Monday, January 29, 2007

This show is going to be great...when you get killed off. Part 1

For every tight ensemble cast on television (Friends, Entourage, Arrested Development) you have three that feature a cast that's generally awesome--if it weren't for that one "actor."

You know the one: His acting is so wooden, he could be replaced with a giant log with branches for hands and either nobody would notice, or the show would actually improve. Or you have the woman who is so over-the-top in all of her "acting" choices that just watching the other more talented actors in the cast react to her histrionics would be entertaining, if she weren't so damn annoying.

I love television and those with ensemble casts are my favorite. When I ask myself why, I can only think it's because I hate myself. Every time a casting director gets an ensemble 99% right, the 1% that is so wrong just makes me die inside. Below are my first two entries in the category of
Worst Actor/Actress in an Otherwise Enjoyable Show.

My first nominee: Misha "I'm the only one on this cast who is actually high-school age, yet I look older than the woman playing my mother and sound like I've been on a diet of cigarettes and Quaaludes since the mid-70s" Barton of the soon-to-be-canceled The O.C.

Before she moved to Orange County and started drinking a bunch, she was best known as the girl who vomited everywhere in The Sixth Sense. Over three seasons of The O.C., she drank a lot, whined, wore ugly hats and failed to ever change her facial expressions. She brought every scene she was in to a grinding halt and annoyed the audience (and, I suspect, the cast and crew) so much that she was finally, mercifully killed off at the end of Season three.

The entertainment writers who are attributing The O.C.'s actual death to Marissa Cooper's fictional one say so only because they haven't watched the show since Season one. And who could blame them? Even Barton herself has said that the show couldn't survive without her. But really, what else would she say? When you have so little self-awareness that you would leave the house looking like this, it's a miracle that she can string together a sentence at all.

My second nomination is Elizabeth Rohm, the ex-ADA on the original Law & Order.

She joined the cast before I moved to New York and I almost didn't because of her. Sure, Giuliani cleaned up Times Square, but apparently you can catch a cold that can last several years. Every line she said sounded like the "before" in a NyQuil commercial. I was pretty terrified of the killer cold strain that seemingly infected the streets of New York, until I realized that she was the only one afflicted. Then I realized that it wasn't a cold at all--she just sucks.

Her acting runs the gamut from B to C: Bitchy to Confused, and when the camera rested on her eyes, you could see clear through to the back of her skull.

After inflicting her upon a helpless viewing public for either two or twelve seasons (it's really just a blur of pain and blonde highlights at this point) the writers heard from on high that they could finally get rid of her--and get rid of her they did; saddling her with the best out-of-left-field exit line in the history of television: "Is it because I'm a lesbian?" The confusion and exasperation in Sam Waterston's eyes as he replies, "No" is a vindicating moment for the viewers, as now we know that we have not been alone in our pain.

Those are my first two nominations of many. Still to come: Anorexic leading ladies and a man who is so intense, he makes me feel dirty from the inside out.