Five-0 Redux: Lenkov’s ‘Five-0’ secrets

Sep. 14, 2013 | 32 Comments

BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser

As the annual “Hawaii Five-0” summer hiatus comes to an end, fans around the world are chomping at the bit for season four spoilers. Everyone is working overtime to get the inside scoop about the premiere and the fate of the Five-0 team.

Back in July, I had a chance to ask executive producer and showrunner Peter Lenkov about his film, “R.I.P.D,” before it premiered on the big screen, I made sure to ask him what he had in store for McGarrett and the team.

 Executive producers Peter Lenkov, left, and Robert Orci at the “Sunset on the Beach” premiere in 2012. (Courtesy CBS)

Executive producers Peter Lenkov, left, and Robert Orci at the “Sunset on the Beach” premiere in 2012. (Courtesy CBS)

He was kind enough not only to share his manaʻo (thoughts and beliefs) about season four, but also let me in on some insider information about our favorite show.

In the last three seasons we have been very interested in how the characters have changed. So I asked Lenkov about the four main characters — McGarrett, Danno, Chin, and Kono — and who he thought had grown the most, and if that growth was what he had originally envisioned for the character.

Lenkov said he had a hard time picking just one character from the team who changed the most.

“To me, the heart of this show is our core four and (the writers) are always focused on delving into the lives of our characters, challenging them in new ways, and then seeing how that affects the group as a whole,” he said. “I love the changes and growth of all four characters we’ve had over our three seasons; McGarrett, learning that he can trust and depend on people, he’s not just a lone wolf anymore. Danny winning back his rights to be a full-time father to his daughter, Grace, and his coming to accept Hawaiʻi as his new home. Chin Ho’s redemption and being reinstated on the force, then having to come to terms with the loss of his wife, Malia. Kono, coming into her own as a cop, but choosing love over the job.

“It’s a balance of pushing characters forward, but having them stay true to who they are. Everyone’s growth brings something to the table and gives us as writers more to play with. It’s been great.”

I asked if he could reveal the changes we could expect in season four, and he of course didn’t want to “give too much away.”

“Kono’s going on the run with Adam leaves a big hole on the team and everyone feels that,” Lenkov revealed. “It definitely affects the future of Five-0.

“We find Catherine coming to crossroads in her life this season. Wondering about her future in the Navy, wondering about her future in with Steve. I think she’s getting to a place she wants something concrete, something in her life she can call her own. This season we delve into that.”

Peter Lenkov, left, with Daniel Dae Kim, second from left, and season four premiere guest starts Martha Higareda, second from right, and Henry Ian Cusick. (Courtesy CBS)

Peter Lenkov, left, with Daniel Dae Kim, second from left, and season four premiere guest starts Martha Higareda, second from right, and Henry Ian Cusick. (Courtesy CBS)

I would be remiss if I didn’t ask Lenkov about one of the most popular members of the Five-0 team, as many fans want more McGarrett all the time. So I asked him to describe Steve McGarrett for someone who doesn’t watch “Hawaii Five-0.”

“That’s a tough one,” he said. “I guess I’d have to say he’s the consummate leader. Someone you admire, someone you want to go into battle with, a true friend and a blood brother.

“He’d give his life for his family and friends — and of course his country — in a heartbeat and wouldn’t think twice. He’s a man any man would aspire to be.”

Lenkov had a lot to say about the team and described them as “a family that likes each other.

“They come from different walks of life and have different reasons for why they do what they do. They’re passionate about their work and about being cops. Being a part of Five-0 means something to them, it’s not just a paycheck. It defines who they are and how much they need each other.” he said.

“The team doesn’t work if someone is not there — the machine is broken. That’s how much they mean to each other. They are their best when they work together.”

The storylines threaded through each season have been intriguing and interesting to the audience, if not a little frustrating, which makes for good drama. Lenkov said it was a tough call to pick the storyline he feels the most invested in.

“The one I especially enjoy is the McGarrett storyline, because at the end of the day, that storyline is the origin of our whole world,” he said. “Doris killing Wo Fat’s father is what sets everything in motion — Wo Fat’s desire for revenge, Doris having to leave her family to save them, McGarrett being sent away as a teenager, later having his father murdered and forming Five-0. It all stems from what a mother did.

“If it had never happened, who knows what our world would be? Characters would have never met and there would be no Five-0.”

 A scene from the fourth season of the Lenkov-driven "Hawaii Five-0." (Courtesy CBS)

A scene from the fourth season of the Lenkov-driven “Hawaii Five-0.” (Courtesy CBS)

When I asked about viewer reaction to the storylines, he was honest about his thoughts.

“Clearly we like the positive, and as for the negative, sometimes in telling a true and honest story, you’re going to go down a path that some people won’t like,” Lenkov said. “But if it’s in service to the story and honest to what the characters would do, we have to do it. Even if it doesn’t please everyone.”

According to Lenkov, each episode “usually takes eight days to shoot” with many variables that can keep actors on set up to 12 hours a day.

“We have a tremendous (assistant director) staff that works on scheduling the shoot and they work really hard to schedule the actors in a way that it’s not so grueling,” he said. “Actors report to the set at various times … but on Monday mornings, if they’re first up they will usually report to makeup by 6 a.m.”

I also asked about the writing process for each episode.

“It takes about ten minutes,” Lenkov joked. “I kid. There are a couple steps in writing an episode for our show. Once we get an idea for an episode we usually spend about a week or so working out the beats in the writer’s room – then when it’s where it should be, the writer(s) of that episode go off and work on an outline, which helps them really delve into the heart and meat of a story before they go to script.

“Usually, if we’re not up against (a deadline) production wise, and once we’re happy with the outline, we move onto the script. Being generous, it would take four weeks to write (an episode), but it’s usually closer to two or three. When you have 24 episodes a year, it’s a pretty fast pace.”

Lenkov said he is always working on upcoming “Five-0” episodes.

“Seriously, I feel like I’m always writing episodes, coming up with ideas for stories,” he said. “I’m incredibly lucky that every year we try to put together the best writing staff we can, and this year is no exception.

“When it’s not an episode I’m writing, I always do the last pass before we send it out into the world. And I’m fortunate to have a team that when it gets to me, all the heavy lifting has been done. Honestly, writing for this show has been a great thrill of my professional life and I just want to make sure that every episode we put out is just the best it can be. We have an amazingly loyal audience that deserves that.”

The cast of "Hawaii Five-0" at the show's "Sunset on the Beach" premiere in 2012. (Courtesy CBS)

The cast of “Hawaii Five-0″ at the show’s “Sunset on the Beach” premiere in 2012. (Courtesy CBS)

Lenkov has specifically made a conscious effort and taken great pains to honor the original “Hawaii Five-O” by using character names and bringing back as much of the feel and “flavor” of the original series.

“The bond of our ‘Five-0’ unit is what I’m most proud of, yet anytime we can pay tribute to the original series, I’m thrilled,” he said. “We never forget we wouldn’t be here without their years of amazing work. And while I could never betray any of our characters by claiming one a favorite, I am incredibly proud of the work we’ve done to make our ‘Five-0’ unit more than just a group of people who work together.

“The bonds that they’ve formed go beyond a job or friendship, they’re family, they’re blood. And all of that is due to the writers of the show, our crew, and the work of our incredible cast. Without them, there is no ‘Five-0.’”

Filming on location in Hawaii and incorporating Hawaiian culture and language is also important to Lenkov.

“Having the show set and shot in Hawaiʻi I think is key to our authenticity,” he said. “When you’re there, being authentic can’t be helped. On Oʻahu, many members of our crew are locals, acting as second sets of eyes for what we’re doing; and in LA, the writers are always doing research about Hawaiʻi to come on with new ideas.

“As for me, with the show, I usually spend a week each month in Hawaiʻi. Just spending so much time there, you can’t help but be influenced by the culture.”

I’ve said it before, but I am so pleased that Lenkov, along with his writing and production team and the amazing cast and crew of “Hawaii Five-0,” does such a fantastic job working to bring us the show we love. I have a renewed excitement for season four and I’m sure the next two weeks will be worth the wait.

Redux Side Note:

Only one more “Hawaii Five-0” repeat before the Sept. 27 season premiere. On Sept. 20, CBS will re-air the season three finale.

TNT continues with “Hawaii Five-0” repeats from season one on Thursday, Sept. 19, with “Ke Kinohi” (“The Beginning”) and “He Kāne Hewaʻole” (“An Innocent Man”).

On Sept. 26, “Five-0” fans will once again congregate in Waikīkī for the fourth “Sunset on the Beach” premiere. Check back that night for plenty of coverage from the red carpet.
———
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

  • LindaStein

    Wendie! Can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am that Season 4 of Five-0 is only 2 weeks away. It’s amazing how being a fan of a TV show has brought so much fun and, yes, joy to me. I will never be able to thank Peter, Bob O, Alex K and all the creators of this show enough for not only bringing me great entertainment but a new ohana I will cherish forever. It’s given me friends and sistahs and bradahs I would have never known and it has instilled a love for Hawaii and her people that goes deep into my heart.

    Being able to visit Oahu and walking in the places I’ve only ever seen on TV, meeting the local people and feeling their aloha first hand, meeting and spending time with members of my ohana who I have grown to respect and love… these things would never have happened without Five-0. Mahalo nui loa Peter. Thank you will never be enough!

    Hitting “post” now….please don’t go to moderation…….

    • Wendie Joy

      Thanks Linda for commenting! I’m glad this one posted! :) I’m super excited too about the Season 4 premiere as well:) I’m also glad that you’ve been able to have your own “Hawaii Five-0″ experience when you visited. I know it’s been a pleasure to get to know you and others because of our H50 connection:) And thanks for always reading and posting! Aloha, Wendie

  • edmattes763

    Thanks for the insight from Peter, Wendie. I am eager for the new season to start. Kono did “follow her heart” and leave Hawaii. But “it’s not forever.” I would like to see Steve and Cath follow their hearts also – that should be interesting.
    We’ll find out what about Doris and Wo Fat. And I know we will see new and interesting
    things for Danny, Chin Ho and Max (with Sabrina returning). It should be a good season.

    • Wendie Joy

      Hi Ed:) Thanks for your comment. Like you, I’d like to see many of our characters follow their hearts and reveal more information about themselves in this new season. Thanks so much for reading and supporting! Aloha, Wendie

  • Dina

    oohhhhh I wanted MORE!!!!! but I also want to be surprised too.. You gave me a little of both ;=) thanks Wendie…I hope Peter will be gracious again and share more with you maybe mid- season??????

    • Wendie Joy

      Hi Dina- That would be great if Peter would return to the Five-0 Redux and give us more “secrets.” Glad you were surprised by some of the info Peter shared. Mahalo for reading and supporting! Aloha, Wendie

  • alavenia

    Very interesting article Wendie, I learn so much reading your blogs about my favorite show!!! I can’t believe we are so close to the Season premiere and I will be watching on the beach this year again!!! Thank you!!!

    • Wendie Joy

      Hi Anita- Thanks so much for your lovely compliment and for reading and commenting. Don’t forget to wave at me from the beach! I’m hoping to have a chance to say hi to as many of you who read the Five-0 Redux who are attending SOTB as I can. Hope you have a great time! Aloha, Wendie

      • alavenia

        I hope to see you this time, this is my 4th SOTB, getting really extited!!!

        • Wendie Joy

          I will just go over to where the fans at SOTB and yell ANITA! LOL :D Hopefully we can find each other:) XO

  • Terry FiveOs

    I could be wrong, but I think that you got more information from the show-runner, than all of the national entertainment reporters combined. :-)

    • Wendie Joy

      HI Terry- Thanks! I was lucky enough that Peter shared so much! It was such a pleasure to get to “pick his brain.” Thanks so much for reading and posting:) Aloha, Wendie

  • Sam

    Wendy, thanks again for a great article. It’s always a pleasure to read your
    posts.

    Thanks for all the insights into what Peter Lenkov thinks about his show.
    Even though I must say I found one thing he said about McGarrett very strange
    coming from him.

    Steve McGarrett is or at least was for most of his time in the Navy a SEAL.
    SEALs are as far away from a lone wolf as you can get. They are all about team
    work. It’s drilled into them. They are only as good as their team is, and they
    can only be successful if the team is. The trust in the team is one of THE most import aspect of being a SEAL.

    So, I found his remark about Steve being a lone wolf and learning to trust
    people now, very strange, if not totally off.

    If anything he should learn not to trust people since he’s with Five-0. Many
    people betrayed and lied to him since he left the Navy. That he still trusts
    people is a testament to how important and instilled trust is into him.
    Otherwise he wouldn’t trust anyone anymore.

    But anyway, great interview and great article.

    • Wendie Joy

      Hi Sam- Thanks for reading and posting such an interesting comment. My view of Peter’s comment about Steve being a “Lone Wolf” perhaps pertains to how he was presented in the pilot. Of course, now he has very much changed and I can’t see him without his team. Remember- he didn’t want to accept the Gov’s appointment to start the task force, because he wanted to find Hesse on his own. And after seeing “ʻŌlelo Paʻa” and Freddie being killed- it seems as if the reason why he didn’t want to start the task force was because he didn’t want to get another friend killed, so maybe that was why he wanted to be on his own. Yes, SEALs are definitely team players, but we saw McG in the Pilot on leave from the Navy and looking to find the man who killed his father– without adding to the body count. He agreed to the task force so he could get info from Danny (and keep the Champ box) and he started the task force as a means to an end. I think Peter answered that question looking at the “Big Picture” of McGarrett– where he started and where he has moved within his character arc to now. This of course, is just my interpretation of Peter’s comments, and I don’t find it completely off– Peter started with the Steve McGarrett character from the original series, who was less of a team player than the McGarrett we are used to in the reboot, and made him into the team player that we know and love. I can see where it was less an issue of trust and more an issue of justice. He started as a Lone Wolf to protect others, and found that even outside of the SEALs he could find a team he could trust as much as his Navy brothers and still find the justice he needed.

      Sorry- long winded comment that I hope makes sense. Thanks for your thought provoking comment! Aloha, Wendie

      • Sam

        Well, that makes a lot of sense.
        Seeing it from that perspective puts his remark in a different light.
        Thanks for responding in such length.

  • Kate J

    Great blog, Wendie! How lucky is Hawaii Five-0 to have a show runner like Peter Lenkov? I’m grateful that he takes the time to interact with the show’s devotees on Twitter. And thank goodness he has thick skin! He’s got a vision for where the arcs are going and I trust that he’ll stick to it. Can’t wait to see what happens next on this Five-0 ride!

    • Wendie Joy

      Hi Kate- We’re all lucky that Peter shares so much on Twitter, and I’m lucky he was wiling to share so much with the Redux. I am looking forward to Season 4- and excited to see what he and the writers have in store for us this year:) Thanks for reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie

  • Angela Gerstner

    I always love to hear what THE man behind my favorite show has to say. Even though Peter never gives away too much about the new season, he does share some stuff and all those editing pics – like the great ones of Steve in his white uniform (hopefully none of the fans missed those).
    I think Peter’s description of McGarrett as the admirable, ultimate leader, friend and someone to rely on 100% is absolutely perfect. And I agree with Peter that the McGarrett storyline is the most important one because the show is primarily based on what has happened to Steve’s family. But while Steve’s storyline is the most interesting to me (After all, Alex/Steve is my personal favorite :-)), I find it very good that some episodes focus on the other team members and their personal background and development, too. Each one of the core four (resp. the very talented actors behind them) deserves to get screen time dedicated to just him/her. Episodes like the fan-favorite ep. 3.06 clearly showed that fans enjoy watching the other cast members excel, too, and want to find out more about the personal background of the other team members. Being a part of the “amazingly loyal audience” (Thanks to Peter for saying we deserve the best :-)), I love and care about all of the core four. I sure hope we won’t have to miss Kono for long.
    Of course, I’m also very much looking forward to season 4 but sadly I have to wait much, much longer for it to air here in Germany (I’ve only seen the full season 3 thanks to a wonderful fan). But H50 is definitely worth waiting for – even though waiting is extremely tough for a diehard fan like me :-)
    Mahalo nui loa for sharing Peter’s mana`o with us – A terrific blog, as usual!

    • Wendie Joy

      Hi Angie! Great comments all around about Hawaii Five-0. I’m with you, I love seeing the backstory of ALL the characters. I’d love to see more about Chin’s “fall from grace” and how he met Malia. I know they’ve talked about it- but it would still be cool to see. And more about Momma McG and Jack living with “Little Stevie” and Mary Ann. Peter could probably go in many directions! Thanks for making such an effort to watch Hawaii Five-0! I guess I shouldn’t take for granted having the show on 3x a week here in America. Thanks for reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie

  • https://www.facebook.com/nadia.correia.5 Fanmisa (Nadia)

    AMAZING WENDIE !!! Thank you so much for sharing ! and many thanks to Peter for his admirable description of the show and the spoilers about s4 !
    I really love the show for all the Ohana spirit it brings ! its a huge family we , cast, crew, fans and characters are. So many feeligs when reading it ! McGaretts description is awesome and so true !
    the team is a rock, nothing, no one, NEVER will destroy it ! every single character has its story and brings something unique and special to the show !
    Im really excited, thrilled, and i totaly cant wait to see season 4 ! its gonna be a blast and the more we know, the more my excitement gets higher ! lol

    Thanks again for sharing ! such a pleasure to read you hun ! Many greetings and love from France XOXO

    • Wendie Joy

      Nadia! Mahalo for your energetic and positive comment:) I think many fans feel the same way you do about the show and have the same feelings about the characters and the team. And I know we are all feeling your excitement about season four! Thanks for reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie

      • https://www.facebook.com/nadia.correia.5 Fanmisa (Nadia)

        always a pleasure ! dont comment all the time, but read your amazing redux every week :D xoxoxoxoxo and mahalos again for your incredible work ! looking forward to read your redux during s4 :D

        • Wendie Joy

          Oh that is so great to hear! Thanks Nadia! Hugs! Hope you comment during Season four! :D

          • https://www.facebook.com/nadia.correia.5 Fanmisa (Nadia)

            ;) i do ! but sometimes a little late, so all is already said LOL – wont miss any redux thats a must read weekly ;-) – and fingers crossed we have a s5 because if so i’ll come for SOTB :D xo

  • KAD1228

    Thanks Wendie, as always a great article! I’m an unabashed McGarrett girl but love each of the cast for what they bring each week to the table! I got a chuckle when Peter said they’re a family that likes each other! And like a proud dad, he loves them all the same! But his first born, Steve, is extra special!! Cause without Steve (and his story) there’d be no H5-0!! So mahalo nui loa Peter and your team for your creative genius and for giving me a(nother) family to love every week! I’m looking so forward to s4 and seeing and feeling the ohana that shines thru every episode!!

    • Wendie Joy

      Hi Karen- Thanks for your comment. I really think that the idea of the team being an ‘ohana has really helped us all to love the show- and McG is the reason they all became connected to each other. And that is a special thanks to Peter and his team for enhancing the ‘ohana every week. Mahalo for reading:) Aloha, Wendie

  • Lisa Effler

    As always, a fantastic write up, Wendie. Has me “Chomping at the bit” for the new season to see what changes and what remains the same (although things rarely do and that’s what I love about this show).

    • Wendie Joy

      Thanks Lisa for reading and commenting! I’m so ready for season four! Mahalo for you support:) Aloha, Wendie

  • Wendy Hansen

    Brilliant article Wendie! It’s always insightful to speak to and read what the show runners have to say about the show you love so much and get their insight into it. Peter is so much more connected to the fanbase without using them or being negative toward them than any other show runner I’ve ever come across. It’s just one more reason to love Hawaii Five-O!

    • Wendie Joy

      Thanks Wendy:) Lots of credit to Peter for sharing his thoughts and the H50 behind the scenes info with me:) I think we all appreciate how much Peter is willing to share, like in this interview, and on social media as well. Great point:) Mahalo for reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie

  • Diane

    Thanks Wendie. I think you do the best interviews from anyone else who
    covers this show. Probably because you are a fan as well. I love this show, and
    I know that the writers are truly trying to put out the best. I don’t always
    agree with the way they go, but they all know that you can’t please everyone,
    everytime. I’m glad PL pointed out that the Doris storyline is what brought
    this show all together. The whole story starts with her death. Being a fan, I
    like things to go a little faster with the answers, and I don’t especially like
    what Doris has done to her family, but I understand what it means to the show.
    No matter what, I am a fan for the duration. Looking forward to discussing
    season 4.

    • Wendie Joy

      Thanks Diane for your compliment. I’m pretty sure I’m not the most orthodox interviewer, but I did learn some mad skills from watching Mike Gordon, the Star-Advertiser’s Film and Television Reporter, work his magic on the Red Carpet in 2011- so I have to give him some credit for “schooling” me:) I know I’ve given the Doris Momma McG storyline a lot of grief, but you’re right- it is a tipping point in McG’s life- so we have to stick with it:) Thanks for reading and commenting- I’m looking forward to season four as well! Aloha, Wendie