Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

David Anders: One of TV’s Unheralded Heroes February 10, 2011

Filed under: 24,Television,Vampire Diaries — Emily @ 12:56 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

He has played the son of a Russian mobster, the biological father of a vampire-loving teenager, an eternally young ne’er do well, and even the unfortunate victim of a corn-worshipping cult. But to me, he’ll always be Sydney Bristow’s charming, British-accented nemesis, Julian Sark. I’m talking about one of my favorite unheralded tv actors: David Anders.

Mr. Anders was one of the first celebrities who I investigated on IMDb, when I first discovered the website nearly a decade ago. Since I only knew him at the time through his character on Alias, I was surprised to learn that not only was he only in his early 20s, but he was from Oregon. In his role as Sark, he came across as much more mature than 20, and his British accent was so flawless that I had assumed he was really from England. Sadly, most of his subsequent roles haven’t featured such an attractive accent, nor have his characters met very satisfying fates. However, no matter how poorly written or short-lived a role is, if David Anders’ name is attached, I will always check it out. Let’s take a look at some of his work:

  • Alias – (2002-2006) – So far this has been Anders’ most impressive and memorable role. Sark was supposed to be a villain, but he was impossible to dislike! For awhile, the writers hinted that he and Sydney were half-siblings, and I wish that had been true. But at least he crossed over from the dark side in later seasons, to assist Sydney and company on some cases.
  • Heroes – (2007-2010) – Let me be clear. David Anders was the only reason I tuned in to season two of this show, which was already faltering big time by the end of the first season (and it only went down hill from there…) By the next season, Anders’ presence almost wasn’t enough to make me keep watching, the show had become so ridiculous. So when he was killed off with absolutely no fanfare, I immediately stopped watching, with no regrets. Even when his character was alive and well, this was not a villain you loved to love. He was annoying and selfish – not the best role for someone as attractive and charming as David Anders!
  • Children of the Corn – (2009) – Sadly, things didn’t get much better in his next role, SyFy’s tv remake of the classic ’80s horror movie of the same name. The original was campy enough (what was Linda Hamilton thinking?!), so why redo it? At least it gave me a chance to see David Anders again, in a slightly less annoying role than that of Adam Monroe on Heroes. As is usually the case in horror movies, Anders’ character didn’t meet a very good end.
  • 24 – (2010) – I had started to tire of Jack Bauer and company by the time this final season rolled around. (I never fully recovered from the bizarre direction they took Tony Almeida…) I was considering not watching, but then the names of the new cast started being announced: Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck was back!), Freddie Prinze, Jr. (that should be interesting…), and David Anders! So yet again, Anders became my motivation for watching a show. And his role as Josef Bazhaev didn’t disappoint. He was a “bad” guy, but he had the redeeming qualities of risking his own life to help his brother, and ultimately deciding to turn on his Russian mob father to help Jack save the day. It was a short-lived role, but a step in the right direction.
  • Vampire Diaries (2010-2011) – And now it appears that David Anders has found a new generation of fans on the CW. Many viewers of Vampire Diaries were probably starting kindergarten when Julian Sark first came to life on Alias. So to them, it’s not strange for him to be playing someone’s father on this show about a group of teenagers, two vampire brothers, and apparently a clan of werewolves (I stopped watching during the first season, so I’m not really sure what’s going on now…) But to me it’s very weird! He’s only 30 years old, and he’s playing father to Elena, who must be 18. Do the math. Then again, he has often played roles older than his real age. I did tune back in to this show to see him, but at the time it appeared to be his last episode (as had the episode before that, when he had been left for dead…) Plus, I admit to fast forwarding through the show and only watching his scenes. But I am glad that he is back on tv – hopefully for a prolonged stay this time.
  • The Riot (2011) – Perhaps this will be the year that Anders has a breakthrough year. He’s turning 30 in March, and he’s appearing in a feature length film called The Riot. It doesn’t exactly feature a top notch cast, but headliners Ron Perlman and Michael Clarke Duncan tend to have success in action movies. Based on the synopsis (four friends stick together and try to survive in a world “on the cusp of disaster”), it looks like he’ll be playing a good guy for once. Let’s hope this role will get David Anders noticed even more, so he can land some better roles, and I’ll only have to watch great shows to see him.
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My Own Worst Enemy Piques My Interest October 15, 2008

I started watching NBC’s new spy drama My Own Worst Enemy with low expectations, so maybe that’s why I was mildly impressed by the time the credits rolled.

But before I talk about the show, I need to back up a bit. Let’s go back to 1989, which is when I first saw Christian Slater. He played opposite Winona Ryder in the dark comedy Heathers. A few years later, I made it my quest to see every Christian Slater movie (he was quite the early 90s heartthrob). He wasn’t necessarily in many high-quality films, but I have fond memories of his work in Pump Up the Volume, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Kuffs, Untamed Heart, True Romance, and Interview with the Vampire. His distinctive looks and his wry, witty demeanor had him in high demand.

But then something happened. By the mid to late 90s, his status as a heartthrob was apparently waning, and he turned to bad action movies like Broken Arrow and Hard Rain. His filmography hasn’t improved much in the 2000s (let’s pretend Alone in the Dark never happened), but he has redeemed himself somewhat with his television appearances on The West Wing and Alias. So, the main reason I decided to check out My Own Worst Enemy was to not only support my one-time movie star crush, but to see if he could find more success on the small screen.

Now we can get back to the pilot episode of My Own Worst Enemy. I wonder if the casting director thought of Christian Slater for the dual role of Edward Albright/Henry Spivey after seeing him on Alias. After all, his guest starring role on that fun spy drama was a good fit for him. Unfortunately, the opening scene played out like a poorly done parody of of one of Sydney Bristow’s international missions: the generic pillow talk between Edward and his spy contact “with benefits,” the predictable “that’s not me sleeping in the bed – it’s a pillow” development, and the fake looking Eiffel Tower backdrop. The whole situation just felt forced. My outlook didn’t improve for the next 20 minutes, as I observed what appeared to be more Alias ripoffs. Mysterious elevator that transports unsuspecting employees to a subterranean top-secret spy headquarters? Check. Geeky tech guy who is almost too socially awkward to do his job (a la Marshall)? Check. Lightning fast trips to Russia and back in less than a day, with none of that pesky jet lag? Check. I was starting to wonder if I should even finish out the episode.

But then, after all the necessary set up and establishment of characters, things got more interesting. My Own Worst Enemy may borrow some tricks from Alias’s espionage bag, but it isn’t a carbon copy. The new twist that Enemy brings? Slater’s character, Edward, voluntarily entered a U.S. spy program in which he was given a split personality. Thus, when he was 20 years old, the organization created Henry, a friendly, devoted, decidedly normal guy. For the next two decades, while Edward was out killing people, keeping secrets, and further feeding his psychotic tendencies, Henry got married, had two kids, and settled into an unexciting desk job that required a fair amount of traveling.

The show picks up the story when Henry/Edward is 39, and suddenly, with no clear explanation, his brain short circuits, and Henry becomes aware of Edward’s existence. The second half of the episode took this idea and ran with it, resulting in many creative, surprising, and entertaining developments. Based on my assessment of the first episode, I think I can say with confidence that this show has a lot of potential. Christian Slater has been given an interesting character to work with. Not only does he play two distinct personalities (a smart but loose cannon vs. a naive but dedicated family guy), but he will also play each of those characters imitating the other from time to time. That sounds like it would be a lot of fun for an actor.

The split personality motif also creates a rich subtext for complicated storylines. The audience has much to learn: What happened in Edward’s past that made him want to become a split personality spy? If Henry’s persona was created by the government, how can he come to terms with the life he has created? Will Henry and Edward work together (communicating through videos that they send to each other) to advance their own agenda, or will they try to outmaneuver each other? What secrets is Edward hiding from everyone?

For now, I plan to continue watching. The basic premise, as of now, is that the spy organization (didn’t catch the name), Edward, and Henry all know of each other’s existence, and they are all trying to use that to their respective advantages. I’d expect much spy intrigue and complicated domestic life to ensue.

The supporting cast includes Madchen Amick (she’ll always be Shelly Johnson from Twin Peaks to me) as Henry’s cheerful, supportive, clueless wife Angie. So far her character has been pretty stereotypical. There is also Alfre Woodard as Edward’s boss Mavis. She seems well cast for that role. So far Henry’s two children have been painful to watch, probably due to weak scriptwriting for the family scenes, but it is worth noting that the son is played by Taylor Lautner, who will be playing Jacob Black in the upcoming Twilight movie. This is the first I’ve seen of the actor, and he seems well cast for the first installment of Twilight, based on his appearance, but I’m not sure how he will be playing Jacob in future movie versions of the books, after Jacob goes through his “growth spurt.”

So, I was pleasantly surprised by this show. Certainly, it had its poorly executed or overdone moments (such as the slow motion scene with uber-dramatic music when Henry was being led out of a hostile environment), but overall I am intrigued enough to tune in again next week. In case you missed the premiere, it will re-air Friday on SciFi and Saturday on NBC. Let me know what you think.

 

From Sesame Street to 30 Rock: A TV Viewing Timeline June 1, 2007

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My earliest memories of watching TV include images of Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, and Snuffleupagus (back when he was Big Bird’s “invisible” friend). I’ve waded through many shows since then, of varying degrees of quality and appeal. Here’s a glimpse into what my TV viewing was like at various stages of my life. I am sure I will leave some things out, but these are the shows that left the biggest mark in my mind. And a special thanks goes to wikipedia for having such clear and detailed information about every U.S. network television primetime schedule since 1946. Craziness!

Click here to peruse Wikipedia’s Primetime TV Schedule Pages

Early 1980s

  • Sesame Street – I loved the time I spent on Sesame Street with The Count, Oscar the Grouch, Maria, Bob, and the whole gang.
  • Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood – The Land of Make-Believe. The trolley. The fish tank. Need I say more? Mister Rogers was a great tv neighbor for kids everywhere. There is no one like him for today’s kids.
  • Today’s Special – Remember this one? The concept sounds disturbing, but somehow I loved it as a pre-schooler: a mannequin in a department store comes to life at night when a magical hat is put on his head. He is joined by a store employee named Jodie, a puppet security guard, a giant mouse, and a talking computer, and together they have fun and learn new things. If you would like to do some more reminiscing, check out this very thorough fan site devoted to the show: Today’s Special Fan Website

Mid-1980s

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  • The Cosby Show – I watched the Huxtables through most of their tv lives, and enjoyed watching all the kids grow up while I did.
  • Who’s the Boss – This was one of my favorites during the ’80s. Who didn’t love Sam, played by cute little Alyssa Milano? I even had a poster of the cast hanging up in my room!
  • The Dukes of Hazard – Ah, the Duke boys. I don’t remember much about this show except for the General Lee (someone in my hometown had an exact replica that they proudly parked in front of their house) and the winding roads of the chase scenes. There was a winding, dirt road (at least that’s how I remember it) that we would take as a shortcut to my babysitter’s house, and often as we drove on it, I imagined that I was being chased by Boss Hogg. Based on what I have seen of this show in reruns, there wasn’t much more than cars and chase scenes to remember.
  • The Love Boat/Fantasy Island – I had to keep these two together here because they have always been linked in my memory. That makes sense, since they aired back-to-back on Saturday nights. As a 6 or 7 year old, I really didn’t know what was going on, yet I remember the opening sequence of each show very well: “The Love Boat” theme song playing while a cruise ship sails across the ocean, and Fantasy Island’s Tattoo shouting “the plane! the plane!” while ringing a bell. These were some of my very first television dramas, along with Simon and Simon, and Knight Rider. 24 and Lost seem so far removed from all of those – and so much better!

The Late 1980s

By the late ’80s, I was almost exclusively watching sitcoms – there were so many to choose from! I think I can safely say that I watched more tv during this phase of my life than I have at any time since, which is why I had to divide shows by days of the week. In my quest to jog my memory, I found a tribute to a fantastic collection of primetime sitcoms, with links to their opening sequences on YouTube. Enjoy!:

Click here for classic sitcom fun

Monday nights: ALF, The Hogan Family, Murphy Brown, Designing Women

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  • ALF – We watched a show about an alien who was played by a puppet? Maybe there’s hope for the new Cavemen sitcom after all…
  • The Hogan Family – My favorite thing about this show, besides the fact that it starred Jason Bateman (future star of Arrested Development), was that its name was changed so much. It went from Valerie to Valerie’s Family before settling on The Hogan Family for the rest of its run.
  • Murphy Brown and Designing Women – These shows marked the beginning of my viewing of a string of shows geared toward an older audience. I think the funny, distinctive characters drew me in. I even watched Newhart sometimes, for the same reason.

Wednesday night: Growing Pains, Head of the Class, The Wonder Years, Doogie Howser, M.D.

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  • Growing Pains and the Wonder Years have the two best theme songs of all time, in my opinion. They were both so catchy, and so in tune with the feel of the show. Growing Pains was another show where I enjoyed watching the actors grow up. And I still remember Kevin and Winnie’s first kiss on The Wonder Years. As for Doogie Howser – the adventures of a brilliant teenage doctor – there’s another ridiculous show concept that actually worked. It’s nice that after so many years, Neil Patrick Harris has finally found another memorable sitcom character to play. Now when I see him, all I think is “Barney” – not even a trace of Doogie is left.

Thursday night: The Cosby Show and A Different World

  • Of course I watched the Cosby Show spin-off!

Friday night: And so began TGIF – Perfect Strangers, Full House, Mr. Belvedere, Just the Ten of Us

  • And the catchy theme songs/opening sequences just kept on coming. I’m pretty sure now that none of these shows was really very funny, but those Olsen twins sure were cute, and I always found it a challenge to keep all eight of Coach Lubbock’s kids straight on Just the Ten of Us.

Saturday night: More “old people” sitcoms! – 227, Amen, The Golden Girls, Empty Nest

  • More catchy theme songs! To this day, I still break out in “Thank you for being a friend, travel down the road and back again…” from time to time. We are really going to miss those theme songs when we look back on today’s shows in 20 years. Theme songs and opening sequences are becoming obsolete.

The Early 1990s

As I moved into my pre-teen years, I moved away from sitcoms and toward hour long shows. I still watched some of my old favorites, and added a couple of new ones, like Night Court, Family Matters, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Blossom, but the early 90s shows I have the fondest memories of are the dramas.

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  • The Young Riders – Lots of cute guys riding around on horses delivering packages to people. I’m sure I wasn’t the only tween girl who watched this show.
  • The Commish – How interesting it is that when I watched this, I thought that Michael Chiklis, who played the title character, was like 45. In fact, he was only 28! He looks younger now, 15 years later, playing Vic Mackey on The Shield. The most upsetting thing that happened on The Commish is when my favorite character, police officer Stan, was killed in a car bombing. 😦
  • Quantum Leap – My clearest memory of this show is the last image of the series finale: “Dr. Sam Beckett never returned home.” That caption appeared on an otherwise black screen, and I cried. That seemed like such a hopeless, sad ending.
  • Twin Peaks – My family being the strange people that we are, we would all sit down and watch this strangest show EVER together. Log Lady, One-armed Man, Dancing Dwarf, no problem. We were all fascinated by the bizarre characters, storylines, and mysteries.

The Mid-1990s

In theory, my tv-viewing should have become drastically reduced during this time period, because this is when I got my driver’s license, which would have enabled me to find other diversions besides tv. Let’s have a look at what kept me glued to the tube:

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  • Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman – Dean Cain was so cute as Clark Kent and Superman!
  • Party of Five – a pre-Lost Matthew Fox, and a cute teenaged Scott Wolf. Plus, this show made me cry every week. What more could a teenage girl ask for?
  • Friends and Seinfeld – It took me a couple of seasons to catch on to both of these classic shows. I preferred Seinfeld over Friends, and still think it is the superior show. But, during my high school years, they both gave me lots to laugh about.

The Late 1990s

By fall 1996, I was in college, which meant I had my very own TV and VCR on which to record my favorite shows while I was off studying or enjoying my newfound independence. So what shows were worthy of my VCR’s recording capabilities?

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  • The X-Files – This sci-fi procedural remains one of my all-time favorite shows. Mulder and Scully’s investigations into the paranormal were interesting, sometimes creepy, and always entertaining.
  • Ally McBeal – I was lured in by dancing babies, toilet flush remotes, and pet frogs – in other words, by the quirkiness of this show.
  • Dawson’s Creek and Roswell – And so began my love affair with the WB. Finally, a channel had arrived that catered to people my age! I would no longer have to depend on geriatric entertainment like Golden Girls and Empty Nest. Now I had shows about high school students. Sure, some of them were aliens, but I could still relate to them more than the previous characters I had been watching for so many years. Wednesday nights meant heading over to my friend Leah’s house to watch these two shows with a group of friends – a vanilla cream soda and popcorn in hand – with follow-up discussion of the episode always a given.

The Early 2000s

Now I had graduated from college and moved to Alabama to go to graduate school. I didn’t know anyone in my new city, so my tv kept me company. I added a few new show to ones like Dawson’s Creek and the X-Files that I was still watching.

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  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel – I actually started watching Angel about two seasons before I started watching Buffy, which is unusual, since Angel was a spin-off of Buffy. In the end, they both captured my heart, and I still enjoy watching them in reruns even now.
  • CSI – This original version is the only CSI I have ever enjoyed watching. And although I started watching it with an extreme case of skepticism (due to my dislike of producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s formulaic action movies), I quickly had to admit that Jerry had uncovered a gem with this one.
  • Smallville – The first season of this show was really interesting, but after the first few seasons I lost interest amidst the continuous “Lana in peril” storylines.

The Mid-2000s
And then came 2004, which as I recall, is when I received my very own TiVo for Christmas! With that gift came a golden ticket to any tv show I wanted to watch, and I took advantage of it.

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  • Arrested Development – There are so many classic moments on this show about the dysfunctional Bluth family, but one of my favorites is a scene where they give their various impersonations of a chicken. Who knew there were so many ways to do that?
  • Alias – This show was highly entertaining and had several likeable characters, including Francie and Will, Syd’s closest pals. The later seasons suffered from them not being there anymore, but I still watched to the lackluster end.
  • Everwood – I loved this show and still miss it.
  • Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars – Two shows focusing on young female heroines, and they both got cancelled this year. I enjoyed them while they lasted!
  • 24 – It’s like a rollercoaster that lasts for 5 months!
  • Battlestar Galactica – It’s not just for sci-fi geeks! It’s an excellent character drama that happens to take place on a space ship. The upcoming season will be its last, and I will savor every moment of it.
  • The Office and 30 Rock – I can’t think of any other comedies like them. They are both unique, quirky, and hilarious.
  • Heroes – Very epic. And I like the comic book touches.
  • Friday Night Lights – Love it. The characters seem so real, the story lines so touching. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!
  • Grey’s Anatomy – I have thoroughly enjoyed it until now, but it has gotten too soapy and annoying, so my plan is to not rejoin it in the fall.
  • Lost – The best show on television. It will be tough waiting until February ’08 for new episodes.

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So there you have it. Nearly 30 years of tv viewing. Some of it better or more memorable than others. Although this is an extensive list, it doesn’t even mention the after school and Saturday morning tv shows that I watched growing up. I’ll save those for another day. At some point I will also make a list of the best and worst shows I have watched over the years, but until then, I hope you have as much fun checking out the wikipedia primetime schedule pages as I did!

Click here to peruse Wikipedia’s Primetime TV Schedule Pages

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