Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan probably expected their brief summer hiatus from shooting “Hawaii Five-O” to be like many others-- that expectation couldn't have been further from the truth. Neither the most loyal “Hawaii Five-O” fans, nor the police drama’s show-runners themselves could have anticipated just how hot things got for the defenders of the islands this summer, and it had nothing to do with degrees.

Longtime viewers were shocked and saddened by the departures of Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, who did more than putting their palpable creative talents into their portrayals of Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua.

They were the stars who brought the long-running resumes to the show at the start of its run, and their characters instantly plugged into the original “Hawaii Five-O” in heritage and storyline. They represented more than cast diversity—they were “ohana.”

The family of “Hawaii Five-O” is growing by big numbers for the coming season, as the drama not only tries a reset after its diversity tensions but an extension of respect to stalwart “regulars” of more local descent. “Hawaii Five-O” fans seem to be just like family for leading men, O'Loughlin and Caan, and what could be a better gift than a shared smile with one’s beloved TV hero? Cozy captured photos prove that no matter how tough busting perpetrators becomes, Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan can take time for a birthday wish and some big dreams come true.

A growing family

Life does go on, and Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan are embracing a greatly expanded cast of regulars joining the “Five-O” for Season 8, set to premiere on September 29. The summer of unexpected splits over issues of salary parity served as a wake-up call to the television industry to promote genuine representation of diversity in every component of production.

“Hawaii Five-O” is welcoming Meaghan Rath as the stubborn and spirited Tani Rey, Beulah Koale as another counterpart with Navy seal credentials, Junior Reigns, and a familiar “Hawaii Five-O” family friend turned partner on the force, Adam Noshimuri, portrayed by Ian Anthony Dale.

Along with these stars who will be left with tough shoes to fill when it comes to talent, Dennis Chun, Taylor Willy, and Kimee Balmilero have been promoted to series regulars.

Opinions are torn as to whether these moves to make things right will create the right environment for success through Season 8. Core cast members O'Loughlin and Caan, complemented by Chi McBride and Jorge Garcia, will have to drive the train for the season to “break in” the new cast, with time to find fan acceptance, but there is potential for delicious plot twists.

Reason to smile

Alex O'Loughlin shared endless smiles with visitors to the set, as evidenced by photos posted July 31 to Alex O'Loughlin Online July 30. Wearing his blue jujitsu T-shirt, the actor gave a grown-up fan, Monyah, her birthday wish outside his trailer, and then invited another special fan, 10-year-old, Aya, inside his home away from home for a visit.

Chi McBride and Scott Caan also took part in the fun for the school-age fan. In one playful image, Scott Caan is all smiles, while Alex gives a teasing dead stare and a scowl.

The stars spent some time at the Kahala Hotel and Resort and ran into overjoyed fans there, too. The rigorous days of shooting for “Hawaii Five-O” are typically longer, hotter, and harder than those of most long-running dramas and the leading men proved their patience and grace with supporters, and surely appreciated the less rugged surroundings. Alex O'Loughlin has endured numerous injuries through past seasons of portraying the intrepid Lt. Commander McGarrett.

With more days like this, Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan might decide to stay with “Hawaii Five-O” for another decade! Anything is possible!