S01E12 I guess before Hawaii Five-O goes on hiatus its producers wanted to come back to the season-long arc that they set up in the first two episodes. And in some strange twist, they actually managed to make a compelling episode (albeit with a few typical H5O scenes) that propels the action into the latter half of the season.
When I first realized that we would be getting our mid-point dose of Jarred Hesse (played with a sneer by James Marsters), I was thinking all high and mighty of myself predicting that he would get away for McGarrett to catch another day. Surprise, surprise, they (spoilers you silly little bitch) let him get caught and instead send free crazy mullet man that they have visited a few times.
Before we get into whether or not 'Hana 'a'a Makehewa' worked as a stand alone episode, let's look at what it did for the season as a whole. It actually set up quite a few predicaments that I thought were quite clever for the show (one more so than the other). The first, and lesser of the two, came at the end. The foreboding music that played as Hess came to talk to someone in jail signaled that we weren’t done with him just yet. He talks to a sharp dressed Asian man who asked how close McGarrett is to the case his father was working on. Hess answers in the affirmative which means that there is a bigger plot that will come into play later in the season. A great big old DUH, of course it will keep going. The only thing this did is amplify it a bit unnecessarily, but H5O is not a show that can be accused of doing anything subtly. And is McGarrett really that close? We haven’t seen him investigate this case at all since the beginning of the season, aside from the occasional reference to that tool box. Doesn’t exactly sound like a breakthrough to me. Knowing the program, they’ll explain everything in three minutes through a touch screen computer and Bing.
The big thing that I hope the writers don’t forget about is the $10 million McGarrett let burn away (you know, I bet he was all like WHOOPS). This was a good turn and honestly something that took me by complete surprise. We finally learn why Chin was kicked off the force several years ago (he was framed for stealing some confiscated money) but we also learn of a SUPER SECRET fort for housing big time confiscations. I understand the plot necessity of having a SUPER SECRET fort (so no cops would be around) but the way they handled it was a little heavy handed.
Anyway, McGarrett just lost ten million dollars that he has to repay. How he’ll manage to do that is beyond me because even though they are super cops I still think they are making a basic officer's salary (even though it was Danno that had the Camaro, a surprising fact that somehow managed to slip past me). I prefer this conundrum to the “case” McGarrett is trying to solve because it's more character driven and outside the box. Any typical cop show can solve a huge conspiracy, that happens all the time. But a rogue cop who finally bites off more than he can chew and has to pay back ten million dollars? Now that is an interesting premise. Please, don’t just solve this in one by having them recover the money from some drug bust. Please.
But on to the show as a single episode. Based on the scoring system that I created last week, this episode did not fare very well. However, because I am charged with recapping this show I can do what I want with it so I’m going to bump it up a little from what it would have gotten had I followed my own rules. I love being a god.
So what did it not have? Definitely did not have any sex appeal. In fact it gave us the furthest thing from Grace Park in a bikini, it gave us Grace Park in a jump suit. Needless to say, the look was not meant for her. We did not have any big time guest stars (besides Hesse, but since he was in the pilot and served a given purpose I’m overlooking him as a "guest") and the product placement was once again confined just to Cheverolet cars. How sad.
We did get a cool stunt this week when McGarrett and Hess start going at it. McGarrett takes a run at him and then leaps in the air and lands with a scissor hold on Hesse. Wasn’t expecting it and it was totally bad-ass. There were a few bits of riffing between Danno and McGarrett (which will get exponentially worse come February) but the highlight of the week was McGarrett admitting to a high level of insanity. Brief, but fun. And right there is the extent which this episode would have been judged any other week. But for whatever reason, this one worked a little better for me.
For starters, we open to immediate danger. Chin finds himself kneeling on the ground with a bomb strapped around his neck. There’s some techno mumbo jumbo that explains why he can’t move but whatever. It's an intense opening and much different then how these shows normally begin. Of course, they spend the first half of the episode flashing back to get to the Chin-in-a-bomb-necklace point, but considering what happened in the latter half I’ll excuse them for rushing a bit. However, I won’t forgive them for repeating the same lines and information the second time around about. Give your audience some credit. They can remember the facts of the case, even after a commercial break. You don’t have to repeat yourself 20 minutes later. Or if you feel like you do, maybe that’s a sign that you’re too focused on techno babble and not on pertinent dialogue.
Yada yada yada, the government does not negotiate with terrorists (if one doesn't already exist on the internet, someone should cut together scenes in which people say they don’t negotiate with terrorists. Seriously, you would think terrorists would know they don’t get to be negotiated with by now) and that forces them to break into a SUPER SECRET fort. I will give H5O this. They do jump around from one thing to the next fairly quickly and with the most horrendous dialogue known to man, but at least they vary it up. This whole breaking into a fort thing was fundamentally different than the interrogations that happened earlier and different than the shoot out that happened next. I’ll give them credit for that much at least. And credit for the snoopy old lady.
And another thing about Chin being strapped to a bomb - they walk casually up to him. I mean, I know they all have balls, but those must be some serious balls to just waltz right up to the guy who has a bomb that could go off if he sneezes, just saying.
You know how I like to rag on the writers for assuming their audience is comprised of idiots that have to be told everything with the most insanely stupid dialogue? I’ll give them this. They assumed we all have seen Miss Congeniality so they didn’t have to explain the whole Aloha-means-hello-and-goodbye to us when Chin and Kono say it to each other. I really appreciate that.
All that worked for me and because it was so unusual, H5O was also able to sneak away with a little something else at the end of the episode, too. Maybe because it was Christmas, maybe it was just my heart melting away, but I really didn’t mind the sentimental hug at the end when Grace came to see Danno dressed up as Santa. I guess Scrooge learned his lesson after all.
Finally a big congratulations to Scott Caan on his Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Even though it will probably go to Chris Colfer of Glee or Eric Stonestreet of Modern Family, I still really like Caan’s work. Colfer has become one of the most boring parts of Glee (classic case of saturation) and Stonestreet (while hilarious) is very one note. Best of luck Scott.
Attractive college co-ed Casey (Odette Yustman) finds herself the target of the diabolical Dybbuk a spirit which has bided its time since her birth to make its nefarious presence known. Is it perhaps a manifestation of her twin brother who died in the womb all those years ago? Since dear old Dad (James Remar) is away on business -- seemingly for the entire length of the movie -- concerned Casey seeks answers from Sofi Kozma (Jane Alexander) a survivor of the Holocaust who may hold the key to Casey’s past. Needless to say those to whom Casey confides her fears often find themselves in danger of being offed in gruesome fashion. (Misery may love company but the Dybbuk doesn’t.) In a last-ditch effort to rid herself of the evil spirit Casey turns to Rabbi Sendak (Gary Oldman) who finally agrees to perform an exorcism after he too sees the signs. Aside from acting terrified (and looking good doing it) Yustman (Cloverfield) is totally at the mercy of the story which shows little mercy when it comes to providing any concrete (or even shaky) answers to the questions it raises. She’s attractive but there’s not much else to the character. As Casey’s respective boyfriend and best friend Cam Gigandet (Twilight) and Meagan Good (Saw V) are merely functionaries offering the typical mixture of skepticism and support before learning for themselves -- too late of course! -- that maybe Casey’s suspicions have validity. Adding a (misplaced?) touch of class to the proceedings are Oldman who doesn’t embarrass himself and Alexander who isn’t so fortunate. It’s also a wonder why Carla Gugino seen occasionally in flashback as Casey’s deceased mother even bothered. It’s a nothing role which might explain why the actress has no billing other than in the end credits. There’s no question that writer/director David S. Goyer has a deep love and appreciation for horror and science-fiction given his previous credits which include the scripts for Dark City Blade and The Dark Knight but as a director his work (which includes Blade: Trinity and last year’s The Invisible) leaves much to be desired. There are some good ideas here and some individual scenes are reasonably effective but the parts don’t add up to a satisfactory whole. The Unborn suffers from a botched delivery.
Based on the award-winning book by Bernhard Schlink The Reader is an extraordinary provocative and controversial story set in post-World War II Germany. It starts when 15-year-old Michael (David Kross) becomes ill with scarlet fever and is helped home by sympathetic woman named Hanna (Kate Winslet). After his recovery he returns to thank her and is drawn into a clandestine affair with this intriguing woman more than twice his age. Their relationship grows stronger especially when he starts reading to her. But then she suddenly disappears leaving a devastated Michael who now must move on with his life. Little does he know that eight years later while he is in law school he would see Hanna again -- as one of the defendants in a court case against Nazi war criminals. Shocked at revelations about her secret past he also discovers something that will change both their lives forever. Granted Kate Winslet is one of the finest young screen actresses but her range in The Reader will astonish you. It’s an extremely tricky part that could easily lose the audience’s sympathy if done incorrectly but Winslet handles it with aplomb. She runs through the whole gamut of emotions -- aging from her 30s to 60s -- all at once sexy mysterious conflicted contrite as well as many other colors. As Michael newcomer Kross is devastatingly good the most impressive acting discovery in a long time. Although he plays 15 he was 17 at the start of filming and production had to shut down until he turned 18 for the graphic sex scenes. As the story flashes forward Ralph Fiennes takes over the role as the older Michael and does so with a touching sincerity. Lena Olin also has a strong cameo as a Holocaust survivor with definite opinions of Hanna. Although this is only acclaimed stage director Stephen Daldry’s third film he once again shows a mastery of the medium far beyond his limited cinematic resume. Like The Hours and his debut film Billy Elliot he has crafted another film to savor. The Reader isn’t necessarily the most comfortable film to watch but Daldry guides the subject matter with a delicate and steady hand giving us a complex and touching love story between the most unlikely couple. It also delves into how one generation of Germans can come to terms with the horrors of another. Daldry’s directorial restraint and power perfectly serves David Hare’s impressive screenplay and delivers a memorable movie-going experience.
In adapting a rather flimsy children’s book into a full-fledged feature film one has to take some liberties. We first meet the lovable little monkey in the wild where his curious habits wreck havoc. Meanwhile in the big city Ted (voiced by Will Ferrell)--aka The Man with the Yellow Hat--is a highly enthusiastic guide at the soon-to-be-closed Bloomsberry Museum. In order to save the museum (here’s where they pad it) he is sent on a mission to Africa to retrieve a lost shrine. But when he gets there the only thing he finds is a miniature version of it--and George of course. The lonely monkey decides to follow Ted all the way back to the city where his mischievous tendencies get him into even more trouble. George nearly ruins everything for Ted but somehow the little feller eventually grows on him. How could he not? If I can borrow a line from Madagascar little George is so cute I just like to dunk him in my coffee. When you’re reading Curious George out loud to your kids you don’t get the impression The Man with the Yellow Hat is a good-natured but geeky fellow gangly clumsy and clueless about women. Thank goodness the film has Will Ferrell to clear it up for us! You basically know what you’re in for once you recognize his voice and his natural comic timing shines through lending for some funnier moments (“OK I’m looking directly into the sun. Staring right at it. I’ve got to be honest with you it stings…”). The other voices in the film also do a fine job including Drew Barrymore as a schoolteacher who has a crush on Ted; Eugene Levy as the mad museum scientist; Dick Van Dyke as the museum’s old-time curator; and David Cross as his weasly greedy son. Based on the books and illustrations by Margret and H.A. Rey Curious George embraces the essence of the timeless stories created 65 years ago. The film apparently took awhile to find its voice. Producer Ron Howard originally conceived it as live-action film but quickly realized they could never get a real monkey as cute and fuzzy as George. Then CGI was considered but ultimately the filmmakers kept returning to the source: the late H.A. Rey’s original painstakingly beautiful illustrations. Thankfully they stuck with that idea. Curious George is lush and vibrant with all of Rey’s best efforts fully realized in Technicolor. And much like what the Piglet’s Big Movie did with Carly Simon and The Wild Thornberrys with Paul Simon Curious George is also sprinkled with original songs by hot pop singer Jack Johnson to give it a modern feel. So what if the story gets a little overblown in parts it will still introduce one of literature’s most enduring icons to the young-un’s--while allowing the adults to reminisce.