Today's Brew: 'Chuck' and 'Hawaii Five-0' -- Blow It Up, Blow It All Up
It's not uncommon for a show on the bubble, facing the risk of cancellation, to throw a big cliffhanger in the season finale, in hopes of teasing the network into giving it a renewal (or at least to fork over for a two-hour movie to wrap it all up).
But in the event the show does get renewed, there's the problem of digging out of the hole one has put oneself in.
On Monday night, NBC's spy romp "Chuck," which has hovered on the edge of cancellation every spring, did what the producers had good reason to fear was a series finale, but which wound up being just the finale of its penultimate season.
(R-L: Adam Baldwin, Yvonne Strahovski, Zachary Levi)
Next year, the show's fifth, has been announced as its last, so expect a season pointing almost entirely toward a big finish.
In the season finale, "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger," after four years carrying a super-computer in his head, big-box electronics-store geek turned spy Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) finally wed his lady love, fellow spy Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski), but had the Intersect computer forcibly removed from his head and lost his CIA gig.
But, the newlywed Bartowskis wound up in possession of a repentant arms dealer's fortune and decided to go into the freelance espionage business.
Then, because he just couldn't resist putting on a cool pair of shades -- left for Chuck by his former spy boss, Gen. Beckman (Bonita Friedericy) -- Chuck's goofy best pal, uber-geek Morgan Grimes (Joshua E. Gomez), now has the Intersect in HIS head.
Whether or not this maneuver encouraged NBC honchos to give "Chuck" one more run, now the producers have the challenge of making this big twist work. Sometimes the only thing more challenging than not getting your wish is getting your wish.
Later that same night, CBS' "Hawaii Five-0," its reboot of the Jack Lord vehicle that ran from 1968 to 1980 -- threw a bomb (literally and figuratively) into the middle of its format, something the original didn't even do in 12 seasons.
About as reality-based as "Chuck" -- which is to say, not very -- "Hawaii Five-0" is a weekly Michael Bay movie, light on grimy detective work and heavy on scenery, explosions and car chases (which, by their nature, go round and round the same island and, if they went on long enough, would inevitably wind up back where they started), interrupted by manly hugs, doses of Hawaiian shave ice and chicks in bikinis.
It focuses on former military officer Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin), who returns to Oahu to find his father's killer. The Aloha State's governor (Jean Smart) recruits him to form a task force to combat evil and corruption, providing authority, support and immunity. Thus the sturdy premise for a long-running procedural was born.
Later on, producers even tossed in a fresh version of the original McGarrett's traditional nemesis, gangster and international terrorist Wo Fat (played this time by Mark Dacascos).
(R-L: Scott Caan, Alex O'Loughlin, Grace Park, Daniel Dae Kim)
But "Hawaii Five-0" decided not to get in bed with the enemy, plot-wise. Rather than functioning as a reliable menace always hovering at the edges but never quite in McGarrett's grasp (until the series finale of the original, that is), Wo Fat became the man behind the deaths of McGarrett's parents, and as we found out last night, he was entangled with the duplicitous governor as well.
As the episode ended. McGarrett had gone rogue and was framed for Wo Fat's murder of the governor. Also, "Five-0" team member Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park) was arrested for shenanigans from earlier in the season.
That leaves remaining team members Jenna Kaye (Larisa Oleynik) and McGarrett's best bud, Danny "Danno" Williams (Scott Caan) -- who has problems of his own, since he's reconciled with his ex-wife, who is still somebody else's wife and is now pregnant, but wants to go back home to New Jersey (whatever, she's English) -- to somehow make it all right again.
As of this moment in time, "Hawaii Five-0" has yet to be renewed, but reports suggest that it's a foregone conclusion. CBS presents its new fall schedule tomorrow, which means it will likely leak out later on today.
With "Chuck's" new season assured, and another looking good for "Hawaii Five-0" (but in the TV biz, counting chickens before hatching can leave you with egg on your face), there could be some very busy writers' rooms this June.