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Billy’s Take: NCIS: Hawaii is off and running with explosive debut

Updated: Sep. 23, 2021 at 1:49 PM HST
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Note to readers: HNN’s Billy V is busy watching all of the shows now being filmed in the islands, including the new NCIS: Hawaii. Here’s his take on the premiere. And warning: There are spoilers ahead.

The pilot of NCIS Hawaii premiered on Monday night, and now the series is off and running on the most successful television franchise currently running.

It films for the most part in Hawaii with the “NCIS offices” located at the Diamond Head Film Studios, pretty much using the same lot that “Hawaii Five-0″ was using during their 10 seasons.

There’s lots of visually exotic scenery, what you would expect from a NCIS Hawaii series, but what I didn’t expect was the explosive opening that Hawaii actress Danielle Zalapony made on the show.

It was a “whoa!” moment. She plays the ex-girlfriend of Kai “the new guy” on NCIS: Hawaii and she makes a statement right away with the first time you see her on camera. She has lines and did a great job. The scene looked like it was right on Duke Kahanamoku Beach fronting the Hilton Hawaiian.

Kai’s house is in what looks like Waimanalo and when Kai walks in the house, there’s hot food on the table with his Dad cooking. Home sweet home.

Just that sight in itself is enough to make you homesick. My question is: Who is the actor playing Kai’s dad?! He looks like the classic Uncle you would find in almost every Hawaiian home. The pidgin is real. He is a caring guy, but you can feel the tension between Kai and his dad.

I’m looking forward to seeing their story develop.

And by the way: Kai plays someone who has grown up in Hawaii and played baseball. You heard ‘Jesse Boon’ rattle off some stats. Played ILH and holds the record for most strikeouts, born in Waimanalo. Kamehameha? That would be first guess for me. Punahou? Former Marine. Hoorah! Nice.

Can’t wait to see more character “flashbacks” to learn history.

Another character you’ll meet in the premiere is Mr. Ernie and he’s hilarious. He is geeky. I identify with some of that. I want all of his monitors and computers, and I notice he likes wearing aloha shirts.

I have a feeling I will enjoy laughing at his character throughout the series.

I have no idea on how they did the ocean filming fight scene. Doing that all in the ocean, at night ― pretty intense. I know they had their own ocean safety crew but other than one particular wave, the rest looked real and it looked rough. Good scenes and very hard to shoot IMHO.

Near the end of the show you’ll hear John Cruz’s hit song “Island Style” and it was performed by Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner Kala’e Camarillo!

Cruz is an amazing singer/composer with hit songs and albums; and his whole family is musical and well known in Hawaii. Cruz himself a Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner several times over.

Kala’e has just won his first awards and is of the younger side of Hawaiian music today. Congratulations to both for making it on the show.

I’m guessing Jane Tennent’s house is somewhere in Kaimuki from the beauty show with Diamond Head in the background. Beautiful as the “wena” of that day ... when the light changes in the sky from day to dark (or dark to day in the early morning) to take us to the end of the show.

Personally, I liked the pilot and am liking the characters on the show, loving that again Hawaii gets to also be a star in the show. Looking forward to next week!!

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