Originally meant to be Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor’s follow-up television science fiction series to the just concluded reimagined Battlestar Galactica, Virtuality instead ended up not being picked up by the Fox network that decided to shelve the idea of turning it into a series therefore leaving this two hour pilot suspended in limbo making fans wonder just exactly what went wrong. Instead, Fox has decided to just televise the two hour pilot as a TV movie with minimal advertising on the wasteland that is known as the Friday night prime time period. You don’t really need more information to discern that Fox had lost all appetite for the show and had basically dumped it out there for all to see without any fanfare.
Fun though thoroughly unoriginal inspirational comedy that is a pleasant enough time waster but doesn’t truly make good use of either its leading lady Horikita Maki or its modest plot twist. Chance! is one of those tanpatsu, one-shot TV movies (or in this case 2 episodes) that you occasionally see each Japanese drama season. This time around we have a slice of life tale revolving around a struggling young woman Tamaki Kawamura (Horikita Maki) who after much disappointment manages to finally land a meagre job in a travel company. Shuffled to the lowest rungs of customer service she manages to make it through the days even though she’s saddled with a seemingly nasty boss and a less than bright career path.
Watching Innocent Love I can’t help but recall that hoary old Hollywood cliché that child actors have it tough when they attempt to transition to more mature subject matter. I’m sure you could start a list of famous kids who earned much praise and kudos for their earlier work only to find their careers careening into the abyss as they start to age. For every Ron Howard, Leonardo Dicaprio, Jodie Foster, Elizabeth Taylor or Drew Berrymore there’s a Macaulay Culkin, Edward Furlong, Gary Coleman or Dana Plato. I could go on for hours but you get the point.
There was a point during the first season of Keifer Sutherland’s 24 where I remembered thinking to myself, “Okay, this is about to jump the shark.” After merrily buzzing along at warp speed the story suddenly seemed to run out of ideas when Jack Bauer’s (Keifer Sutherland) wife suddenly developed a severe case of amnesia which is one of the most ridiculously overwrought and overused plot devices imaginable. To its credit, the inclusion of such a silly soap opera subplot didn’t torpedo the show as it managed to right itself and keep going with a wonderful marriage of tense situations and compelling action.
Throughout its run, like any other hour long drama, Lost has had it’s share of ups and downs but it has continually impressed with its unique blend of science fiction and character study that unfolds much like a good mystery novel. Season 4 is no exception although it must be said that the series’ science fiction roots finally come to full light, which is both a blessing and a curse depending on what you initially fathomed the show would be about.
Code Blue is an average medical drama whose claim to fame is its trio of young stars Yamashita Tomohisa, Aragaki Yui and Toda Erika. While certainly photogenic they fail to impress since the narrative spends an inordinate amount of time on patients and medical procedure and makes the mistake of saddling the leads with pedestrian character arcs that are not even fully explored. In fact, the real stars of the show are the veteran cast headed by Yanagiba Toshiro who plays their mentor Kuroda Shuji and the actress Ryo as the veteran, though internally conflicted doctor Mitsui Kanna.
War is hell. Many have probably heard this short truism numerous times before in their life but whether or not they truly understand it is another matter yet one hopes that everyone in the world never has to experience the horrors first hand. As cinema has progressed through the years so has the war film genre and while once it might have made for great propaganda to show a clear delineation between good and evil and to ramp up patriotic furor watching stilted war flicks the norm nowadays is to take a much more evenhanded perspective.
Based on Umino Chika’s popular manga this live-action drama production of Hachimitsu to Clover (Honey and Clover) has got to be one of the most reviled Japanese dramas I have ever had the displeasure in watching. Instead of an insightful pastiche of intertwining love triangles what we have here is almost ten hours of turgidly paced schlock filled with grating characters who waffle in the wind at every turn including a lead in Takemoto Yuta (Ikuta Toma) whose inability to say his true feelings is so ponderous that you wish you could reach into your television set and strangle him with your own two hands at his sheer stupidity.