'Aloha' means it's time to change the channel

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Hawaii provides the lush backdrop for the cop drama called "Hawaii" (7 p.m., NBC). I wish I could say that the producers were too exhausted from concocting an original story to come up with a more memorable title, but that would not be true. After the success of "Las Vegas," NBC must think that naming a show after its venue has some lucky cachet. Let's hope this trend doesn't continue. What if they had simply called "The Sopranos" "New Jersey"?

"Hawaii" wastes no time exploiting its Aloha State locale. Cops find headless bodies in a volcano's lava flow. But all the exotic scenery in the world can't distract us from a cop show that trades in ancient cliches.

The introductory hour gives way to fat-cop jokes, rookie hazing moments, and, of course, that most trite and true cop show convention, the crazy team of swashbuckling detectives (Ivan Sergei and Eric Balfour) who break all the rules to get their man while providing eye-candy for the ladies. Somewhere in some TV-land purgatory, the "Hawaii Five-O" team and "Starsky and Hutch" are calling their lawyers.

The first family to be "renovated" is the Biggins family from the first installment of "Trading Spouses." They may have seemed perfectly content, but five minutes with host Jay McGraw (son of Dr. Phil) and they'll become a desperate, covetous brood, not happy until a panel of experts sets them straight.

Tonight's other highlights

Late night

John McCain and Tom Russell chat on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts Lance Armstrong, Paul Teutel Sr. and Jr. and Usher on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).