Season Finales and Stuff 2015

Some season finale observations or overall season overviews. There might be more television posts later; we’ll see. Anyway, spoilers ahead, or if you don’t care, read on.

As I’ve said before about “Elementary” (see my 2014 year in review commentary), I wish the show did a better job at being an ensemble show. The acting is great, but the reality is that the show is very much the Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson show (and even then, more the Sherlock show, as well it should be). However, the moments with Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) and Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) have been notable and they sort of had arcs this season. I’d like to see more of that – to see a coherent expansion of the Holmesian universe.

For instance, Bell slowly developed a friendship of sorts with Sherlock and he realized that he deserved a life (to avoid, as Sherlock pointed out, the life of personal isolation that Sherlock, Joan, and Gregson each seemed to have carved for themselves).

Meanwhile, Gregson got confronted with how his daughter was a victim of abuse from a failed romantic relationship with another cop, and how her ambition as a cop might not make her the most upstanding cop. And, maybe some amount of corruption or power play might push Gregson to a promotion he didn’t seek or want, which might lead to problems for Sherlock, Joan, and Bell.

But, the arcs of Bell and Gregson felt a little flat ultimately (it didn’t help that the season finale didn’t touch on their mindsets very much, beyond Gregson’s frustration that Sherlock was putting himself in danger).

And, even Joan’s storyline was troubling for how her boyfriend died and how that led to her moving back to the Holmes brownstone and socially isolating herself (or, as she put it, fully committing to detective work).

The most recent season finale didn’t really end on a cliffhanger note (not to me, anyway), when it concerned the threat of Sherlock’s addiction relapse. Sherlock’s addiction problem was left hanging (or never went away) since the season finale of the previous season, when he took the heroine from his safe. And, I would have to go back to the season premiere of this season, but I really thought he had relapsed already, and he never denied that relapse was a threat that still haunted him (the never-ending problem of being an addict).

On the other hand, I was kind of hoping that Sherlock’s realization that he needed friends and his growing acceptance of Joan, Bell, and Alfredo (Sherlock’s former Narcotics Anonymous sponsor) as friends meant more for his character development – especially since he was as someone who was so flawed and rejected his family.

And, I could have sworn that we viewers were left hanging as far as the state of friendship between Sherlock and Gregson (or what passes for friendship). Way back in Season 1, Sherlock pretty much burned Gregson by doing some really dubious things, and Gregson has been left with the thankless role of Supportive Boss of Authority over Sherlock, Joan, and Bell (a fairly stereotyped role of police procedural tv series and movies). There could have been some fleshing out of this whole friendship theme of this season.

I ended up liking the “Kitty as Sherlock’s new protege” storyline far more than I expected, because it made Sherlock aware of how he impacted lives. Even Kitty, as a jarring character during the 1st half of the season, grew on me (even if she was pretty brutal). What I like about Sherlock Holmes of “Elementary” is that he is so human. But… the big but…

But, as the A.V. Club‘s Myles McNutt noted in his reviews of the 2nd half of this third season, things got weird. McNutt got frustrated that the episodes seemed so determined to have a murder as a hook, even though the plot would get very meandering and away from the original murder. I agree that, with such rich characters, there could and should be an easier way to have the procedural part, than what often felt like incoherent messes with terrific Sherlock dialog.

(also, I enjoyed McNutt’s season finale critique, and I’m sorry that he’s moving on from the “Elementary” assignment on the A.V. Club! Hope his successor goes as deep).

When a series makes it obvious that the guest star is the suspect and did do the murder, I would strongly suggest going back to the drawing board. This ain’t Columbo (and even the “Elementary” episode that was in a Columbo style – where the viewer knows who did the murder, even if the why has to be unfolded – didn’t exactly work all that well, because the why still made no sense).

I have hope for “Elementary,” since the cinematography is great (I love how Long Island City ends up being a stand-in for just about every part of the city, and how the city just looks good on the show) and the cast – I like the cast! But, come on, writers: be focused and use the strengths of your cast!

Meanwhile, “Dancing With the Stars” managed to be its usual fun. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how the adapted music on that show works for the ballroom dancing stuff, but the pro dancers are so talented. I have enormous respect for Derek Hough as a choreographer, but I was rooting for Val Chmerkovskiy to win finally. The time when he and Artem Chigvintsev did the trio paso doble with Rumer Willis – whoa. Hot stuff. I couldn’t get my eyes off of Val and Artem! See below!

But, yes, in dancing with Val during this latest round of “Dancing With the Stars,” Rumer has done a great job showing us viewers that she is more than the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. She has a lot of talent and hopefully this can help her with whatever her next gig is. The season finale was pretty bloated though, dragging out the tension while still being entertaining.

I watched the farewell to David Letterman on the “Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS this past Wednesday.  It was actually David Letterman Day in the City of New York (well, “Late Show with David Letterman” Day, per the mayor’s proclamation for that day).

I’m not much of a late night tv viewer, but I admired how Letterman became such a New York City icon, from his days of returning to work after 9/11/01, and how he made his return from the writers’ strike.  Letterman was funny about his sarcasm and candidness (his skewering certain politicians could be fun to watch), and his human moments (his family, his heart surgery) were human.  And, those odd bits (Rupert Jee and the South Asian guys from the early days of the series’ CBS incarnation) were … odd bits.

Anyway, I thought that the farewell episode was sweet for remembering old guests (especially those who passed away).   Also, the Top 10 was hilarious, just for being a fun roast of Letterman (not a new thing, but a nice way to end things).

It’s not clear what Letterman plans to do in his retirement, other than spending time with his family.  He’s entitled to do nothing during retirement.  But, as I’ve mentioned before, I could easily imagine him doing a Charlie Rose-style of project, covering topics he wants to do or whatever he cares about.  Best wishes and congrats, Letterman, and be good in whatever you’ll do next.

Sidenote stuff: See here on FC’s post on Calvert DeForest, who was best known as “Larry (Bud) Melman” on the old “Late, Late Night with David Letterman” on NBC (the Melman name couldn’t go to CBS during Letterman’s transition); I thought it was nice that a clip of him was on the finale.

If you do a search of “Letterman,” on the triscribe blog, you can find more commentary that we made about stuff we saw on his show over the years of triscribe.  Oh, and check out the blog post by Emil Guillermo, over at the website of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), regarding Asian Pacific Americans who have been on the Letterman show (even when it got real uncomfortable – see my reference above on the odd bits’ being odd).

I still have to catch up on a lot of shows. But, hopefully summer television could be fun.

Memorial Day Weekend 2015

Don’t forget to take some time this Memorial Day weekend to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country while serving in the armed forces.

A friend of mine shared on Facebook this link from the NY Times, an article by David Gonzalez, “When Every Day is Memorial Day,” regarding the photography of Andrew Lichtenstein, and the photo slide show of his photography of acknowledging those who died in service. I’m passing it on. The photos are moving stuff, telling stories in images.

A really interesting look over at NPR’s “All Things Considered” of Asians and Asian Americans working in the tech sector (which I checked out because of WNYC’s link to it). I think the whole “how does management consider its Asian/Asian American workforce?” is a question for all industries. Just saying!

A review of past Memorial Day posts here at triscribe, which have also asked readers to think about the meaning of Memorial Day (and observing Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and other stuff):

Memorial Day 2012 has some interesting law and APA stuff.

Memorial Day 2009 involved a movie viewing. Memorial Day weekend of that year further included APA Heritage Month stuff.

Memorial Day 2008 was Marvel-related, with an Iron Man viewing. Amazing how much has been done with the Marvel characters since then.

Memorial Day 2007 involved Shrek.

Memorial Day 2006 was the X-Men 3 movie, and a Mission Impossible 3 (“X-Men: Days of Future Past” definitely remedied the sad plot weakness of X-Men 3, as I’ve said last year, and Mission Impossible will be back this summer, so… yeah, some things don’t change!).

TV viewing was something to catch up back during Memorial Day weekend 2005.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2015

Well, it’s been awhile since we have last blogged, so let me dust things off a little bit.

And, anyway, around here at triscribe, everyday is APA Heritage Month.

We ended up making it to the 36th Annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Festival in Chinatown on May 3, 2015, although I totally missed seeing FC there. I thought it was smaller than past events, but the performances still had great energy (well, admittedly, I missed the final performance and the late morning/early afternoon ones, but I liked what I saw!). The folks of Asian Cinevision and the Asian American International Film Festival had a presence, and so we each scored our discount for this year’s film festival this summer (we triscribers are committed to that event, of course!). The weather cooperated; beautiful weather!

I got to say: the May temperatures have been nicer and not crazier so far than the weirdo weather of the past couple of months.

One of the really interesting items I saw on the Internet on the eve of APA Heritage Month: a profile on NPR of Brig. Gen. Viet Luong, US Army, on duty in Afghanistan, and reflecting on the parallels of the previous long-running conflict America had (which led to the general’s emigration to America from Vietnam) and the long war against terror. Listening to the profile was also worth it to really appreciate the emotional aspects of what Brig. Gen. Luong experienced and what it means to be an Asian American in public service.

The state of Asian American television: ok, I fell behind on watching “Fresh Off the Boat,” so I might have to binge-watch it at some point. On the bright side, ABC renewed it! Here’s a bit of analysis of the season finale and general commentary of its first season by NPR’s Kat Chow (spoilers there, but I’m a sucker for spoilers).

And, whoa. Two Asian American dominant sitcoms on ABC! ABC has ordered for the 2015 to 2016 season Ken Jeong’s series sitcom, “Dr. Ken”! (h/t Angry Asian Man). Maybe Ken Jeong won’t play an irritating lunatic character for once (his Senor Chang was arguably not that insane in Season 1 of “Community,” I will say, but then Chang got crazier each season, so…).

Unfortunately, FOX has canceled “The Mindy Project” (see here for Entertainment Weekly’s list on canceled shows), although there is a possibility that “The Mindy Project” might still live on in Netflix or other means. I haven’t seen it be considered as an Asian American show despite starring Mindy Kaling (possibly because the show isn’t exactly an Asian-dominant cast and more of a romantic comedy, and it’s more Mindy Kaling-driven than anything else), but it’s worth noting for what it is.

ABC canceled “Selfie,” also not considered an Asian American show, but again probably because it wasn’t Asian-dominant, but worth noting because John Cho got to be the romantic comic lead (honestly a very rare thing). That the show managed to stay on Hulu and apparently did get better by the end of its one season might give hope for something.

And, hey, ABC – don’t give up on the experiment in diverse tv! (well, a message to all the broadcast networks, really).

I meant to put this on triscribe earlier, but had shared this on Facebook awhile back in February, when “Fresh Off the Boat” started: a fascinating item by Kat Chow on NPR about past Asian American shows. A lot of the shows on her list pre-dated my memory of mediocre tv.

In the item, Chow mentioned David Carradine’s “Kung Fu,” but she forgot about Carradine’s “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues,” which was on syndication back in the 1990s. Strangely, neither of the actors who played the descendants of the original Kwai Chang Caine were actual Asian Americans (forget that even the original Kwai Chang Caine, a half-Asian, was played by David Carradine, who played his own descendants on “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues” and, oh, whatever). But, I remembered the “Kung Fu” sequel show was strangely campy, with actor Kim Chan (an actual Asian American) as a Caine family sidekick. Not that I watched “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues” in any consistent way back in the 1990s.

Oh, and I liked that Chow referenced that other 1990s syndicated show: Russell Wong’s “Vanishing Son.” Wong was hot in that show, even if (of course) the plot made no sense (yes, another tv series that I did not consistently watch, but did catch some episodes). I didn’t realize that it got replaced by “Xena: The Warrior Princess,” which transformed 1990s syndicated tv. And, yeah, I probably watched a lot of weird tv back in the 1990s.

Well, a slight disclaimer: I had to check on that wonderful source of info, a.k.a. Wikipedia, to confirm details about “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues.” It wasn’t like I remembered most of that stuff. Honestly, I almost wanted to call the show “Kung Fu: The Next Generation.” Not that I’d compare David Carradine to Patrick Stewart…

On another triscribe note, check out this Tribeca Film Festival review that FC wrote for Meniscus, on the documentary “Steak (R)evolution.” FC had a lot of thoughtful things about the film and the state of steak. Actually, now I’m starting to feel hungry.

Oh well. Back to your regularly scheduled non-blog-related living…

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, stepmoms, grandmas, and mom-figures out there!