Wednesday, 22 June 2011

“I want more”

You don’t need to tell me that I’ve been neglecting the blog, I know. It’s not that work is that stressful, but I do spend in excess of nine hours there per day and my faithful steed (aka my laptop) refuses to play nice – as per normal. And that list of films to review keeps piling up (Win Win, No Strings Attached, Kung Fu Panda 2, X Men: First Class, Green Hornet and more).
See how out of whack my brain is? I’ve already spiralled off topic – apologies. I’m working on a “project” in anticipation of the Emmy nominees (more on that later) but I do want to do some TV talking. The television season is officially over and some cable shows are beginning their new seasons as early as this week, and those primetime giants will be back in late September. Soon we’ll be getting retrospective and making best-of lists, but for now I want to look ahead. It’s been a good season for some shows, mediocre ones for others but it seems that almost every show, good and bad, keeps dropping the ball on some potentially great characters. Here are some recurring on regular characters on television shows who need to get better or increased material, or in some cases both. Because I’ve been so lazy lately, I’m giving you a two-in-one: two top 5 lists. First, the men…
Sean in The Big C (John Benjamin Hickey)
Hickey recently won a Tony for his work in The Normal Heart and if he’d had only a few more killer scenes in The Big C he’d have been a shoo-in for Emmy consideration. He’s the brother of Linney’s cancer patient, and he just happens to be living on the streets – by choice. Hickey paints his intrepid character in broad strokes, but those strokes are hilarious and he’s an absolute delight to watch. He’s great opposite Linney, but even better opposite Cynthia Nixon (a friend of Cathy who he recently impregnated). The Big C just happens to be about someone with cancer, it’s ensemble is brilliant. Hickey needs to get more.
Puck in Glee (Mark Salling)
The amount of things I want to change on Glee…. Musically, Salling is my favourite supporting player on the show and for some time in season one Puck was my favourite character. As of late, though, he’s become one random ball of confusion – like a number of things on the show. It’s not that I object to the presence of Lauren, I just wonder if the writers have any legitimate interest in Puck since they’ve managed to turn him into an overly trite mess. Remember how funny he was dreaming about Rachel in “Mash Up”? Or how surprisingly deep he was offering Quinn that money in “Wheels”? Give the guy something to do. When he’s going to get another Jewish artist to cover?

Mitchell in Modern Family (Jesse Tyler Ferguson)
When the nominations are announced in a few weeks pundits predict that Ferguson will be the lone adult of Modern Family not among the list of nominees. In fact, last year when he was nominated the consensus seemed to be that he’d stolen Ed O’Neil’s nomination. Truthfully, disregarding the actual material given, I think Ferguson’s the most talented of the cast but Mitchell continues to be the one given the worst material. I’ve realised more and more that the entire show revolves around broadly painted stereotypes, but Ferguson (and by extension Stonestreet) deserve more than spilling juice on rugs or worrying about going to a Gaga concert.

David Lee in The Good Wife (Zach Grenier)
Somewhere around the middle of the last season I feel in love with Grenier’s acerbic family law representative of Lockhart/Gardner. Whether he was insulting Derek Bond or advising Alicia on her prospective divorce Grenier was continually excellent offering a brand of caustic humour that the show lacks on occasion. The show already has Eli Gold for random humour, but I’d love if David Lee got a more prominent role in the show next season. He's another theatre alum (Tony nominated for 33 Variations), so far he’s been brilliant opposite Alicia, Diane and Will. Let’s see him face off with Kalinda and Cary.

Lane Pryce in Mad Men (Jared Harris)
Apparently every real Mad Men had orgasmic reactions to “The Suitcase”. I’m not a “real” Mad Men fan (though, I did like the episode). Still, my favourite scene of the last season involved neither Peggy Olson nor Don Draper it was Lane and Joan who defined the season for me. Case in point, that scene in “The Good News” where Lane’s incompetent secretary mixes up his flower orders and Joan and him have that argument. Jared Harris is just perfect as Lyle, whether it’s fending off his abdominal father or dealing with his marriage problems. He’s a great addition to the cast, and I’m hoping that when the show returns he’s given more to work with. More great scenes opposite Hendricks would be great.

And the women…

Kelly in The Office (Mindy Kaling)
Kaling writes for the show, so I figure that they’re not too intent on going overboard with her and, true, I miss Ryan (BJ Novak) just as much. Consider this a nomination for both of them. Kaling was so funny in the season finale, applying for the job of manager, and her ditzy charm works brilliantly especially since she’s so certain that she’s not ditzy. The departure of Carrell has not made me lose interest in the show, but giving Kaling more to do would make me love it even more.

Gillian in Boardwalk Empire (Gretchen Mol)
Mol’s not a regular on Boardwalk Empire and the show boasts such a large ensemble that I could pick out any number of characters who’re worthy of more screen time. Still, Mol is so fantastic in her role that she’s all but begging for a promotion to a regular player. She plays the mother of one of our protagonists, Jimmy. (Ignore the propaganda; Michael Pitt and Steve Buscemi are co-leads.) Her son is 13 years younger than she and she maintains a good relationship with him even as she plays her leading role in a burlesque club. Other than Kelly MacDonald the show is lacking in strong female performers, more of Mol would not be a bad thing.

Diane in The Good Wife (Christine Baranski)
All Diane Lockhart, one of the name partners of Alicia Florrick’s (the eponymous good wife) firm needs is a withering glance and she steals a scene and as much as I love Kalinda (in superlatives) I wish there’d be more for Baranski to do with the role. After the power-play last season by Derek Bond the show sort of lost interest here, and the season finale was egregiously low on Diane witticisms. Hopefully Panjabi will win a second Emmy this season, so the writers need to put all their effort into ensuring that Baranski wins it next season, and for that to happen they need to give her better material to work with.

Donna in Parks and Recreation (Retta)
I’m loathe to say that there’s anything wrong with Parks and Recreation, it’s about as perfect a TV show as there is at the moment but I can’t deny that the opportunity for Retta’s delightful Donna having more screen time would make my day. One of the most surprisingly great arcs last season on the show was Ann and Donna going on speed dates and bumping into each other and the two’s chemistry was brilliant. It’s only proof that Retta is just all around greatness. Give her and her Mercedes more!

Pam in True Blood (Kristin Van Bauer)
Thanks to Jose I’ve fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with True Blood and as expansive as the cast I always feel as if everyone gets enough love – except for Pam. Pam is Eric Northman’s (Alexander Skarsgård) protégé and is one of the best female vampires – ever. There are lot of things I want in season 4 (continued storylines for Sam, a little more Tara and Sookie) but increased Pam is one I want desperately. Kristin Van Bauer deserves something more than occasional one-lines (even if she’s brilliant doing them).
Any TV characters you want writers to pay more attention to?

1 comment:

Robert said...

Donna and Mitchell are criminally underused! Then again, perhaps it's their scarcity that makes their moments so much more precious and hilarious. Haha