Thursday, December 26, 2013

The best TV performances of 2013

It's the most wonderful time of the year,the time to choose the best of,so here is my choice of the best tv performances of the year,in random order:

1.Aden Young,brilliant actor in the perfect and shamefully overlooked drama "Rectify"

2.Lizzy Caplan,the wonder girl in "Masters of Sex"

3.Mike White,the genius behind "Enlightened"

4.Kiernan Shipka,the insufferable Sally Draper from "Mad Men"

5.Michael K.Williams,excellent Chalky White from "Boardwalk Empire"

6.Mireille Enos,the magical Detective  Linden from "The Killing"

7.Stephen Louis Grush, dazzling newcomer from the tragically short "Lucky 7"

8.Gwendoline Christie,surprising Brienne of Tart from "Game of Thrones"

9.Alex Karpovsky,the hilarious mess from "Girls"

10.Nicole Beharie, very serious in "Sleepy Hollow"

11. Bryan Cranston,of course,the master in the masterpiece "Breaking Bad"

12.Robin Wright,excellent choice for "House of Cards"

13.Freddie Highmore,scary boy from "Bates Motel"

14.Tatiana Maslany, very versatile girl from "Orphan Black"

14.Matthew Rhys,excellent spy from "The Americans"

15.Albert Tsai,the hilarious kid from "Trophy Wife"

16.Kathleen Rose Perkins,absolutely fantastic actress from "Episodes"

Thursday, December 12, 2013

SCANDAL: the scandalous casting

Honestly,this time I don't even know where to start.I wasn't watching the show until it became surprisingly popular,with a devoted fan base who,apparently,had the strength to save it from cancellation.And they have my admiration and respect for their passion but unfortunately,the show is awful.

Shonda Rimes is a very intelligent and talented tv professional who had a mega hit a few years back,the "Grey's Anatomy".It was a decent drama,with very interesting acting ensemble and some major surprise comebacks like Patrick Dempsey.
The cast worked well together,there was a blend of characters,the couples were well matched,some actors were excellent,like Isaiah Washington and James Pickens jr.As it lasts so long,it inevitably became a bit boring but still,casting decisions were very smart and functional.Even though I never liked Ellen Pompeo,she was well chosen for the role and she did with conviction and seriousness.Casting directors Linda Lowy, John Brace,Will Stewart and Sean Ojai did a very good job.

The spin off, "Private Practice",was never so successful but it had one of the best cast seen on mainstream shows.Brilliant tv actors and actresses made even the most unbearable plots watchable.Amy Brenneman,Tim Daly,Brian Benben and the lovely Kate Walsh,there were no  mistakes in that cast.Casting directors Linda Lowy and Will Stewart managed to create an exceptional ensemble.

So naturally,when I heard about "Scandal",I supposed that Shonda Rhimes and her team chose their actors carefully and smartly again.
But hell no,the cast of "Scandal" is really really awful with one brilliant performance and that is Tony Goldwyn as President.

I have rarely seen so much consistently dreadful acting on a prime time show,there is not one member of that cast who is even tolerable.It seems as they have some secret pact about hysterical performances with exaggerated facial expressions on one side of the spectrum or stony faces on the other.There is not a hint of conviction in them,there is passion, but passion with a lack of talent is simply overbearing.

Every one of the cast seems completely alone,I don't know who are they acting with or for.Their ensemble work is a bloody mess.The only bearable collaborations are the scenes with the poor Tony Goldwyn and the insufferable Kerry Washington.His talent and strength seems sufficient to pull both of them in some separate universe where Scandal doesn't exist.He is brilliant and only thanks to his devotion,Olivia Pope might seem real for a moment.

I really wanted to like Kerry Washington,I gave her the benefit of the doubt since I always found her to be a bit overrated.But after this,I must say she is not only overrated,she is definitely just a hype.

Shonda Rhimes got very lucky because for some reason the public seems to like the show.But it seems that they all got a bit infatuated with themselves and their successes and treated this casting with lack of respect and seriousness they showed in their previous work I don't know how did Linda Lowy and Will Stewart manage to do such an inexplicably amateurish cast after their previous work with Rhimes, but they did.

Television production today has far better acting ensembles than most of the movies and producers should be happy that so many excellent actors are willing to work on tv. Among great and not so great shows,we can all agree that most of them had brilliant casts.

But "Scandal",with all its ratings and devoted fans,is definitely not one of them.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fall tv II : great casts,average shows

There is a trend among the new tv shows and it is called the great casting.

Almost every premiere I have seen had a great cast,some legends were back,some interesting acting talents switched shows and excellent newcomers refreshed the scene.But unfortunately the great work of casting directors was not rewarded with good shows,most of the new tv products are average to bad.And incomprehensibly,a few that are not, are getting axed.The best new drama is definitely "Masters of Sex",confirming the trend of great casting.

1."Lucky 7",a decent show on ABC, it has already been axed,after only 2 episodes.Based on British series,it had a very promising cast with the best newcomer on this season tv,Stephen Louis Grush.I hope to see him somewhere else and soon,pity for the unlucky acting ensemble.

Casting director : Sharon Bialy,great work.

2."Brooklyn Nine - Nine",even though I don't like the show I recognise the great work of the casting department.My favorite actors there are definitely  Terry Crews and Andre Braugher.

Casting director : Allison Jones.

3."The Blacklist", boring, Homeland wannabee action drama was a disappointment but still,good cast led by always brilliant James Spader,followed by very interesting Charles Baker,Diego Klattenhoff and a decent Megan Boone.One question though,couldn't the casting directors find some Serbian actors to play terrorists,there are many and they are good.

Casting director : Debbi Manviller,Richard Pagano and Jessica Kelly.

4."Hostages",also an average drama with decent cast led by fantastic actress Toni Colette.Always interesting Rhys Coiro and my beloved Bobby Donnell aka Dylan McDermott follow her painlessly,Tate Donovan not so much.I hope it stays because of the leading lady and McDermott but it doesn't look good.

Casting directors : Beth Bowling,Kim Miscia and Rona Kress.

5."Mom",I really wanted it to be funny,I am a big Chuck Lorre fan and always thought Anna Faris was excellent,not to mention Allison Janney.Unfortunately it is not,Anna is the weakest link in otherwise strong cast,with the great return of French Stewart and a very good Nate Corddry.Again,pity for the good cast.

Casting directors : Ken Miller,Nikki Valko

6."Trophy Wife",again a  sitcom with excellent casting,Malin Akerman was a great surprise here and all the actors are very good. Albert Tsai is by far the best discovery of the season,the kid is AMAZING!!!!The show is,well,maybe promising.

Casting directors : Anya Colloff,Michael V.Nicolo

7."Ironside",another average police drama with questionable future in spite of very good acting ensemble.Blair Underwood leads his  interesting co stars,Neil Bledsoe,The Wire's Pablo Schreiber and the lovely Spencer Grammer.

Casting directors : Bonnie Grisan,Mele Nagler.

8."The Crazy Ones",is my biggest disappointment.Great return,Sarah Michelle Gellar,mega star Robin Williams,a very very good Hamish Linklatter,nothing can make it even remotely funny.It's a shame.

Casting directors : Ken Miller,Nikki Valko

9."Welcome to the Family", a rather sweet sitcom with maybe the finest casting of the season : Kurt's dad meets Carlos,excellent and very funny Mike O'Malley and Ricardo Chavira are wonderful antagonists and all the rest of their co-stars are fitting beautifully into the group with  Ella Rae Peck,a nice comeback from the axed "Deception".Excellent cast,hope they'll stay. 

Casting directors : Gillian O'Neill,Yolanda Guillen,Alyson Silverberg,excellent work!

10."Super Fun Night", a not so funny sitcom where a multi talented Rebel Wilson and her excellent co-stars Liza Lapira and Lauren Nash try to be funny.Another great cast,not so great project and it's a pity since Rebel Wilson has a lot of potential.

Casting directors : Gillian O'Neill,Jill Anthony,Tim Payne,Lisa Ystrom,Julie Ashton.

11."Hello Ladies",a brave attempt from Stephen Merchant,good cast,disappointing result.Seriously un-funny and that is the worst verdict for a sitcom.Like Rebel Wilson,Merchant has also a lot of potential but not in this show.

Casting director : Allison Jones

12."Masters of Sex",the best drama of the season,perfect cast,important subject,great product.Reliably brilliant Michael Sheen has a flamboyant co-star,my favourite actress of this tv season,Lizzy Caplan.

I remember her from "The Class",the tragically brief excellent sitcom.She was beautiful,funny with a dry sense of humour and I thought then how she deserved a great role in an acclaimed project.
After to many years of waiting I am happy to confirm my excellent opinion of her.She is impeccable as Virginia Johnson,full of passion and engaged,effortless and charismatic,a true star.The rest of the cast is also excellent.

Casting directors : Risa Bramon Garcia,June Lowry- Johnson,Libby Goldstein and Bernard Telsey,fantastic work.