Comic-Con: So Why Exactly is Hawaii Five-O Here?

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Just a couple hours ago, I wrote about how celebrating Star Wars Day today at Comic-Con allowed us to look beyond all the crass industry hype and remember, just for a day, the experiences back in 1977 and 1980 that galvanized a whole generation of sci-fi nerds.

Well now, only a couple minutes later, I find myself scratching my head over one of today’s listed panels: “Aloha, Earth!” a preview of sorts for the upcoming TV revival of Hawaii Five-O. About a buddy cop pairing on Oahu, where they bust criminals and take names, I’m noticing that there really isn’t much of a sci-fi angle here. Or at least not one that I can spot – other than the talent lined up behind the camera to hopefully take a tired remake and add in some edgier, sci-fi-flavored spice. From the program guide, just consider the talent: Executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek) and Peter M. Lenkov (24), director Len Wiseman (Underworld), and stars Daniel Dae Kim (Lost) and Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica).

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There’s no denying that I like most of these people, that this is a panel I would normally want desperately to attend, merely to bask in their collective talents. But instead of jumping at the chance, I’m left scratching my head about the actual show they’re going to be forced to talk about. Really, the reboot of Hawaii Five-O? I’m guessing that one of three things is likely true:

– There is nothing remotely sci-fi-special about this edition of CSI:Hawaii, and these talents have been brought on board merely to appeal to their rabid base of fanboys. And by placing a panel here at Comic-Con, they’re not so much hoping to sell the actual concept of the show, but looking to dupe some Kurtzman fans into spreading the word about what is effectively a detective show.

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– Could the network bosses have stumbled upon a good idea? By putting Kurtzman, Orci and Wiseman in the same room together, is it possible that their quality sci-fi visions could actually improve a non-sci-fi property? Maybe they’ve been brought on to the project not in some cynical bid to gin up publicity, but in one of network TV’s few brilliant decisions to put the smartest minds in a room together and permit them to break all the rules. That would be awesome.

– A slim possibility: Could this show actually emerge as a trippy sci-fi spectacle? Think Lost mashed together with Miami Vice? Something David Lynch would kind of dream up. If that is indeed the case, then watch for the jubilant reaction today, coming out of this panel. And those giddy fanboys would mean mightily confused mainstream audiences, as Hawaii Five-O jumps off the deep end, abandoning police procedurals for head-spinning paranormal thrills. I’d be all for this sort of reconceived franchise – but would a major TV network really do that to such a prominent title? Just toss out the rules and start from scratch? Nothing in all of the promo trailers would hint at anything of the sort.

If today’s Hawaii Five-O preview reveals one of the latter two outcomes, I’ll take back every bad word in this post. But I’m betting big on the first conclusion in the list above – that the network has revived a franchise to milk its name for ratings, that it’s pulled in some big pop culture personalities to woo their fanbases, and that the panel today – for any hard-core sci-fi buff at least – might well be a waste of time.

More on Techland:

The Techland Guide to Having a Good Time at Comic-Con

Comic-Con International: What to Get in Line For Early

Where to See Techlanders at Comic-Con