mon 16/10/2017

Hawaii Five-O, Sky1/ The Promise, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews

Hawaii Five-O, Sky1/ The Promise, Channel 4

Hawaii Five-O, Sky1/ The Promise, Channel 4

Classic cop show rebooted, Palestinian conflict revisited

Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin, left) and Detective Danny 'Danno' Williams (Scott Caan) in the born again 'Hawaii Five-0'

They've remade everything else, so what took them so long to get around to Hawaii Five-0? Maybe the exotic Hawaiian locations of JJ Abrams's Lost helped to trigger flashbacks of Steve McGarrett & co, which would explain why Abrams's henchmen Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are co-producers of the new Five-0. And why Daniel Dae Kim, who played Jin in Lost, reappears here as Chin Ho Kelly.

The refreshing thing about Five-0 (revisited) is that while it has been given a brisk 21st-century spring clean, with international terrorism, people-smuggling and a blast of ultra-modern spook technology, its uncomplicated heart still belongs to the 1970s. The good guys (and girl) are clearly identified, the baddies are unambiguously despicable, and Governor Pat Jameson of Hawaii (Jean Smart, previously First Lady Martha Logan from 24) has given Steve McGarrett "full immunity and means" to round up the legions of the ungodly polluting her lush Pacific paradise. "What kind of cops are you?" wailed an unscrupulous Chinese gang boss, after McGarrett had threatened to have his wife and kid deported to a ghastly fate in Rwanda. "The new kind," rasped McGarrett. He really meant "the old kind".

Buddy-sidekick Detective Danny Williams describes Hawaii as 'a pineapple-infested hellhole

This pilot episode found McGarrett with a bone to pick with terrorist mastermind Victor Hess (James Marsters), who'd shot his Hawaii-dwelling dad John McGarrett after Steve had done the same to Hess's brother. This brought Navy Intelligence officer McGarrett back to Hawaii, where he grew up, and culminated in a dockside confrontation with Hess. Though McGarrett's bullets sent Hess spinning into the sea, his body wasn't found, and so we know he'll be back.

 As if in homage to the stone-faced Jack Lord (the original McGarrett), they've drafted in the almost equally plank-like Alex O'Loughlin, which means buddy-sidekick Detective Danny "Danno" Williams (Scott Caan) has room to supply the wisecracks and sarcasm. Which he does pretty well, ridiculing McGarrett's air of self-righteous know-all-ism, and even daring to describe Hawaii as a "pineapple-infested hellhole" (Detective Williams is from New Jersey). Williams's day is brightened considerably when he meets Kono (Grace Park), Chin Ho's lissome surfer-girl cousin, who of course proves she's a match for the lads when the going gets tough. As we irised out of episode one, the new team were trying to think of a name for themselves. Hmm, something with "Five-0" in it, possibly.

Erin_smallAll frivolity has been banished from The Promise, Peter Kosminsky's sprawling new four-parter in which he takes us back to 1945 and the British Army's peacekeeping role in post-war Palestine. Bedraggled European Jews are flocking to the Holy Land in any craft that will carry them, to the consternation of the local Arab population. The British are tasked with enforcing stern immigration quotas, but come under increasing pressure from ruthless and well-organised Jewish terrorist groups, including the Irgun. The Jews liken the British to the Nazis, which doesn't go down well with troops who only just finished fighting the European war.

Kosminsky views the story through the slightly self-conscious device of having Erin, the modern-day granddaughter of British paratrooper Sgt Len Matthews, discover the old soldier's diaries. These contain his meticulously hand-written account of his experiences liberating the Belsen concentration camp, then being reassigned to Palestine. Erin (Claire Foy, pictured above) then visits Israel with her British Israeli friend Eliza (Perdita Weeks), who's about to do her military service, so we're given alternating contemporary and historical views of Palestine/Israel.

Len_smallThe complete work will run to seven hours, an exhausting prospect. Watching this opening chunk, I began to wonder if it had been made by the Open University's drama department, so burdened was it by research and a dogged determination to appear even-handed. While it did throw out a spray of interesting historical facts, it walked into the old elephant trap of using its characters as attitudes rather than living, interacting people. Sgt Matthews (Christian Cooke, pictured left), having seen the Nazi death camps, was sympathetic to the Jews, then taken aback by their hostility. In modern Israel, Eliza's father (Ben Miles) represented well-meaning but ineffectual Israeli liberalism, while her brother Paul (Itay Tiran) had travelled from hardline militarism to becoming a leading Israeli peacenik. Erin just looked baffled. I don't know how it will all develop, but the Arab-Israeli situation has been a gangrenous wound for as long as anybody can remember. Will turning it into pious TV drama make a blind bit of difference?

CLAIRE FOY’S CV

Claire Foy in Little DorritLittle Dorrit (2008). “Dickens did just see her as homely, angelic and giving. I looked on her as a sort of a carer whose parent or child is ill. That made her believable in my head.”

Upstairs Downstairs (2010-12). Lady Persephone, posh little brown shirt based on the Hitler-obsessed Unity Mitford, tops herself in a dramatic exit from the second series.

The Night Watch (2011). Foy plays a troubled lesbian toy girl in an adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel about heartache in the Blitz (pictured below with Anna Maxwell Martin)

Claire Foy and Anna Maxwell Martin in The Night WatchWreckers (2011). Foy is wife to Benedict Cumberbatch in fraught low-budget Fenland drama

The Promise (2011). In Peter Kosminsky’s epic historical drama, Foy plays Erin Matthews, an 18-year-old obsessed with investigating the story of the British soldiers serving in Palestine in the years before our ignominious exit.  “I just recognised quite a lot of things about me when I was her age.”

White Heat (2012). Foy is a feminist child of the Sixties who grows up to become Juliet Stevenson.

Hacks (2012). Guy Jenkin comedy inspired by the hacking scandal, in which Foy's feral tabloid editor Kate Loy is not remotely based on to Rebekah Brooks. A rare comic outing for an actress with natural funny bones.

Claire Foy and Victoria Hamilton in Love, Love, LoveLove, Love, Love (2012). In Mike Barlett’s played Foy played a child of a hippie baby boomer. “It’s the Philip Larkin thing: she really does believe her parents did fuck her up. I hope I’m not like she is when she’s 37." (Pictured, Foy with Victoria Hamilton)

Macbeth (2013). “Why does everyone think she’s so evil? My approach to every character is you essentially want to understand. They always have something they are fighting against. They have lost a baby and that’s the catalyst for everything.”

Wolf Hall (2015). Foy’s Anne Boleyn goes toe to toe with Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis.

The Crown (2016). Queen of all she surveys. Bring on series two.

Comments

Praise for a stereotyped rehash of Hawaii Five-0, derision of a sophisticated take on the Arab-Israeli situation. Cheers for that, Farts Desk

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