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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24 Season 8: The First 4 Hours January 20, 2010

After seeing all the action-packed promos for this season of 24, I was more excited about the show’s return than I had been for a few years. And the two-night, four hour season opener didn’t disappoint. There were plenty of twists and turns, and perhaps more importantly, there were a lot of new but familiar faces.

The cast of 24: Season 8

The Players

  • The Veterans – Superman Jack Bauer, the glue that holds the show together, is back, but is initially more subdued than normal. He’s too busy being a grandpa to Kim’s daughter Terri to burden himself with unraveling an assassination plot. Of course, being the noble hero that he is, he soon finds himself back at CTU, playing a crucial role in the investigation. Also returning is the lovably annoying Chloe O’Brien, who has managed to survive since she first joined CTU in season three. With as quickly as the bodies pile up on this show, it’s quite miraculous that she is still around. Jack and Chloe are the only two characters who have been around long enough to be considered veterans. (Well, there’s Kim, but it doesn’t seem like she will be very involved this season since she’s already on a plane back to L.A. with her family.) I’m holding out hope that Secret Service Agent Aaron Pierce will show up again. He’s the closest thing to an Energizer bunny (besides Jack, of course) that the show has. He’s constantly in harm’s way, but always manages to survive.
  • The Sophomores – Returning for a second season are President Allison Taylor (fresh off a divorce initiated by her husband, who couldn’t forgive her for sending their daughter to prison for her involvement in a murder), and her loyal sidekick Ethan Kanin. Also back in the game is Agent Renee Walker, although she’s no longer working for the FBI. When we last saw her in season 7, she was about to go off the books in her interrogation of a suspect, and apparently she crossed a line that sent her to a very dark place. So far, Annie Wersching is doing a great job of portraying Walker’s new personality. She is void of emotion, her eyes look empty, and she doesn’t seem to care about anything. It’s crazy to say, but in her current state she’s like a crazier, female version of Jack!
  • The New Players
    • The Hassan Family – This season’s initial crisis involves a plot to assassinat President Omar Hassan, the leader of an unnamed Middle Eastern country. He is in the U.S. to meet with President Taylor about promoting peace, disarming nuclear weapons, etc., but someone wants him dead, which throws a few kinks in the peace summit. He is joined by his wife (although it appears they have a loveless marriage) and daughter (who seems very loyal to her father). We soon learn that his chief of staff and brother, Farhad, isn’t as loyal as Omar would like to believe.
    • CTU: New York – The first six seasons were set in L.A., and last season was in D.C. Season 8 takes us to the streets of New York, and so we meet a new batch of CTU agents and analysts. (It sure is convenient that Chloe got transferred to this branch when Morris lost his job!) The head of CTU, Brian Hastings, seems to be as clueless as many of his predecessors, since junior analyst Chloe has a better handle on the situation than he does. And there’s the usual melodrama among the geek squad, with newbie Dana Walsh being terrorized by a former boyfriend who is threatening to expose her deep dark secret, and sneaky Arlo Glass, who spends most of his time either hitting on or spying on Dana. The one thing this CTU branch seems to have going for it is Agent Cole Ortiz, who is like a Jack-in-Training. He’s already pulled off a couple of Jack-worthy saves, so I have my fingers crossed that he will make it through this season.
    • Odds and Ends
      • Rob Weiss – He’s President Taylor’s new, young Chief of Staff. I’m not sure what to think of him yet.
      • Meredith Reed – She is the reporter who Hastings was convinced was working against Hassan, but it turns out the only thing she had to hide was the affair she’s been having with Hassan. Oops! That information is sure to resurface, especially since Farhad knows about it. I have a feeling he may use it to try to blackmail his brother.
      • The Villains – The first villain on the scene was President Hassan’s brother, Farhad, and as the plot thickened (by way of a series of tattoos on the assassin’s body), we were introduced to members of a Russian Crime Syndicate. The apparent leader goes by the name Bazhaev, and he has two sons, one who appears to be dying in a wine cellar, and the other, Josef, who is skeptical about getting involved with Farhad. One more thing about the tattoed assassin, Davros – I immediately recognized actor Doug Hutchinson as the man who played creepy Eugene Tooms on a couple episodes of The X-Files. Strangely, I didn’t remember until I read his filmography that he also played Horace Goodspeed on Lost. I guess it was the long haired hippie look that threw me off.

Familiar Faces

As I mentioned earlier, I was especially looking forward to this season because of some familiar actors who would be joining the cast:

  • Katee Sackhoff – Little Miss Starbuck seems to be playing a more feminine, weaker character than the fearless, aggressive Kara Thrace. But I am intrigued by her mysterious back story. Her name was Jenny, she was apparently poor and ran with a bad crowd, yet somehow she found a new identity as Dana Walsh and landed a job at CTU?
  • Freddie Prinze, Jr. – On today’s edition of “Whatever Happened To…,” we welcome back Mr. She’s All That, or if you prefer, Summer Catch. This former teen heart throb is hanging up his dancing shoes and picking up a gun. I must say, I like him as an intense, determined agent. He and Sarah Michelle Gellar have been married for almost 8 years now, and as a fan of Buffy, I kind of liked him more after they were together. All that to say, I’m glad to have him on the show.
  • David Anders! – Yes, I felt that the exclamation point was necessary. Ever since he played Julian Sark on Alias, I have had a major tv crush on David Anders, and his knack for accents. While even he couldn’t save the recent remake of Children of the Corn, I am hoping to see good things from him as a Russian villain on 24. I am even holding out hope that he will eventually turn on his father and help Jack save the day. Probably just wishful thinking, but that’s a much better alternative than Jack putting him in a choke hold and killing him!
  • Anil Kapoor – When I saw the 24 previews, I knew this was a familiar face, but I couldn’t place it. Then it hit me: “Who wants to be a… Mill-on-are!” President Hassan was the game show host on Slumdog Millionaire. So far he is doing an excellent job with this more serious role.
  • Mykelti Williamson – He’ll always be Fearless from Boomtown to me. I loved him on that show, and while he’s not nearly as likable here, it’s still nice to see him. And there’s still time for him to exhibit some more redeemable qualities.
  • Callum Keith Rennie – There must be a Battlestar Galactica connection on the casting staff, because joining Starbuck from that show is Leoben, one of the Cylons. He hasn’t made an appearance yet, except in photographs, but he will be one of the Russian villains.

Where Are We Going?

So, the initial storyline was introduced and somewhat resolved: the assassination attempt on President Hassan. With 20 hours still left, what can we expect?

  • Jack and Renee go undercover – In another convenient backstory detail, it turns out that Agent Walker was the FBI’s top undercover agent with the Russian mob. With one phone call, she swoops into CTU and is ready to go back into the field. Her decision to violently remove her contact’s parole bracelet at the end of the fourth hour was truly shocking. What in the world?! She is dead serious about playing her part, I suppose. It will be interesting to see Jack play the level headed one next to her crazy out of control self. Their goal: um, not sure yet. I suppose they need to find out what weapons the Russians plan to sell to Farhad, and what he plans to do with them.
  • The Russians and Farhad plot their evil deeds – There’s much to be discovered about this plot line, which has only just been introduced.
  • Presidents Taylor and Hassan continue their peace negotiations – I am sure that CTU’s investigation will continue to put pressure on these peace talks, and will threaten to end them. Then there’s the looming threat of Hassan’s affair becoming public knowledge.
  • Jack’s desire to get to L.A. – As Kiefer Sutherland said in a recent interview, Jack has a different mindset this season because he has something to fight for: a new, happy life with his daughter and granddaughter in L.A. So while he’ll still be fighting for truth and justice, he’ll also be trying to make it through the day in one piece.
  • CTU shenanigans – What will become of Dana and Cole’s engagement? Will Dana be able to get rid of her old boyfriend, or will he expose the truth? Will Hastings shape up as director, or will he be replaced? (If only Bill were still alive…)

It looks like this season is shaping up to be a great one. The only thing I didn’t like was when Jack got tortured in the basement by that cop who thought he was a cop killer. I thought it was too early in the season for such over the top melodrama. All the action leading up to and during Agent Ortiz’s heroic car swerving maneuver, which saved President Hassan’s life, was truly thrilling, and the turn of events afterwards was just as intriguing. What have you thought about this season so far?

 

Heroes: To View or Not to View October 4, 2008

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 12:14 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Heroes has reached near cult status in certain circles, so the question of whether or not to give up on it at the beginning of its third season is probably near-blasphemous to its die-hard fans. However, I can’t be counted among the most faithful viewers. I was ready to quit watching after the first season, but then they had to go and hire David Anders for an ongoing role. I couldn’t abandon my favorite villain (Sark from Alias). So, here I am, posing the same question I did last year around this time: should I stay or should I go? This time around, I have compiled the pros and cons of continuing to watch the show:

Pros

  • David Anders is still on the show – This is really a weak starting point, since he has yet to appear this season. Adam, the eternally young mastermind of ethically questionable deeds, is still trapped in an underground prison, which is where the normally sweet Hiro left him in a particularly disturbing act of revenge at the end of last season. Why take one of the best actors on the show and literally bury his talents? Based on a synopsis of an upcoming episode, he’ll be back on top of the ground soon, but will it be soon enough to hold my attention?
  • The premise is always fascinating – Even before this show aired its first episode, I was highly intrigued by the concept of ordinary people discovering that they have extraordinary abilities, and I looked forward to seeing whether they would use those abilities for good or evil. So my issues are not with the premise, but with the execution of that premise (see my cons list, where I will list my gripes in detail.)
  • There’s nothing better to watch on Monday nights – I despise the so-called comedy of “Two and a Half Men,” I am highly irritated by the hype surrounding Dancing with the Stars, and as I’ve mentioned here before, I gave up on Prison Break long ago. But maybe I should just skip tv-watching on Mondays and read a book instead.

  • Peter and Sylar are interesting characters – It’s hard to wrap my head around these two guys’ abilities. Peter’s ability is that he can absorb any ability; Sylar has the ability to “steal” any ability, and since he stole Peter’s ability, he now can also absorb any ability. Right? Wait, then why does he still cut people’s head’s open? Okay, so the narrative isn’t perfectly clear, but it’s fun to see which talents these two will pull out of their hat when the need arises.
  • The music is pretty cool – I like how the show has maintained the same musical themes since season one. The music has the right blend of mystery, creepiness, and epic.
  • The special effects are impressive – There’s no arguing that the special effects department gets it right on this show. They make all of our heroes’ abilities look real, most notably Hiro’s ability to stop time. Every week the highlights of the episode revolve around what spectacle we behold on the screen, as we wonder how they did it.

Cons

  • There are too many characters – Claire, HRG, Sylar, Peter, Nathan, Hiro, Ando, Nikki, Matt, Mohinder, Mrs. Petrelli, and that annoying kid who manipulates machines. That would be enough right there. Then last year they added Molly (did we really need another annoying kid? At least they’ve shipped her off this season), Maya and her brother, Claire’s boyfriend Peter Pan, Elle and her father, the annoying kid’s “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” cousin (will they bring her up again?), blah blah blah. It’s nearly impossible to keep track of all of them, and usually I don’t even care to. Honestly, I am most interested in Claire, HRG, Sylar, Peter, Hiro, and Ando. I see the others as filler.
  • The plot is too convoluted – I like a show with a complex plot (aka Lost, Battlestar Galactica), but I also appreciate it when a show’s various plots carry over from season to season and have some sort of continuity and/or resolution. I don’t think we get that with Heroes. There’s always some new plot to destroy the world, but usually about the time crisis is (easily) averted, a new plot of destruction is already waiting in the wings. Will we ever have an answer about the future in which Adam’s virus killed most of the population? I assume since the vial was destroyed last season we’re to think that it didn’t happen. But what about Peter’s Irish girlfriend who got trapped in that future? What happened to her? And what about in season one when we saw Sylar as Nathan as President in another future? Was that averted as well? The writers are playing with “the future can be changed” motif too freely, resulting in lackluster plot arcs. If one simple act can readjust a chaotic future, then why should we be so concerned about the latest villain and his evil plans? Currently, we have Hiro and Ando (and another unnecessary new character) chasing after two parts of a dangerous formula that “must be protected at all costs.” That sounds awfully similar to the virus from last season. And then there’s Mohinder working on a formula that would give everyone the ability to develop a special ability. That sounds similar to what happened on The 4400 two seasons ago. Bottom line: there are too many lose ends for my taste.

  • Maya is unbearable – This “don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry and my eyes bleed black gook and kill you” character was by far my least favorite of last season. So I was thrilled when she was presumably killed by Sylar. Unfortunately, she wasn’t really dead, and now we have to suffer through a telenovela-style romance between her and the newly buff, super strong, and scabby Mohinder. I know the introduction of new characters is sometimes necessary to move the plot along, but couldn’t the writers at least make them interesting or likable?
  • There is no finality in death – Most shows use the “is he or isn’t he dead” cliffhanger from time to time, but Heroes abuses this to the extreme. I no longer question whether they’ve really killed someone off; instead, I wonder when we will see them again. Let’s take a look at the characters that have been “killed” on this show, only to show up soon after alive and kicking: Sylar, Peter, Nathan, Nikki, HRG, Maya, etc. I am sure I am forgetting some. Were this limited to the occasional hero, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. One reason superheroes are super is that they aren’t easy to kill – they bounce back. But is it necessary to revive characters that weren’t interesting in the first place? At least, it seems, Nikki actually died in that fiery explosion last season, and this season’s Tracy is one of several clones created by the same doctor. This is bad news for me, though, since I don’t care for Ali Larter’s performance on this show. Apparently, there will be an endless supply of new characters for her to play as the writers get tired of the previous one.
  • Matt Parkman is not an interesting character – The ability to read minds? Interesting. The guy who is able to do this? Not interesting. So far this season, my interest wanes the most when we see Matt on his spirit walk in Africa. It’s even worse than last season when he and Mohinder were playing “my two dads” to little Molly. I liked Greg Grunberg just fine on Alias, and he was perfectly cast way back when on Felicity, but I just don’t find him compelling in this role.
  • The acting (or is it the writing?) is often bad – If I sat down and watched Lost or 24, and then I immediately watched an episode of Heroes, there would be a clear difference in the quality of the acting and writing. Much of the time, I just don’t buy the emotion, fear, intensity, and resolve of these heroes. It’s like they are going through the motions, or reading through the script. If Jack Bauer paid a visit to Peter Petrelli, he would tell the boy to snap out of his daze and toughen up for the fight. The only person who shows genuine determination is HRG. He just may be my favorite character on the show, and he is played perfectly by Jack Coleman.
  • Hiro isn’t as funny as he used to be – During the first season, I appreciated the comic relief that Hiro brought to the otherwise grim landscape. And in season 2, I was mostly interested in Hiro’s story because it involved David Anders’ character. So far in season three, Hiro and Ando’s “follow that formula” hasn’t moved beyond slapstick shtick. The wide-eyed stares, the shoulder shrugs, the offering of popcorn to the silent Haitian when he foiled their escape. You would expect more gusto from a guy who was sadistic enough to bury someone alive.

  • Angela Petrelli isn’t a compelling villain – Season one Mrs. Petrelli was nothing more than Peter and Nathan’s loving mother. Season two we discovered that she was part of the axis of questionable motives. In the season three premiere, it was revealed that she is an evil mastermind who gave up Sylar for adoption and now plans to use his psychotic tendencies to her advantage. I’m not sure we’ve had enough of an explanation to make this leap. For one thing, I would think that Sylar falls somewhere in between Nathan and Peter’s ages. Wouldn’t they have noticed if Mama was walking around pregnant? I’m hoping there will be more to the story.

So, there it is. I came up with six “pros” and eight “cons.” I guess that means I’m leaning toward dropping this show from my weekly must-see list. Maybe I will watch another week or two and see if the season grows on me. But I’m not feeling very compelled. Any enthusiastic fans reading this want to give me some more reasons to stick around?