Black Sash is refreshing by comparison, since it deals with Troubled Teens from a less privileged economic bracket. I know nothing about martial arts and can't tell you how realistic the portrayal may be. But it was nice to see such a diverse cast, and 3 generations interacting instead of focusing solely on teens. (Whoa. An actual *elderly* person on TV! I'm talking about Master Li, of course.) I also appreciated the attempt to actually send young viewers positive messages. That's right, Black Sash is kinda heartwarming, with it's main character trying to reconnect with his 12 year old daughter (Ha! Good luck finding a *pre*-teen on a CW show! If they can't be shown having sex yet, The CW ain't interested in 'em, basically), and being a father figure of sorts to his students as well. Not just a martial arts instructor, Tom Chang is a mentor who goes above and beyond, taking in an abused teen, and helping them all out of various predicaments.
Of course that's partly 'cause we have to showcase the star, Russell Wong (and his students, to some degree) kicking butt at least once per episode. So they all regularly get into dangerous situations, which may seem like overkill within a mere 6 episodes, but hey, I can deal with this contrivance. At least the fight scenes depict some struggle and feeling of realism in that the kids don't defeat the Bad Guys *too* easily. Fans of the Canadian band, Spirit Of The West, keep your eyes peeled for lead singer, John Mann, as one of these thugs. Poor guy kinda looks the part and gets typecast. He was also a shady underworld figure on Stargate SG-1.
I wonder about the comments I've read, disparaging Black Sash for being more of the same typical teen angst/high school drama. Is it so common for teens to be framed for murder, or to have to deal with gangsters and thugs coming after them because of their shady parent's criminal dealings? I *hope* it's not a "typical teen experience" to be stalked by a potential rapist? (Nice job showing the girls fighting back and protecting each other, btw... nowadays they'd probably just fall in love with their stalker.) Well, despite these dramatic sounding plot lines, Black Sash is pretty down-to-earth and feel-good entertainment. I know many people today balk at anything "too preachy" and prefer soulless anti-heroes and serial killers, but I'm hoping folks get sick of that trend soon. Maybe return to shows with likable protagonists - decent people trying to make a difference? It's so rare today, it would actually be a "daring" and "edgy" choice, TV writers! :P Btw, those of you comparing Black Sash to truly preachy, nauseatingly narrow-minded and just plain badly written junk like 7th Heaven, need to broaden your TV horizons and gain some perspective. There's a difference between a teacher providing guidance but helping teens gain self-esteem and encouraging them to do what's right for them... vs. being a religious nut who won't tolerate other ways of doing things and looks down on/pressures kids to conform to your belief system. Also... good kind of message: if a guy stalks you, be creeped out, not charmed. Learn to defend yourself if attacked by would-be-rapists. Bad kind of message: Never have sex before marriage! No abortions allowed! Even if you're raped! I know which show I'd rather watch. Hint: the one that doesn't hate women.
Of course the show had it's flaws, like pacing issues and trying to juggle all those characters. Bryan never really got a backstory. Nick vanished, rather implausibly. Trip had nothing to do in the last few eps, becoming irrelevant after his story with his Dad wrapped up...which happened too quickly, really. A lot of the character development (and romances) happened too quickly. Is Allie shy or not? Inconsistent characterization, or a fast-tracked character growth arc? I guess the showrunners knew they had only a 6 episode order, so they crammed a lot in. I read that there were a couple other unaired pilots that were reworked due to last-minute character changes, and you can kinda see some remnants from those "earlier drafts", if you squint.
At least the last episode ends with a feeling of hope, despite some unresolved story lines. I was half-expecting a horrible cliffhanger with everyone's life in jeopardy. So many writers continue to believe cliffhangers will get their shows renewed, but then they get cancelled anyway and leave fans in traumatized limbo forever. Yet another thing that makes Black Sash feel like a breath of fresh air now, to jaded TV viewers like me. I can live with the ending. Still it's a pity this series was cancelled so early. Six measly episodes, but the writers and actors managed to make me care, and I enjoyed these 6 eps more than a bunch of shows I could name which have inexplicably lasted for years. Too bad the suits at The WB didn't really give Black Sash a chance, nurture it, and have a little more patience - despite Mr. Chang's lesson on that very subject in the finale. :P