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Daaaaaaaaaaaa.... Bear! (Again)
'Warrior' is back, plus 'Hijack' and a 'Star Trek' time travel romance
This week’s newsletter coming up just as soon as I make plomeek soup in a toilet...
[Also, please note that the initial version that was emailed to everyone contained a section about the new season of Dark Winds, which is in fact not debuting until late July. I apologize for the inconvenience. And I am embargoed from telling you how awesome it is.]
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The Bear necessities
As promised in last week’s newsletter, I wrote a long, spoiler-filled piece looking back at The Bear Season Two. Though the article is about the whole season, I focus a lot on a trio of episodes: the mega-stressful family Christmas dinner flashback, Richie’s adventures at a higher-class restaurant, and the soft opening of The Bear. What an incredible season this was. And the comments are now wide-open to spoilers, so go wild with your thoughts and theories and whatnot.
Not Jack Bauer, but Hijack
In Apple’s new miniseries Hijack, Idris Elba plays a corporate negotiator whose skills are put to a life-and-death test when his flight is taken over by a group of armed criminals. Because the show takes place in real time, I spent a good chunk of my review comparing it to 24, in ways both good and bad. Seven hours is definitely a more manageable length of time to tell a story in this way, and nearly everything on the plane works well. But just as the 24 writers couldn’t quit Kim Bauer, the Hijack writers can’t resist cutting away from the flight to what feels like three dozen boring subplots involving characters on the ground in London and Dubai.
Warrior! Come out to plaaaaaaay….
Speaking of mostly entertaining shows that devote an inexplicable amount of time to boring characters and subplots, we have the somewhat miraculous return of Warrior, the martial arts epic that seemed dead once Cinemax got out of the original series business. But when the first two seasons got added to what was then called HBO Max, they apparently performed well enough to greenlight a third, straight-to-streaming season.
I am a big fan of the great majority of this show, as I detail in my review. But I remain frustrated with how much time it devotes to the non-Chinese characters. Some of them are necessary for purposes of plot or theme, but not to the extent the show uses them. Still, the action is fantastic, the Chinatown characters vivid, and it’s wonderful to have Warrior back.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds recaplet: “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”
Finally, let’s get into some Trekkie business. If “Ad Astra Per Aspera” was the Strange New Worlds version of “Measure of a Man,” then “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” is this series’ take on arguably the best Sixties Star Trek episode of them all, “City on the Edge of Forever” — a romance doomed due to time travel. This one even manages to bring back Paul Wesley as James T. Kirk, who travels back to the 21st Century with La’an to figure out why her timeline has changed, and why he is somehow captain of the Enterprise.
I run hot and cold on Wesley as Kirk. It’s not that I want him to do a William Shatner impression, or even a Chris Pine impression. It’s that he only sometimes seems as cocky and impetuous as the character has been written and played for 60 years now. But once Jim and La’an wind up in the past, Wesley finally starts channeling that spirit, and he and Christina Chong sell the idea that these two would fall for each other so quickly. It’s also fascinating to see how the plot basically inverts “City,” so that this time Jim Kirk is the one who has to die in order for the future to be set right. And, as an added bonus, this version of him dies on what turns out to be a mission to save the life of his future nemesis, Khan(*).
(*) The episode goes out of its way to explain that all these temporal shenanigans have pushed the Eugenics Wars from the mid-1990s, as they were established back in “Space Seed,” to sometime in our own future. At some point, though, this version of Khan has to grow up and try to conquer the world, right?
This was a tremendous showcase for Christina Chong, and still more evidence of how well Strange New Worlds can give some modern polish to vintage Star Trek in a way that serves both eras incredibly well. My only real complaint is that two out of our first three episodes have barely had any Anson Mount in them, but next week’s is very Pike-centric, so I’ll allow it.
That’s it for this week! What did everybody else think?