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!
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.’
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.
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. …