Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The New Hawaii Five-0 Review (Hawaii Five...NO!!!)

I have a major problem with the new 'Hawaii Five-0' that premiered last night on CBS. The story itself was below-average, but that's not my problem. I just can't figure out why they decided to remake 'Hawaii Five-0' in name only!?

The only thing resembling the old show are: (#1) The title (#2) The theme song, and (#3) The names of the characters.

It also takes place in Hawaii and they use the catch phrase 'Book 'Em Danno' but those would be redundant to similarities I already pointed out (see #1 and #3).

Why go to all the trouble to acquire the rights of one of the most famous and successful TV shows of all time and then make a completely different show? They don't even use the term 'Five-0' in the pilot (it ends with them arguing about what to 'call themselves'...a truly dumb scene that only shows the lack of chemistry between the actors).

Remakes are tricky. But if you're remaking a show that was successful like 'Hawaii Five-0', there seems to be only two ways to go. You either do a 'Next Generation' type of series that exists in the same 'universe' as the original show but with new characters: It's 2010, McGarrett and his crew are gone but not forgotten and the 'new' guys are still fighting the good fight. The tone of the show is more modern, but similar.

Or do a true remake: Exact same premise and characters as the old show but with a 2010 take.

The new 'Hawaii Five-0' has done neither. Instead, they have decided to go the 'Battlestar Galactica' route. That is, take the most basic idea and names of the characters and change everything else.

It worked for the new 'Battlestar' because the original show was a good 'idea' with lousy execution. The new 'Battlestar' took a dumb kiddie show nobody remembers or cared about and turned it into a hard-hitting respectable fan favorite.

Unlike the original and forgotten 'Battlestar', 'Five-0' was a huge success and aired for 12 years. Whatever you might think of it, 'Five-0' was a big deal. It's part of American pop-culture. It had big ratings and everybody knew about it even if they didn't watch TV.

Here's how they dropped the ball on this new version:

THE PREMISE: Five-o is no longer part of the state police. They're some vague 'anti-terrorist' force. Isn't that kind of limiting? Terrorists are always the same. Sweaty, five o'clock shadow, foreign accent, insane, suicidal, fanatic...are they going to do that every week?

THE STORY: The 'Pilot' is a 'revenge' tale about McGarrett's murdered dad. The old show RARELY gave us any glimpse of McGarrett's personal life. We didn't even see where he lived or what he did besides fight crime. And the plots hardly ever revolved around the characters and only did so after the show had been on a while and we got to know and like them. In this new one, McGarrett's dad is murdered in the first five minutes. Who cares!? He looked like a Tea Bagger anyway. Good riddance!

THE TONE: The old show was tense and serious. Very little joking around or personal belly aching. The new one has McGarrett mourning his 'dead daddy' one minute and cracking wise with Danno the next.

THE CHARACTERS: They in no way resemble the original ones. So much so in fact, that they actually seem to have purposely made them the complete OPPOSITE.

Kono, formally an overweight, somewhat lethargic ex-beach boy, is now a gorgeous/hip surfer girl.

Chin Ho, an older Charlie Chan-type with too many kids to count and in the sunset of a long and illustrious career is now a single, handsome ex-cop who got kicked off the force for being corrupt (he denies it).

Danny Williams, the dedicated young Haole cop and all around 'nice guy', is an unhappy, divorced, wise-cracking cop who hates Hawaii and only moved there to be close to his ex-wife and kids.

Steve McGarrett, the 'by the book' leader is now an out-of-control rule breaker.

Even the way the show treats Hawaii is all wrong. The old show had respect for the culture, history and people. You actually learned stuff about Hawaii by watching it. This new version mocks the locals and makes 'shaved ice' jokes.

The one good thing about the new show is Scott Caan as Danny Williams. He's fun to watch and makes the guy playing McGarrett completely disappear. Which is not a good thing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

'Survivor' Moves to Wednesday

I see 'Survivor' is moving to Wednesdays after over ten years as a Thursday night staple. This pretty much ends my habit of Thursday being my big TV night.

Remember when NBC called Thursday 'Must See TV'? It was a great 20-year run of shows I loved like 'Cheers', 'Friends', 'Scrubs', 'Will and Grace', 'Frasier', 'Seinfeld', 'ER' and a bunch I didn't like but had huge ratings like 'The Cosby Show'.

And even though NBC pretty much owned the night, 'Survivor' made it a 'must see' night, too. It's the only 'non-scripted' show I like (I think 'non-scripted' is a more accurate term than 'reality' because there's nothing about 'Survivor' that resembles 'reality'. You could actually say that a show like 'ER' was more 'real' than 'Survivor').

It's a great show because it's a great 'game'. Not only are the challenges fun, but the psychological aspects are complex. Because while the main goal is to eliminate the other players, usually through trickery and lying, the final goal is to get the majority of the same people you lied to and betrayed to pick you as the winner.

I also love the scenery and think Jeff Probst is terrific.

Oh, and again, regarding Thursday TV viewing, I recall that the first six or so episodes of 'Northern Exposure' (CBS) were also on Thursday night as a summer replacement (remember those?).

The only thing left really is '30 Rock'. I used to like 'The Office' but don't really care about it much anymore. 'Parks and Recreation' is okay, but Thursdays will never be the same. The end of 'ER' was huge, but 'Survivor' moving to Wednesdays is the last nail in the coffin.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

South Pacific: The Book, The Musical, The LP, The Movie

I've recently discovered 'South Pacific'. It all started about a year ago when I attended the musical when a new production was playing in San Francisco. I thought it was super. So I Netflixed the movie and loved it, too.

Now I'm reading the James Michener novel that was the genesis of both and think it's Michener's best. I was never a big fan of his, but this book (actually titled 'Tales of the South Pacific') is a real winner.

I even got a copy of the original Broadway production on vinyl.

I wasn't completely unaware of 'South Pacific'. I'd heard some of the songs. 'Some Enchanted Evening', 'Bali Hai' and 'I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair' (which I first recall as a shampoo commercial!), but I'd never seen the film, much less the play. And yeah, some people will say 'it's corny', but so what. There's a big difference between 'good corny' and 'bad corny'. Like Frank Capra movies are 'good' and fluff like 'Touched By An Angel' are bad.

The world of entertainment is diverse. And you just like what you like. You can't fight it.

So after I have another listen to 'South Pacific', I think I'll put on an old Dead Kennedys album.