Home > new shows, reviews > Monday Night Pilots: Hawaii Five-O, Lone Star, The Event

Monday Night Pilots: Hawaii Five-O, Lone Star, The Event

September 21st, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

My mini-reviews of Chase and Mike and Molly will appear over at Antenna, along with other thoughts on all the new shows from a neat group of people, so I’d point you all there.

As for my Monday, that leaves me with Hawaii 5-0, Lone Star, and The Event. All after the fold …

Hawaii Five-O deserves the award for best opening. Things began explosively, with helicopters, fathers and brothers at gun point, Irish accents, machine guns, terrorist bad guys, a cameo from the valley that appeared in most episodes of Lost, and James Marsters (Spike!). And the cut to the theme song was great, as was, indeed, the opening credit sequence:

Hawaii Five-0 was my first pick in my recent new network show television draft, so I proudly looked to my wife and exclaimed that this show was definitely getting renewed. Action, beaches, military intrigue, lots of stuff on the screen: how could a viewing audience not love this?

Well, the rest of the episode dampened my enthusiasm somewhat. I still think it’s safe for a while: the beaches, the women in bikinis, Grace Park showing her mad Cylon fighting skills, lots of guns, and a setting that could – and certainly should – be its own character, all add up to offer a fair bit. But the leads are kind of boring. O’Laughlin suffers from a lack of facial movement, while Scott Caan mostly just scrunches his face up, as neither managed to reel me in and make me care about them. Granted, this is CBS, where wooden acting has served action leads well, from David Caruso to Chris O’Donnell, so the show’s not necessarily in trouble, but it makes it hard for me to commit.

It’s also just a little too drenched in testosterone. The bromance could make for some serious slash vid fun, but I’m not sure the show will give vidders enough camp or awesomeness to make them want to bother dust off Final Cut Pro for the Fall season. As for me, I expect, as with CSI: Miami, I’ll watch it if it’s on and I want to watch something, but it won’t be destination television.

~ ~ ~

Lone Star intrigues me. I’m sure I’m the 407th person to write a post on this show that expresses some skepticism about the show’s ability to keep going. I don’t just mean ratings-wise, though it’s anemic debut may put it on the block quickly. Rather, its premise poses a challenge of what could possibly come next. We meet a conman with a girlfriend in one town, a wife in another, yet scams everywhere. But he wants out, guided by little more than his love of both women and his resentment of his father directing him to this life. He resolves to go straight in terms of the con … though clearly wants to keep the women.

So where will this go? While this question may make us worry about the show, it also intrigues me. I love that I just watched a pilot for a show that gives me few clues as to what comes next. I feel that I could describe an average episode of almost every other new show to you right now, even those I haven’t seen yet, but Lone Star has a refreshing streak of originality. It’s also filmed quite beautifully, whoever does the music for it has done a wonderful job, and I appreciated its slow pace – it exuded a confidence that it knew where it was going. I enjoyed watching it, in short. So I’ll sign up for the ride.

That said, I’ll admit to no small discomfort with its current sexual politics. The fact that one woman is a blond, the other a brunette, especially when the former is the honest-to-goodness lower middle class “girl” and the latter is the rich daughter of a tycoon, already starts us off with a bit of a Dear-Penthouse-by-way-of-Archie-comics fetish. This is made worse when we don’t really see how he loves either of them. They’re presented as fairly one-dimensional, and though he claims to love them, this is illustrated solely through him sleeping with both of them and wanting to call them at the end of the day. So if this show’s going to go anywhere and take me with it, it’ll need to make these two women less like Sexy Blond Wife and Sexy Brunette Wife, and a lot more interesting and multi-faceted, and it’ll need to make his relationship with them a lot more nuanced. I’m cautiously optimistic about the former, if only because Adrianne Palicki – one of the better things about Friday Night Lights – plays the brunette, so surely she’ll bring something more to the role?

James Wolk also impressed me as the lead, giving me some faith that he can hold this all together. Assuming the show isn’t canceled, consider me interested.

~ ~ ~

The Event has been bugging me for a while, since its asinine ads (“this is not The Event”) work with a pitch that I’ve never liked: the ol’ “don’t press the red button” technique just makes me not want to press the red button, rather than make me eager to press it. So I was predisposed to dislike it.

And yet it began somewhat interestingly. High production values always help. Poor Scott Patterson needs a good show that won’t get canceled straight away on him, so he won a bit of my attention. I’ll admit to being intrigued, even in spite of myself.

Then there were the last few minutes. Let me get this straight: it’s a serial drama that begins with a plane crash (or something close to it), a time or space warp, and a mysterious group of others? Could they at least try a little harder to mask the obvious Lost wannabeness? I say this, and yet ultimately its problem seems to be less that it’s too much like Lost and more that it seems too much like Heroes or V (the new, bad one) – beings with special powers, governmental persecution and containment, large conspiracies, bla bla bla. Maybe I’m just not American enough yet to stomach so many government conspiracy dramas back to back? Heroes was one of the first that I tried since X-Files, and even that wore off on me reasonably quickly.

So, yes, the production values are high. And I might take a quick peek at future episodes, just because I do study and teach serial drama. But I’m unlikely to be a loyal viewer, and it has plenty of signs of boring me quickly. It’s too obvious a pastiche of other successful (and not-so-successful) serial dramas, as though someone was writing with a magic 8 ball made from plots from Heroes, X-Files, The 4400, V, Lost, 24, and so forth.

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