighter and more credible plots — as producers huddle during the hiatus leading to the fall season?
We’ve flagged and nagged about the large and ineffective stable of marginal characters in this space, some new and some recurring, and the outrageous plots that insult common intelligence. The Hawaii-based procedural is fiction, but more often than not, its reality is laced with far-fetched and unbelievable situations. Flying to Korea in copter has been just one of the truth-stretching absurdities; worse, that reality show tie-in was messy and miserable; much of this kind of shameful nonsense should be halted.
Will the show take stock and reel in or cut characters, erasing some roles in the role ahead? Will there be a demise of one or two recurring roles that have clogged the pipeline this year?
Most importantly, who in the CBS hierarchy can lasso the plot issues and help reshape and rejuvenate the series to its season one glory? Or is that an impossible task at this point?
Some people and practices to contemplate:
• Mama McGarrett: She’s been mostly a question mark and certainly a distraction in season three. Perhaps she should be sent to pasture; and banned from flashbacks. In reality, actress Lahti had committed to do a new NBC show, “Beverly Hills Cop,” but the show’s pilot (with Eddie Murphy in a recurring role) was not picked up and consequently is DOA. Please; let her disappear, alive or otherwise, and let’s all move on.
• Wo Fat: McG’s nemesis has been ineffective and largely elusive. With all else that needs attention (like creating interesting and inventive plot lines for the weekly crew on hand). Dacascos is a local, so it was a valid idea to bring him on as the Wo Fat antagonist. With his character badly burned and injured in the most recent episode, he, too, should expire. Besides, he still has a gig as the chairman of the Food Network’s “Iron Chef” reality show, where his physicality gets plenty of exposure.
• Catherine: Michelle Borth’s dual purpose — a working Navy Intelligence colleague of McG and his established main squeeze — has been comprised too often. Like last week, Kono asked her to illegally share data on her Yakuza beau. If that situation should recur, Catherine should tell Kono where to go. And learn the “no” word. Characters should have some ethics, after all.
• Exes: The frequent presence of former wives, husbands, future girlfriends, bosses, sisters and fathers should be halted. Or at least minimized. But routinely. backstories that become story arcs simply drag down the real gist of “Five-0:” Fight, explore, resolve crime incidents and tales; forget the family ties.
• Remaking old “Five-0” episodes: No more. The Ed Asner experience to recreate and shadow a vintage show didn’t work. If anything, viewers want the passion and the power of storytelling from the original, but revved up and formatted for the current audience, not retelling something old. If viewers truly want an orig, it’s still in indication — dated but certainly holding its own.
• Time slot: Though “Five-0” is rumored to move from its Monday night spot to a Friday template where ratings don’t matter as much and shows generally wind up in the graveyard (one writer calls Friday TVs “glue factory,” because old battle horses go there to die), it’s still firm at 9 p.m. Monday (10 p.m. Mainland), where its chief competitor will continue to be ABC’s “Castle,” which has generally been the procedural attracting more viewers. NBC’s “Revolution,” the potentially powerful drama with an unfortunate and ill-fated absence on the radar for a couple of months, is moving to 9 p.m. Wednesdays. So if “Five-0” retains its Monday residency, its new NBC competition will be “The Blacklist,” a new show starring James Spader as the world’s most wanted criminal who mysteriously turns himself in and is willing to name names of everyone he’s worked with, but only to a new FBI agent played by Megan Boone with whom he apparently has no connection.
CBS clearly was obligated to give a free season four pass to “Five-0,” which needs about 100 episodes for that TNT syndication deal beginning next year and producing lucrative bucks for the network. The finale of season three will bring the total to 71, so a full-fourth may still fall short of the 100 shows; can't imagine a fifth year, unless there's vast improvement from top to bottom of the ranks, on and off camera.
If the network and the cast and the show producers genuinely yearn for more years of renewals and an extended syndication life, the only way is to improve wattage on the stories, clear out the clutter, and go full throttle to regain the numbers and amass more viewers.
The network has said precious little about the declining ratings and embarrassing tales shared week after week. It’s time somebody in the hierarchy take notice and take charge.
“Five-0” has been struggling, with no apparent leadership or voice to fix what’s broken.
Agree? Disagree?

24 Responses to “'Hawaii Five-0:' Who can fix what’s obviously broken?”

  1. hossana:

    For goodness sake, just get rid of this piece of trash!!! nothing more and nothing less......

  2. Sutton, R:

    No ! It is a great show ! Don't cancel it ! Wait and see ! I promise !

  3. Don Haines:

    I agree something has to be done. This show could be great but seems to keep getting dragged down by non-essential trivial story lines. You've got a great cop show, set in paradise with fantastic visuals. But then you get these underlying themes cropping up. For so long, we were burdened by the "Shelborn" plot. Then Mama McGarret shows up and just coincidentally is an ex spook & connected to Wo Fat. Like what are the odds.

    Family ties are great, but only if the whole family is in the picture all the time. I thought it was too bad that James Caan showed up as an unrelated ex cop. He could have been a great asset to the show as Dano's ex-cop dad. Helping and getting in the way at the same time.

    There are so many other cop shows out there. Seems the writers could spend some time watching them to see what works.

    How about new crimes each week and independently solved each week. Only occasionally have a 2 part show. Leave out the re-occuring stuff.

    The cast is great! HPD needs to get a little more exposure. 5-0 is supposed to be a special task force. They seem to be going after every crime committed in the state. Let them go after the big crimes and leave the everyday stuff to HPD. Not every murder or robbery warrants a special unit to find the perp. 5-0 isn't a SWAT team but an investigative unit. Let them act like one.

    I do enjoy the bickering between McGarret and Dano. It adds a lightness to everyday cop work. I know when I was a cop, my partners and I were always ragging in each other. It cut the monopoly of patrol duty. Police work usually is hours of boredom with seconds of terror. So that interaction would be normal for partners. Keep that in.

    In other words,keep it exciting, but keep it real.

  4. Annoddah Dave:

    Wayne: agree! this show is on life support.

  5. Hilo Moon:

    Wo Fat keeps popping up, yet there is no mystery about his whereabouts. Why? Because you're gonna see him as the chairman on Iron Chef America, where he is almost a cartoon
    character whose slightest nod of his head makes whoosing sound! Although Mr. Dascoscos is a good actor, I have a hard time believing his Wo Fat character because it seems like
    he's playing the same character in a "lighter" and much different show. Why is it hard to capture Wo Fat? 5-O can go get him at Iron Chef America.

  6. Steve P:

    I have thought the writing has been pretty bad from the start and has just gone down hill. The addition to the casts, as Wayne rightly points out, has been nothing more than story distractions. The next question is how does a studio take a great show, with proven track records, in a distinctive and provocative location like Hawaii, and screw it up?

  7. sarah lynn:


  8. Terrysagirl:

    I agree there do need to be some changes but not at the expense of the characters having any personal lives. That's one of the things that many fans love about this show, that's it's different than the usual procedural.

    And you know what else needs to change? The person writing this blog. Wayne, you've hated this show from Day 1 and they need to get someone who isn't mired in memories of the original show, for next year. You obviously don't enjoy anything about this gig.

  9. fans are too defensive:

    Great article, Wayne. I don't mind having an underlying personal story for the characters. What I think went wrong with that is that they put out too many potential stories and then drop them cold. Danno and the museum expert he wanted to date. Or something with Danno and his daughter. Also, Chin losing his wife and suffering; they hit on that for about a millisecond and then the story is gone. I feel for Lahti who I would guess she was promised a huge role and got nothing but lame scenes.

    Her pilot wasn't picked up. Oh, no. Will they go on with her in 5-0 then?

    Cath went from a GF who came into port and spent romantic moments with McG in season one to being---? Not sure. She still sleeps with Steve and now she apparently has a ton of free time to investigate with 5-0 and still be in the Navy and continue to flirt with being court martialed.

    After teasing us forever with the Kono/Adam story we apparently will have these last 2 episodes where I assume it will be another cliffhanger to end the season.

    In other words, as in season one with the drama of Danno and his ex and his daughter, you can have a personal story that is interesting going on as a back theme without it ruining the drama. The trick is to actually HAVE a underlying story with continuity and that makes sense, NOT 5 different possibilities tossed out and dropped mid stream. IMO anyway.

    They have just hired 2 new writers. My guess is CBS has told Lenkov to IMPROVE the ratings and the writing.

    I have heard that syndication can be reached by 88 episodes, which would be 17 episodes into season 4.

    " That fourth season typically ensures at least the minimum number of episodes (~88) needed for stripped syndication."

    If tvbythenumbers is correct, then syndication will be reached next season.

    If they don't improve the writing and tighten the scripts so that things actually make sense, season 4 can be its last season. But the EP has to realize that his show is dropping and change his philosophy.

    Also, in season one 5-0 WAS a special task force and since they introduced the now invisible new governor at the beginning of season two, it was changed to, "they can't break the rules." So what are they now?

    From what we have seen, no one seems to know. even the writers.

  10. theDman:

    To me, writing is everything, if you don't have it, you don't have a show. Your actors don't matter if your writing does not come first.

    If you want character development in a cop show, I cannot help but use my all-time fav cop show as an example, "Monk". Yeah, I know, I know, it was a comedy, not a drama, but if you want to see how a character can be developed to an extreme, and storylines built around him, that show had it. If I may, I will also add while Tony Shalhoub did a great job as Monk, he is not going to be regarded as a heart-throb anytime soon. Sometimes the plots seemed to appear more than once, but with as many episodes that they ran, that was bound to happen.

    A show like that was dependent on putting the character in a certain situation that escalated conflict. On top of that, you had a murder mystery that had to be solved, and in that sense, there is a strong parallel to Hawaii Five-0. Hawaii Five-0 gets its conflict from putting handsome hunks in the midst of car chases, explosions, fist fights and bullet casings littering the ground. That's what Whoa bruddah, that gets tiresome! For a change of pace, they like to throw in two-faced, ninja mothers and one Naval Officer girlfriend who apparently knows the combination and password to every secure premise on the island. Now, I have to admit, that if the show is gravitating towards becoming a comedy, these last two female characters I just mentioned could cross over into that domain without much work...but I don't think that is the intent.

    To raise the ratings, Wayne has it right, some of the storylines need to be de-cluttered, and some need to be cut. Mark is a local boy and a nice guy, I've heard that sentiment from more than one person, but he does not have a commanding presence. Yes, he may be skilled in martial arts, but he's too short and small to be the bad guy, and I have a hard time taking him seriously as Wo Fat. Cut the silly "it's a one hour helo flight to North Korea" storylines please! Peter! Who the #$%! is writing that stuff? I think sailor GF can be an effective support character, but I think mom has overstayed her welcome and needs to be put on a leaky, stealth raft to China, where she can "blend in".

  11. fans are too defensive:

    Great post, D-Man.

  12. Manoak:

    I've switched to Castle. The mystery writer as detective plot is older than Angela Lansbury, yet it seems fresh and creative compared to what H50 is throwing up.

  13. AniMatsuri:

    For the most part, I'm fine with where ever the show goes. Although the biggest problem with Wo Fat is that he's gone from a master criminal like in the original series to just a skilled assassin with a notorious reputation.

    As far as ratings go in the over all picture, I think dwindling is to strong a word since the numbers have been mostly steady in the over all with fluctuations up tenth and down a tenth.

    The teaser for the next episode says one of the original 4 will leave(or die). If they really mean it, I still think the best candidate would be Kono since the actress playing her, Grace Park probably misses Canada and I'd bet is paid the least. However, if they can find a way to make Danno go away, I'm fine with that too. Either one could be replaced with Catherine who should have been added to the team as a military liaison a long time ago. Or in my fantasy casting, bring in either Tia Carrere or Kelly Hu as a replacement.

  14. AniMatsuri:

    One other thing. That opening scene with the security guard chasing those 2 guys? Unarmed guards are always told not to chase anyone, just call in the violation.

  15. theDman:

    Well, they would have to come up with a stupendous paranormal plot to bring Kelly Hu into the show.

    Heh heh (waving his arm) Can I write that one?

  16. AniMatsuri:

    They can bring Kelly back as a new character. She was only in 3 episodes so it's not like a lot of people will remember her any way. Change her hair color a little and hardly anyone would know the difference.

  17. theDman:

    I don't think that idea will fly...believe me.

  18. melissai:

    We'd all like to see Kelly Hu starring on a series, but she can't return to H50 IMO. Too weird. She played a really interesting character awhile back on Castle. Hardly recognized her, but she was great and I can't understand why she isn't getting more work.

  19. theDman:

    ...and the move to Friday night is now official!

    Wow, I know a move to a different night was discussed here on this blog, but I never seriously thought it would be Friday. Ouch!

    The network has spoken.

  20. joann belair:

    I love Hawaii five-O. The four main characters are are great. I don`t want to see anyone of them go. The writers need to be changed, not these guys! Come on people fight for this show,it`s worth fighting for.

  21. Peter:

    Hawaii Five-O is a TV show not real life. Just enjoy it for what it is. A police show remake made on site (Hawaii) (Great for the cast and crew). I am a real Police Officer and a Paramedic in the Great City of NY and no I am not an NYPD officer but one from one of the many agencies that work with in NYC. You are read too much into. Let your self go and relax while watching TV, if you want even let your imagination put you in as one of the characters. But to get so nasty and arrogant about people you have never met or ever walked a mile in there shoes you have no right to say "I WANT THIS PERSON GONE FROM THE SHOW" THEY SHOULD WRITE IT THIS WAY. Please get real with your lonely self.
    You want real live action come ride with me either as a PO or a Paramedic I promise you will never ask to do it again. Working in East NY , Bed-Sty Brooklyn or THE BRONX. Or try to do it in your own neighbor hood and then you will realize that. HAWAII FIVE-O is on the mark a TV show that takes you away to part of these Great United States that most of you will never ever get to go and see it for your self in real life and non the less you get to imagine you are a Special Cop on an Elite Task Force.
    Just turn on your TV on Monday nights and have your son, daughter or wife next to you and enjoy your 1 hour of being part of some thing great!
    PS Even I escape with the show wanting to be a technical advisor or just playing Peter McGarrett the NY Transferred PO/Paramedic that out shines DANNY LOL see it is all imagination NOT REAL GUYS!!
    Wish you all the best and be safe

  22. Kelly D:

    It's my favorite show, but it has changed. McGarrett has changed and not for the best, his mother is annoying and he turns into an idiot when she is around. Please keep McGarrett the intelligent Navy Seal we know and love. Not a law breaking magic trick performing sap, what the heck was that anyway? More carguments please, more Danno one liners. Bring back Joe, bring back Mary Ann, don't turn Catherine into some pathetic gf keep her strong and let her keep Steve in check.

  23. five0phan:

    maby u aren't a fan of the show maby should write about something else since u so obviously don't like it

  24. Bianca:

    Great Blog. I have also been working on a set of niche blogs myself. I also have a few personal blogs I update as well!

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