Nostalgia is a thin bridge to walk. Everybody longs to return to those halcyon days of youth when music rocked louder, movies were less stupid and comic books kicked way more ass. The problem is nothing is ever as good as you remember it. Hollywood, hoping to make another buck or two off your faulty memory, is happy to exploit feelings of nostalgia. There’s hardly a movie, TV show, cartoon, comic strip, comic book, toy, video game or board game that hasn’t been or isn’t about to be brought back to life.
Rarely, if ever, are these resurrections considered to be as good as the originals. (The A-Team movie? Fah! Clash of the Titans? I don’t think so. Marmaduke? Gimme a break.) Of course, all this reboot-bashing ignores the fact that the source material probably wasn’t all that awesome. Take, for example, CBS’ hip, action-packed remake of the Aloha State cop series “Hawaii Five-0.”
Several generations of Americans have indelible images of the show buried in their heads. (The original series ran from 1968 to 1980!) But, having watched a number of classic episodes recently, I can objectively report that the show isn’t as great as I recall. The memorable stuff is still there: the eye-popping Hawaiian scenery, the surftastic opening theme, the suave suits, Jack Lord’s hair. But the stories are standard-issue TV cop stuff filled out with some mighty silly characters. (Hippies! Dirty Commies!) It still looks cool, but it isn’t—for a minute—believable. (Who would wear a suit in Hawaii?)
All of this provides a good platform for judging the new “Hawaii Five-0”—which is almost as silly, but awfully damn fun. Aussie Alex O’Loughlin (patron saint of failed TV after “Moonlight” and “Three Rivers”) takes over for Jack Lord as top cop Steve McGarrett. His hair isn’t as good, but he rocks the chin stubble. McGarrett is a Naval Intelligence officer recruited by the governor of Hawaii to head a special police task force to hunt down international terrorists. (A lot of those in Hawaii, are there?) In short order, McGarrett recruits a ragtag team of crime-fighters (Scott Caan from Ocean’s Eleven, Daniel Dae Kim from “Lost” and Grace Park from “Battlestar Galactica”) to bust heads, island-style. Preposterous as the setup sounds, it’s virtually word-for-word the original. Producers/scripters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek, Transformers) make sure to include a bunch of explosions, but they keep everything else much the same as it was in 1968.
The main terrorist villain has been changed from Chinese to ... no, not Arabic, Irish. (Wow. That’s what I call overly politically correct.) One of the main cast members has had a sex change. (Instead of hulking Gilbert Lani Kauhi as “Kono,” we’ve got lithesome Ms. Park.) And, as mentioned earlier, things have a greater tendency to blow up. High production values, beautiful scenery, good-looking stars, a weekly dose of action? By god, this is your father’s “Hawaii Five-0.” And it’s better than ever.