By Wayne Harada
Expectations were high but numbers not so much when CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0” made its fourth season debut in a new time slot (8 p.m. here, 9 p.m. Mainland) on a new night (Friday instead of Monday).
Despite a somewhat exciting episode, the introduction of a new crimefighter (SWAT captain Lou Grover, played by Chi McBride) and the customary high-flying action scenes and special effects (car chases, a helicopter soaring and nearly crashing inside Aloha Stadium, car bombings, etc.), “Hawaii Five-0” finished with a 1.5 rating in the 18 to 49 demographics, attracting 9.8 million live viewers, based on preliminary overnight Nielsen ratings. “Five-0” won the viewership, but its chief competitor in the time slot was ABC’s “Shark Tank,” which pulled a 1.9 rating in the coveted 18 to 49 demos despite fewer viewers at 6.75 million.
For “Five-0,” the performance was three-tenths below the 1.8 rating of 18 to 49 adults last year (on a Monday) and the under-10 million showing did not live up to the expectations for the new night. Or did it?
“Five-0” precedes CBS’ “Blue Bloods” at 9 p.m. (10 p.m. Mainland), which helped the eye network win the night with its 1.7 rating for adults 18 to 49 and 11.39 million viewers. This also is the fourth season for “BB.”
There are some things to ponder about the new time and the new night.
The shuffle to Friday has led to co-promotion of the two “island” shows, Hawaii and Manhattan, and Tom Selleck’s starring role as Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Selleck was previously “Magnum P.I.” on the CBS roster) may help or hinder Alex McLoughlin’s new-generation Steve McGarrett.
Clearly, the bundling campaign may work — or not — depending on your expectations and/or orientation.
When paired with “BB,” “H50” may suffer from script and story comparisons. Sure, they’re different procedurals with distinctively different pedigree, and the shortcomings of one may unravel when witnessed alongside the strengths of the other.
“H50” is heavily action-driven, with crashes and criminals, colliding with principals and principles, combined with aerial scenics of life in the tropics, day and night. “BB” is fueled by family values and relationships, with friction between the core of the Reagan family police — the active and the retired — and the weekly perpetrators of crime.
In each show’s fourth season premiere on Sept. 27, the styles were noticeable.
McGarrett and crew huddle around their HQ computers or in moving vehicles, exchanging theories and barbs, with the vehicle pursuits and shootings characterizing and underlying the crimes. In this instance, terrorists take hostages, turn themselves in, make their escape and then momentarily elusive before their demise.
Enter SWAT captain Lou Grover (Chi McBride), an ally/colleague of McG, but one with thorns and difference of attitude, so there’s needed tension and trauma somewhat. There’s also the lingering Wo Fat issue — who is he, what is his mission, what is his relationship with Mama McG, and whoa, does he share DNA with McG? — which are overflowing themes from seasons past, along with the tedious Kono Kalakaua-Adam Noshimuri romance now in jeopardy abroad and going nowhere all too slowly. Too many loose strings, fuzzy recurring figures and story arcs yet to be resolved.
“BB,” meanwhile, rotates on much more immediate and credible playout of the law, based on the prospectives of the layers of the Reagan family — police commissioner Frank (Selleck), assistant prosecutor Erin (Bridget Moynahan), NYPD detective first grade Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), rookie police officer Jamie (Will Estes), father and ex-commissioner Henry (Len Cariou), ER nurse Linda (Amy Carlson). One key recurring pattern: the Reagan clan talks shop and progress of cases with officers, kids and grandkids across the dinner table, with tidy resolution by the end credits. There are periodic story arcs, for sure, but generally speaking, it’s a clean slate by the next week.
To its credit, “HF0” should be a cozy fit for Friday, as its foray into TNT syndication helps galvanize a secondary audience. Its viewership this week among adults 25 to 54, not the key audience, was 2.2, but its headcount among viewers 55 and older are a significant 7.6. Perhaps if it skewers its efforts to the geezer-geriatric crowd, and downplay its 18 to 49 element, it will find its pace and place on Friday nights. And maybe it can build its foundation to reach or pass the 15.4 rating in the 55-plus of TV’s No. 1 drama on Tuesday night, CBS’ “NCIS.”
There’s still unexplored power among the elders, after all. Ratings can be interpreted in more ways than one.