In the ongoing tradition of resurrecting popular TV series of the past, CBS is developing a new version of the classic crime show, Hawaii Five-0.
Hawaii Five-0 originally aired on CBS from 1968 to 1980. It held the record for being the longest running crime drama on American television until 2003, when Law and Order eclipsed it. The cop series stars Jack Lord and James MacArthur as detectives Steve McGarrett and Dan Williams as they work for the fictional Hawaiian state police department. The series was filmed primarily in Honolulu, with additional locations throughout Oahu. The show’s straightforward storytelling, fast-paced action and strong ensemble cast kept the show popular for years. The series’ format has also provided a successful template for the many police dramas that have followed.
A revival series was first attempted in 1997, spearheaded by Stephen J. Cannell (The A-Team, The Greatest American Hero). The pilot was filmed with Gary Busey in the lead role. When Governor Dan Williams (MacArthur) — the former second-in-command of Five-0 — is shot, retired members of the team join forces with the current Five-0. Lord was in very poor health by this time but the pilot reunited Williams’ “Danno” with Kono (Zulu), Chin Ho Kelly (Kam Fong), and Duke (Herman Wedemeyer). Cannell wasn’t a big fan of the original series and included Chin Ho in a prominent role — a regular character who had been killed off in season 10. The pilot was ultimately deemed “unairable” by execs and Busey needed surgery for a brain tumor, a complication that would have delayed production for months.
A big screen re-make of Hawaii Five-0 has been in the works on and off for some time. In the late 1990s, CBS claimed that it owned the series’ movie rights but, after lengthy arbitration, ownership was awarded to series creator Leonard Freeman’s widow. There have been several plans for the movie over the years but none have materialized.
Now, CBS wants to try remaking the show once again. Ed Bernero, the executive producer of the hit crime drama Criminal Minds, is currently writing the project. He’s such a big fan of the show that he has the theme song as his ringtone. The main character of the new version will be Chris McGarrett, son of the original series’ Steve McGarrett. Although the storytelling will be updated, the spirit of the original will be maintained as much as possible including a re-vamped version of the iconic theme song and some form of the famous closing line “Book’em Danno.” The new Hawaii Five-0, like its predecessor, will take place at a fictional Hawaii state police department (Hawaii is the only US state without a statewide police agency) and will be filmed on the islands.
There is no word yet on who will star in the new pilot, but some critics are hoping that the new series will feature a more diverse cast than the largely Caucasian original. Given the popularity of the original in first run and syndication, the new show has a solid foundation of fans waiting for it. Stay tuned!