Hawaii Five-0 [CBS, Mondays, 10/9C] features characters whose names are familiar, and the setting that comes with the title, but it is not your father’s/grandfather’s Hawaii Five-0. It is a fast-paced, well written, fresh take on cop shows that has energy to burn and charisma to spare.
Here’s a preview of A & E’s The Cleaner.
William’s (Benjamin Bratt) former sponsor Pauline Kmec (Whoopi Goldberg) resurfaces when he is called to help an addict she currently sponsors. Davis (Gary Cole), a former friend and fellow program member, is a high-profile national news anchor and a spokesperson for recovery, but is struggling with his sobriety in the face of his wife’s (Jayne Brook) battle with cancer. William juggles the case while moving back in with his wife Melissa (Amy Price-Francis) to create a façade of happiness while her parents (Mariette Hartley and Barry Newman) are in town.
“…You are one of a small number of trusted BSG enthusiasts with whom we are sharing a review copy.”
While that statement from the letter that accompanies the mid-season premiere of BSG [Sci Fi, Fridays, 10/9C], Sometimes a Great Notion, doesn’t exactly hurt my ego, it does come with some hefty caveats. I can’t give away a couple of HUGE plot points – like they’d have to tell me that in the first place – and then there’s the scene that has been withheld from screener in the interests of maintaining “the secrecy surrounding an extremely sensitive reveal” [which only guarantees that I’ll be in front of my TV for the premiere – but I’d have been there anyway, the ep is that good].
What’s left? Forty-two minutes of pretty frakkin’ awesome stuff! [Remember, I saw it without commercials.] Which means you should set your TiVo for an extra three minutes or so…
In the past, I’ve been known to complain about episodes that are way too talky and slow – episodes where it’s all about exposition, or recapitulation of themes that maybe didn’t need to be recapitulated – or about the Messiah Baltar [James Callis] and his harem. Well, Sometimes a Great Notion is a talky episode – the one burst of unexpected violence [not counting a fist fight in one of the Galactica’s corridors as a major character walks by] is one of things I can’t talk about – but even without the violence, so much happens here that it will be one of the best television episodes of 2009 [and that’s without the missing scene]!
The episode begins mere moments after the conclusion of Revelations with the various human and Cylon characters wandering about in a daze. The only one who is actively doing something, really, is Starbuck [Katie Sackhoff], who is looking for something. Before the teaser is over, there have been answers to at least a couple of major questions, including one about the Final Five – not to mention… but that would be too much to say here…
Essentially, Sometimes a Great Notion is about what happens when your biggest and best hopes and dreams are dangled before your eyes then ripped ruthlessly away. Some of the responses are dire [see HUGE plot point #2] while some are just there – a kind enervation. Then there are those who see the situation not as an invalidation of their hopes and dreams, but an opportunity to be completely free from any expectations, or prophecies. The characters who fall into these categories might not necessarily be the ones you’ll be expecting.
Written by David Weddle and Bradley Thompson [they wrote Revelations – every resolution of a cliffhanger should be written by the same writer[s] who did the cliffhanger] and directed by Michael Nankin, Sometimes a Great Notion is an amazing example of how a mostly violence-free episode should be done. Nankin’s pacing is best described as deliberate – just slow enough that we can pick up on the many subtleties of the episode [watch the reactions of the crew in the background after the announcement is made about the state of the Earth] – even as we watch the main characters fall apart, go into shock, or buck up and decide to keep going forward.
The bleached palette of the bleak Earth scenes contrast with the much warmer palette aboard the Galactica [warmer tones that make that one burst of violence even more mind-boggling]. It’s partly because of contrasts such as these that we buy into most of the responses to the news about the Earth – though, as in real life, some will never be understood. Though I haven’t said much about the Cylons who allied themselves with the humans, they, too, are caught up in the situation with an equally wide range of reactions – especially Leoben [Callum Keith Rennie] and D’Anna [Lucy Lawless].
Because of the missing scene, I can’t give Sometimes a Great Notion an unqualified A+ – but it is close to perfect as it can be without that scene [and I can’t wait to see what it is!].
Final Grade: A
A brief news release from the Sci Fi Channel states that on January 16, 2009, at 10 p.m. [9C], “Battlestar Galactica will return with the remaining episodes of its 4th and final season. Picking up from last June’s jarring cliffhanger – the Colonial fleet and their new Cylon allies led by Admiral Adama and the Galactica crew discover Earth to find it a barren nuclear wasteland – the finale season promises to be rife with drama, action and revelation.”
Finally, we will learn the fate of Earth; discover the identity of the Final Cylon Model and maybe even find out who wrote the Galacticaverse version of All Along the Watchtower – and what the infamous Last Supper, Galactica-style, means!
A&E’s The Cleaner [Tuesdays, 10/9C] minisite describes this new series as being inspired by the true story of a real-life “extreme interventionist,” stars Benjamin Bratt as William “The Cleaner” Banks, who, after hitting rock-bottom from his own addictions after the birth of his daughter, strikes a tentative deal with God. Now along with his unconventional team, he helps people get away from their addictions by any means necessary.
William’s dedication to his task causes problems at home as his children, Ben [Brett Delbuono] and Lula [Liliana Mumy] try to get him to okay their withdrawal from extracurricular activities so they can spend more time with him – and his wife, Melissa [Amy Price-Francis] is growing frustrated with his having less and less time for their family.
On the other hand, William and his team are always ready to help others to get clean. In the pilot’s opening moments, the ep cuts between William coaching his son’s football team and his team members – Akani Cuesta [Grace Park], Arnie Swenton [Esteban Powell] and Mickey Efros [Gil Bellows] – nab a gambling addict whose husband has hired them. Later, a teenaged boy asks their help with his brother – an all-conference guard and solid student who has turned to drugs after watching his father die.
Although I’ve never been particularly impressed with Benjamin Bratt, he turns in a driven performance as William, the recovering addict whose deal with God has resulting in his talking with God like he talks with everyone – though God’s answers aren’t what you’d call vocal. Park’s Akani is smart and sexy, with a weakness for William besides her own addiction. Powell’s Arnie is a bit of a chaos disturber – he needs the job, but isn’t sure why, and he has serious boundary issues.
The pilot is pretty gritty, featuring one death by overdose, one near miss, and some strongly intense scenes among the living and somewhat less wounded. The language is considerably more intense than A&E’s last good original series [Nero Wolfe], but it feels appropriate and adds verisimilitude to the proceedings. The pilot is beautifully shot – some cool split screen work adds unexpected depth, and the more straightforward scenes and action sequences are equally effective.
Final Grade: B+
After a rather ho-hum premiere, Battlestar Galactica seems to be moving back in the right direction. Where He That Believeth In Me tended to rehash the season three finale without adding much to the running story – except for the development of the Starbuck-Roslin situation – Six of One is almost chockfull o’ stuff.