Say aloha to stunts: Hawaii Five-0 is pulling out all the stops this week.
First, during its normal Monday airing (10/9c, CBS), the cop drama will attempt something new for prime-time television: The show will allow viewers to choose the culprit in real time, thus deciding the ending of the show.
Executive producer Peter Lenkov gives credit to one of his actors for inspiring the idea. "It really started with Masi Oka, who called me up pitching an episode with multiple endings," Lenkov tells TVGuide.com. "When I talked to CBS, they already had a similar idea in the works —they had the technology to do it, and they were just deciding which show to do it with. When I brought up the idea, they saw it as perfect timing."
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The episode finds the Five-0 team investigating the murder of a professor, a crime with three suspects: the professor's boss, his teaching assistant and a student the professor busted for cheating. After each suspect's motives are revealed, viewers can go to CBS.com and/or Twitter to choose who they believe the culprit to be. The votes will be tallied immediately and the most popular ending will be broadcast. (Viewers will be able to vote during the broadcasts on both the East and the West Coasts; all three endings will be available on CBS.com after the show airs.)
Executive story editor Dave Wolkove, who wrote the episode, says crafting the hour was a unique challenge. "We always like to have a pool of credible suspects," he says. "In any episode, we want the audience to be guessing who the killer is. The challenge here was seeing that through to the ending and having all three remain credible suspects."
Although the episode is a departure for the show, it will still provide character moments that are part of the season's story, Lenkov says. The episode will again feature Sang Min (Will Yun Lee), who has an exchange with Kono (Grace Park), and will introduce Danny's nephew. "His sister sent him to Danny [Scott Caan] for a scared straight experiment," Lenkov says. "He's been f---ing up back home and is very misguided and needs a real father figure in his life. She sends him to Danny hoping her brother can straighten him out."
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Six days after the choose-your-own adventure episode, Five-0 will also air an event episode after the AFC Championship game on Sunday. The episode, which finds Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) mysteriously locked in a maximum security prison, will feature several unreleased songs from a new Jimi Hendrix album.
"The music really lends itself to the particular episode," Lenkov says. "It's a high-energy episode, so a lot of the guitar licks and the solos really sound like Jimi scored the episode for us. It's an event episode. It's very big, and when I started playing tracks against the picture, it felt like a great marriage."
As for Chin, the mystery of why he ended up in prison harkens back to his past mistakes. "We really wanted to put him in a situation where he'd have to face his sins," Lenkov says. "Chin Ho was considered a dirty cop, so we put him in a situation where some people feel he belongs in prison. There are people who want to kill him because he put them in there. We're playing with scenes of retribution and revenge. It's life or death and it's a really good ride."
And during his time inside, Chin, whose wife was murdered in the season premiere, has to protect a woman he meets (guest star Lindsay Price). Sparks may fly, but Lenkov says their encounter is significant on multiple levels.
"Anytime you go through a traumatic experience with someone, there is definitely a connection with them," he says. "There's chemistry between those two, but it's not sexual or romantic. It's just them needing each other in the face of adversity and the danger their both thrown into. I think you'll see at the end of the episode that what is there between those two is hope. For Chin Ho, maybe a little bit of that cloud is lifted. You're going to leave that episode thinking, 'I would like to see more of them.' That's the goal: Would you like to see Chin Ho happy again?"
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As for the future of the show, Lenkov says he'd love to have the "viewers' choice" ending be an annual event. "It's like 3D in movies: How do you get the audience engaged in TV when there is so much to watch out there?" Lenkov says. "This is one idea that I think networks are thinking of, which is making shows more interactive. If it works, I'd love to be able to perfect it. It's a little bit of an experiment. It's uncharted territory. So, I'd like the opportunity to do it again to perfect the storytelling science of it. We think we did a good job, but it could become sort of a staple of this show — a fun thing for the audience to look forward to each year."
Are you looking forward to Hawaii Five-0's big episodes?