'Hawaii Five-O' review: History, fresh and raw

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When McGarrett prevents the murder of a Pearl

When McGarrett prevents the murder of a Pearl Harbor veteran at a remembrance ceremony, Five-0 must use decades old evidence to investigate a heinous crime committed within the internment camps on Oahu during World War II, on "Hawaii Five-0," airing at 9 p.m. Dec 13 on CBS. Photo Credit: CBS

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THE SHOW "Hawaii Five-O"

WHEN | WHERE Friday night at 9 on CBS/2

WHAT IT'S ABOUT As ceremonies close out a Dec. 7 memorial at Pearl Harbor, an aging wheelchair-bound veteran begins to leave when he is approached by another vet armed with an old military-issue service pistol. The man is apprehended before he can fire. Later in custody, David Toriyama (James Saito), a Japanese-American Korean War vet, tells Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) he wanted to avenge the murder of his father, killed by an internment camp officer 70 years before. The vet in the wheelchair, he says, was that officer. McGarrett places Toriyama under house arrest, while he -- along with Danno (Scott Caan) and Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) -- begin to unravel the coldest of cold cases. Expect plenty of flashbacks and a side trip to an overlooked piece of U.S. history: Japanese-American internment camps.

MY SAY Even though melodramatic, a bit manipulative and far (far) too conveniently wrapped in the allotted 44 minutes, this is still a hell of an episode. You don't usually come to "Hawaii Five-O" to think, or to feel, or to learn about a tragic miscarriage of justice that took place more than 70 years ago, but the episode, titled "Ho'onani Makuakane" (Hawaiian for "honor thy father"), easily scores with all three.

This episode doesn't seek to cast blame for a painful episode of American history, but seeks a little understanding, instead: What national sentiment (and context) could have led to something as depraved as "internment camps" and at what cost were they to Japanese-Americans, however briefly that cost is sketched here?

Saito -- a journeyman actor who, according to his Internet Movie Database profile, is "best known" for his role as Shredder in 1990's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" -- is excellent as an old man who nurses a grudge as fresh and as powerful as the moment it was forged. He doesn't play this like an easy paycheck, but like a role that has genuine personal meaning. The episode wraps with an on-screen "card" that even feels genuine (Imagine that!): "Dedicated to the Greatest Generation and All Those Who Fight for Our Freedom."

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BOTTOM LINE "Hawaii Five-O" has a winner.


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