Have you ever watched an episode of a procedural and felt as if that episode could use a little improvement? Hawaii Five-0 is currently looking for avid watchers who are wanting to get involved with the storytelling process. Over the weekend, CBS announced that the network will go interactive during a full hour of its Hawaii-based drama this season. The network is calling the stunt the “Fan Built Five-0.”
Here’s how the user-produced episode will work. Starting right now, fans can head over to CBS’ site. The first step to creating a fan-produced episode involves voting in the first of four phases. Currently on the site, you can vote for where you would like the scene of the crime to be set, who the victim is, what the murder weapon is, and more. Later, Phase 2 will involve voting on props and the wardrobes, Phase 3 will involve voting on the music in the episode, and Phase 4 will involve voting on the episode's title. The voting window for Phase 2 will run from January 10-17, Phase 3 will run from February 14-21, and Phase 4 will open on March 7 and will remain that way through the 14. All of the voting could make for a hectic, Mad Libs sort of episode, but it could also be really interesting to see how that sort of formatting pans out.
According to Deadline, after Phase 1 ends its run on the website, the writers will then take the voters results and assemble them into a script for the episode. Production on the special “Fan Built” episode is set to begin in February, which is why the voting on wardrobe changes and props will begin in January. As the final details begin to come together for the interactive episode, the other two phases of the voting will open to allow fans to have their say.
This isn’t the first time that Hawaii Five-0 has attempted an interactive stunt like this. Last season, the show aired another special episode during which viewers were able to vote for one of three suspects who may have committed the weekly crime. The choose your own ending format was a cool way to get people talking about the series, but the “Fan Built” episode could have an impact on a much wider scale.
I’m sort of torn about the “Fan Built” episode. On the one hand, I can see how CBS thinks the marketing stunt is a viable option for a procedural like Hawaii Five-0. Additionally, I can see how it would be fun for fans to really get involved in a show they love. On the other hand, it could prove to be a nightmare for the writers who are paid to bring the best storylines possible to the table. It’s sort of gimmicky to ask them to take a Mad Libs format and turn it into a watchable hour of television. Hopefully, they will just see the format as a fun challenge rather than a hindrance. Either way, we’ll find out how the episode turns out later this season.
In the meantime, you can catch CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 in a new timeslot on Friday nights at 9 p.m. ET.