The final episode of “Hawaii Five-0” in 2016 is set to air on December 16, and in preparation for that, it was a thrill to sit down and discuss all of the latest happenings of the show with the man responsible for bringing it to life. Executive producer Peter M. Lenkov spoke to us this week and we discussed everything from the big Chin – Sara story coming our way in this upcoming episode to the state of Steve McGarrett’s romantic life, the similarities between Danny’s story and his own, the show’s higher ratings this season, and also how he hopes to have a larger role for Adam moving forward. It was a really fun, insightful interview, and hopefully this gives you a greater sense of where they’re going moving forward this season.
Note that this is a second part of our interview with Lenkov; on Thursday, we published an interview discussing “MacGyver” over at the link here.
CarterMatt – Let’s talk a little bit about the longevity of ‘Hawaii Five-0.’ The ratings have been up this season (by almost 10% in both the 18-49 demographic and also in total viewers versus season 6), which is a little bit unusual for a network show at this point in the run. Have you tried to figure out the reasoning for that?
Peter M. Lenkov – We have a very loyal fan base, and I notice that when I go on social media. There are a lot of familiar names that I’ve been seeing the past seven years. Those people have stuck with us, good or bad. There are episodes that they like, and episodes they probably don’t like. Then, anybody new that is coming in, I truly believe that they’re finding us on either Netflix or TNT. They’re watching old episodes, and maybe they’re thinking ‘I want to jump in on this thing and watch some of the new episodes.’ Having other outlets broadcast the show helps us.
Also, I think our lead-in, there’s more viewers on our lead-in. Last year, our lead-in viewership was around five million, six million. This year, our lead-in is getting around seven and a half million or eight. That helps also.
I don’t really try to think about how it works — maybe even word of mouth. We are definitely up and stronger than we’ve ever been.
It’s a secret sauce — nobody knows exactly what’s in it, but you just enjoy it nonetheless.
In looking towards tonight’s episode, the last one for the year, I’ve seen some info suggesting that Sara is getting kidnapped. Can you speak a little bit to the intention behind the Chin storyline this season, giving him something a little more directly outside of his work, and what we can expect to see tonight?
At the start of the season, I gave a lot of interviews saying that the theme of the season was going to be talking about everybody’s legacy. When you get to a certain point in your career, you start to think about ‘what am I going to leave behind?’ and ‘what have I accomplished?’ — that’s a theme that everybody deals with in the show, whether its subtle or obvious, like it was in the first episode.
For Chin, it’s a family. He finally has a stable relationship, and he has this little girl that he’s been asked to take care of. Through the course of the season, he’s lost her and now he has a chance to sort of help her. Without giving too much away, Sara’s going to be a big part of his future and it all has to do with his own legacy, which is a family and taking care of this little girl and protecting her. The plot of the episode is really organic to the theme of the season, and that is that Chin is looking towards the future and not just his career — but also what he has in his personal life. Sara and Abby are important to him and we want to spend time with those characters.
Julie Benz got another show, so it prevented us from doing too much with her. She’s on ‘Training Day,’ but we’re hoping to get her back once that show airs.
And you speak a lot about family — the story with Danny’s daughter dating Grover’s son was a particularly fun dynamic, especially during that winter formal episode. Is that something you’re going to play with moving forward?
Yeah. It feels like we’ve been spending so much time outside of the plot, and I feel like the audience is really responding to that. I think that Danny is very much me. Danny’s story is my story — when I first wrote the pilot, I had gone through divorce, I had moved very close to my daughter, and his story follows my life very much. When you get to your kid being a teenager and starting to date, that’s not a fun time for the parent but it’s a fun time as an observer watching that. We wanted to explore that, and Danny not just being a cop, but a father and all of the stresses that you go through. It’s fun to watch, and I think the audience has grown with these characters. They love this personal stuff, and that’s the fun stuff to write. It’s fun for the actors to play. We tend to come more from [the perspective] of what our characters are doing more than what’s the plot of every week. That’s not as important sometimes as where our characters are.
So it seems like the audience is responding to that, and Grace and her relationship is going to be explored in the second half [of the season], also.
In continuing along this line, we also had a lot of great character stuff in the Halloween episode with Kono and Adam, two people who’ve probably been through more than anyone over the course of the past year. Are we going to see more of them working together like we saw for them there?
It’s funny you bring up Adam, since I’m in the middle of trying to [get him in more of the show]. He had another show on the air in ‘Murder in the First,’ and now that that show is not coming back on the air I’m hoping to have him become a bigger part of our show, and he’s such a beloved character.
I think you’ll see in the first episode [in the new year] him play a part in a big action sequence where he assists Five-0. That hasn’t been revealed yet, but Adam’s going to play a part in that and it’s fun getting him more involved in our world in more of a plot way than just in the personal stuff.
So what about Steve’s romantic life? Obviously this is something that people talk about a lot in between Lynn and whether or not Catherine is coming back and even some of the moments he shared with Alicia earlier this season, even if they weren’t overtly romantic. What are the plans coming up to explore his future?
Here’s the rub: Every time anything gets out there on social media, there are two camps — one that loves McGarrett’s relationship with Catherine and one that really doesn’t love that relationship. It’s almost split 50-50. Rather than have everybody speculate on what’s happening, I do have an endgame for his romantic life. I just can’t mention the characters just because it’s going to start this whole war online and it becomes this big thing. If I go to my timeline, I have to get to a place where I’m past that because people are very vocal about their love or hate of that relationship.
We do have a relationship coming up where Sarah Carter comes back as Lynn, and he goes on a stay-cation with her … He’s definitely not settling down, that’s for sure. But for right now, Lynn is definitely in his life and Michelle [Borth] is not.
CarterMatt – Overall, what’s the process been like working on ‘Hawaii Five-0’ and ‘MacGyver’ this year?
Besides double the work? (Laughs) It’s actually be fun. I’ve been doing this on ‘Five-0,’ the same show, for six years, and it was nice to get a call to sort of stretch a little bit and do something new, not dissimilar from ‘Five-0’ because tonally its very similar, and in its ingredients.
When you’re writing the same character after a while, you start stretching yourself story-wise, which we do. We’re starting to tell different stories. But, you start to wonder what it would be like to tell stories for other voices. It came at the right time, when I wanted to stretch a little bit and look at what else is out there. I love ‘Five-0,’ I’m looking to ride it out until the end, but six years is a lot with the same show. It was a fun little break. It really started more like an after-school project, and then it got picked up so I’ve been really lucky.
We want to thank Peter for his time and for talking to us about a show that we really love here at CarterMatt. For more news on “Hawaii Five-0,” be sure to head over to the link here. We’ll be back later tonight with a review for this big episode, and also a look ahead to what’s coming up in January. (Photo: CBS.)