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Hawaii Five-0 - Thoughts

So, my new love is Hawaii Five-0.  It has everything I rather like in a show (broken hero, and a team that considers each other family, witty banter between the characters) and I fell for it half-way through its first season.  It's format is the new style story-of-the-week plus overarching arc.  Admittedly I don't know much about the old Hawaii Five-O (bit before my time) but this new one seemed to have all the right ingredients.  It does have some questionable plot moments most of which can be hand-waved, and like any show, it has some issues with continuity and characters reacting to events from previous episodes week on week. But it's fun, not to be taken too seriously and it's sparked enough of a love that I have written some fanfic. 

(Spoilers ahead)

Although there was a bit of slump towards the end of the second season in quality (the finale was very clearly written to be 'we have to have the team split up no matter how we achieve that') I've been looking forward to the second season for ages and have happily soaked up the last three episodes.  However, there are two big issues:

1) Introducing New Characters

I can appreciate that the show wants to expand beyond the four regular characters to give a bigger ensemble cast that can reduce the pressure on the regular actors in terms of working hours and to ensure everyone makes it through the season intact.

I can also appreciate that the show probably had network notes on introducing hetereosexual chemistry to the show, because the networks expect to have a regular hetereo-will-they/won't-they subtext to this type of show which wasn't there at all in season one because somehow they resisted making Kono secretly in love with either Steve, Danny or Chin (who is her cousin) or indeed vice versa.  

In all honesty while I think the show is fine without a regular het-subtext-will-they/won't-they thing since there was plenty of relationships outside of the team to fulfill the criteria (Kono's had flirtations with guys, Steve had something of a  thing with Catherine, Danny was clearly still in love with his ex-wife and Chin had a tragic ex-fiancee appear in one episode and a connection with a witness in another).  Not to mention that most fans loved the epic bromance between Steve and Danny which was established in the pilot as the foundation stone of the show.  But I understand why the network might have thought they needed it (NCIS after all has the ever popular Tiva), and I can also appreciate that they maybe wanted to introduce another woman to the regular cast to get a more equitable male-female ratio if not exactly equal.

I'm not sure why they felt they needed to introduce new characters (apart from the Governor who clearly had to be replaced since they killed the last one) when Jenna Kaye seemed to fit the bill for the het-requirement/plus-one-female-to-team (maybe a focus groups came back negative?) and with the rest they could easily have increased existing recurring characters to more regular status as they did with Max.  

Unfortunately, the danger of introducing *new* new characters is that it disturbs the existing dynamic A LOT.  And it's the existing dynamic that fans love and tune in for.

So how has Hawaii Five-0 done so far?  Well, not so well.  

a) Positive - Upgrading Max and Introducing Joe & the Governor in the season premiere, team love!

The first episode wasn't too bad.  Recurring character Max got upgraded to regular which made sense (a coroner is likely to be regularly consulted on murders which are the bread and butter plot line of the show), and new guys Joe White (father-mentor figure for Steve) and the Lt.Governor were introduced.  Steve spent a lot of his time with Joe but there was a sense of team with Five-0 coming back together to track Wo-Fat down and get Steve out of trouble.  So far so good.

b) Negative - Introducing Lori being the entire main theme of the second episode

The second episode was really where it started to go pear-shaped with the introduction of the new female character, Lori, in two ways.  Not her fault.  Lori, herself, I think has the makings of a great character.  She's smart, sassy and good in the field.  She's empathetic and maybe cares a little too much.  Nice notes and I'm looking forward to seeing how she develops.  

But there was just too much air time on her and not enough on the existing female character of Kono who was isolated and who interacted only with Chin and another new recurring character of the Capt of IA throughout.  Seriously they couldn't have given the two women stories of equal weight?  

In addition, the "flirtatious" scenes were clearly written as flirtatious rather than writing them (forgive the pun) straight and letting the actors play off each other.  The result was that mostly I didn't get a sense of chemistry between Steve and Lori.  

Add to that the lack of team chemistry in general because of the absence of Kono and, yes, show lacked something, namely a team feel, in the second episode.  But to give them credit there were moments (Danny and Chin teasing Steve about Lori, Danny and Steve arguing on horseback and huddling together in the shootout scene come to mind) that just about saved it.

c) Negative - let's introduce Joe again and give him his own episode too

The third episode is where they've really messed up because, hello again there Steve's mentor friend Joe who having already been introduced in the premiere acquired the bulk of the air time with Steve as his trusty sidekick here for some bizarre reason.  Did the producers think 'OK, we introduced Lori last episode, need to introduce Joe properly this next episode and then all the introductions will be over'?  Because really that was the wrong answer.  Especially when these new characters aren't even 'regulars' yet in the titles but recurring.  If they had chosen to make this a Max episode I might have understood it more because he has been promoted to regular and hardly had a thing to do last episode but while he got to be the one who proved it was murder and that it was a serial killer, there was also no focus on his character this episode either.

d) Neutral - (positive, Lori interacts with people other than Steve/negative, Lori tries to be Steve)

Lori, meanwhile, was nicely paired with Danny for some of the time (good to see they're not just having her be with Steve) but the argument in the car with Danny was far too reminiscent of the usual arguments between Steve and Danny, and which unsurprisingly work better between Steve and Danny.  The writers should have gone for a different tone, shown a different dynamic, consoling or easy rather than confrontational.  But otherwise I thought Lori had a good episode given that she really didn't have much to do.

e) Negative, lack of existing team!

Having had one episode with a new character at the forefront, the next episode should really have refocused attention on the pre-existing four characters that the audience is tuning in to see.  Instead, Danny was missing in action for a large part of the beginning of the episode (and note, writers a simple 'Danny's coordinating back at base' or 'Danny's not in today he has Grace' could have solved the whole 'where is Danny' question that went through my head for the first fifteen/twenty minutes until he showed up).  And once again there was the isolation of usual team regular Kono (which is probably down to the decision to do the 'is she turning bad' story arc but more on that later).

In conclusion, I don't get why producers and writers of TV shows don't get that the easiest way to lose an audience when introducing new characters is to spend way too much time on them way too soon.  

Hopefully, the introductions are done now though (although I hope Max does get his own focus episode at some point) and the dynamic will settle down in the next few weeks.

2) The Kono Story Arc

Really this is the second issue with the show this season: the Kono story arc.  In essence there are several things wrong with how they're playing it.

a) it sidelines Kono as a character to the sub-plot while they build the 'is-she/isn't-she' thing and presumably give an episode with the pay-off where it will be plot and not sub-plot
b) it impacts the existing team dynamic by isolating Kono away from Chin, Danny and Steve (note the existing team dynamic is what we tune in to see)
c) it sidelines Kono as a character
d) have the writers completely lost the plot and forgotten why Kono was being investigated by IA?  Because there has been no explanation in either episode two where she loses her badge or episode three why Chin, Danny and Steve haven't already admitted their part in the money theft to support her/go down with her as a team as they were going to do with Steve in the episode with the tsunami warning in the first season.  All it needed was one sentence to say 'look, I know I told you guys to stay out of it, that there was no point of all of us losing our badges over it but I need some space to get used to losing mine' in her conversation with Chin and problem solved.
e) it sidelines Kono as a character
f) it makes no sense why Chin is the only character talking to her - why haven't Steve or Danny been round to see her or why wasn't Danny with Chin doing the surveillance when she went to see the bad guys?
g) it sidelines Kono as a character

If they had dropped the whole mystery thing and either committed to Kono's lost her badge and falling in with a bad crowd OR Kono's secretly undercover to bring down rogue ex-cops, and showed us that story whichever they chose fully (Kono struggling, her issues with her former team-mates and team leader, her angst and heartache, their angst and heartache in her losing her badge or being undercover without their support) then how much richer would this story line be?

Just a thought.

Hopefully things will improve but I rather doubt it given their track record on plotting (seriously the whole Rachel-Danny-baby arc was so bad and hasn't even really fully been put to bed yet either - pun intended).

Still, I don't give my loyalty to any show and I'll stick around to see what happens.   Fingers crossed they get the issues resolved and things settle into something approaching the dynamic they established last season only with the new people included.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
uhsir
Oct. 7th, 2011 03:41 am (UTC)
I love this show to bits. I did watch the original and this one is very different. It was more crime-of-week and mostly about McGarrett.

I do love that they use the same exact song, albeit a new version. The song is the show is the song.

I would dearly love to comment more on your post but this is not a good time for me mentally. I'll be good in about about two weeks so if I don't get back to this then poke me and make me do it. I'm struggling with the Kono arc right now too. Don't let me forget.
((HUGS))
rachel500
Oct. 7th, 2011 10:16 am (UTC)
(((HUGS)))

Hope things improve for you. I'll give you a poke in a couple of weeks if I don't hear from you before then. :) (And yay! Someone on my flist likes the show too!)
uhsir
Nov. 1st, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
Yay from me too that you like it too!

Well, I'm finally getting to this, and wouldn't you know, they finished the Kono thing already. I'm very surprised and a little disappointed that it finished so quickly. Hubby and I suspected she was working undercover and it was looking like, or maybe I was just hoping, they might reveal that to the viewers while keeping the team in the dark. I would have liked to see the writers take Kono really deep into the muck and have her struggle with not telling Chin and having to deal with the reality of what she was doing on her own. I would have loved to see Grace Park work through that!

I'm hoping the writers, etc. don't feel the need for romance between team members. It will kill the show for me. Especially if they put Steve with someone. In fact, I think his story will be so much better without him falling in love, team member or anyone else.

Max. *sigh* Egads. Hopefully he won't be too regular. Small doses is all I can take. He's too far over-the-top for me.
rachel500
Nov. 4th, 2011 11:07 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the delay in replying (NaNoWriMo has my attention at present!)

I just have so many issues with the Kono arc I decided to write a full post on it (it's under meta if you want to read it). I'm just disappointed because like you I'd rather they would have explored it further and maybe had it lasting longer than what they did do. It was just incredibly sloppy plotting.

I don't mind Max and I think they're getting his screen time about right and using him where it makes sense to use him. Joe White on the other hand...I was basically cheering on Wo Fat when he attacked Joe White an episode ago so I think that says everything.
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