Hawaii Five-O 2.0: The Bernero Script

The following is a recollection of the script that Criminal Minds executive producer Ed Bernero developed for the remake of Hawaii Five-0 prior to the current incarnation, which was never produced. These comments were sent to me in e-mail by someone who had access to a lot of different scripts over the years, the Bernero script being only one of them. More details and confirmation of whether any of the following is not from the Bernero script may be forthcoming in the future. If anyone has a copy of the Bernero script or knows where I can find one, I would be interested in hearing from you by e-mail. Ed Bernero discussed what happened with this production in early 2010 in a lengthy interview with Deadline Hollywood.

The show started off with HPD detectives Chris McGarrett (Steve's son) and his partner, Kimo [sic], driving along some street and hearing a call put out on the radio that there was a hostage taker and/or jumper on a balcony on the top floor of the Ilikai with a gun. As far as I can recall, there was no reason given for why this guy was there. Even though it wasn't their call, Chris, for some never-explained reason, decided they needed to answer it. Kimo argues with Chris that he's too hot-headed and it's not their call, but Chris is adamant.

There's a big fight with the regular HPD guys already on the scene, but Chris, for no apparent reason whatsoever, bulldozes his way through HPD, taking Kimo with him. The two detectives zoom up to the rooftop so that they are peeking down at the bad guy. Chris gets this brilliant idea that he'll tie the firehose on the rooftop around his waist and then perform some incredibly risky swinging-way-out-over-the-edge, kick-the-gun-out-of-the-bad-guy's-hand-on-the-return-swing-and-then-tackle-the-bad-guy-before-he-knows-what-hit-him stunt. There's a bunch of really inane dialog at this point about the fact that Kimo never really learned to tie his shoes properly because locals only wear flip-flops, yet Chris insists that Kimo tie the knot on the firehose that will support his weight. Kimo actually recites that old nursery-school rhyme about rabbits going in and out of holes as he ties the firehose knot and there is some stupid banter about how Chris will never forgive him if he plunges to his death because of a poorly tied knot. This was *really* absurd -- way worse than any of the banter in the current version.

Despite this incredibly absurd and far-fetched scenario, Kimo and Chris successfully perform their death-defying circus act and Chris somehow subdues the hostage-taker. We have a new steely-eyed, fearless McGarrett to save the day.

This opening sequence looked mind-bogglingly stupid on paper, especially the business about Kimo not knowing how to tie a knot. There didn't seem to be any reason why Chris would risk his life for someone he didn't even know. It looked like a scene written so that the producers could show off interesting camera angles and stunt work -- and a lazy way to show us that Chris was a hothead and risk-taker. What I'm sure was intended to be a tense and exciting opening sequence just looked too far-fetched for words when you saw it on paper. Maybe it would have looked better onscreen, but the rationale for why it was happening in the first place really needed work.

Anyway, opening credits roll at this point and then we're back with Chris and Kimo in the car. Chris has been summoned post-haste to the Governor's office. He and Kimo think they're about to get bawled out for the stunt they just pulled, but that's not it at all. When they go into the Governor's office (the Governor is a woman like in the current version, by the way), they're surprised to see that the Governor isn't alone. The current head of Five-0, one Danny Williams (who was reportedly to have been played by James MacArthur) is there. He has decided to retire and the Governor has decided to give Chris the job. A little backstory is given at this point that Steve had held the job until approximately 10 years previously, at which point he had been killed (or died from some unspecified malady -- I can't really remember) and Danno had taken over. I don't recall that it was ever explained why neither of the other two members of Danno's Five-0 team hadn't been offered the job. I think it was just assumed that viewers would "understand" that if a McGarrett were alive and breathing anywhere on the planet, the job as head of Five-0 would be his or hers by universal decree.

Chris at first refuses the job, saying in part that he doesn't have the experience and he's too young, but between the Gov and Danno, he eventually reluctantly agrees to take on his father's legacy and make old dad proud. Chris is immediately sworn in right there in the Gov's office and Danno walks off the job on the spot. No handoff, no ceremony, no nothing. Really hard to believe, but that's how it was written.

So Chris inherits the existing Five-0 team, which consists of Chin Ho's daughter and somebody related to Ben, a nephew, if I recall. Of the four team members, three are the relatives of previous team members. Chris has been permitted to bring Kimo onto the team with him, although it's unclear exactly why. Throughout the entire script, Kimo, who was obviously meant to be the "Kono" character, is little more than a dumb moke. Absolute idiot. Barely made it out of high school. He read more like a lost member of the Three Stooges than a detective with enough on the ball to be a member of an elite crime-fighting squad, let alone even a regular beat cop.

Upon Chris and Kimo's departure from the Gov's office, the meat of the episode begins to develop. The next scene is some drug lord breaking out of prison, put there 15 years ago by none other than Danno, and said drug lord is hell-bent on revenge. What a coincidence that he picks the day Danno retires to break out. Now that Danno is just another private citizen, he'll be easier to kill. It's never explained how the drug lord knew Danno was going to retire -- there's a lot of fuss and bother in the scene in the Gov's office about how Danno just up and decided that morning that he'd had enough and was leaving, so it boggles the mind why there's all that and then suddenly this drug lord knows before Chris and Kimo even finish driving back to the Five-0 offices. Anyhow, after a seemingly effortless escape from prison (the boring details of which have escaped my memory as well), generic drug lord cooks up this incredibly elaborate fake drug-running scheme involving dead bodies on boats and other ludicrous red herrings. Through a fake informer, scary drug lord leaks just enough info to Five-0 so that they all go running off in five different directions in hot pursuit of nonexistent drugrunners. I can't remember all the details, but there was some particularly inane bit about caves on Kauai and lava tubes and high and low tides.

While all this is going on, Danno is off at his little grass retirement shack on the North Shore, all by his lonesome and now apparently a willing sitting duck for the really scary drug lord. Danno gets suspicious of some noises he hears out in the conveniently thick jungle that completely surrounds and obscures his little hideaway. He grabs a shotgun and proceeds to defend himself from about 20 bad guys who start rushing the house from all sides. He gets shot, of course, but only in the arm (the usual spot). Even though he seems to be defending himself astonishingly well against these seemingly insurmountable odds, things do begin to look grim indeed, as a second wave of baddies starts erupting from the jungle.

At about this time, we switch back to Chris, who uses his inherent powers of ESP to spot some really stupid little thing amiss somewhere in all the nonsense he and his team are chasing down. He then miraculously intuits that it's all a sham and that Danno is in danger. How he makes this leap is never explained, except that somebody does finally add up prison break, drug kingpin, Danno put the guy in prison all those years ago. Of course since they're investigating a drugrunning operation and a drug lord just escaped from prison, it's just natural to assume it's the same drug operation. There's some more nonsense about conclusions being arrived at because of people remembering half-heard conversations among their dead Five-0 relatives/predecessors, et cetera. Once the lightbulb *finally* goes off, McGarrett goes into a tizzy and recalls his entire team so that they can go tearing off in various forms of transport toward Danno's bachelor pad in the jungle.

Just when we think the bad guys will win the day, the Five-0 team come swooping in and saves poor Danno. Bad guys are shot, jungle flora is ripped to shreds, Danno's house is pretty much turned into matchsticks, but Chris and his team save the day.

The end is a touching (gag) "father"/son talk between Chris and Danno wherein Danno promises to continue to mentor Chris as he grows into his unwanted role as the new Five-0 head. Danno knows Steve would have been so proud of his son. Danno feels like Chris is the son he never had. Chris is so much like his father. It's all so warm and fuzzy. Awwwww. The end.

Of course, there were a lot of problems with this story. If the bad guy who escaped wanted Danno dead, all he had to do was wait until Danno hopped in his car to go to the 7-11 for a six-pack and the drug lord could have had him. The elaborate drugrunning thing was really over the top. Speedboats and helicopters and submarines and all sorts of nonsense. And why was it so all-fired important to get Five-0 off the island anyway? Here's Danno living in a lonely little cottage deep in the jungle. Seemed easy pickings to us. It's not like the entire Five-0 team lived in the place with him. And even if they needed the whole team off-island for some reason not readily apparent in the script, why send about a zillion bad guys to kill one senior citizen ex-cop? And, really, there were guys trying to storm the joint from all sides. How did Danno manage to hold them off for so long with a single shotgun? Talk about superhero/comic book stuff, this script really took the cake.

The characterization of Kimo was especially annoying. Original series viewers knew Kono could *play* dumb moke when it suited his purposes, but he wasn't genuinely stupid. Kimo was just plain moronic. It was really hard to believe this guy had ever graduated high school, much less passed any kind of police academy exam. The third thing was this mysterious scary drug lord. They really should have used Big Chicken. That would have fit nicely with the timeline, the storyline, and made sense to viewers without a lot of backstory. It would have been entirely believable that Big Chicken, after all those years of singing in the communal showers, would cook up an elaborate plot to kill Danno.

There were quite a few nods to the old series but quite a few "mistakes" too. One example was Chris and Kimo having a discussion about remembering when they were kids and they used to play underneath Steve's desk a la the famous picture of John-John Kennedy playing under his father's desk in the Oval Office. Since it stretched credibility to imagine that Steve had somehow managed to father a son in the first place during the run of the original series, reading about little six- or seven-year-old Chris and Kimo playing under the desk while dad was working really defied belief.

This is all based on my memory of the script. I did read it more than once, but that was quite a while ago.