There’s a blurry haze surrounding the fate of “Tokyo Vice,” a gritty HBO Max cop drama set in the seedy underworld of the yakuza of Japan. Will it have a second season? It depends on what you’re reading or hearing. NA (not available) is what’s listed on one website regarding future episodes, but Wikipedia states a logical reason to the mystery: that the show was shut down because of the Covid-19 impact in Japan.

Thus, the never or next issue is still playing out on social media.

The logical indication is, however, that it’s sayonara for the mysterious but engaging 1990s story about a gaijin (foreigner), Jake Adelstein (impressively played by
Ansel Elgort) seeking fame and credibility, working as a novice crime reporter in constant communication with his seasoned mentor, Hiroto Katagiri (superbly played by Ken Watanabe). Adelstein is a real-life cop reporter for the Yomiuri Shimbun, who wrote the memoir on which the series was based.

The eighth and final episode ended without the customary to-be-continued notion of a second season, nor an indicator that future life awaits, particularly because of the unfinished business portrayed so far. Awkward!

Alnsel Elgort is Jake Adelstein, Ken Watanabe is Hiroto Kakigiri in “Tokyo Vice.”

It matches the clumsy uncertainty regarding CBS’ “Magnum P.I.,” the domestic procedural which aired its final episode Friday (May 13), following weeks of hopeful wonderment of a fifth season. The episode concluded with shared “I like you” admissions from both Thomas Magnum (Jay Herandez) and Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks), likely intended for a sequel that is now impossible. CBS has axed the show. It’s history. Pau.

These two shows – one streaming, the other on prime time TV– represent worst case scenarios of halting ongoing storylines without a proper conclusion. It’s an unexpected slap in the face –  Will Smith, anyone? — on the fan base of dedicated viewers.

Tokyo’s expansive dark alleys and neon signage art have become kind of a “character” of a city with hoods killing clients if they don’t fess up “protection” fees. With so many loose threads, the abrupt ending suggests that all concerned expected a second-season pick-up to sort out the tangles.

Instead, the series concluded with loose, tangled, even bloodied plot strings hanging in the air. Will HBO Max reconsider? Can the show be picked up and streamed elsewhere? No answers here.

The anticipation, and axing, equals the recent undeserving dismissal of CBS’ filmed-in-Hawaii “Magnum,” begging a question: Where are the ethics of the TV industry, which builds up its storylines and yet when push comes to shove, they simply shut down, and call it quits with no lifelines to explore. Literally, diehard followers are left hanging, and they deserve better.

Perhaps the rebooted “Magnum” – a far better procedural than the earlier reboot but canceled “Hawaii Five-O” – had become a victim of too much of the same thing, particularly since CBS’ other brand, “NCIS,” added a colon and an okina to its “NCIS: Hawai‘i,” which was green-lighted for a second season this fall and thus grabbed the next-season ticket despite being a freshman show.  The scenics were postcard-pretty on all the island procedurals; “Magnum” seemed to have become the victim of this- too-much-ness, despite its good but not great ratings. There had been talks earlier of a “Five-O” and “Magnum” crossover, but realistically, that was an odd idea. Brands shouldn’t mix;  like, Starbucks wouldn’t and shouldn’t partner up with Dunkin.’

Perdita Weeks is Juliet Higgins, Jay Hernandez is Thomas Magnum in “Magnum P.I.”

The “NCIS” original, minus Mark Harmon, did a crossover with its “Hawai‘i” sister towards the end of the island show’s first season, so it was a workable same-brand handshake.

Methinks scripts must be logical, with crossosvers.  Think of NBC’s “Chicago” brand with its “Medm” “Fire,” and “P.D.” on Wednesday nights, jammed with operations, fires and thugs, providing fictional fireworks for the Windy City first-responders. Firefighters appear on the hospital show; cops pop up, too, and yes, there are crossovers galore. But the franchise skillfully shares characters, when plotlines warrant the give-and-take.

Similarly, the CBS trio of  back-to-back “FBI” shows on Tuesdays, is ladened with exciting characters tackling current plots that embrace kidnapping, drugs, and gangsters, using the model of “Chicago.”  Thus, judicious crossovers work with this brand, too.

On Thursdays, NBC’s original “Law and Order” has been rebooted and Sam Waterson as Jack McCoy is grappling for tenure again and is basically under utilized to regain his niche again. The long-running “Law and Order: SVU” with Sgt. Olivia Benson (the irrepressible Mariska Hargitay) as the boss trying to curb sexual assaults and crimes has had crossovers plus a spin-off. Thus, stability and durability is working in this camp.

“Law and Order: Organized Crime” still needs fine-tuning, to give  Elliot  Stabler (Christopher Meloni, from the SVU roster earlier) more juice since he’s fumbling to find footing and viewership.

But back to “Tokyo Vice.” It warrants a second season, to clean up some bloodshed, and work out not just the fate of Alderstein but the denizens of characters. Spoilers alert here, if you’re still midway through viewing the show: Will Samantha (Rachel Keller) find her fellow bar hostess, Polina (Ella Rumpf), who has been captured by her boyfriend and taken Samantha’s lifesavings, too? Will Sato (Sho Kasamatsu), survive the dangers  and trappings of his yakuza lords?  Will Katagiri-san’s wife and children dodge the yakuza’s threats of murder. Will Eimi (Rinko Kikuchi), the newspaper editor, finally find faith and trust in her cub reporter Adelstein and assist him with a foothold? Much to chew in this unfinished stew.

Yet it’s been a splendid, unexpected thriller with its fish-out-of-water central figure, in a dangerous  situation with constant threats as he paddles in this uncertain underworld to help curb crime.

Elgort: He learned Japanese phonetically.

If there’s a takeaway, even if there’s no final closure on “Tokyo Vice,” it might be this: watching and hearing Elgort utter his lines in Nihongo is a treat; he memorized his lines phonetically and this accomplishment makes him one of the most unheralded, unappreciated figures in dual-language serials.

As for the “Magnum” playout, there’s a sweeter outlook. At least Magnum’s got his car and Higgins has her mansion. And Hernandez, on social media, was philosophical in his response to the show’s demise.”All good things must come to an end,” he said. “We made memories I’ll be forever grateful for and thanks to each and every one of you for going on this wild ride with us,” he said.”It’s all love. Until next time.”

Now, that’s a sentimental and warm expression of aloha. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


CBS finally let the cat out of the bag and the message was somewhat of a surprise: No more than four.

Alas, “Magnum P.I.” – waiting for weeks for a green light – was shown the red/stop light yesterday (May 11) that a fifth season, which would have launched filming this summer, is off the books.

Thus, the May 6 episode – with co-stars Jay Hernandez as Thomas Magnum and Perdita Weeks as Juliet Higgins, exchaging smitten  “I like you” sentiments after kissing each other – was the season’s finale and the series’ ending.

Perdita Weeks and Jay Hernandez of “Magnum P.I.”

The cast has reason to be disappointed, perhaps the viewing fan base more so. The reboot of the original Tom Selleck-led procedural was far more popular, sustaining a 8-year run in the height of Hollywood discovering and setting up anchor to film episodic shows that depicted the sun, surf, and lifestyle – plus the rampant crime in paradise – that viewers all over the world watched. The foundation then was set by the Jack Lord-era of “Hawaii Five-0,” the first episodic crime-in-paradise CBS shot here, which lasted for 12 seasons.

The “Magnum” reboot originally was a Monday night show but shifted to a better night Friday before the shutdown. Ratings were pretty good – not great— dipping down to 7.4 million viewers and a 0.7 demographics rating in season 4, a skosh below numbers during Season 3. In recent years, ratings and demos no longer seemed as important or relevant during earlier decades, when the demos, based on advertising rates – the higher the demo ranking, the more it would cost for primetime ads — mattered more.

CBS still has one other island show, “NCIS: Hawai‘i,” which completed its first year of production, and the show, led by Vanessa Lachey as lead agent Jane Tennant, recently earned its season 2 go-ahead, with filming set for this summer for the fall season. Thus, the NCIS brand apparently still has life and luster.

Robbie Magasiva

Other shows aiming cameras here include Disney* “Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.” starring Perton Elizabeth Lee. and Jason Scott Lee, with season 2 filming set this summer;  and  HBO Max’s “Kenui Road,” a lifeguard lifestyle drama written and directed by John Wells and set on the North Shore with principals Robbie Magasiva, Andrew Creer and Tessa de Josselin, which has  a pilot in the can with air date not yet set. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


“Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.,” the Hawaii-lensed medical series, is expected to begin filming its second season May 16, with production on 10 episodes continuing through Aug. 23.

The series, focusing on Lahela “Doogie” Kamealoha, a 16-year-old prodigy portrayed by Peyton Elizabeth Lee, happens to have dual careers, as a medical doctor and teen-ager, whose roles conflict and provide both tension and comedy.

The sophomore season is reportedly introducing yet-unnamed recurring characters, including Blake, Ellis and Billy, to join the cast:

  • Blake is an Australian female, 20, who is athletic, gorgeous, a surfer on a pro tour and the expected roommate of Doogie’s love interest, Walter.
  • Ellis (first name, Marjorie), a female who may be of any ethnicity between 40 and 60,  who is shrewd, critical and an expected antagonist, in the role of a member of the hospital’s board of directors.
  • Billy, a child between 9 and 12, has the innocence and sweetness of youth, to be featured in a storyline involving a dog named Pickles, who is injured and whose owners can’t afford a veterinarian for treatment, so Doogie gets involved.
The “Doogie” ohana: center, Peyton Elizabeth Lee as Doogie, with (left), Jason Scott Lee and Kathleen Rose Perkins as her dad and mom, and (right), West Tian and Matthew Sato as her brothers. Photo courtesy Disney.

The ongoing cast includes Jason Scott Lee, as Doogie’s father Benny, who operates a floral and shave ice truck; Kathleen Rose Perkins, as Dr. Clara Hannon, her mom and hospital supervisor; Matthew Sato as Kai, her older brother; Wes Tian, as her younger brother Brian Patrick;  Emma Meisel, as her best friend Steph Denisco; Alex Aiono as Walter Taumata, her teen crush; Ronny Chieng, as the hospital’s Dr. Lee;  Mapuana Makia  as Noelani, a hospital aide; and Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, as Dr.Charles Zeller, an ally of Doogie.

Kourtney Kang is executive producer and creator of the series, based on CBS’ earlier hit, “Doogie Hoosier, M.D.,” which starred Neal Patrick Harris as the youth-teen doctor.

The names of the incoming actors have not been released. Meantime,

Season 1 of “Doogie Kamealoha” is streaming on Disney+.

The waiting game for ‘Magnum’

So Perdita Weeks, who is Julia Higgins, and Jay Hernandez, who is Thomas Magnum, have feelings for each other. On last night’s (May 6) final episode of CBS’ “Magnum P.I.,” he and she awkwardly but unexpectedly declared their love for each other, suggesting that their future together brings new bonds to the plate.

Love is in the air for Perdita Weeks (Higgins) and Jay Hernandez (Magnum). Photo, courtesy CBS.

So the die is cast.

But the cliffhanger is this: the network has not yet extended a Season 5 order, so the island-based story can continue. If the fall season does not happen, this would be one of the most abrupt and anxious way to say aloha, which in this case, is not hello, but goodbye.

Why? When? Go figure; a “go” is expected, but the tardiness is unsettling. Series star Hernandez has publicly stated he is unworried about the status, that an extension is forthcoming.

The show, now in its Friday night slot preceding the evening’s ratings champ, “Blue Bloods” (yeah, with the original Magnum, Tom Selleck), has been a steady ratings draw, holding its own but never bypassing “Blue,” which already has its 13  Season granted.

Can’t be that CBS has halted season orders for other shows; it just bestowed a Season 3 and 4 for Queen Latifa’s “The Equalizer,” a Sunday night hit. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Have you been caught in the spell of “Tokyo Vice,” the enticing and intriguing HBO Max series that explores the dark corridors and Yakuza-clouded world of Japan journalism?

Ansel Elgort, who was Tony in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” stars as a newbie gaijin (foreign) crime reporter named Jake Adelstein, who is trying to earn his stripes in the daunting world of Japan’s gloomy and structural media world, based on Jake Adelstein’s novel about a fish-out-of sea element. While Elgort appears to speak and write fluent Japanese, he cannot appease his bosses because he asks too many questions, doesn’t abide to demeaning orders since he smells opportunity in the shadowy world of Hiroto Katagiri, the veteran police chief played by legendary Japanese actor Ken Watanabe, who has the power and voice to emphatically ban a cub reporter’s story, reasons not needed.

Ansel Elgort

Elgort is one of the executive producers of this hypnotic drama, which explores the underbelly of Tokyo’s 1990s club-and-crime scene, where an apparent murder cannot be reported as such, unless the cops say it is. The reporter is an eager soul with a thirst for that prime story that will put him on the map, but in the three (of eight) episodes I’ve watched, he’s still got a lot of tough challenges to confront. His fashionably long tresses, tall and lanky frame might project a model, but clearly, he’s a loose cannon uncertain what to make of Rinko Kikuchi’s Emi, his contemporary boss who oversees his assignments but always trashes his work. So he’s still working on his fame to turn around his shame.

Ansel Elgort, center, the Japanese-speaking gaijin in “Tokyo Vice.”

Director Michael Mann, who helmed the pilot episode, projects a film noirish universe, with its obvious hooks: crooked Yakuza agents pressuring clients to pay protection fees; hostess bars where Samantha, a transplanted haole played by Rachel Keller, is trying to work out her status since she speaks and adapts to Japanese ways. Samantha and Adelstein become friends as he conducts his own investigations to discover there is a link between the demise of two Japanese nationals whose deaths might be related, even in the manner of death. One, with multiple stabbing wounds; the other, a gasoline-stained guy who lights a match in an spectacle of a fiery finale; different but decidedly with similar hooks.

Action aside, a pleasant surprise was to discover an Island name in the credit rolls – that of Haiku, Maui native Destin Daniel Cretton, who is one of the producers for at least six episodes of “Tokyo Vice.” Suddenly, it became “Tokyo Nice,” with a local spin in the story and action.

Destin Daniel Cretton

Cretten, of course, is known primarily for shaping and directing “Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings,” the mammoth Marvel box office hit, which made Simu Liu a major action film star.

This, along with other yet-to-be-completed projects, including a sequel to “Shang-Chi,” will keep his name on the front burner for the next few years.

All the episodes of “Tokyo Vice” are streaming now and the spoken Japanese is sub-titled for gaijin viewers.

It’s gritty, atmospheric, and preciously dark, and part of the fun is to recognize quick shots of Japan’s bevy of tucked-away sushi bars and ramen shops, amid the crowded streets and alleyways of marketplaces and the network of subway trains.

And oh, about Elgort’s nihongo – no, he’s not fluent in the Japanese lingo but had to memorize lines, but managed to be a convincing conversationalist because of his diction and delivery. Apparently, he became a master of his lines and even could ad-lib, properly, the manner and the message in Japanese. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Just asking…

Are you regular fans of network TV programming of back-to-back episodes on specific week nights?

Referring to procedurals that tackle crime and punishment, aid and rescue of the injured or ill, embracing car accidents, highrise fires or rampant drug-related crimes?

If so, which of these back-to-back shows do you like best?

Monday on CBS, two procedurals reign: the flagship “NCIS,” the Mark Harmon original, which this season precedes “NCIS: Hawai‘i,” the island-based spin-off.  We watch, though miss Harmon (he’s retired, but his name and image appear in the opening titles), even though it’s no longer the hot show it was for much of its 19 seasons.  The Monday scheduling is a wise lead-in to the Hawaii-shot spiff-off,.

Tuesday on CBS, a trio of investigative shows are intensive, savvy projects:  “FBI,” “FBI Most Wanted,” and “FBI International.” Great casts, with some crossover moments; fresh, incisive scripts.

Wednesday on NBC, it’s must-see TV, the best of triple-threats set in the crime-heavy Chicago, and unbeatable in relevance and timeliness: “Chicago Med,” “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.” are often gritty but grand, and the hospital setting unsettling but intriguing,  the firefighting front and the police station daunting but challenging. The mix is the stuff of episodic drams: ER tension, smokey highrise, dangling vehicles over the river, and unexpected flying bullets or bombs bursting. Everyday drama never has been so visible and jammed with fictional stories that demonstrate and spotlight such emotional wallop. And, yes, giving first responders a positive image.

Thursday on NBC, law and order prevail: the original “Law and Order” favorite, Sam Waterson, is back and holding court in a reboot, and time will tell if it has staying power. “Law and Order SVU” still features Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson and remains a powerhouse hour that’s a whole lot better than the third entry, “Law and Order: Crime” which has Christoper Meloni’s Elliot Stabler  attempting to get a handle to outlast and outpower his weekly antagonist.

Friday on CBS used to be the slot for the now-shuttered “Hawaii Five-0,” where “Magnum P.I,” the Jay Hernandez reboot shooting here, preceding the network’s popular “Blue Bloods,” which still stars Tom Selleck, the original Thomas Magnum.”

Incredibly, Dick Wolf is the creator and executive producer of all the “Law and Order” series, all the “Chicago” brands, and all the “FBI” titles, a credit few others can claim. Indeed, he’s the king of the best of the TV franchise shows.

And most of his trademark programss are in syndication, so reruns provide a world of entertaining dramas, on such venues as USA, iOn, We and a few other spots on your TV dial.

With so many heavyweights from the traditional networks, it’s tough to surf the streaming services of Netflix or Disney+ or Amazon Prime. The aforementioned series left the airwaves during the coverage of NBC’s “Winter OIympics,” but happily, regular programming has returned … though most series are approaching their finales for the season.