'Hawaii Five-0': Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan fight crime in paradise


As soon as sound was invented, silent films started to be remade, and the trend has continued until today. The results have always been mixed, but especially strong emotions also come into play when someone touches a beloved TV franchise.

This is something Alex Kurtzman knows well. With writing partner Roberto Orci and director J.J. Abrams, he rebooted the beloved "Star Trek" franchise as a hit motion picture in 2009, surviving fans' slings and arrows and getting the Leonard Nimoy seal of approval (the original Mr. Spock appeared in the movie to metaphorically hand the reins to his successor in the role, "Heroes" star Zachary Quinto).

On Monday, Sept. 20, CBS premieres a new version of its previous hit series "Hawaii Five-0," which originally ran from 1968 to 1980 and starred Jack Lord as iconic Aloha State lawman Steve McGarrett.

(Because of the show, Brooklyn-born Lord became strongly associated with Hawaii, where he died and is buried.)

Kurtzman and Orci are executive producers, along with Peter Lenkov, who originally brought them his concept for reviving the show.

"You have to have a reason to do it," Kurtzman says, "a real reason to do it, not because it's a brand and a title and you want to bring people to television. … You have to have a genuine emotional reason to commit yourself to the show.

"When Peter came to us, he said, 'This is a show I used to watch with my father. This was about my relationship with my dad. Every week, we would sit down and watch "Five-0" together.'

"Bob and I felt like he was coming from the best possible place. He really was coming from a place of true fandom."

In the new "Hawaii Five-0," Australian-born Alex O'Loughlin ("Moonlight," "Three Rivers") is Steve McGarrett, a decorated Naval officer asked by Hawaii's governor (Jean Smart) to head up a crime-fighting unit with her support, McGarrett's rules, no red tape and full authority to hunt down the islands' biggest criminals.

He's paired with New Jersey transplant Detective Danny "Danno" Williams (Scott Caan), who's in the islands because of his young daughter. McGarrett also brings in his father's former protege, ex-detective Chin Ho Kelly ("Lost" star Daniel Dae Kim), who then brings in his cousin, recent police academy graduate Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park).

On the personal side, McGarrett vows to bring closure in the murder of his father, and to mend fences with his estranged sister, Mary Ann (Taryn Manning).

As to what made O'Loughlin the man for the iconic role of McGarrett, Kurtzman says, "There's a focus and a bearing about Alex. He's a man. Apparently we don't make men in the United States. We have to import them, and Alex is a man.

"I would say, maybe the one exception to that is Scott Caan, who is a man."

In his spare time, McGarrett tinkers with a black 1974 Mercury Marquis that belonged to his dad. In reality, it's the very car Lord drove in the original series, which belonged to Hawaii resident John Nordlum, who was Lord's stunt double.

"So for the fans and the purists," O'Loughlin says, "there are elements of the original show that we're playing homage to. That's an important move."

As to actually driving the legendary vehicle, O'Loughlin says, "It's so old, I don't think it'd make it to the scene of the crime within the 48 hours that you have to before the case is cold."O'Loughlin and Caan say they've quickly formed a strong partnership.

"The show is McGarrett and Danno," O'Loughlin says. "It's as much about Danno as it is about McGarrett."

They also get along in real life.

"It's my first buddy show," O'Loughlin says. "It's great to always turn around and know Scott's there. We've become mates. We're pretty good mates."

But that sometimes means some teasing. Caan is nursing an injured knee, which required surgery early in production. But it'll somehow be worked into the story line.

"I think I'm going to get shot in the leg," he quips.

"I'll shoot him," O'Loughlin says, "in an argument."

One thing that set the original "Hawaii Five-0" apart were its villains, including McGarrett's nemesis Wo Fat (Khigh Diegh), a rogue intelligence officer from the People's Republic of China. He eventually went to jail in the show's final episode, "Woe to Wo Fat."

While there might not exactly be a Wo Fat character in the new show, Kurtzman says, "You can't think of 'Five-0' without thinking of Wo Fat. You just can't. We'll see what happens. It's definitely our intention to have long-term bad guys. That's certainly what we take from Wo Fat."

Kurtzman also wants to take maximum advantage of his locale, saying, "If we have our way, we're not going to leave one inch of that island unfilmed."

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