Tag Archives: Firefly

Oh THAT Guy! Issue: 2

Alrighty, welcome to the new format and official debut of Oh THAT Guy (slightly new title!) as an on-going project. Here are five more guest actor types for you all to get to know and start being able to recognize as not just “Oh them” but as actual people. Yes!

(Remember: pictures link to imdb…even though it is sort of gross now…)

Henri Lubatti

Selected Appearances:
The Good Guys “Vacation” as Nikolai (2010)
Chuck “Chuck vs. The Mask” as Vassilis (2010)
Bones “The Devil in the Details” as Phillip Womack (2010)
NCIS: Los Angeles “Breach” as Safar Jaddalah (2010)
Dark Blue “Purity” as Reuben Pike (2009)
Life “Not For Nothing” as Professor Halliday (2008)
The O.C. [multiple episodes] as Henri-Michel de Momourant (2007)
24 [multiple episodes] as Jovan Myovic (2002)
Felicity [multiple episodes] as David Sherman (1999)
The X-Files “Mind’s Eye” as Dr. Wilkenson (1998)

Hey, apparently this guy’s from Seattle! Win! …more importantly, he is an incredibly unappreciated actor. The number of foreign nationalities he’s portrayed alone is impressive. To be clearly identifiable as “The Russian Guy” and “The French Guy” and “The Middle Eastern Guy” and godknowswhatelse takes a good amount of flexibility. To do that and also somehow find the time to do some acting? Wacky crazy awesome stuff.

Clea DuVall

Selected Appearances:
Bones “The Bones On A Blue Line” as McKenna Grant (2010)
Lie to Me “Blinded” as Michelle Russell (2009)
Grey’s Anatomy [multiple episodes] as Jennifer Robinson (2008)
Heroes [multiple episodes] as FBI Agent Audrey Hanson (2006-2007)
Carnivale [regular cast] as Sofie (2003-2005)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” as Marcie Ross (1997)

Recently, she’s been taking on the role of Tough Girl, but she actually has an enormous amount of flexibility. Her characters, ass-kicking or otherwise, and regardless of the number of episodes they have to develop, have a consistent quality of honest human vulnerability. DuVall (whose name appears in most credits without the semi-inane capitalization) has actually done more movie work than TV, but she frequents both mediums on a regular basis.

Kathleen Munroe

Selected Appearances:
NCIS: Los Angeles “Killshot” as Aimee Su (2009)
CSI: NY [multiple episodes] as Samantha Flack (2008)
Moonlight “Fleur de Lis” as Tina Haggans (2007)
Supernatural “The Kids are Alright” as Katie’s Mom (2007)
Beautiful People [series cast] as Annabelle Banks (2005-2006)

Just compare the top two roles on this list and you can see exactly what kind of range this lady has. I’ve been a bit of a fan ever since she played basically the only not-totally-obnoxious character on Beautiful People, but its really the variety of guest work that shows what a solid talent she is. She looks like a few other actresses, so sometimes I think I see her when I don’t, but she’s worth keeping an eye on in years to come.

Fredric Lehne

Selected Appearances:
Supernatural [multiple episodes] as Azazel (the Yellow-Eyed Demon) (2006-2010)
Lost [multiple episodes] as Marshal Edward Mars (2004-2010)
Lie to Me “Life is Priceless” as Company Owner Kevin Warren (2009)
CSI “Burked” (2001) and “Turn, Turn, Turn” (2009) [different characters]
The Closer “Til Death Do Us Part, Parts I & II” as Eugene “Topper” Barnes (2007)
Bones “The Man with the Bone” as Giles Hardewicke (2006)
CSI: NY “Tanglewood” as Ross Lee (2005)
JAG “Odd Man Out” (2002) and “There Goes the Neighborhood” (2004) [different characters]
NCIS “Dead Man Talking” as Captain Graves (2004)
Firefly “Heart of Gold” as Ranse Burgess (2003)
The X-Files [multiple episodes] as Young Arthur Dale (1998-1999)
Wiseguy [multiple episodes] as Winston Chambers III (1990)
Mancuso, FBI [series cast] as Eddie McMasters (1989-1990)

At least in all the roles I’ve seen him in, this guy usually plays some sort of sumbitch or other. Really really well. He’s got an air of authority that is immediately recognizeable, and a gravelly vocality that lends itself well to drawling and to general assholery. His resume is a healthy mix of the standard guest work (my favorite discovery is that he played three different roles on three different episodes of JAG and its spin-off NCIS) and semi-regular, recognizeable roles on cult favorites like the first two items on the list. FYI: He is usually credited as Fredric Lane, which’ll tell you how to pronounce his last name properly.

Tom Virtue

Selected Appearances:
The Secret Life of the American Teenager [multiple episodes] as…multiple roles?* (2008-2010)
CSI “Random Acts of Violence” (2003) and “Working Stiffs” (2009) [different characters]
Bones “The Intern in the Incinerator” as Dr. Ted Reardon (2007)
Life “Let Her Go” as Fire Chief (2007)
Arrested Development “Queen for a Day” as Car Salesman (2005)
Even Stevens [series cast] as Steve Stevens (1999-2003)
JAG “All Ye Faithful” as Warrant Officer Scoggins (2002)
Firefly “Ariel” as Pompous Doctor (2002)
Star Trek Voyager [multiple episodes] as Lieutenant Walter Baxter (1995) and “Workforce Parts I & II” as Supervisor (2001)
Freaks and Geeks [multiple episodes] as Mr. Sampson/Mr. Simpson** (2000)

For me, Tom Virtue will always be the dad from Even Stevens before anything else. But the truth is, he has been in pretty much everything ever. Seriously. It is somewhat disturbing how many of his roles are called “doctor” or “voice on the phone” or whathaveyou as opposed to actual names. But let it not be said that he doesn’t stay busy. Generally, his characters tend toward the professional, the irate, the impatient, and occasionally the incompetent. He is almost always some form of comic relief.
*I do not watch this show so I am very confused by his being credited as “Reverend Stone” and “Minister” and “Jack’s Step Dad” all in multiple different episodes, intermixed
**Also have not seen F&G so I can’t say for sure whether or not this is an imdb flub or not

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A Few Thoughts

“Epitaph Two” was certainly a finale.

I mean that in the sense that it really ended the story. So, in that way, it was highly successful. I’s dotted, T’s crossed, arcs completed, et cetera et cetera.

That said, I gotta say, it was not my favorite Whedon finale.

Mostly because it was just too neat and tidy and, frankly, kind of lame.

I’ve said “it hurts me to say this” before. But seriously this time. Criticizing the sadly premature Dollhouse finale brings me real emotional pain. Because if I put on my Critical Analysis Hat, it really was lacking.

Let me break my reasoning down into characters.

  1. Alpha. I’m sorry, but WHAT THE FUCK. I’m sure this is a development that would have been expanded and explained had the series continued long enough. But given the information we had at the time of the finale, this was just gross. Making Alpha one of the good guys? Having him be the engineer of Echo’s happiness at the end of it all? I love Alan Tudyk, but I don’t love him so much that I want him to come in and throw the narrative stream halfway to hell.
  2. Sierra and Victor. Actually, I had the least complaint about this one. Oddly, their relationship is possibly the most complicated and most developed in the entire show. Yeah, the tied-up ending with them happy with the kid was pretty cheesy. But sweet. And it more or less made sense.
  3. Topher. As with Alpha, this is just something that really needed more series to make sense. We could see the seeds of this personality transition in him. But where we left off right before “Epitaph Two” was a far reach from self-sacrifice in the interest of all humanity. One thing I will say: Fran Kranz is freaking genius in the finale, and in the series as a whole and he really should get more recognition for it.
  4. Paul Ballard. He unfortunately fell victim to the golden rule of Whedon series: the faithful male lover of the strong female heroine must always die. (Seriously, it happens EVERY TIME: Angel, Spike, Wash, even Wesley and Doyle could count here.) So that was a predictable, but solid choice. Not so kosher: putting him in Echo’s head. I’m sorry, but when did the Whedon team decide that happy endings were necessary? CORNY CORNY CORNY CORNY EW. Do not approve.

I feel like “Epitaph Two” was mostly an exercise in showing everyone exactly how much Dollhouse needed to go on longer. The hints we saw of the things that would happen – character transitions in Topher and Adelle, the tech-heads, the Priya/Tony relationship, the Echo/Paul relationship, Mag and Zone – were just enough to prove that having them not occur is a tragic thing. There is no doubt in my mind that Dollhouse would have grown into a mindblowingly amazing show had it run its full course. But, sadly, that was not the case due to network politics and a slow start.

As for how it all ended, my final verdict is that this finale was just not up to standard for Whedon series finales. Even Firefly‘s “Objects In Space,” which was not planned as a finale, was more effective, I feel, in terms of summarizing themes but leaving the right amount of openended-ness (if you consider Serenity to be the finale of Firefly, I’d say the success is even greater). The main problem with “Epitaph Two” was that it was name-appropriate. It really doesn’t feel like there’s that much story left. I just don’t care about the aftermath. It feels done. Closed. Self-contained.

Maybe that works for some people. But I feel like it took a different stance from the series. The end was too much of a fairytale.

BIG NEWS

People, people,

I POSSESS FIREFLY.

I have waited for this day for years and FINALLY IT HAS COME.

So, uh, excuse me if I spend the next couple hours in a Whedoncoma and don’t come up to finish those posts waiting in my draft folder. I promise, when I rejoin the real world on Monday, things will actually start getting done around here.

But I mean really.

FIREFLY. IN MY HANDS. AND MY DVD PLAYER.

I’m hoping you are all understanding/forgiving.

If I may, in closing:

SO. MUCH. WIN.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Once again this week, I am late with the schedule post. But conveniently,

Once again this week, nothing new is airing. This week’s Glee double header is “Vitamin D” and “Throwdown” (Wednesday at 8 and 9pm on FOX), NBC is re-airing the Joseph Gordon-Levitt episode on Saturday at 11:30pm. Tune in to your local news station on Thursday (unless you don’t like countdowns, fireworks, ball-dropping, etc).

Finally, once again this week, I have not done what I set out to do. I spent a lot of time cooking and socializing with relatives instead. For better or for worse. SO,

Melted Brain To-Do:

  1. Caprica: First Glance
  2. Glee: Season Review
  3. Hindsight: Battlestar Galactica
  4. Hindsight: Veronica Mars
  5. Catch up on Heroes/Reaction Time
  6. Catch up on FlashForward/Instant Replay
  7. Catch up on other stuff.

Of course, that to-do list will probably be waylaid again, because I AM GOING TO ACTUALLY OWN FIREFLY BY THIS TIME TOMORROW. I AM SO EXCITED, YOU DO NOT EVEN KNOW.

V – Do we care?

V, a re-imagining of a 1983 series, is premiering on ABC tomorrow at eight. There seems to be a lot of of this “re-imagining” going on in the sci-fi world, lately…

V chronicles the coming to earth of a group known as The Visitors – aliens who look and sound like incredibly delightful humans but who actually turn out to be lizard-bug aliens in suits. (And, no, that doesn’t count as  a spoiler because a: re-imagined series and b: already revealed in promotional material from ABC.) The show hinges on the various reactions earthlings have to these newcomers, which range from worship to mistrust to outright antagonism.

Personally, I’d really like to get a quality sci-fi series on television. I’m just not so sure this is it. It sounds a little…well, boring, to be completely honest.  The pilot is going to have to  have some serious wow factor for the show to earn my devotion.

The most sci-fi television street cred this show has so far is its cast, which includes Morena Baccarin and Alan Tudyk of Firefly (although Tudyk is appearing in the pilot but not listed as a major cast member), Elizabeth Mitchell of Lost, Joel Gretsch of The 4400, and Laura Vandervoort of Smallville. Joining them is a whole ensemble cast including Morris Chestnut and Scott Wolf.

The first nine minutes of V’s pilot are available here. If you ask me, they should have stuck to the creepy-as-hell close-ups of Morena Baccarin that  have been airing on ABC for weeks and let well enough alone, because the first nine minutes are not particularly interesting plot-wise and include one of the most poorly executed CGI explosions I have seen this decade.

So V has some serious work cut out for it in terms of fighting for survival, especially since it’s airing in “pods” – four episodes now, and then some more after the Olympics (that’s all the way in March, folks). Oy vay.

Castle: “Vampire Weekend”

A Halloween-themed episode has no right being as good as Vampire Weekend. By all manner of reason, a Halloween themed-episode should involve a kooky, spooky murder, some specialized seasonal jokes, and an opportunity to see characters in costume. What Castle delivered, though, is a legitimately solid episode with a whole lot of things to love.

First, let me just get this off my chest: WHEDON REFERENCES UP THE WAZOO. They just kept coming. First the extended reference to Nathan Fillion‘s role in Firefly, Mal Reynolds (and also to the show in general via Alexis-Richard dialogue). Then we have a case involving vampires, which naturally leads to a Buffyverse reference. And to top it all off, a mention of Dark Horse Comics, the company that publishes Buffy Season Eight and the Firefly comics. Just thinking about all this again is making me grin. Widely.

But back to the world of Castle. Most shows, just having a case involving the vampire culture scene would be enough to make a case interesting. Not this show, oh no. No, we have to have not only sexy vampires biting each other in red scale light, but also a victim killed with a wooden stake through the heart, a dude with porphyria who has crazy vampire symptoms (perhaps not strictly realistic, but not entirely out to sea), and a death in a cemetary. And that was only the fun stuff. The plot took an unexpected and incredible turn and made “Vampire Weekend” into one of the most heartwrenching cases for me. I’m not going to completely give away the plot, since spoilering isn’t my job or my intent, but I will say that it was twisted, emotionally stirring, and fascinating enough that it could have been a case on its own, without all the Halloween elements. Most ingenious moment: the grave of Elizabeth Dryden.

The Castle family angle for the episode was a solid delivery too. The egg-baby bit was a tad cliche, although the show gets cleverness bonus points for the Dickensian allusion. It was fantastic to see Richard Castle in full-blown superdad mode. He’s done the touchy-feely Daddy stuff plenty, and a good amount of the “my kid is so much better/smarter than me” routine, but we haven’t seen a whole lot of Richard Castle, Father up until this point and it was definitely an enjoyable new angle on the character.

Now, the humor. Castle is always quick and witty and full of funny moments. This episode was a nonstop torrent of puns and gags – I laughed my ass off, personally. My favorite bits include the first minute and a half of the episode with all its Whedon and literary references and jokes, and Esposito’s “What happened, the relationship suck?” comment to Ryan in reference to his vampire-scene ex-girlfriend (it was a really, really lame joke, but I laughed so hard).

My absolute favorite part of this episode, though, was that Beckett got Castle. Twice. Once at the tattoo parlor/piercing studio/cosmetic dental place. And then in the final moments of the episode thanks to one of the greatest Halloween costumes of all time. I really want to figure out how they rigged that coat/puppet, because it was freaking awesome. The greatest importance of this is not the fact that it is funny as hell (which it is) or that it speaks to the growing personal closeness of Castle and Beckett (which it does). Instead, the most important thing it establishes (and this is just my opinion) that Richard Castle/Nathan Fillion is not solely responsible for making this a great show. Beckett/Stana Katic is a subtler but equal match for her totally-out-there costar. I don’t feel like she gets all the recognition and admiration she deserves, most of the time. But it was so in-your-face this episode, I defy anyone not to have noticed.

Halloween episodes are supposed to be fun, but they aren’t expected to be great by any stretch. For those who doubted Castle’s ability to turn into a quality series (and I am including myself in that group), this episode can certainly stand as proof that good things can happen – and that you should never doubt a creative team that has Nathan Fillion and all his talents and connotations at their disposal.

This is only a little bit about “Belonging”

Dollhouse is an amazing show, and it’s not even just my Joss Whedon fanbrain talking. To tell the truth, sometimes I don’t even actively remember its his show because it’s so drastically different from his other series in a lot of ways.

The latest episode, “Belonging,” was remarkable in so many ways. Firstly, because it was only a little bit about Echo and Paul Ballard, who are basically the main characters. Hell, Tahmoh Penikett wasn’t in this episode at all. Instead, “Belonging” focused on characters who haven’t had a whole lot of development time – most notably, Sierra. Other than Victor, she’s been the least developed character up to this point. But now we know her full self and her original self, Priya, in a good amount of depth thanks to a stellar performance by Dichen Lachman. Plus, there was a continuation of Topher‘s moral/self discovery, and a little hint that Boyd is far more fascinating than we realized.

Another thing that made this episode so very amazing was the delicacy and mastery of it. The themes and the character development were both delivered without the slightly-cheesy-slightly-overwritten-speech-character-speech method. I don’t feel like I was told anything. But I definitely felt it all. And it was beautiful, in a way beyond the aesthetic – which is also astounding, btw.

And this brings me to my original point. Dollhouse is amazing television. I am literally in love with this show. And FOX is going to take it away and break my heart.

The countdown has started. “Belonging” is the last episode of Dollhouse to air until December. And after that, the rest of the thirteen approved episodes are going to start airing two at a time straight on to the end. Confirmed air dates: December 4, 11, and 18. And soon after that it really might be the end. Because Dollhouse’s audience is hovering right around 2.5 million an episode right now – counting the DVR audience. In the real world, that sounds like a lot of people. In television, well, let’s just say that 4 million is the earliest mark of the deathzone.

Fact: Dollhouse was pretty much fucked from the beginning. Why? Point one: it has always been scheduled on Fridays at 9pm. In the television community, that’s known colloquially as the Death Slot. Point two: it is a Joss Whedon show. Dollhouse originated from a contract that FOX had with Eliza Dushku. She met with Joss Whedon as a personal friend to talk over the opportunity, and what resulted was the earliest iteration of the Dollhouse idea. Ask a fan, they’ll tell you that’s a brilliant, wonderful thing. Ask FOX, they’ll be significantly less thrilled. Why? Well, once upon a time Joss Whedon had another series on FOX. A little (and I do mean little) show you may have heard of called Firefly. There were a lot of network vs. creator issues with Firefly, which I won’t go into now because this is a post about Dollhouse. Just take away the understanding that Dollhouse was always destined for disaster unless an actual, straight-from-the-powers-that-be, god-given, genuine miracle interfered. And so far we haven’t seen one.

So my request to anyone who reads this post is that you get fucking outraged. You head over to SideReel or the Dollhouse Facebook page now and you start making a hell of a lot of noise. Because this show is genuinely brilliant television. And it has a tangible potential future – see: Epitaph One, the unaired thirteenth episode of Season One.

I want to see Dollhouse make it the five years of planned storyline Joss Whedon has in mind. But unless something major changes RIGHT NOW, it ain’t gonna happen. That is the sad, sad reality of it.

Sources:
Eliza Dushku’s interview with Life After Film School
Firefly Wikipedia article and related sources
Dollhouse Cancellation Watch on SideReel
EW Ausiello Files

Dollhouse Benched” article on SideReel

My Favorite Guest Actors

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, patricians and plebeians, animals, minerals, and vegetables, I proudly present to you the first Actual New Feature on Melted Brain – a rundown of some of my very favorite guest/character actors working the small screen these days, complete with the reasons why I enjoy them so very much.

Since the realization of this segment was inspired by Garret Dillahunt’s appearance on tonight’s Lie to Me, and since I’ve been talking him up all week without really saying anything, I think it would only be right to start with him:

Garret Dillahunt

He’s been on my radar for the past two or three years, but his career extends much further back than that. Focusing in on just his television credits, he’s played such diverse roles as a Terminator, a Russian crime lord, and Jesus. What makes Garret Dillahunt so fascinating to me is an actor is not just his talent, but the flexibility of his talent. He really occupies all of his various roles. And he has that mysterious and wonderful ability to completely alter his aspect. The physical changes are minimal, but he has a way to mold his whole presence to a role, appearing smarter or dumber, handsomer or plainer, guileless or crueler depending on what is required. My favorite role I’ve seen him in so far was his turn as Roman Novikov in Life.

Upcoming appearances: Tonight’s Lie to Me and episode five of White Collar.

Mark Sheppard

I love Mark Sheppard. I love every single thing he has done that I have seen. The roles are arguably not incredibly diverse. But they are all done phenomenally. He has a charisma and a way with words that seeps into every role he takes. And an excellent, excellent voice. He has appeared in just about every single one of my favorite shows, and been a highlight in those episodes. This man has slimy down pat – and also gruff, cynical, narcissistic, and crafty. I don’t know that I could choose my favorite of his roles, although I did really enjoy his time on Battlestar Galactica as Romo Lampkin. I’d say give this man his own show already, but I really enjoy having him in everything.

Upcoming appearances: Some episodes of White Collar, and a (supposedly) pivotal role on Supernatural.

Zeljko Ivanek

He’s been in everything. Seriously. He’s been completely fantastic – and he has an Emmy for his work on Damages to show for it. A lot of the time he plays a creepy Eastern European. Because, you know, that’s what you do as a fairly peculiar looking Slovenian actor. But, he’s also played several creepy Americans, a few professionals, and, in a few cases, somewhat pathetic Americans. It takes real talent to be both pathetic and creepy – even more for creepy. I’m most familiar with his Heroes role, Emile Danko, but I’m very intrigued by his work on Damages as Ray Fiske and intend to get my hands on some episodes as soon as possible.

John Pyper-Ferguson

I don’t know what it is about this guy, but I’ve been keeping my eye out for him constantly ever since I first saw him in an episode of The X-Files way back when (he actually had two different roles on that show, it turns out). He’s maybe not the strongest actor of all time, but he’s great in character parts, switching from hardass Viper jockey to blind astrophysicist to cult leader/prophet with astounding ease. More than any of his one roles, it’s just fascinating to see where and how he’ll turn up next.

Upcoming appearances: Looks like he’s gonna be in some movies…

Gina Torres

To be completely honest, I liked Gina Torres best in her starring role in Firefly. But, she’s also been a guest staple in so many other shows, I can’t complain much. A lot of the time she’s “the wife” – like she is in FlashForward, these days. But she’s also played a genuinely terrifying Cuban KGB officer in Alias and, my favorite of her roles, Jasmine, the goddess/pestilence from the fourth season of Angel. She is incredibly talented. And also very, very attractive. My gay friend and I agree, we may not swing that way most of the time, but we would definitely sleep with Gina Torres.

Upcoming appearances: Presumably some more episodes of FlashForward, tonight’s Gossip Girl, and she’s the voice of Superwoman in an upcoming animated movie.

Jude Ciccolella

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0161980/

As with Gina Torres, I prefer this actor in one of his recurring roles – Mike Novick of 24. However, since he ended his run on that show he’s shown himself to be a very diverse character actor. He left the loyal-but-uptight politician persona behind and has made appearances in all sorts of different roles on Prison Break, NCIS, Life, and Everybody Hates Chris. Many different roles, all performed with equal actorly dexterity.

Stephen Tobolowsky

A well-recognized face on both the big and small screen, Stephen Tobolowsky is kind of like the king of character actors. He’s played lawyers, doctors, greedy fathers, victims of short term memory loss, and, most recently, Sandy Ryerson, Glee‘s answer to “What do choir boys have nightmares about?” It’s astonishing to me that a man who looks so completely innocuous can go to the extreme edges of hilarity, humanity, and terror with brilliance and ease – and then come back and do the whole thing over again.

Upcoming appearances: Sandy is gone from Glee, for better or for worse, and it looks like he’s putting his focus back on movies for awhile.

These are all actors I am always excited to see in anything. Because I fully trust that they will deliver and that I will thoroughly enjoy the end result. I think the only thing I have left to address is, Why are there not more women on this list? The answer is…I can’t really say. I’m not sure. I just don’t notice actresses as much, maybe. Or, when I do, they’re in recurring roles. This is perhaps something I should work on in the future.

PS – The pictures are links to their imdb profiles. I’m crafty like that.