Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hawaii Five-0 No!

In this internet age of instant commentary, I'm behind the times, writing a review of something that happened three days ago - ancient history in the cyberspacetime continuum. But I'm an old dude, to anyone under 40, so bear with me. 

I was a fan of the original Hawaii Five-0 TV series. It was a well-written police detective show with just the right proportions of suspense, action and drama. The characters were well defined, had great chemistry, and they were true professional detectives. It didn't hurt that the show had the best theme and opening sequence in TV history. 

CBS unveiled a new version Monday, and it was every bit as bad as I was hoping it wouldn't be. It began with a truncated version of the original theme music, with familiar images that sped by a little too fast, and slightly out of sync with the music. The actors were pretty-boy Macy's men's catalog fashion models, roughed up just a bit to look like imitation tough action heroes. The one exception was the skinny girl who played Kono (a fat guy in the original). She was obviously cast as eye candy.

Except for Kono, who wasn't given much to do except stand and look embarrassed in her underwear, each of the main characters had some sort of trendy personal "issues" like seeking revenge for a father's murder, a divorce with a kid in the middle, and an ex-cop who was reduced to selling cheap souvenirs to tourists after being falsely accused of accepting bribes. There wasn't a real man in the bunch, but they pretended to be macho by playing fast and loose with firearms in the course of their duty. 

Their duty, by the way, wasn't to be police detectives. They were set up by the governor as a covert team to catch the worst of the worst bad guys any way they could, having been promised some vague (and probably unconstitutional) form of legal immunity for acting outside of the standard legal frameworks - including, apparently, rules on using firearms.

Not that it mattered. The plot was so thin one could see stars through it. The climax occurred as two, just two, of the guys drove a squad car, lights flashing, onto a Chinese container ship and started shooting like mad. They didn't get a scratch themselves, but somehow they managed to kill all but one of the crew members, most of whom were hiding behind large metal shipping containers. Regarding the one survivor McGarrett said "Book him, Danno" with all the authority of a slightly roughed up Macy's men's catalog fashion model. 

What I'm saying is that besides the title, character names, and theme music, this has about as much in common with the original series as A-1 Steak Sauce has with coconut cream pie. And they're just as incompatible. This is a completely new show, with a completely different purpose from the original Hawaii Five-0. I might be more forgiving in my comments if they hadn't tried to ride it in on the coattails of a classic. I don't think its too much to ask for a remake to have something in common with the original if it wants to use the name. Conversely, if it is a completely different show they want, it should be able to stand on an original name - if its any good. 

Needless to say I won't be watching next Monday, and I hope it ends up in the land of forgotten TV programs. But if anyone is running the original series, I'll be happy to tune in.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

In-N-Out, In-N-Out, In-N-Out. Sounds like we're getting screwed.

It was reported in the Monterey Herald today that the Seaside City Council approved a six-month extension of negotiations for an In-N-Out Burger joint on Del Monte Avenue next to Laguna Grande Park. All I can say is "Sigh."

The City of Seaside is notorious for setting its sights impossibly high then settling for the ridiculously low. The property in question was zoned for a hotel. When they couldn't find a suitable developer they decided to settle for a hamburger stand. 

Isn't there something between those two extremes that would be both economically viable and appropriate for the site? I would suggest a nice locally-owned family restaurant, designed by a local architect so as to be aesthetically compatible with the lakefront setting. It might incorporate outdoor seating, perhaps on an upper deck, to allow diners to gaze across the water and view the waterfowl. Anyway, that's just one idea that pops off the top of my head. You'd think the planners at city hall would have some other good ideas at their disposal. You'd think.

You'd also think that Seaside, being the gateway to some of the most beautiful communities in California, would have developed some sort of aesthetic sensibilities when it comes to land use. Instead, the city has allowed itself to be defined by cookie-cutter corporate buildings where the dominant architectural feature is the parking lot. Chili's restaurant, which also fronts Laguna Grande, is a good example of this problem. (Incidentally, Chili's was supposed to have outdoor lakefront seating, but the city let that slide by, too.) 

Nearby, the city planned to build a train station, but settled for a Starbucks. The beautiful building at Broadway and Fremont has the aesthetic part right, but that corner needed a major anchor tenant, such as a department store, to encourage smaller businesses to move in around it in accord with the Broadway "downtown" plan. Instead we got a pizza parlor, a Kinkos, and a Starbucks that fizzled along with the neighborhood.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against fast-food chains. I patronize them myself. Cities like Pacific Grove that ban them altogether are unreasonably extreme. So I have no problem having an In-N-Out Burger somewhere in Seaside, just don't put it in front of our lake! There are better uses for such prime real-estate. 

Seaside desperately needs better leadership, people with good economic sense, combined with an appreciation for the city's appearance and genuine concern for our reputation as part of the larger Monterey Peninsula community. Our Mayor, Ralph Rubio, talks up a storm about civic "pride," but he hasn't given us much, aside from some free music on city hall lawn and the occasional parade, to get excited about. Meanwhile, our major commercial neighborhoods still look like hell when compared to the rest of The Peninsula. And yet he still wonders why we get no respect.

It is for these reasons, and many others, that I am supporting Felix Bachofner for Mayor of Seaside. I have known Felix for twenty years, and can personally vouch for his integrity and good sense. As a former Seaside Planning Commissioner he has a good grasp on proper land-use policy, which will help make Seaside more attractive and more prosperous. See www.felixforseaside.com to learn more.