Sunday, 10 March 2013

5 Most Underrated and Underused Characters on Television

Donna – Parks and Recreation
Where is Donna? Where is she? She’s a valued member of the Parks and Recreation department of Pawnee, Indiana that seems to pop up once or twice an episode (if that) with a couple of lines,  and…that’s pretty much it. In fact, her role in the show has become smaller and smaller as the series has gone on. The absence of Donna is pretty much the only downfall in an otherwise flawless sitcom.

Cerie – 30 Rock
When Liz Lemon asked Cerie “looked okay”, a spritely Cerie retorted with “that’s exactly how you look”. The fact that the line is said not in dislike or disdain but as a genuine compliment is why she's such a good character. The usage of Cerie is vaguely similar to Donna’s in Parks and Recreation – she turns up once in a while, gives us some good dialogue, and then she’s off again. Only (once again like Donna) she works in the exact same place that every episode of the show is set in.

Harrison Wright – Scandal
Okay, this one is a bit of a cheat as *spoiler* creator Shonda Rhimes has stated that this characters role will be beefed up in the second half of the addictive political drama’s second season *end spoiler*. Harrison has largely been on the backburner, occasionally seen conversing with Abby and Olivia…while not doing much else. Although it has been revealed that Harrison avoided a serious prison sentence on behalf of crafty and not-so legit work of Olivia Pope, the statement was made only as a passing reference. I think we can assume this will play a major part in the last few episodes of the season, along with (hopefully) many more to come.

Luke Dunphy– Modern Family
For some reason “I can feel my heart beating in my eyes” is one of my favourite Modern Family quotes, and it comes from young Luke, probably the most underutilised Dunphy on Modern Family. The show which has  one of the strongest and most comedic ensemble casts currently on television, needs to let the most beloved of those, such as Gloria, Phil, Manny and Cam step aside; just for a little while and let Luke do something solo.

Harry Crane – Mad Men
In a world where everyone is lying, backstabbing, cheating on their wives and descending into alcohol addiction in 1960s based drama Mad Men, Crane is only guilty or two of those. For a while Crane, played by Rich Sommer was one of the few genuinely likeable characters in the fictional Sterling Cooper work place – and it may just be because it feels like decades ago, I barely even remember him on screen in the show’s 5th season. We better see him actually doing some serious shit when Mad Men returns next month.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Stoker (Film)

"It’s weird. Good weird" is probably the most accurate way of describing Park Chan-wook’s Stoker. The film is written and co-produced by Mariah Carey video-boy and 'Prison Break' star Wentworth Miller, who strangely dropped off the radar after the show ended, with the exception of a role in Resident Evil: Afterlife that’s better off not discussing. 

The screenplay for Stoker ended up on the 2010 “Black List”, an annual aggregated detailing of the best unproduced scripts making their way around Hollywood. Luckily for us the film ended up being produced, and has in turn become the disturbing, messed up family drama Miller is sure to have originally hoped it would be.

Stoker stars Mia Wasikowska as India Stoker, a strangely quiet girl by nature who’s mourning the death of her father, Richard (Dermot Mulroney). Often pushed aside by peers and neglected by her own mother, Evelyn (a perfectly cast Nicole Kidman), the wealthy family and their estate gets a shake up when brother to the recently deceased, Charlie (Matthew Goode) shows up. A man India didn't even know existed. In between Evelyn’s obvious attraction to Charlie and India's descent into isolation , Charlie becomes the epicentre of a number of seemingly unrelated disappearances by those close to the family – some of which who know much darker things about the harmless and charismatic "cool uncle" fa├žade Charlie puts on for those around him.

Although set in the present day the film has a timeless appeal. Chan-wook’s choice of mise-en-scene and framing are delightfully odd yet visually appealing, while Stoker’s dramatic and eerie tendencies are very reminiscent of M Night Shyamalan's The Village.  His direction also makes you see directly into the minds of our mentally “not-all-there” screen leads, all of which perform tremendously throughout the film. Yes, Stoker can be slightly confusing in parts, but what it lacks in linearity it makes up for in sheer shock value and savagery. 

It's really great to see solid and original American films can still be made.