GREAT ACTING MOMENTS
Here’s a new angle on what, daily, can seem like our rapidly tanking ship of culture, flooded by oceans of tasteless junk: we’re also surrounded by excellence. We are. It’s what keeps my dinghy of hope afloat. Take TV. This is where the writing is, people. This is where you actors can find characters. Not legions of superheroes, buffoons-who-get-the-girl and Barbies-who-are-the-girl but characters. On the next channel over from “Real People Who Will Do Anything for Attention” and “I Gotta Dance So I Can Resurrect My Career” are consummate artists of non-Lady-Gaga notoriety doing brilliant work. For instance, are you following “Men of a Certain Age” on TNT? Sports fans, if you’re an actor or a writer, you need to get your eyeballs on this show. Scene writing meets character acting. Story lines meet Zeitgeist. All of it so easy to under-credit because no one’s slinging a weapon, a “foreign” accent or some attention-grabbing extreme of physicality, whether Brangelic beauty or anatomical idiosyncracy (Janeane Garofalo hilariously maintains that the two are the same…). You have but to watch Andre Braugher and Richard Gant duke it out to feel your heart soar. They rocked it in this week’s season finale. Keep in mind, the writers have done them such a solid. Start with their character names: Owen Thoreaux Sr. and Jr–Check. Their millieu: the dying American Chevy car lot–Check. Their struggle: epic father-son–Check. Add two strong–STRONG!–actors of such different qualities. Strong actors playing strong characters. Whose agendas are in 180 degree opposition. Then, in the hyper-compressed timeframe of TV writing, watch their scenes swing from reversal to reversal almost from one sentence to the next. Watch these actors take their time with each other. Watch them choose–in the moment–something we rarely see. It’s like a trapeze act. The art is in the silences, the un-flashy stuff, like the space between flyer and the catcher’s hands. And that’s just those two. Ray Romano and Scott Bakula anchor their own equally satisfying worlds of tsuris. It kills me that work this good comes right into my living room, onto my iPhone. It totally floats my boat.
© i.e. ideas expressed 2011