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6 Shows like Hawaii Five-O: Bullets & Palm Trees

James Thomas itcherCriminals take vacations too and in this busy world everyone takes their work with them on holiday. So what happens when a crime is committed in paradise? TV shows like ‘Hawaii Five-O’ are a force onto themselves when it comes bridging resort living and criminality. If you like bullets with your Mai Tais check out shows like ‘Hawaii,’ ‘Magnum, P.I.’ and the original ‘Hawaii Five-O.’ ~ James Thomas

Trouble in Paradise

The new update to the classic ‘Hawaii Five-0’ is aware of its roots and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Basically the show is like an extended vacation in the Aloha state. Differing from the original series, there’s a group of police officers with varying skills attempting to keep everyone’s vacation as laid back as possible, one dead bad guy at a time.

The team consists of former navy seal special ops ninja, a hard-nosed New York cop who hates the beach, a surfer detective who knows the waves like she knows the law, and a Hawaii-based vice cop with a more than formal relationship with the Yakuza.

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Shows Similar to ‘Hawaii Five-O’…

‘Hawaii Five-O’ (CBS, 1968-1980)

Sometimes the original story is a whole different animal.

The original ‘Hawaii Five-0’ was the one that started it all, and there is a certain charm to watching cops dressed in obligatory suits chase bad guys down the beach in the blazing sun. The show was much simpler than the remake with most of the attention focused on the duo of Detective Mcgarrett and his more memorable partner, Danno.

This version of ‘Hawaii Five-0’ was the longest running police drama of its day, meaning that people loved to watch criminals make the ridiculous mistake of committing crimes while being surrounded by water on all sides.

More likely, people liked watching Detective Mcgarrett putting people in irons and saying “Book ’em, Danno!”

Similarity Match: 95%
This is the series that started it all and gave the actors making the new ‘Hawaii Five-0’ an idea of what people expected: a fun time in the sun with a few bullets thrown in for excitement. Still, it has a more serious feel than the remake.

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‘Magnum, P.I.’ (CBS, 1980-1988)

There is something about a man who can get things done while looking like he is doing absolutely nothing. Effortless achievement is where Thomas Magnum of ‘Magnum, P.I.’ excels.

This man spends most of his time in hammock but when he got out of it good luck if he was coming after you.

Magnum is the sort of hero you expected in a series like ‘Hawaii Five-0’ but he is his own animal. He works as an investigator and all around equalizer, putting himself in harm’s way for a price, a beautiful woman, or because he is a good guy.

But above all he spends time on what is most important grooming his enchanting mustache! Look it at that thing!

Similarity Match: 90%
‘Magnum, P.I.’ has the same laid back and easy going feel of the new ‘Hawaii Five-0’, but there is less of an ensemble feel of characters adding their personality to the mix… and considerably more mustache.

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‘Hawaii’ (NBC, 2004)

This show is a copy of the classic, but its origins make it pretty unique.

Yes, this is a remake of the ‘Hawaii Five-0’… sort of. But it was being made with money from the state of Hawaii and became a creature unto its self. The production was truly a matter of deep, thoughtful creativity. If creativity means a state-funded show, based on a familiar intellectual property to promote the Aloha state as a tourist destination/filming location.

As the production progressed, it stopped being a clone of ‘Hawaii Five-0’ and transformed itself into the story of a fictionalized elite special operations group inside of the Honolulu Police Department.

Similarity Match: 85%
This is truly a show that was made to sell Hawaii, and though it piggybacks on the imagery of original ‘Hawaii Five-0’, it’s much more aggressive than that show or the remake.

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‘CSI: Miami’ (CBS, 2002-2012)

A bit removed from the paradise of Hawaii, we next head to Florida for ‘CSI: Miami’ (‘Crime Scene Investigation: Miami’).

This show was ahead of its time when it comes to the procedural structure, and made the most of stylized visual cuts. It also earned a reputation for computer interfaces that looked like they were created by someone who’s never used a computer.

Of course, what people came for half the time was the setting: beautiful, pristine Miami, only occasionally marred by a murder or brutal beating here or there.

Similarity Match: 75%
This is a show that does what ‘Hawaii Five-0’ does well by bringing procedural crime fighting to a vacation spot with a much more high-tech step by step approach.

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If You Like ‘Hawaii Five-0’, You Will Like…

The next two shows deal with procedural crime drama and exotic locales but they are both far removed from the fun in the sun experience of ‘Hawaii Five-0.’

‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ (CBS, 2009- )

A show that is as playful with serious subjects as a TV series like ‘Hawaii Five-0’, ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ focuses more on international terrorism than it does bank robberies and crimes of passion.

Which is a bit odd, as NCIS stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Not only that, but the majority of their cases have little to do with the navy, their boss is a British spy and the majority of terrorism seems to originate in Los Angeles.

The investigation team is made up of a beach bum LAPD detective, a spy, a CIA agent and a Marine and most of their investigative technique centers on kicking in doors “hacking” and creative interrogation.

This show is a lot less about fun in the sun and more about dealing with threats to the nation though the location does play a crucial part in every episode.

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‘NCIS: New Orleans’ (CBS, 2014- )

As another spin-off from the popular ‘NCIS’ TV show, it might not seem that it fits into this list alongside its other more tropical themed sister show. But what it has in common with TV shows like ‘Hawaii Five-0’ is its successful attempt to blend a quirky vacation culture with murder mayhem and crime scene investigation.

The show takes place in New Orleans, and if you have never been there, you have no idea of the awesome weirdness that brackets each episode of this series. It focuses on a group of investigators, an NCIS chief played by Scott Bakula, a local officer of the peace and a former ATF agent who came looking for a more relaxing post… In a city with a history of crime, that reads like a horror novel.

‘NCIS: New Orleans’ is like ‘Hawaii Five-0’ in that the location is the instigating force for a lot of the action. Still, this show is more about the culture of the Navy then the city.

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Location, Location, Location

The place these shows are set in seems to be what attracts some viewers.

Where does your favorite show take place?

Let me know in the comments down below.

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