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.
I have always been more enamored by movies than I have been with television series. This is not a new admission as my friends have known this for years nor is it based on some sort of elitist mentality that somehow puts cinematic fare on a pedestal while relegating TV programs to the scrap heap. It is just merely a desire of mine to digest a narrative that has closure within a relatively terse two hour time span as compared to a serial that is broadcast over many months. That is not to say that I don’t appreciate an intricately woven story that weaves its magic over a longer period of time but just an observation of mine that what usually occurs to sustain such a show are a series of increasingly fantastical plot devices coupled with a copious amount of filler material that is so often undesirable.
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.
Heroes Season One, while it had some rough spots, was not only a shining example of science fiction done right but had enough thrills, chills and plot twists to rival the best TV has to offer. It deftly juggled a multitude of characters all the while infusing them with enough humanity and gumption to keep audiences enamored as fans lit up forums in an attempt to decipher all the show’s mysteries. In this sense it was a phenomenon very much like the first season of Lost, another science fiction ensemble show that premiered to great acclaim. Although the season ended with a rather clunky mishandling of the cliffhanger, hopes were high that Heroes would continue to present compelling storylines in its sophomore season.
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.