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Hawaii Five-0: Imi Loko Ka 'Uhane (2013)
Worst episode of the series
This was by far the worst episode of the series. The show is typically kind of fun, with lots of implausible action sequences, and quick banter between the two leads (Alex O'Laughlin and Scott Caan). The remaining characters sort of fade in and out, and I often wonder what the point of having them there is (other than the obvious eye-candy factor for Kim, Park, and Borth, and the quirky fun-ness of Oka, and the supporting characters, like Fong, who are interesting but never get enough screen time).
Some of my review is a personal reaction to Aisha Tyler as the talk-show host. I really don't much like the actress, but the character of Savannah Williams was just - oh, how do I say it? - irritating, dumb, pointless. There were no revelations about the central cast made thru the venue of the fake show, and I agree with another reviewer that the capture of Wo Fat certainly ranks among the biggest story lines of the entire series. In fact, it ranks right up there with the biggest stories of BOTH incarnations of the show.
But this big storyline was wasted on an absolute throwaway of an episode. Was the whole point just to get a very attractive guest star to prance about in a brightly-colored sundress for 43 minutes? Probably.
I wish I could be more eloquent, but, basically, I sum up my review with one word. Yuk.
Political Animals (2012)
This show received so much hype even before it aired that I couldn't help but want to watch it, but so far it's been utterly disappointing. Unfortunately, the very worst part of the show is Sigourney Weaver - she is so ill-suited to the framework of a television series that it's laughable. The second very worst part is Ciaran Hinds as the former president - he is so ill-suited to the role of the smirking, Southern-accented, crass, despicable, buffoon that you can't help but wonder just how much money they offered him to ruin his reputation.
Weaver is a film actress and her discomfort at working in front of TV cameras is painfully obvious. Her mannerisms are wooden - she delivers every line with a noticeable vertical nod that punctuates every other word or so, and her intonation is identical in almost every single line. Most of the supporting actors have TV experience and deliver their lines much more naturally, or at least convincingly (Ellen Burstyn, in particular, is a gem in just about anything she does).
The media made a great deal out of Sebastian Stan's performance in Once Upon a Time, lamenting that he might not return to that show because he had committed to Political Animals. Hopefully, that will not be an issue - sympathetic and layered in Once Upon a Time, Stan's character in Political Animals is one-dimensional and not worthy of his talent.
There are a few redeeming performances in the show (Gugino, Futterman, Burstyn, Pasdar, to name a few). But there are no real characters - they're all caricatures.
Interesting premise but ultimately forgettable
I wanted to like this show, I really did. But it suffers from too many issues, and after 6 or 7 episodes, I've given up. Poppy Montgomery's WAT character, Sam Spade, became extremely popular, and like so many TV actors whose characters skyrocket like that, the actor herself became lazy. Although she attempts a decent American accent, her vowels are heavily colored with Australian diphthongs, and she really needs a diction coach. Her character, Carrie Wells, isn't even all that likable - she's a bit arrogant and ill-mannered, and completely fails to evoke sympathy for her past. Unlike Jane Timoney in "Prime Suspect," however, Carrie isn't a brilliant detective, she just has a really good memory. The producers of the show and Montgomery herself apparently want to show off her incredible physique, but she's so hardbodied it's almost a caricature. Tight, skimpy tank tops, heaving cleavage, and close-up shots of a butt made out of granite aren't really all that attractive. There was a recent web post somewhere about how Robin Tunney's portrayal of Teresa Lisbon on "The Mentalist" shows women in law enforcement in a positive and professional light - Montgomery's appearance and performance in "Unforgettable" do just the opposite. So, I give up. Bye, "Unforgettable."
Blue Bloods: Friendly Fire (2011)
Usually idealistic, this Blue Bloods required too much suspension of disbelief
I like Blue Bloods, sort of. From the very beginning, it presented itself as an idealized version of the NYPD where corruption is swiftly rooted out and punished, and a multi-generational family of cops runs the gamut from rookie beat cop to decorated detective to dead hero son to retired police commissioner to current police commissioner.
In this idealized world, this multigenerational family is immune to the failings of normal human beings, and apparently also immune to rules and regulations of real city agencies. I'd like to know in what world a detective under investigation himself would be allowed to investigate the very shooting for which he is under investigation? It's such a clear and obvious violation of conflict of interest laws, it's laughable. And when the noble Police Commissioner gruffly announces that the decision to punish or not punish the detective in question, his equally noble son, for violating the terms of his modified duty, the viewer is led to believe that the Commissioner will do the right thing and suspend him.
But no. The noble detective son is restored to full duty.
I want to like this show more than I do. But this episode was annoying for the fact that Danny should have been suspended for violating the terms of his duty. I know most viewers loved the fact that Danny got away with it because he's written as such a good guy, but his actions were reckless and arrogant. There's nothing noble or ideal or good about what he did, and it would have been so much more noble had his commissioner-father done the right thing and required him to pay for his actions.
Cry, the Beloved Country (1995)
Beautifully filmed, two great actors (Jones and Harris)
I know most readers won't find my comments useful, but here goes anyway. I saw this movie a long long time ago but recently went looking for it on IMDb (not sure why), probably to look up snippets about Richard Harris. What I remember most about the movie was 1) the incredible cinematography - no denying that African countryside is gorgeous, and 2) the one long extended scene between James Earl Jones and Richard Harris. I don't even remember most of the dialogue, only that these two great classically-trained actors almost literally chewed the scenery. I remember that the scene was calmly played, yet both actors simmered with just-perceptible passion.
I once performed in the Kurt Weill opera of the same name. I'm accustomed to having music propel me through the story, but I didn't miss it in this movie. One casting note - probably because of recent trends in NTC (non-traditional casting), most stage shows refer to the racial divide in the opera as "whites" and "coloreds," which, under apartheid, included all non-whites. Whether or not this was intentionally done by the librettist, it gives opera companies the freedom to hire Asian-Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanic-Americans (or Europeans) as the "colored" cast. In the movie, it was starkly white and black. Nevertheless, if you lack any other reason for seeing the movie, see it for the wonderful performances of Jones and Harris.