Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thoughts on Hawaii Five-O's Third Season So Far

I promised to write about Hawaii Five-O three times during season three. No one remembers but me. I really disliked the second season of the show. The third season opened with the same nonsense, but three months have passed. Season 3 has been a mix of the adventurous fun of the first season and the serialized nonsense of the second. Terry O'Quinn left, only to be replaced by Christine Lahti. Both actors share an experience with a character rarely seen and horribly written, with backstories that could put a hyena to sleep within 30 seconds. Anyway, here are some thoughts on the third season thus far:

-Christine Lahti's addition as Steve's mother has been underwhelming. The Joe White story took me out of the show completely last season. My eyes gloss over whenever Lahti shows up. The 22 episode beast of network television dictates the rhythm of the storytelling, so Lahti disappears for stretches. One week she's with friends off the main land, the next week she's elsewhere (because Lahti's an expensive talent). Her arc is fragmented, and Steve will fight crime and kick ass for six or more weeks without talking about his mother; however, she'll return and so will the Steve's emotions, and Wo-Fat will be back to reveal family treachery. Steve will become a cop living on the edge, and Scott Caan will yell at him to think about what he's doing. I hope Lenkov dropped the story and that the second half of the season will involve Kanekoma's courting of Christine Lahti, with all of the dates on the helicopter, and with a buffet of shrimp.

-The Halloween episode was the worst of the season. Basically, it made no sense. Imagine the worst kind of torture porn plot mixed with Friday the 13th and a CW TV Movie of the Week, and that was Hawaii Five-O's Halloween episode. It involved ritualistic murders, a murderous grandmother pulling the strings, and a moment that made the HoYay fans of Steve/Danny excite. The message boards for the show were crazy about the halloween episode. Subsequently, Danny's flashback episode, in which we learned 9/11 saved his life, put me to sleep, and it was met with great praise. The stand-alone adventures are hit-or-miss in general. Procedural show runners usually possess a huge ego. One show runner commented that he or she had an endless amount of stories to tell in the procedural format. The problem is that an endless amount of stories is going to have many horrible episodes. Procedurals aren't difficult to write. They populate the network TV landscape. Of course, many of the procedurals are forgotten about the second the end credits arrive. Hawaii Five-O needs to tell gripping stand-alone case stories for the bulk of their seasons, which means it's difficult to make all of them worth the viewer's time. The halloween episode didn't bother with resolution. The 9/11 story happened, and Danny didn't feel any complex emotions about America's most tragic day being responsible for his life. Now, in the third season, its relying on lazy tropes for action sequences, especially chase scenes. Red herrings will run for their life, only to reveal their innocence and then prove it. It's definitely frustrating to watch a procedural every week. It takes me weeks to catch up because of the transportation to a boring and rote story week after week.

-The best episodes of the show are about the team, e.g. the Tom Arnold episode where he threatens Grace's Aloha Girls group with a gun, takes Steve and a little girl hostage, and moves everyone into action to save Steve. Tom Arnold's episode is basically an adventure procedural's take on the classic film, Carpool. Tom Arnold's just carrying a real gun instead of a fancy lighter. Of course, episodes about the team can suck. Any time Kono finds herself in trouble is always a bad episode. Chin-Ho's grief over his murdered wife didn't get an episode. A potentially touching story was reduced to a few beats. I forget what the case of the week was, but Chin-Ho's emotional beats were sacrificed for stupid case of the week stuff. The season premiere established arcs for the characters, but their arcs disappeared. There's no through-line for the characters, besides Steve this season. The increased emphasis on Steve and Danny's bromance leaves Chin and Kno out. Chin's wife has been forgotten; Kono's boyfriend is back, with a brother who's trouble, but neither man appeared in last night's episode. Character development happens in the beginning and end of an episode, with basically zero during the middle. Masi Oka's Max is a brilliant coroner who gets to tell Steve about a victim's cause of death and then eat shrimp at episode's end. Two weeks ago, Max got a date with a bank teller. Naturally, she's absent from the next two episodes. Minor characters related to secondary characters don't carry over; there's a lack of history in this show. When's the last time Danny mentioned the custody battle for Grace (maybe it was resolved)?

-Last night's highlight was recognizing the prisoner from The Walking Dead who hit on Carol as the bad guy. He had wore the same hair style but had even more facial hair. The actual episode was about Steve helping a 13 year old who reminded him of himself as a 13 year old, right down to the same parental situation. I loved Kanekoma buying a helicopter without a license. The rest of the episode was dull and full of unnecessary 'turns.' The parallels between Steve and the kid were weak. Steve and the kid didn't share enough scenes. Catherine stood in for Steve and resembled a mother figure, something which I might write about in May if Catherine doesn't disappear.

-Season 3 hasn't told much of a story, so it's difficult to write about. The stories are small, self-contained case-of-the-weeks. The new year should get back to what Hawaii Five-O does worst: serialized storytelling.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


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About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.