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Power Rankings: Friday Night Lights, Part 2

19 Aug

All your favorite Lions/Panthers

Part two of the 16-actor long Friday Night Lights power rankings.  Check out part 1, along with the introduction here.

9. Minka Kelly (as Lyla Garrity) – She had a spot role in (500) Days of Summer right after leaving FNL’s main cast.  She was in The Roommate, Just Go With It, and appeared in nine episodes of Parenthood. She starred in the short-lived and ill-conceived Charlie’s Angels remake and plays Jackie O in current movie The Butler. She’ll costar in Fox sci-fi crime drama series Almost Human this fall with Karl Urban and Lili Taylor.

8. Grey Damon (as Hastings Ruckle) – The only main character who only appeared in the fifth and final season, Damon appeared as a main cast member on ABC’s Family’s one season The Nine Lives of Chloe King. He was in six episodes of The Secret Circle and five of Twisted.  He appeared in this year’s Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (with or without the Olympians, we’ll never know).  He’ll recur in this season’s American Horror Story edition, Coven, will be in the American remake of Oldboy and is set to appear aside Aimee Teegarden in CW midseason replacement series Star-Crossed.

7. Jurnee Smollett (as Jess Merriweather) – The unfortunately named Smolett starred in controversial Tyler Perry movie Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (she was said marriage counselor).   She was a regular on one season Jim Belushi – Jerry O’Connell legal show The Defenders (somehow, it was not on TNT), She was in two episodes of The Mob Doctor and two of Do No Harm, participating in the two shortest-lived doctor shows of the past season and was most recently in 8 episodes of True Blood as Sam Merlotte love interest Nicole this season.

6. Gaius Charles (as Brian “Smash” Williams) – He has small roles in The Messenger, Salt, and Taken.  He was on individual episodes of NCIS and Necessary Roughness.  I had honestly through Charles would be much lower in these rankings, and he would be if he hadn’t become a recurring character on Grey’s Anatomy in season nine who will be bumped up into the main cast in this upcoming tenth season (crazy, right?) as Dr. Shane Ross.  While Grey’s Anatomy isn’t exactly in early season form when it could send songs to the top 40, it’s still quite a popular show, and that’s a really good get for Smash, as I value main cast roles on successful shows quite highly.

5. Scott Porter (as Jason Street) – He voices Cyclops on the dub of Marvel Anime: X-Men.  He was a recurring character in the second season of The Good Wife as investigator Blake, appearing in fourteen episodes.  He played Aubrey Plaza’s love interest in this summer’s The To-Do List.  He was in Nicolas Sparks-based weeper Dear John and was in eight episodes of Sci-Fi’s Caprica.  Currently, he is a main cast member in Hart of Dixie on CW, entering its third season this fall.  Obviously Hart of Dixie is not as noteworthy as Grey’s Anatomy or True Blood, but hell, he’s going into his third season, and he has a nice little profile outside of that show.

4. Jesse Plemons (as Landry Clarke) – He appeared in alien comedy Paul, blockbuster Battleship, as as the titular character’s son in The Master.  He was in an episode of Childrens Hospital and appeared as a regular cast member in failed but actually not terrible midseason replacement Amanda Peet comedy Bent.  He currently appears as wannabe-meth-maker protégé Todd as a regular cast member on the fifth and final season of Breaking Bad. It’s a very solid resume for one of the non-obvious actors to breakout, but let’s not kid ourselves – his being placed above cast members with similar resumes is due to his role on Breaking Bad.  Todd’s so polite!

3. Taylor Kitsch (as Tim Riggins) – Hollywood saw a leading man in Kitsch and chose him to star in what ended up as two of the biggest flops of 2012, alien action pictures John Carter and Battleship.  He appeared in Oliver Stone’s Savages, and will appear this year in The Last Selection and Lone Survivor, from FNL creator and Battleship director Peter Berg.  Next year, he’s been cast to appear in Ryan Murphy film The Normal Heart.  In a couple of years, if his career doesn’t work out so well he may fade, but still starring in two blockbusters is a pretty big deal, even if they weren’t exactly successes.

2. Michael B. Jordan (as Vince Howard) – Of course this doesn’t count here, but I’d be remiss without a quick reminder that he played Wallace in The Wire. He’s been trending gradually upwards since FNL ended.  He was in an episode of House as well as 16 of Parenthood. He was in Red Tails and surprise hit Chronicle in 2012. He voiced Victor Stone in animated kids video Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and will be appearing in rom com Are We Officially Dating? This year he drew rave reviews for his portrayal of a real life murder victim in Fruitvale Station and may get some love come award time.   The recency and acclaim of his role in Fruitvale is what positioned him over the failed blockbusters of Kirsch or everyone else’s television roles.

1. Connie Britton (as Tami Taylor) – Mrs. Coach jumped right from FNL into a starring appearance in the first season of American Horror Story, which went on to be a major success. She currently starts in ABC first season success story Nashville as a country singer undergoing a mid-career crisis, one of the most successful and acclaimed new network shows of the past year.  She appeared in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World as well as this summer’s Aubrey Plaza starring The To-Do List and is set to appear in next year’s This is Where I Leave You.  She wins top honors for getting top star billing (or included among two equal top stars in each) in two shows that were both relative critical and commercial successes.

Power Rankings: Friday Night Lights, Part 1

16 Aug

Friday Night Lights!  Landry! Landry!

(Power Rankings sum up:  we’ll pick a television show and rank the actors/actresses/contestants/correspondents/etc. based on what they’ve done after the series ended (unless we’re ranking a current series, in which case we’ll have to bend the rules).  Preference will be given to more recent work, but if the work was a long time ago, but much more important/relevant, that will be factored in as well.)

This is a new power rankings land speed record, as it’s only been two years since the show bowed out.  However, the cast, validating the talent they displayed on FNL, has been so damn successful on the whole, that I think they’ve warranted this unexpectedly early Power Rankings treatment .  The entries may not be as long as some, because of the little time, but there’s a huge cast, so it’ll be divided into two parts.  A couple of actors left earlier in the show and thus had more chance to build their resumes, but those extra years didn’t seem to necessarily give those actors a step up. This list was nearly impossible to rank.  Everyone’s done something, and everyone besides poor number 16, has had at the minimum a recurring tv role, and most have had much more.  There’s some fairly arbitrary judgment calls pure and simple ,and I can’t think of another power rankings in which not just two or three were close together but so many of them.  But rank somehow we must; perhaps we’ll come back again and revisit these rankings and find the order changes in another couple of years.  As a heads up, I tended to give edges to more prominent shoes over less, larger roles in shows and movies, and acclaim never hurts along with popularity.

16. Brad LeLand (as Buddy Garrity) – he somehow earned his way up to main cast status by the end of the show, which was a not unfair triumph of simple attrition and perseverance; he has the sixth most appearances of any actor on the show.  He was in an episode of Parks and Recreation, two of Veep, and is going in to be in some movie called The Bystander Theory.  Easy last, things start getting more difficult from here.

15. Madison Burge (as Becky Sproles) –  She was in Robert Duvall film Seven Days in Utopia and in three episodes of ABC Family’s The Lying Game. She was in an episode of Southland and currently has a recurring role on the final season of Dexter as Vince Masuka’s daughter Niki.

14. Aimee Teegarden (as Julie Taylor) – Among the least busy of the FNL cast members, Teegarden is still only not higher due to being hurt by timing as her films Prom and Scream 4 appeared just before FNL finished airing.  She was in web series Aim High and movies that did nothing Love and Honor and Beneath the Darkness. She starred in a CW pilot, The Selection, that didn’t get picked up, but she’ll get another chance as the star of 2014 planned mid-season CW series Star-Crossed.

13. Zach Gilford (as Matt Saracen) – Since leaving FNL’s main cast, he’s been a main cast member on two failed dramas, 2011 Shonda Rhymes-produced medical drama Off the Map, and 2012’s Fox failure The Mob Doctor.  He was in nothing movies In Our Nature and Answers to Nothing and will appear in Arnold Schwarzenegger starrer The Last Stand as well as Devil’s Due.

12. Matt Lauria (as Luke Cafferty) – He was a regular on the reasonably well-liked by short-lived Chicago Code and appeared in episodes of Burn Notice and Person of Interest.  He was in three episodes of CSI and in 10 of Parenthood, which, as it was created by FNL showrunner Jason Katims, and will be showing up several times on this list.

11. Adrianne Palicki (as Tyra Collette) – She would have been Wonder Woman in the David E. Kelley pilot that failed to get picked up.  She was Lady Jaye in Gi Joe: Retaliation which I’m guessing you didn’t realize grossed 371 million worldwide.   She co-starred in 2012’s Red Dawn remake which was actually filmed in 2009 but took three years to see the light of day.   She was a main character in 2010’s Lone Star, but the well-reviewed show was cancelled mind-mindbogglingly quickly.

10. Kyle Chandler (as Eric Taylor) – Coach Taylor himself, Chandler, as one of the few adult cast members (three, and Buddy Garrity is kind of a technicality), was logically a lot more successful before the show than most of the youngsters.  He’s kept quite busy since, appearing in a number of supporting roles in prominent movies.  Right after FNL ended, he was in spooky JJ Abrams film Super 8, then appeared in Best Picture winner Argo and Best Picture nominee Zero Dark Thirty.  This year he was in Broken City, teen love indie The Spectacular Now, and will appear in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.

We’re just under halfway there.  Part 2 coming up shortly.

Power Rankings: Arrested Development Characters, Part 2

21 Jun

The gang, again

In our continued coverage of all things Arrested Development in the wake of the long-awaited new season, we’ve been ranking the characters.  Part 1 can be found here.  This is part 2, five through one.  Moving on.

5. Tobias – Though everyone gets their share, Tobias and Buster are the physical comedy 1 and 1A of Arrested Development.  Many of Tobias’s funniest moments revolve around bits that sound stupid or infantile when explained, and it’s vastly to David Cross’s credit that he makes them hilarious when viewed.  A top two character in my early viewing of the show, some of Tobias’s bits don’t stand up as well on repeated viewings, particularly the continued poor choices of language he uses and the constant Tobias-is-gay harping.  It’s funny for a while, but sometimes it seems as if Arrested Development doesn’t know when to pull back on a joke and go in another direction.  Still, he sits here because plenty of the bits do work, like his simple awkward getting up on the stage when he’s directing a high school play, and because the writing is so clever that even though you wish they would pull back, they still manage to make his inappropriate language frequently hilarious.  His performance as Mrs. Featherbottom is a highlight. It maximized Tobias’s awkward potential and played on his obliviousness without necessarily smacking you in the face with “Tobias is gay.”   The Arresetd Development line that comes up most often for me in day to day situations is the tail end of Tobias’s ” “No, it never does. I mean, these people somehow delude themselves into thinking it might, but… but it might work for us.”  But for funniest in the moment, it falls just behind the line below.

Best Line:  “You know, first of all, we are doing this for her, because neither one of us wants to get divorced. And second-of-ly, I know you’re the big marriage expert – oh, I’m sorry, I forgot, your wife is dead! ” – Season 2, Episode 3 “Amigos”

4. Lucille – Lucille bumped up into the top four for me after rewatching the first three seasons.  I had her ranked lower in my memory from years ago but after watching all of the episodes again I have absolutely no idea why that could be.  Her acidic put downs of her family members are consistently hilarious and her haughty sense of entitlement is clearly where Lindsay gets hers from, but Lucille’s is funnier.  She’s frequently in top form and gets to rip all of the characters apart. It’s easy enough to insult a Bluth, but no one gets the freedom to say things like Lucille does.  My favorite recurring Lucille bit may be her constant referral to her not caring for G.O.B.  The new episodes show off her personality perfectly when she has the attitude and ability to lead her little prison gang, but soon gets on the nerves of all of the other gang members so much with her constant sniping that they want her out desperately.  She’s far and away the meanest Bluth, which is some shows might be a detriment, but here gives her the freedom to speak her mind.  Her surprise at seeing Gene Parmesan provides a wonderful rare gleeful Lucille moment.   For her line, I’m actually going to cheat and use a snippet that has a Michael response in between, because most of her best quotes involve her responses to other people.

Best line:  Lucille: “I’ll be in the hospital bar.”

Michael: “Uh, you know there isn’t a hospital bar, Mother.”

Lucille: “Well, this is why people hate hospitals.” – Season 1, Episode 4 – “Key Decisions”

3. Michael – In the first three seasons, Michael acted largely as the straight man, but he was far more hilarious than comedic straight men often are.  The elements that turn him away from straight man in the fourth season to just another unsuccessful, troubled Bluth were present the whole time.  The self-absorption and inability to listen to what anyone else says or thinks may not have largely affected his position at the Bluth Company in the first couple seasons but is largely responsible for his downfall in season four.  His frequent retort “I’m leaving this family” turns into self-parody in an oft-repeated scene in the fourth season, as it turns out no one cares except Micheal.  He’s no longer keeping the family together.  This allows Michael even further to show off his comic chops.  I don’t blame him that he got stuck with the difficult job of anchoring the exposition-heavy first episode of the new season. Rather, I credit the fact that he was the most logical character to start off any story of Arrested Development with and make the most out of it.  His series of jokes at not being able to recognize George Michael’s girlfriend Ann is my favorite running bit.  Hilarious moments in the new season include his constant retelling of the four person elimination vote and his extremely extended lie about traffic to his son.

Best line: “Jessie… No, I was just saying your name as you walked away. I didn’t… I have no follow-up.” – Season 1, Episode 11 – Public Relations

2. George Michael – One of the only changes that occurred after viewing the fourth season was that I swapped Michael and George Michael.  They’re still incredibly close, but the first George Michael episode may have been my favorite of the season, and both of his episodes came towards the end which may have skewed my thought process.  I know awkward comedy doesn’t work for everyone, but George Michael’s awkwardness is incredible and consistently leads to laughs.  George Michael was the last character in the new season to realize that he couldn’t break out of being who he was.  We’re led to believe he’s become a successful internet start up founder but learn later that it’s the same George Michael who is only marginally more successful than the other Bluths. The lie about Faceblock grows and grows as George Michael, like his father, tries to continually lie his way out of it rather than tell the truth, putting himself in situations in which the truth is harder and harder to reveal.  His moments with his father are often strong, and their position next to each other on this list is no coincidence. There was surely something unsubtle about the pointing out by narrator Ron Howard of how long it took him to respond to people in the new season, but it was still funny, and his “solve for x” attempt to hit on Maeby was amazing.

Best Line: “Say what you want about America – thirteen bucks can still get you a hell of a lot of mice!” – Season 1, Episode 21 – “Not Without My Daughter”

GOB and Franklin

1. G.O.B. – George Michael and Michael are both high on this list largely because of their relatively subtle humor.  G.O.B. isn’t.  His lines are often over the top.  He’s much more nuts they either of them, and willing to go a lot farther in pursuit of anything (see: pretending to be in a gay relationship with his nephew).  Arnett is so good at this character that he’s portrayed it in other shows, but it’s best here.  He’s constantly insecure and wants to be both liked by Michael and be better than Michael at the same time.  He’s the most easily manipulated Bluth, and perhaps the most incompetent.  He gets many of the best lines, and he turns them into classics with his delivery.  Some of his stupid lines that really have absolutely no reason to be funny are still hilarious.  For example, I keep finding myself repeating or thinking of how he sings to Michael, in the new season, “It’s so easy to forget” when trying to give Michael a forget-me-now, and then calls him out as “Stupid forgetful Michael.”  Honestly, almost all of his bits are hilarious, including nearly everything associated with his magic career as well as his puppet Franklin.  His description of trying to pick up women at a pageant is phenomenal, when he explains that the “First place chick is hot, but has an attitude, doesn’t date magicians. Second place is someone weird usually, like a Chinese girl or a geologist. But third place, although a little bit plain, has super low self-esteem.”  I’m picking one line because I have to, but there’s so many others that spring to mind that are equally hilarious.  I could do a top 10 of G.O.B. without thinking too deeply before I could name two equally funny Lindsay quotes.

Best line:  “Michael if I make this comeback I’ll buy you one hundred George Michael’s you can teach to drive.” – Season 2, Episode 15 – “Sword of Destiny”

Power Rankings: Arrested Development Characters, Part 1

19 Jun

The gang's all here

I promised more Arrested Development posts, and I meant to deliver.  Here’s my power rankings of the nine main characters in the show, in order from least favorite to favorite.  This covers the course of all four seasons, so spoiler alert is in effect if you haven’t finished yet. My opinions have largely remained the same since I watched the first three seasons years ago, but with some slight tweaks due to both rewatching the old episodes recently and watching the new ones.  I’d like to add the important caveat that they’re all great.  There are no bad characters, but, like ranking Beatles albums or Sopranos seasons, something has to be last.  In addition, just for your special edification, every character will be accompanied by a favorite quote of mine. The rankings became slightly unwieldy as I was writing them so I broke them up into two – this is part one.  Now, on to the rankings.

9. Lindsay – Sorry, someone has to be last.  I know I pointed it this out just a couple sentences ago, but I think it’s important to say again.  There are no bad characters.  All nine are great and I love all of them! So think of this less as an insult and more as well, the ninth best compliment. Lindsay is the vainest and the most entitled Bluth (which says a lot for a family with G.O.B.. in it).  Lindsay doesn’t get as many chances to be as funny as a lot of the other characters, but she has her best moments playing on both her vanity and her sense of entitlement.  She also draws from her constant inner conflict between her idealistic dreams of activism and the fact that she’s uninterested in giving up any of the entitlements required to pursue activism, or in learning about what she’s advocating for or against.  Her highlights from the new season involved exactly these contrasts, including her interactions at the Four Seasons Mumbai. In her interaction with the shaman there, which she turns to to speak for spiritual advice, she assumes he is hitting on her.  She tries hard and partly falls for mega activist Marky Bark, but eventually instead succumbs to the glamour of Herman Cain-like conservative candidate Herbert Love who showers her with gifts.

Best Quote:  “He was the house shaman at the Four Seasons Mumbai, so you figure he’s got to be pretty good. Oh, and he turned into an ostrich at the end, so … they’re not gonna have that at the Embassy Suites.” – Season 4, Episode 3, “Indian Takers”

8. George Sr. –   George Sr. doesn’t get quite as many great laugh lines as some of the other characters (a trait the characters that sit at the bottom of these rankings share), and his plots and personality seem to vary the most among the characters, as he gets into some of the weirdest situations.  He goes from a white collar criminal surprisingly loving his time in jail to a sham prophet hawking a series of DVDs to a stir crazy prison refugee hiding out in the model home attic.  His level of competence seems to bounce back and forth more than any other character, and he alternates brilliant prison escapes with believing that he and his wife can’t be convicted of the same crime (to be fair, he had the worst lawyers). Probably my favorite of these phases is his attic hide out, which leads to his wonderful tea parties with the dolls left up there and his wearing of Michael’s dead wife’s maternity clothes.  Tambor’s more impressive acting job may actually be as George’s hippie twin brother Oscar, who gets a pretty juicy part in the fourth season.

Best Line:  ” If you play me, you got to play me like a man and not like some mincing little Polly or Nellie! I get those names confused. Apology. (to dolls) Apologies all around.” – Season 2, Episode 13, “Motherboy XXX”

7  Maeby – Maeby gets the shortest shrift throughout the show, even moreso than Lindsay and George Sr..  She can be very funny when she gets a chance to shine, but she generally gets slightly less of a chance than everyone else.  She’s one of only three characters not to get two starring episodes in the most recent season. While reading over many of her lines, a surprisingly small amount stand out for a show so quotable.  My favorite Maeby plot, which is pretty much what gets her above George and Lindsay to begin with, is her time as a movie executive which began in the second season.  This plotline both gave her a chance to put her superior bullshitting skills to good use and gave her a chance to venture outside of her original gimmick of liking Steve Holt and desperately wanting her parents to notice her. The new season made the most of Maeby’s talents in her episode.  Her continued lying and her ability think on her feat continued to get her far, but also brought her down.  My favorite recurring quote of hers in the series is “Marry Me!” interspersed with the occasional “Babysit Me” but since that works at least in part because of its repeated nature, I’ve chosen a quote I enjoyed from the new season below.

Best Line:  “So you can all go (bleep) yourselves! What? Sure. Please welcome the talented voices of Phineas and Ferb. Go (bleep) yourself!” – Season 4, Episode 12: “Señoritis”

I'm a Monster!

6.  Buster – Buster’s a great introductory character character, particularly because his humor is often loud. A lot of his best moments involve physical humor, particularly once he has a hook for a hand as well as his giant hand in the new season.  His devotion to his mother veers well into creepy territory, and he’s probably the most disturbing of any of the main characters, which in this show is saying a lot.  This is particularly on display in the new season, when he puts on a Psycho routine, constructing his own Lucille while she’s away in jail, and making her cocktails.  Many of the characters in Arrested Development are horrible people but Buster is the only one where I occasionally worry if there’s actually something wrong with him.  Of course there are plenty more lighter moments, where Buster’s just being a clueless idiot.  The early introduction of Buster in the first episode seems to indicate that, due to his continuous graduate studies, he’s book smart, but has no common sense. As the show goes on though, it’s hard to imagine him being even book smart.  He gets a little bit short-changed in the new episodes, largely I think because he was busy filming Veep, but he has some good moments with his new giant hand, even if it’s no hook.  His refrain of “I’m a monster”  after he acquires the hook is his best repeated catch phrase.

Best Line: “These are my awards, Mother. From Army. The seal is for marksmanship, and the gorilla is for sand racing. Now if you’ll excuse me, they’re putting me in something called Hero Squad.” – Season 2, Episode 6, “Afternoon Delight”

5 through 1 on Part 2, coming soon.

Power Rankings – Will and Grace

17 Apr

Will, Grace, Karen, and Jack

Sometimes, we pick a show from the 70s, with a giant 15 person cast, and run a three day long power ranking.  Sometimes, we take a show that ended seven years ago with four main cast members and it’s a little shorter.  It’s the latter today, where we work with the cast of Will & Grace, but they’ve made it easier for us but all staying pretty damn busy in the seven years since their show ended in 2006.  I never cared for Will & Grace as a show, but I suppose it played an important role in handing the first leading role on broadcast TV to a gay character, so absolute kudos for that.  Either way, it’s certainly earned its own Power Rankings.

4.  Sean Hayes (as Jack McFarland) – Hayes played Kenneth’s cousin in an episode of 30 Rock, and was in two episodes of Oxygen sitcom Campus Ladies (which apparently featured Jonah Hill).  He was in The Bucket List and Soul Men.  He was in an episode of Hot in Cleveland, and episode of Portlandia, and played a Indiana journalist who despises Pawnee in an episode Parks and Recreation.  He played Larry in the Farrelly brothers version of the Three Stooges.  Hayes was nominated for a Tony Award for his role in Broadway musical Promises, Promises, and voiced Mr. Tinkles in Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (I wish I had made up that title).  He was in four episodes of Up All Night and three of Smash.  He’ll be voicing a character in the upcoming Monsters Inc. sequel,  Monsters University.  He’s done quite a bit to get saddled with last, but he’s the clear choice for last here, which says more about the competition than it does about him.

3.  Eric McCormack (as Will Truman) – McCormack did some theater immediately after the end of Will and Grace, appearing in off-Broadway Neil LaBute play Some Girl(s), and producing (though his production company Big Cattle Productions) a sitcom for Lifetime called Lovespring International, about employees at a California dating agency, which failed quickly (and starred Jane Lynch).  He starred in A&E’s Michael Crichton miniseries adaptation of The Andromeda Strain.  He appeared in the 100th episode of Monk and one of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.  He co-starred with Tom Cavanagh in TNT’s Trust Me, as a Creative Director of an advertising firm, and the show was cancelled after one season.  He was in sci-fi film Alien Trespass and six episodes of the fifth season of The New Adventures of Old Christine (it is absolutely mind boggling that there are five seasons of that show).  He has been lending his voice since 2010 to kids’ cartoon Pound Puppies and starred in a lifetime TV movie based on infamous impostor and kidnapper Clark Rockefeller, the creatively titled Who is Clark Rockefeller?  As of last summer, McCormack is starring in TNT’s Perception, as a brilliant but vaguely crazy scientist who helps the FBI solve difficult cases (sounds more like a USA show, but I guess the networks aren’t that different).  Perception’s second season will air this summer.  The three non-Sean Hayes actors are so close that there could essentially be a three-way tie for first.  McCormack gets third because while he is the main character in Perception, no one cares about or watches Perception.

2.  Debra Messing (as Grace Adler) – Messing’s been very busy since Will & Grace.  (not relevant for these purposes, but immediately before landing Will & Grace, she was in a  failed sci-fi series called Prey; I think I am one of maybe half a dozen people to have seen it).  In the year after Will & Grace ended, she was in Ed Burns indie Purple Violets and Curtis Hanson-directed Lucky You.  The next year she was in the film The Women, and in highly successful USA network miniseries The Starter Wife, where she played a woman whose high-powered Hollywood husband recently left her for a younger woman.  Popular enough to be turned into a regular series, The Starter Wife then lasted for one season before being cancelled.  She appeared in a failed tv pilot Wright vs. Wrong (she was Wright) and got another main cast role in NBC’s much ballyhooed and made fun of Smash as lyricist Julia Houston.  Her role in Smash is not as important as McCormack’s in Perception, but Smash, unlike Perception, had a public moment, mostly a bad moment, but still, a moment.

Megan at a convention 1.  Megan Mullally (as Karen Walker) – She was in episodes of How I Met Your Mother, Boston Legal, The New Adventures of Old Christine, and voiced Honex Tour Guide in Bee Movie.  She appeared in the main cast of short-lived ABC Chelsea Handler sitcom In the Motherhood, and in the remake of Fame.  In 2010, she replaced Jane Lynch in the second season of Party Down, playing Lydia Dunfree, a mom with an aspiring actress/singer pre-teen daughter.  She was in indie film Smashed in 2012 and co-starred in the ill-advised second season of Christian Slater high tech security firm sitcom Breaking In, which was cancelled soon afterwards.  She’s been in all four seasons of Adult Swim show Childrens Hospital, as Chief, the crippled leader of the hospital.  She was in three episodes of 30 Rock as a representative of an adoption agency, and has been in six episodes of Parks and Recreation as Ron’s second ex-wife, the crazy librarian Tammy (Mullally is Offerman’s wife in real life).  She’s voiced Linda’s crazy sister Gayle in six episodes of Bob’s Burgers and Rose Stevens in one season of IFC cartoon Out There.  She’s also played Penny’s song-and-dance hyper mom Dana in Happy Endings.  The tie-breaker here is really that Mullally has been in more projects that I like, including Party Down, and Childrens Hospital, both of which are more acclaimed than anything Messing or McCormack have been in recently, as well as playing Tammy 2 in Parks & Recreation, which would win the tiebreaker all by itself.

Power Rankings: Friends

18 Mar

The Friendly Friends at Friends

One of the most popular TV series of all time, Friends ended almost nine years ago, in May 2004.  All of the six were crazy famous simply from their time on Friends, but who has done the best and worst in their subsequent work?  After a number of early failures, most of the actors and actresses have managed to get some new-found success in the past couple of years.  Let’s take a look.

6.  David Schwimmer – Most of Schwimmer’s post-Friends work has been off screen, either behind the camera, or in voice roles.  His primary voice role has been as giraffe Melman in the Madagascar series of films.  This has included three films, a direct-to-DVD movie, and a TV special.  He’s directed a couple of episodes of Joey, Simon Pegg film Run, Fatboy, Run, and in-studio segments of Little Britain USA, adapted from the original Little Britain.  He appeared in British indie Big Nothing, and American indies Nothing But the Truth and The Iceman, and directed indie Trust.

5.  Lisa Kudrow – Immediately after Friends, Kudrow appeared on HBO show The Comeback, where she played a former sitcom actress who had descended to B or C level, and was getting another chance at TV fame while being something of a diva.  The show was shot to look like a reality show, as The Comeback was a show within a show, a scripted show of a reality show of her character’s comeback.  The series received some positive reviews as a satire of reality TV, but wasn’t picked up, and aired just 13 episodes.  She appeared in the film Happy Endings, weeper P.S. I Love You, and indie Kabluey.  She was in the kiddie Hotel for Dogs and played an unfaithful guidance counselor in high school satire Easy A.  She also appeared in her own web series Web Therapy, a dark comedy created and co-written by Kudrow, in which she plays a therapist.  Showtime decided to adopt the show, and 2 seasons and 21 episodes aired on the network, with a third on the way.

4.  Matt LeBlanc (as Joey Tribbiani) – Immediately after Friends, he starred in ill-fated spin-off Joey, reprising his character, having moved to LA, for two seasons, and the show was extremely fortunate to have a second.  After that, it was all quiet until he returned to the silver screen with a starring role in Showtime-BBC collaboration Episodes, in which he plays a narcissistic version of himself, cast, within the show, in the American version of a  popular British sitcom.  The show has aired for two seasons so far, and is renewed for a third due to air in early 2014.  I’m giving him the slight not over Kudrow, because I think Episodes is more relevant than Web Therapy, but it’s a close call.

3.  Matthew Perry (as Chandler Bing) – In his first role after Friends, Perry starred in TV movie The Ron Clark Story as the titular Clark, a small town white teacher who tried to make a difference in the lives of New York City minority students.  As cliched as that sounds, Perry received praise for his performance, and was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe.  He was a major cast member in ensemble Aaron Sorkin dramedy Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, infamous mostly as a huge failture more than as anything else.  He starred in indie films Numb and Birds of America, and then with Zac Efron in Freaky Friday-like 17 Again.  In 2011, he got his next chance on TV, starring in NBC’s Mr. Sunshine, with Alison Janney, which was terrible and failed fairly quickly.   He appeared in one Childrens Hospital episode, and four of The Good Wife.  In 2012, he got his next shot at TV in Go On as a sports radio shock jock who must join a therapy group after his wife passes away.  NBC picked up Go On for a full season, and it seems likely to receive another season, though by no means a certainty.

2.  Jennifer Aniston – If mere magazine covers were a primary criteria in the power rankings, Aniston would clearly be #1.  Alas, they are not.  Aniston’s work primarily since the end of Friends has been in film, as the only time she’s returned to TV is in an episode of 30 Rock, and for individual episodes of Friends cast mate Courtney Cox’s two shows, Dirt, and Cougar Town.  She’s made a career out of making largely mediocre movies, some of which are more commercially successful than others.  Much of her work has been in the romantic comedy genre, starring in films Rumor Has It…, The Break-Up, Marley and Me, The Bounty Hunter, The Switch, and Just Go With It, and mega-rom-com He’s Just Not That Into You.  She was also in thriller Derailed, indie Friends with Money, as well as Management and Love Happens.  The past couple of years have seen her appear with Paul Rudd in Wanderlust and as a supporting player in surprise hit Horrible Bosses.

She puts the Cougar in Cougartown

1.  Courtney Cox – Cox has primarily worked in television since the end of Friends.  She starred in her own FX show, Dirt, for two ten episode seasons in 2007-08, where she tabloid editor-in-chief Lucy Spiller.  She appeared in three episodes of Scrubs, before getting her own series by Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence, Cougar Town.  Cougar Town, also known as the show with the worst name ever, stars Cox as recently divorced mom Jules Cobb trying to get her life together again in her 40s.  The show attracted a cult following and aired three seasons on ABC.  ABC cancelled the show, but TBS saw an opportunity and picked it up again, and the fourth season is airing this spring.  I’m making the controversial call to give Cox the nod over Aniston, because, while Aniston has clearly been in many more movies, they’re pretty much all instantly forgettable.  Cougar Town, meanwhile, while never broadly popular, and not a personal favorite, has a devoted cult following that adores the show, including Community’s Abed.

Power Rankings: Night Court, part 2

7 Feb

Night Court Power Rankings, part 2.  The top three.  On we go.

3.  Markie Post – (as Christine Sullivan) – She was first in TV movies Beyond Suspicion and Someone She Knows, and then had her most notable post-Night Court role in three season sitcom Hearts Afire, starring aside John Ritter.  She made her money after that as a TV movie regular for a couple of years, appearing in Visitors of the Night, Chasing the Dragon, Dog’s Best Friend (as the voice of Horse), Survival on the Mountain, and I’ve Been Waiting for You.  She also appeared in an episode of Harry Anderson’s Dave’s World, and as Mary’s mom in There’s Something About Mary.  She was in one season TGIF sitcom Odd Man Out in 1999, and appeared in the ‘00s in TV movies Late Bloomers, Till Dad Do Us Part,Holidayin Handcuffs, and Backyard Wedding.  She was in two episodes of The District, three of Scrubs, and one of Man Up and Ghost Whisperer, and in eight episodes in a voice role in Transformers: Prime.

2.  Charles Robinson (as Mac Robinson)  – I’ll be honest – I expected all of these actors to have done absolutely nothing because I was only familiar with two or three of them.  He was a main cast member on three season and utterly forgotten CBS series Love & War.  He was in episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Ink, cast mate John Laroquette’s eponymous John Larroquette Show, In The House, Malcolm and Eddie, and Touched by an Angel.  He was in nine of Home Improvement as Bud Harper and was in episodes of The Trouble of Normal, Soul Food (if you couldn’t figure out Robinson’s race, you probably have a good guess by now), Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place, My Wife and Kids, Abby, Yes, Dear, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Carinvale, The Bernie Mac Show, Charmed, House M.D., Cold Case (I know this list keeps going, bear with me), The Riches, My Name is Earl, Big Love, The Game, Hank, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, $#*! My Dad Says, and Harry’s Law.  That may well be the longest list I’ve ever gone through in one of these, and that’s saying something, so congratulate yourself if you made it through.  He was also in films Antoine Fisher and The House Bunny.

1.  John Laroquette (as Dan Fielding) – The clear breakout star of Night Court, Laroquette was one of three actors, along with Anderson and Richard Moll, to appear in every episode of the series.  He won four straight emmies for Best Supporting Actor, in every year from 1984-88, and asked not to be considered in 1989.  He declined a shot at a spin off starring his character, and instead ventured off into his own sitcom, The John Laroquette Show, which was critically well-liked, but commercially less so.  Still it lasted for four seasons.  Otherwise, in the ‘90s, he was in Richie Rich, an episode of Night Court cast member Harry Anderson’s Dave’s World, and starred in a short-lived CBS midseason replacement series Payne, based on the UK’s far more successful FawlyTowers.  He played recurring psychopathic murderer Joey Heric on six episodes of The Practice and he co-starred in epic fantasy five-part miniseries The 10th Kingdom on NBC in 2000.  He was in a The West Wing and starred in one-season NBC sitcom Happy Family with Christine Baranski.  He was in ten Hallmark TV movies as defense lawyer McBride and narrated the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake.  He was in two episodes of Joey and one of Kitchen Confidential, House M.D., Parks and Recreation, and White Collar.  He played lawyer Carl Sack on the last two seasons of Boston Legal.  He was in two episodes of Chuck and three of CSI:New York.  He was also in films Wedding Daze and Southland Tales.

Power Rankings: Night Court, part 1

6 Feb

Okay, it’s been a lot of reviews and some commercials recently, but it’s time to get back into the ranking business.  Since we’ve been doing so much new, let’s do some old in the form of a return to the ‘80s with Night Court.  I never really watched the show, but was reminded of it by that weird 30 Rock episode where Kenneth’s dream is a recreation of Night Court.  It lasted a crazy nine seasons, and although I fully admitted the cast, who I knew almost nothing about, to be largely unsuccessful, I was surprised.  There aren’t a lot of stars, but almost everybody’s had at least a fair amount of work.

6.  Marsha Warfield (as Roz Russell) – Warfield is the obvious sixth, and then the rankings get muddled, but her career really isn’t bad at all.  She followed up Night Court with appearances in episodes of Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, The Addams Family, The John Larroquette Show, and her biggest role outside of Night Court as Dr. Maxine Nightengale in two seasons of Empty Next.  She was in episodes of Dave’s World, Smart Guy, Mad About You, Moesha (if you couldn’t figure out Warfield’s race, you probably have a good guess by now), two of Living Single, and singles of Clueless, the series, Love Boat: The Next Wave, and Veronica’s Closet.  She hasn’t acted in this millennium.

5.  Richard Moll (as Bull Shannon) – Shannon proves that you can do a lot of work acting and still have nobody notice.  Between voice acting, cameos in TV episodes, and low budget films, Moll has kept shockingly busy.  Voice acting:  As Two Face in stone cold classic Batman: The Animated Series, Norman in Mighty Max, episodes of Superman, Freakazoid, Aaaahh!!! Real Monsters (had to check three times to get the “Aaahh!!!” spelling correct), The Incredible Hulk, Spider-man, as Scorpion, The New Batman Adventures, Justice League, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold.  TV:  He was in episodes of Martin and Highlander, five episodes of two-season forgotten TGIF show Getting By, episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Babylon 5, Baywatch, Weird Science, Married with Children, 7th Heaven, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Smallville, and Cold Case.  He appeared in 17 episodes of Nick show 100 Deeds for Eddie Dowd.  Movies, real, and seemingly made up:  He was in Beanstalk, The Elevator, Galaxis, The Lawyer, The Secret Agent Club, Jingle All The Way, Snide and Prejudice, But I’m A Cheerleader, Monkey Business, Route 66, The Biggest Fan, Angel Blade, Dumb Luck, Lake Effects, and then, well you get the idea.  The man must really need some paychecks.  His ranking here by the way is not obvious at all.  The reason he got stuck in fifth is the simple lack of being a main cast member in an at least three season sitcom, which everyone else coming up has.

4.  Harry Anderson (as Harry Stone) –  He was in episodes of Hearts Afire, Night Stand, his Night Court co-worker’s The John Larroquette Show, and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.  His most notable post-Night Court work was starring in four season sitcom Dave’s World based on the life of columnist Dave Barry (Anderson was Dave).  After that, he’s only been in episodes of Noddy and Son of the Beach, which was in 2002.  I thought I’d put him higher for starring in a four season sitcom, but everyone left was a main cast member in something and showed up in more shows.

Power Rankings: Firefly, Part 2

24 Jan

Part 2 of our Firefly Power Rankings.  Part 1 can be found over here.

4.  Alan Tudyk (as Hoban “Wash” Washbourne) – The year after Firefly ended, Tudyk appeared as Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball: An Underdog Story.  Next he was in I, Robot, Death at a Funeral, 3:10 toYuma, and Knocked Up as Katherine Heigl’s boss.  He was in episodes of Arrested Development, as Pastor Veal, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.  He was in three episodes of V and four of Dollhouse. He’s been a voice actor, voicing characters in Ice Age; The Meltdown, Astro Boy, and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, as well as in cartoons Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Young Justice, American Dad, and Family Guy and video game Halo 3.  He appeared in Transformers: Dark of the Moon and now appears in the main cast of successful first year ABC sitcom Suburgatory.

3.  Morena Baccarin (as Inara Serra) – She had a vocal role in three episodes of Justice League as Black Canary and appeared in three episodes of The O.C.  She was in single episodes of Kitchen Confidential, How I Met Your Mother, Justice and Las Vegas.  She appeared in six episodes of Stargate SG-1 season 10 as primary antagonist Adria.  She co-starred in TNT Treat Williams-led one season hospital drama Heartland.  She appeared in individual episodes of Dirt, Numb3rs, Medium, The Deep End, and The Mentalist.  She starred in two season ‘80s remake V on ABC as villainous alien and primarily antagonist Anna.  Her most recent role is starring in Showtime smash new series Homeland as Jessica Brody, the wife of longtime prisoner of war inIraq, Nicolas Brody.  I almost put Baccarin second because of Homeland, but changed my mind.  Still, it gets her third over Tudyk.

2.  Gina Torres (as Zoe Washburne) – She was in two episodes of The Guardian and in Matrix Revolutions (she was in the other two as well, but they came out before Firefly was done).  She appeared in seven episodes of 24 as Julie Milliken, wife of an important donor to President Palmer’s campaign, who had an affair with Palmer’s brother Wayne.  She appeared in a vocal capacity in six episodes of Justice League as Vixen.  She was in two episodes of The Shield, one of Without a Trace, and three of Alias, reprising a character she had played before Firefly.  She was the titular wife in I Think I Love My Wife.  She co-starred in one season Standoff on Fox aside Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt.  She was, over the next few years, in single episodes of Boston Legal, Bones, Pushing Daisies, The Unit, Drop Dead Diva, The Vampire Diaries, and The Boondocks.  She was in two episodes of Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, Flash Forward and Gossip Girl.  She was in ten episodes of ABC Family’s Huge as a director of a camp for overweight kids and voiced Airachnid in the current Transformers: Prime animated series.  She’s currently co-starring in USA’s Suits as a lawyer and boss of main character Harvey Specter.

1.  Nathan Fillion – Immediately after Firefly’s end, Fillion was a recurring character on Alicia Silverstone one season sitcom Miss Match.  He was in two Justice League episodes as the voice of Vigilante.  He was in a flashback episode of Lost as a fiancé of Kate’s.  He got a second attempt at starring in a series in Fox’s Drive, but the show lasted a mere 6 episodes.  Fillion appeared in Waitress and in two episodes of One Life to Live.  He showed up in 11 episodes of Desperate Housewives as Dana Delany’s character’s ex-husband.  In 2008, he co-starred in internet production Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog by Joss Whedon.  He lent his voice to three episodes of Robot Chicken.  He got his now biggest role in 2009, with the debut of ABC’s Castle, now in its third season, and already renewed for a fourth.  Fillion has also voiced characters in several video games, including Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Jade Empire.  Playing the titular character in a successful show that has run longer than anyone else from Fifefly’s (well, except Adam Baldwin’s Chuck) gets him the top position.

Power Rankings: Firefly, Part 1

23 Jan

(Power Rankings sum up:  Each week, we’ll pick a television show and rank the actors/actresses/contestants/correspondents/etc. based on what they’ve done after the series ended (unless we’re ranking a current series, in which case we’ll have to bend the rules).  Preference will be given to more recent work, but if the work was a long time ago, but much more important/relevant, that will be factored in as well.)

Firefly’s a pretty great show which ended far too soon and I’ll certainly look for an opportunity to talk about it in the future.  For now though, let’s take a look at how the cast are doing these days with a Power Rankings.   To avoid redundancy, we’ve avoided mentioning Firefly feature film Serenity in everyone’s entry; they’re all in it.  Other minor trends to watch include providing voices in the Justice League cartoon and in Halo 3.

9.  Sean Maher (as Simon Tam) – Maher was in episodes of CSI: Miami, Ghost Whisperer, The Mentalist, Human Target, Warehouse 13, and the pilot of Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva.  He was in TV movies Halley’s Comet, The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, and Wedding Wars.  He was in five episodes of ABC Family teen gymnast series Make It Or Break It and was a cast regular on the short-lived NBC show The Playboy Club.

8.  Ron Glass (as Shepherd Book) – By far the oldest member of the cast, Glass did a lot more work before Firefly than just about any cast member, but not as much after it.  Still, he was still acting, which is a lot more than you can say about a lot of former cast members from other shows in their 60s.  He was in episodes of The Division and CSI: NY, two episodes of Dirty Sexy Money, and three of Shark.  He lent his voice to a recurring role in Nick’s Rugrats sequel All Grown Up!  He was also in films Lakeview Terrace and Death at a Funeral.  He gets the edge over Glass for seniority.

7. Jewel Staite (as Kaylee Frye)  – Staite appeared in episodes of Dead Like Me, Huff, and Canadian show Cold Squad.  She was in four episodes of Wonderfalls.  She was a recurring character in seasons 3 and 4 of Stargate: Atlantis, and joined the main cast for the fifth and final season.  She appeared in episodes of Warehouse 13 and Supernatural and in TV movies Mothman, Call Me Mrs. Miracle, and Doomsday Prophecy.  She’s currently appearing in the first season of Canadian drama The L.A. Complex.

6. Summer Glau (as River Tam) – Here’s the first big deliniation in tiers.  While there are no total losers, or really anything close, on Firefly, the final six actors have all had main cast roles in TV shows, and most of them have had multiple.  After the demise of Firefly, Glau was in episodes of Cold Case, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and TV movies Mammoth and The Initiation of Sarah.  She was in seven episodes of The Unit and nine of The 4400 as a paranoid schizophrenic.  She started her biggest post-Firefly role in 2008 in Fox’s Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.  For two seasons, she played Cameron, a future terminator sent back by John Connor from the future to protect himself.  She portrayed herself in an episode of The Big Bang Theory and appeared in four episodes of Joss Whedon show Dollhouse.  She was in episodes of Chuck and Alphas and starred in one season NBC show The Cape.

5.  Adam Baldwin (as Jayne Cobb) –Ranking the last five (even the last six, really) was extremely difficult.  I was splitting at hairs to pick the next two spots.  Baldwin was in episodes of JAG and NCIS, two of Stargate SG-1, and five in the last season of Angel as Marcus Hamilton, a non-human who is a child of one of the senior partners of the best evil law firm ever Wolfram and Hart.  He voiced characters in three episodes of Justice League, and co-starred in one season Fox show The Inside.  He was in a TV movie of The Poseidon Adventure and in episodes of Bones, Invader ZIM, CSI: NY and Love Bites.  He was a regular in one season Taye Diggs show Daybreak.  He is a frequent video game voice actor, appearing in Halo 3, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Mass Effect 2, DC Universe Online, Mass Effect 3, and Transformers Universe.  For the last five seasons, he’s been a main cast member on NBC’s Chuck as Major John Casey.