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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is one of crudest events in American history and it's rarely mention in the media. While, there has been a few numbers of media sources that give time to explaining the Internment of Japanese Americans through novel stories like Hotel on the Corner of Bitter, When the Emperor Was Divine, Journey to Topaz and small movies like 1990's Come See the Paradise, 1997's Strawberry Fields, and 2007's American Pastime. There hasn't been a lot of mention to those events, in the field of mainstream television. I think a lot of media sources would love to keep this gloomy nearly untold period in the dark because it doesn't fit the target audience. Before 1965, it was standard for television stations and movie chains operating in the US to edit or remove non-stereotypical minority characters. Things like the dealing with internment issue, was too complex, controversy, or revolting to an audience looking for family entertainment. The reason for that is that minority character didn't drawn well is due to how foreign their culture can seem and how much their lack to a Western audience to identify with. If minority were feature it was with all with the known stereotypes of the day. Never once were, they were made out to the main lead of the show. No matter how diverse a show's cast or how positive its portrayal of minorities, the lead character will almost always be a conventionally attractive, heterosexual Caucasian. While, monochrome Casting is still around even today due to executive meddling who feels that people wouldn't be interested in minority story lines. Things are slowly changing in the later years of television exposing more and more stories about minority Americans. In 2007, mainstream show Cold Case finally have the guts to bring this issue to the main audience. While Cold Case really put the story of the Japanese-American family in the front, it felt like it was token episode that dealt with racism. Most of the other episodes, dealt with same Caucasian type stories, you see in any crime drama. After all, the show was still playing it kinda safe. Cold Case is a master at evoking all sorts of emotions about the past, and bringing in a story about the Japanese American internment camp was somewhat welcome from me. I have always been interested Cold Case. I was pretty happy that episode titled 'Family 8108' was the Season 5 finale. I love it. Directed by Jeannot Szwarc, the episode is about the Cold Case unsolved murder of ex-Japanese American internment prisoner, Ray Takahashi (Ian Anthony Dale) whom was found death in 1945 after Army/Navy football game. The Cold Case unit lead by Lilly Rush (Kathryn Morris) believes that the time spent living in an internment camp during WW2 might had play a factor. What, they unsolved is a revenge story driven by sex, racism, and a conflict of patriotism. All the actors in the flashbacks scenes were very good. Maybe, the writers did go a little overboard to make them appeal to Western audiences. I did like how they spoke perfect with American English accents and how the episode opened showing this very American looking family playing football in their front yard. But gees, they were really cut off from their Japanese culture to the point, that, they were kinda bland. I do like how the camera turns from bright 1940's Technicolor, and goes 1993's Schindler's List during the camp scenes. I do believe the show did portray camp life as the historical accuracy as they can. The conditions at the camp were poor as reflected in this episode of television: overcrowded with apparently no plumbing or even cooking facilities. Yet despite this hardship, Ray Takahashi was determined to prove he was American and to somehow change the minds of those who were imprisoning them by being over nationalism. His over nationalism made enemies at the camp and within his own family. I love more and more he slowly ostracized by camp life and felt abandoned by the country of his birth that people start to look at him as being a threat to American. Ian Anthony Dale did a great job in this role, showing the conflict, the man is driven to. I have to also give mad props to David Huynh as his son, Billy who seem to question and lose respect of his father, more and more his father faults are expose. Some faults of this episode is that it did tell way too much, how people felt, then show. Show, don't tell. It was bit wordy in dialogue. I love how the show mostly focus on this family, rather than showing multiply sub-plots happening to the Cold Case crew. The only subplot in this episode was how Stillman (John Finn) submitted retirement papers in a previous episode and how Lilly and staff pleads with him to withdraw them. Was he going to return or not? Just watch it! The use of music of the time period really cast the mood. It felt like it really work on this episode, rather than being annoying or distracting. The ending montage, using the voice-over of the Billy's last letter to Ray instead of a song was great. Overall: In order not to spoil the ending and who kill Ray, should you catch this episode yourself sometime. I'll simply say it was very moving and raised all sorts of important questions that need to. A great watch!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This show deals with one of America's most shameful incidents in our
history. The imprisonment of Japanese and Americans of Japanese descent
during the years of WWII. The horror of that past looms large in a
murder case committed more than six decades ago. Barbara Takahashi
comes to the Cold Case unit asking them to take a look at her father's
murder. Of course, it's been a long time, but the detectives set out to
look into this matter.
We learn about the Takahashi family in flashbacks. Ray and Evelyn Takahashi, both American born, and their son, Billy, lead a happy existence in California. One day they are ordered to go to Manzanar, a camp designed to keep these innocent citizens just because of their ethnicity. Ray, a man that feels his rights are violated, goes along with what his government has decided for him. Evelyn, on the other hand, makes it known she doesn't appreciate the treatment.
Ray feels as though his son Billy should enlist and fight for his country. But Billy is not so sure. Billy's good friend Skip has already enlisted. Billy's decision comes when he watches his father kiss one of the lady volunteers that shows kindness to the family. He is angry, feeling betrayed by his own father. When a telegram arrives, Ray knows its bad news; Billy has died.
When the Takahashis, now with a baby girl, Barbara, born in the camps, decide to go to Philadelphia, they resume their lives. Ray, who had quarreled with Shinji Nakamura, is surprised when this man turns up in his new city bringing him a letter that was received at the camp. In it, Ray learns Billy had died a hero. He tries to look up Skip, who was in charge of his son's unit to have Billy's courage acknowledged, but unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. Ray suffers a devastating blow when he is killed accidentally not having seen his son get his due for his patriotism.
A good story on this chapter of the series. Our only problem with case studies, such as this one, we feel there is a chronological confusion on the part of the creators of the show and the realities. Ray Takahashi must have been in his late thirties, having a son that enlisted at eighteen. Evelyn Takahashi, who is still around must have been in pretty close to a hundred! Same goes for Shinji Nakamura, so we are asked to accept them as a fact, when reason shows us otherwise. It is easier to see a case solved dating from a few years back, but when we are asked to make concessions for something as obvious as the time involved here, we have to scratch our heads in disbelief.
Jeannot Szwarc directed this episode with sure hand. The writing is first rate and it's credited to Kellye Garrett and Elizabeth Randall, whose screenplay asks us to go along with what they wrote, not making much sense in the process. Their story is good, but not plausible, considering the time span. We liked the excellent Ian Anthony Dale who plays Ray Takahashi with conviction. Mia Korf makes a good Evelyn from 1945.
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