Tuesday, January 01, 2008

On The Sixth Day Of Christmas

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love (Television) gave to me – six male characters I enjoy.

I've got to admit I'm really reaching here guys. This is what you get for not starting to plan your 12 Days Of Christmas posts well in advance – like in January. Still I've got to provide content and there are characters that I really like so here they are, in no particular order. Mostly these are characters from shows that I watch regularly – a big handicap really – but I'm willing to name names outside my comfort zone. I can't judge Vic Mackey of The Shield or or the title character in Dexter, but a little out of my comfort zone I can manage. This isn't the reason why this is as late as it is – I'm not feeling that great as I write this to be honest, and sadly that has nothing to do with wine, women or song, on New Year's Eve (dammit). Oh well, when this is posted it'll still be the sixth day of Christmas somewhere right?

  • Charley Crews (Life): This one is all about Damian Lewis. I saw him the first time in Band of Brothers and I was tremendously impressed. That increased when I discovered that he wasn't an American but was in fact British. Then I saw him as Charlie Crews and it clicked for me that this guy is a tremendous actor. It's not just the accent although that can be harder than you might think (see Michelle Ryan as proof; there are those who say that she was so occupied with doing an American accent that any acting ability she might have went out the door). Charlie is a character so full of emotional tics that one might doubt his sanity. It is a masterful job of acting.
  • Joseph Konstantin (Moonlight): I admit that I gave Moonlight a bad review, but I watch it every week and it's growing on me. I still say that there's room for a film noir style series about a vampire private detective because this show ain't it, but the series definitely has something. One of the things it has is Jason Dohring as Josef, the friend and mentor of the lead character Nick St. John. I was initially disappointed by the fact that Dohring had replaced Rade Sherbedgia in the role, because I've generally liked Sherbedgia's work in the past and thought that casting Dohring was primarily a case of trying to make the show "young and pretty." However I think that Dohring works better in the part than Sherbedgia ever could have and it's because he's young. Josef's life – at least so far as we are privy to it – is amoral and even decadent, something that he shows every time he takes a presumably non-lethal drink from some sweet and willing young thing. The vampires in Moonlight aren't monsters, they are quintessentially amoral and decadent. And let's face it, amoral and decadent work best on someone who's young. Imagine a man in his fifty's nibbling on the veins of that same sweet and willing young thing and the scene comes across as creepy, and possibly even monstrous.
  • Alex Vega (Cane): Another winner for Jimmy Smits. The essence of Alex Vega is that he is a good man forced by circumstances to do bad things or at least make dubious choices. He is a good family man but at the same time he can order a man killed. Everything he does is for the benefit of his family, both his wife and children and for the family which adopted him. He's a hard man formed by harsh circumstances, and there seems to be a point in one of the last episodes of the season where he comes to realize that he is part of the Duque family and not entirely out of love but because he's willing and able to do the hard things, and the realization is in a way devastating to him.
  • Eric Taylor (Friday Night Lights): Well I didn't say they had to be new characters now did I? The thing about Eric is that while he seems eminently cable in his work milieu, dealing with a team of teenage boys, his family situation which is dominated by females (his wife and daughter) often leaves him flummoxed. And yet it all seems natural and real. Eric isn't TV's stereotypical "superdad" but neither is he the equally stereotypical "dad as idiot." Eric is doing the best that he can.
  • Lt. Provenza (The Closer): I have been watching every episode of The Closer that I can and besides Kyra Sedgwick my favourite actor on this show is G.W. Bailey as Lt. Provenza. Bailey is one of those actors who has been around forever, primarily in comedies, such as the Police Academy movies and the TV series M*A*S*H. I can't help but think that that experience in comedy makes his portrayal of Provenza sharper. At times the Lieutenant is comic relief along with his colleague Lt. Flynn (played by Anthony Dennison, who has mostly made his name as a dramatic actor) but when the scene calls for it he can be quite effective dramatically. And in The Closer at least he manages to convey everything a manner so low key that it is amazing. He is able to convey more with an eyeroll or a grunt than many actors can with a line or two of dialog.
  • Jack Donaghy (30 Rock): Well it was him or Earl the Angel from Saving Grace and while I have to admit that I've seen a bit more of Leon Rippy's performance as the enigmatic Earl who is trying to bring redemption to the totally out of control Grace Hanadarko and I love it, but in the end I have to give it to Donaghy. Why? Well the big reason is that he's played by Alec Baldwin, and I've always had a huge admiration for his versatility as an actor even in total crap like The Shadow. As for the Donaghy character, he is the essential character in 30 Rock. It's nearly impossible to imagine what the show would be like without Baldwin's character. He's slightly mad but it's madness mixed with power, and I have a suspicion he is a caricature of so many network "suits" who have been involved in shows that Tina Fey (and series co-executive producer Lorne Michaels) have known over the years.

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