As the fall season of 2010 nears us and prepares us for three months (or so) of pre-winter fun (where applicable), CBS has prepared a new slate of television programming for a new season of its own. Oddly enough, a good half of CBS’s new shows focus on those brave men and women of the law enforcement industry. Three new series, Hawaii Five-0, Blue Bloods, and Mike & Molly all center around cops in one way or another. And let’s face it, cop shows have been a staple of television since the days of Dragnet in the ‘50s. The public loves to watch the good guys chase the bad guys. They love to see the action; to get involved in the drama. And sometimes, to have a laugh or two.
We begin with perhaps the most anticipated television premiere this year: the remake of the classic cop drama Hawaii Five-O. And, just so that we can distinguish between the two incarnations of the series, they’ve ditched the letter “O” and replaced it with a much more serious number “0” — a sure sign they mean business.
Caution: some spoilers lie ahead.
Hawaii Five-0 begins with a young Steve McGarrett (Australian actor Alex O’Loughlin, who is destined to be typecast as a police officer by the looks of his résumé), a Navy SEAL, escorting terrorist Anton Hesse (Norman Reedus) to his future in a 6×8 cell. McGarrett then receives a call from Anton’s brother, Victor (James Marsters, whom it appears may become the new “Wo Fat” character of the series), who is holding Steve’s father (William Sadler) hostage at his home in Hawaii — waiting to pull the trigger if his sibling is not released. An attack by the Hesses’ well-organized terrorist crew results in the demise of the lesser Hesse brother, which in turn results in the death of McGarrett’s father.
Returning to Hawaii, Steve is offered a job by Governor Pat Jameson (Jean Smart) to lead his own special task force — one that keeps the island safe from the many criminals that set their sights on its lush tropical settings to pursue their dastardly plans. At first, Steve isn’t flattered by the proposal, choosing to investigate his father’s cryptic last message and track down Hesse on his own. This leads him into a working relationship with Detective Danny Williams (Scott Caan, boasting the same hairdo he‘s had for years), a divorced father of one who has moved to the island to be closer to his daughter.
Finally deciding to take the governor up on her job offer, Det. McGarrett recruits former Hawaii PD officer Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) — who was forced to leave his career over charges of corruption — to assist him and his new partner. Pursuing one lead after another, the boys are introduced to Chin Ho’s cousin, Kona Kalakaua (Grace Park), a rookie female cop with a killer body and a passion for surfing (hey, it’s Hawaii, you know!).
To put it best: this ain’t your daddy’s Five-O. CBS’s reboot of the classic series injects itself with 20 times more action than that of its predecessor, and gives us a much younger cast of characters.
If you’re getting a slight case of déjà vu, please take into account that two of the new series’ three developers — Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci — were the lads behind the recent theatrical reboot of Star Trek. And there are a lot of similarities between the two remakes. McGarrett is a very hot-tempered individual, prone to breaking all the rules in order to get the bad guy (à la Kirk in the new Trek). Danny Williams is a grouchy, recent divorcee with a peculiar nickname (paging Dr. McCoy…), while Chin Ho Kelly represents the series’ Spock character: a logical man who isn’t truly understood or appreciated by his peers.
Still, though, the new Hawaii Five-0 comes off strong and appealing. I’m a big fan of the style and look of the original show, I wasn’t disappointed with this reboot pilot (although I do confess I would have liked it more were it a two-hour premiere so we could have had some more character introduction — reportedly, actress Taryn Manning’s entire performance as Steve’s sister was left on the cutting room floor to accommodate the one-hour timeslot). Sure, the late Jack Lord probably wouldn’t appreciate it all that much, but, at the same time, you’d be hard-pressed to pass off the formula of the old series in this day and age. In short, I think Hawaii Five-0 has what it takes to keep viewers glued to their screens every week for a good couple of seasons (possibly more).
Plus, there’s a certain vintage black Mercury that will become a recurring sub-theme of the show — just to make fans of the original show happy. They even kept the original theme song (which was originally more “modern” sounding, but was recently re-recorded to include more of the original’s flair).
Moving on, we find ourselves on the steps of Blue Bloods (which was originally titled Reagan’s Law), a much grittier police drama set in New York. The series focuses on the Reagan family, several generations of cops who are determined to uphold justice… no matter what the costs. Patriarch Frank (Tom Selleck, looking a bit grizzled) is proud of his two grown boys — experienced detective Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) and recent Harvard Law graduate-cum-rookie cop, Jamie (Will Estes) — and his daughter Erin (Bridget Moynahan), who is an assistant district attorney for the city. Bringing up the rear in the family is Frank’s father, Henry (Len Cariou), a former Chief of Police.
Despite the fact that the Reagan family appears to be a loving, tightly-knit nest full of cops, there are bound to be some skeletons in the closets. Danny’s methods of interrogation get him into trouble when he assaults a suspect in a case involving a missing pre-teen girl. Jamie, on the other hand, is approached by a secret sect of police officers and asked to join their surreptitious organization.
How will the actions of the Reagan family boys affect the entire family? Only time will tell. More importantly, how will the hour-long police drama Blue Bloods fare with the viewing public? I found it to be rather uninteresting myself: uninteresting and unoriginal. At times, it almost seemed like a reworking of Showtime’s Brotherhood — and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the show’s writers wound up pitting the two brothers on flip sides of the same lawful coin. Frankly, I don’t see Blue Bloods lasting more than one or two seasons. But, of course, that’s up to the public (and the network execs) to decide.
Finally, we find ourselves at the most light-hearted cop series of all. Okay, so the new sitcom Mike & Molly really isn’t a police series, but its main male character is a cop. The half-hour comedy starts out with two beat cops Mike (Billy Gardell) and Carl (Reno Wilson), the latter of whom appears to be the show’s funny “ethnic” character in an otherwise all-white cast — which is odd, considering it takes place in Detroit. An overeater to say the least, Mike is becoming worried about his ever-expanding girth, and goes to Overeaters Anonymous meetings in an attempt to support his goal to lose a few (hundred) pounds.
It’s at one of these OA meetings that Mike’s sense of humor brings him to the attention of fourth-grade teacher Molly (Melissa McCarthy), another overeater whose weight has become a problem. Mind you, Molly’s weight isn’t as big of a problem as is her family, though. Between her supermodel thin party-hearty sister, Victoria (Katy Mixon), and her non-obese mother, Joyce (Swoosie Kurtz) — both of whom are oblivious to the rest of the world — Molly doesn’t received the support she needs. And neither does Mike, who really doesn’t have anyone in the world that cares for him apart from his wise-cracking partner.
Really, it’s a comedy, people. And, while it seems like it may very well be one big (no pun intended) fat joke, the show’s superiors — creator/writer Mark Roberts and producer Chuck Lorre — have assured potential viewers that the series will instead focus on the blossoming romance and wacky adventures of its titular characters. But, when you take the weight factor of the two mains and the writing history of both Roberts and Lorre (who worked together on Two And A Half Men), we might just end up with another Rosanne on our hands.
But, hey, at least I enjoyed the pilot for Mike & Molly more than the premiere for Blue Bloods. Needless to say, though, I think it’s Hawaii Five-0 that will take the cake this season.
Mike & Molly and Hawaii Five-0 both premiere on CBS Monday, September 20 at 9:30pm ET/PT and 10:00pm ET/9:00pm CT respectively. Blue Bloods premieres Friday September 24 at 10:00pm ET/9:00pm CT.