Monday, October 24, 2011

Is Aloha English, and Good Wife vs. Breaking Bad, a three DVD set review

In the plus column for Hawaii 5-0 is the high level of movie and TV stars. It isn’t just the main cast, which are all seasoned and well known up and comers, but every single main character and extra is an A list hollywood ‘name’. The Doctor in charge of the morgue, who has only shown up once, is Hiro from Heroes. The main character from the 8th episode is the lead, Adam Beach from the film Windtalkers who co-starred with Nicolas Cage, with a couple walk-in from Hill Street Blues and other series.

The island of Oaho and Waikiki are beautiful, and the interaction between the two main characters, Alex O’Laughin as Steve and Scott Caan as ‘Danno’ clicks almost instantly – Alex is from Criminal Minds, and other TV and films, while Scott is from Ocean’s 11, Entourage TV and Gone in 60 seconds to name a few. And the production is high value with only a few clunker lines, as they haze the newbie to the islands ‘Danno’ and introduce the Island culture, which is that there are Hawaiians, and there are Haole, or white foreigners. Considering that President McKinley illegally annexed Hawaii into Territory status in 1898 and was content to use it as a base but not give it official US status (much like other US territories). Even the attack on Pearl Harbour didn’t make Hawaii a state. Only when the democratic revolution took over the legislature, and petitioned repeatedly did Hawaii gain some benefits from being annexed. On the big island, where Hilo is along with the tropical paradise Captain Cook talks about (and the valley of the King, along with the Queen’s land), Japanese workers in the American Plantations tried to create a union in 1898-1910 and were hung from street lamps. Japan knew the island well, being 1/5 of the population and having worked there for five to six generations before the war.

On the down side of Hawaii 5-O is they NEVER leave the island of Oaho, so though there are eight islands, it should be called, Oaho 5-0. You get scenes from the Big Island, but the one chase scene on ‘another island’ where a evil killer has fled on a cruise ship, they end up driving at on the most famous places in Oaho: Nuannu Pali, where King Kamehameha I drove the last forces off a 1,000 foot cliff, to unite Hawaii. The product placement (at least two car companies, an airline, drinks and I-pods – I learned how to do a lot of things with them, as they are always instructing ‘Danno’ on how to use one – apparently good I-pod use is a Hawaiian heritage). The subtitles however never end up translating the Hawaiian, including Haole (which means foreigner and is used at least once an episode to refer to Danno, as ‘White Haole’) and sadly, Aloha, which means ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. This is translated as ‘They speak Hawaiian’ on the subtitles. I thought that everyone knew what Ahola meant and it was one of those words, like the French call ‘McEnglish’ which invade the language through common usage. At least when a character says, “I’m off to catch some breaking waves” they don’t say, “Hawaiian spoken” though the ‘surfing lifestyle’ from which the skateboarding life arouse (see the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys (Special Edition)voiced by Sean Penn, with the start of what we know as modern Sk-8 life – about $5 and an amazing film, they went on to make Riding Giants (Special Edition)about Giant Wave surfing, including a 100 foot wave surf, very serious and intense stuff).

The TV show Hawaii 5-0 sadly falls apart at the end, with a few episodes making no sense or time context at all. The premise is that the head is a Navy Seal, and has authority to operate outside the law. They show this as picking up a small time hood, he threatens prostitution for the daughter, sending the whole family to Rwanda and having the 7 year old join the Hutu milita. Since the 800,000 death genocide over 100 days was orchestrated by the US with Canada as a front, in order to ensure that refugees and a UN camp did not open up and thus impede the desired elimination of the Congolese government forces. To make sure that a ‘free zone’ did not open up and stability with US backing of the Congo ensured. Canada, known for being even handed was called and asked to be on the ground, but to not actually do anything. As the role of the person going ‘everything is fine’ while the Massacre in Rwanda unfolded, Canada eventually could not stomach what they had done, and the commander as well as the government released all the papers involved (the Rwandian government is still asking for several Americans for the war crimes tribunal), and so many documentaries have been made that falls almost in ‘common knowledge’ So, I thought, an odd choice for threats, but then, Hawaii 5-0 has a few ‘geez, did they just say that?’ moments, where I wondered if the public watching, so used to the idea of the US as the good guys would allow any amount of torture, killing or threats if the ‘good guys’ did it?

Still, I found it mostly entertaining and far better than Breaking Bad season 3. Breaking Bad starts with us sympathetic for Walter, a teacher who, though a genius, has been passed over his whole life, and ends up with cancer. Wanting only to make $173,000 to cover medical and the costs of raising the kids and putting them through college when he is dead, Walter is sympathetic. But as things progress the situational morality of ‘I had to do it’, ‘I was just following orders’, etc takes over until Walter is a bad guy who does bad things with other bad guys. There is enough of that around that I don’t need to pay to find out that drug dealing causes death and unhappiness. Season three, where Walter has the lowest morality, steers clear of the dirty end of meth, like earlier seasons where peoples heads are crushed slowly in front of their children for refusing to share a hit. The series somehow tries to argue that this is about ‘money and survival’. I know it might be popular but I could not find anyone except maybe Walter’s son who I even liked, and I need to root for SOMEONE when I watch a show. So if you want to view it as sort of modern day pit fighting, then maybe this series is for you. I was disappointed that this series ended up going down such a worn and tired road.

Morality seems the words of this year, as The Good Wife: The Second Seasonwins the Emmy, though the title turns out to be more of the show title than a character description. It is well written and has the plotting of a 15th century Italian city and nobility, which is how the lawyers seem to act. Sadly, the lesbian of season one disappears into a amoral bisexual (cliché’, why yes!). BUT, there is a guest appearance of Michael J. Fox, as a lawyer who is openly disabled and milks it – the way he makes the entire opposing lawyers, judge and even jury squirm with the inability to even know what to call it…his ‘affliction’, ‘handicap’, ‘crippled’? His use of Parkinson’s (which Michael Fox actually has had for almost 20 years) made me laugh out loud the whole time, particularly as he uses pouring a glass of water from a large pitcher into a open glass as tense as watching a high wire act, totally distracting the jury, judge, and even the expert witness whose testimony is supposed to be destroying his case. He returns a few times, and there is a strong hint he will return in season 3 of Good Wife. The idea of a person with a disability getting literally a million dollars a day to make people uncomfortable is a nice fantasy, as I can see I am drastically undercharging when I make those around me itchy with their desire to point out my disabilities, the need to distance themselves warring with the politically correct voice in their head. Still, if you know a law firm that needs me, I am will to make people extremely uncomfortable due to disability for $1,000 a day (I mean, who wouldn’t want to!).

Good or Bad, The The Good Wife: The Second Seasonis the keeper of the three, though for brainless action and a preview vacation, Hawaii 5-0 isn’t bad either. If you love Breaking Bad, I am sure you will get it regardless of what I say. I am that girl in the class who gets physically ill at people doing bad things, or lying and yes, my face always gives me away (something they must train out of you in law school). But I am left with the puzzler, do people really not know what Aloha means? Does it need to be translated as ‘speaking Hawaiian’? I thought, like how latin, french, anglo-saxon, and everything else mashed into English, a little Hawaiian had slipped in as well. Though, ‘bro’ (like, “Hey my Haole bro!” or “Right on bro”) might be used a LOT more in Hawaii, that isn’t Hawaiian. Sorry to all those 15 year old boys who thought they had suddenly become bilingual.


Neil said...

Oh, my... All three series sound completely dreadful to me. On the other hand, I do like your description of them.

I wasn't aware that the USA was behind the Rwanda genocide, but Guantanamo Bay and the two illegal invasions of Iraq show that the USA is the good guy, but does play one on television.

I did watch the series Firefly on DVD recently, and was slightly frustrated that the subtitles didn't translate the Chinese ("speaks Chinese," or "Chinese continues" was common).

I hope your reviews, and your ability to write them, are good news, health-wise.

Love and zen hugs,

Lorna, Bob and Liam said...

Like Neil, I hope that these excellent reviews are a product of some enjoyable leisure and at least moments of respite from the bad stuff.

Hugs and positive thoughts,

Lorna, Bob and Liam

Noisyworld said...

I'm with you on needing to root for SOMEBODY in a programme and I can't abide it when the good-guys start being worse than the bad-guys- I may have to give up on CSI:Miami soon for that reason :(
I <3 Riding Giants- great documentary.
I get annoyed with non-translation of "foreign" languages too, surely most people understand (and most subtitlers can spell) Bonjour!!

Elizabeth McClung said...

Shake Hands with the Devil is one of the films (multiaward winning documentary) about what occurred in Rwanda, and about the UN Mission led by Lieutenant-General Dallaire - who wrote a book and has spent 10 years to make people aware of the humanity involved, the humanist who could not end up a hero

I did like Good Wife, and Hawaii 5-0 distracted me (except the last 6 episodes and when they torture people - both examples of bad lazy writing). My disappointment with The Good Wife was in realizing I probably couldn't watch season 3, even if I live that long. And since there is less and less on TV to watch, I seem to watch more and more UK TV.

Neil said...

Sorry, typo back there in the first comment. I meant to say that the USA is NOT the good buy, but does play one on TV.

And yes, Romeo Dallaire should be a hero.

Love and zen hugs,

Raccoon said...

It sounds like the translations are worse than the subtitles on some of the Asian dramas that I have. Do these come with a subtitle feature? Where everything is in subtitles?

None of the three interested me enough to look past the first episode or two.

Now, Walking Dead just started its second season. Haven and Eureka, on the SYFY channel, are pretty good – mystery and drama for the first, comedy and drama on the second. Warehouse 13 is the kind of quirky, too. Not terribly heavy shows, which might be good for you.

Now, what's this about Canada having a "week of pain?"

Valerya said...

I just read your "About me..." post and had to point out something [sorry for my bad English, it's 3rd language and I don't use it that frequently].
I was working at keeping an eye on woman who had to sleep while being connected to an oxygen-machine, and she said it was EXTREMELY important not to be connected to it for too long, because it destroys your lungs' ability to work on their own. She also said most doctors are either unaware or that or just don't care, and that's how most people who are connected to oxygen-machines die at the end-they become more and more depended on those machines, less able to breath on their own, the doctors make the oxygen-pressure higher, the lungs are even less capable on working on their own, the doctors get the pressure even higher and so on. She had to be connected to it only while sleeping, so she tried to sleep for less then 9 hours a day, even though it made her wake up really tired.
I'm not an expert of course, but I just thought that it might help you.

Neil said...

Raccoon: You made me look that one up! :)

It's not a week OF pain, but a week FOR pain: National Pain Awareness Week. It runs November 6 - 12 this year.

And since this is supposed to be all about Beth... I hope you're okay, dear lady.

Love and zen hugs,

Lorna, Bob and Liam said...

I don't know how much you're checking your email, Beth, so I'll thank you here for the wonderful "Snow Monkeys Bathing" postcard. It's one of my favorite pictures ever, and to see it in 3-D is amazing. Liam loved the manga stickers as well.

I never cease to be amazed at your ability to reach out and give, when you struggle so much every second.

We all love you, and will try to live up to your example!

Lorna, Bob and Liam