By Wayne Harada
“Hawaii Five-0” has more or less comfortably settled into its Friday night CBS slot at 8 p.m. (9 p.m. Mainland), nestled in-between “Undercover Boss” and “Blue Bloods.”
And it’s been as a good as it gets, since the Hawaii-filmed show has been able to draw the most viewers in this spot (10.42 million on Jan. 17), with a 1.5 rating in the coveted ad-rate-oriented 18 to 49 age demographics, which was second to ABC’s “Shark Tank,” which was No. 1 in demos with 1.7 demos but had fewer viewers (7.39 million).
So there’s stability, at best, for a show shoved into the time and on the night that has been traditionally where series go to die. Think “CSI: New York.”
This week’s episode, “Hana Lokamaikai” (Hawaiian for “Favor”), focused on a creative but congested backstory centering on Daniel Dae Kim as a rookie cop and a cold case on the death of his father Kam Tong Kelly. The format taps a series of flashbacks of five years, and 10 years, see-sawing back to the present day, primed to a current investigation of a Mexican drug cartel. Then and now, the principles of honor, truth, familial ties and loyalty prevail.
In the time-bending template, Chin is subjected to hostile interrogation. Did he do a favor for someone in the past, that possibly triggered a missing link in the death of his dead and the present investigation of that drugger? Did he lie to help a kin?
Unfortunately, the buffet here comes with an overloaded plate of confusion and characters: Steve McGarrett’s (Alex O’Loughlin) dad Jack (William Sadler), comes back to life, as Chin’s mentor; Chin’s bride-to-be and then widow Malia (Reiko Aylesworth) also returns in flashbacks. And Chin’s dad, Kam Tong, is seen for the first time — as the murder victim.
The alternating time sequences and return of incidental characters not familiar to the casual viewer almost require a family tree graph to connect the dots to keep up with the procedural pace. Even diehard fans could use a chart to know who’s who in the family chain.
The absence of Danno (Scott Caan) was noticeable, but easily forgotten. OK, that meant no bromance bantering with McG; but there was less McG, too. Not a complaint; just an observation.
The best element of the show: the makeup. With Chin, McG and even Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park, in a formal return to the line up) in flashbacks, we see a youthful, dashing Chin, whose character traits evolve in his current self; McG, in his budding stage, yearns to become a Navy SEAL; Kono displays a penchant for police work and keen family ties.
Gary Ala plays Kam Tong Kelly, and may he rest in peace; his alleged killer is Gabriel Waincroft (Christopher Sean), also seen in “then” and “now” sequences; and Kim’s beloved Malia (Reiko Aylesworth), returns as the sister of Waincroft.
The surly interrogation duo questioning Chin, McG and Kono, seem to come from the sphere of “Law and Order” and “NCIS,” with footage not commonly utilized in “H50:” lots of tight facial closeups, melodramatic lighting, insinuating posture. In other words, dudes without an ounce of aloha.
Clearly, there’s a bit of tweaking and change in the writing style; a lot more character development, less car chases and explosions. With this evolving agenda, “H50” certainly will survive the curse of the Friday time slot. The fact that it needs more episodes to solidify the TNT syndication deal could be its saving grace, but heck, if the show self-improves, it won’t self-implode.
Overall, “Blue Bloods” had the most viewers for the night, 12.47 million; and “Shark Tank” the best demos (2.1 rating). And CBS led the viewership with 10.63 million, but ABC won the 18 to 49 demo race with a 1.7 rating. These were Nielsen overnight numbers for live and same-day viewing, with adjustments expected after DVR and other devices are added.