Tag Archives: 24

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2014 Edition: 39-36

2 Feb

Two well-loved comedies coming off down years after running a little low on ideas a few seasons into their run, one prestige drama which ended, and one decidedly non-prestige drama which just came back. Let’s go.

Intro here and 43-40 here.

39: Archer – 2013: 18

Archer: Vice

We’re now firmly onto shows that I generally enjoy, but which suffered through flawed seasons. Archer sadly seems to be slipping firmly into the decline phase that nearly all shows that last as long as it has slip into. There are all the telltale signs – the writers are out of ideas, situations repeat, the characters tell the same jokes, and the same tropes reappear again and agian. What’s makes Archer’s repetitiveness this season particularly noteworthy is that the season, known as Archer: Vice, started out with the idea of switching up the show’s entire premise. After the big shakeup however, where the gang became drug dealers instead of an intelligence agency, while the show was cosmetically different, the inner workings were the same.  Archer is a fairly breezy half hour, to its credit, by this point, I can’t think of what it would have to take for me to stop watching before the show is over, and I’ll always think of Archer overall in a positive light. Still, Archer has gone from a show I really looked forward to every week to one I knock down as part of my routine.

38: 24: Live Another Day – 2013: Not Eligible

24: Live Another Day

24 has a distinct formula which it’s continued to stick to in its rebirth, a formula which provides reliably fairly enjoyable programming and at the same time limits any chance of greatness. 24 provides a superior version of the House of Cards principle I explained in that entry; it’s enjoyable when watching, especially one after another, but tends to be far less enjoyable when ruminated on afterwards. 24’s magic is particularly strong this way. I never look forward to an episode, only to be pleasantly surprised while I’m watching, only to again forget everything about the episode soon after. It’s superior to House of Cards because it self-consciously knows what it is; it doesn’t have pretentions of being anything other than a non-stop action drama full of twists and turns which may or may not make sense. There’s no weird subplots that go nowhere, no strange episodes that feel entirely out of place. It’s all action, all of the time. Some seasons are better or worse, but that mostly has to do with the relative repetition of the plot, the likeability of the seasonal characters, and the coolness of the action scenes. Live Another Day was about average 24, and while I can’t get as excited about it as I wish I could, it definitely has a place on television that nothing else has truly occupied in its absence.

37: Boardwalk Empire – 2013: 28

Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire wanted to be The Sopranos from the start, and never quite got there, though it had fits and starts where it seemed like it might come close. The final season, unfortunately, was not one of those times. Shoehorned into eight episodes, the season lacked focus, bouncing around in an effort to end the many plots Boardwalk had started over the years. This was admirable but really missed an opportunity to simply spend more time with the characters and plots we really cared about the most, which were few. The Al Capone sideshow was subpar, and it felt as if the fact it was real history was that main reason it featured, rather than because it actually made for good TV. Capone was more a caricature than character, whether or not it was an accurate portrayal and while he was enjoyable in doses, he was overtaxed in the final season. The flashbacks while occasionally illuminating took time that could have been used to work out the many threads which Boardwalk had to deal with. As it was, many plots felt rushed, as if valuable transition scenes which would have sewn the episodes together ended up on the cutting room floor. I do think with a full 12 episodes, this season could have been a lot better, but as it was, it left a lot to be desired. Beautiful, with brilliant acting and genius cinematography, but missing humor, passion, and enough solid side characters, the final season was emblematic of the what-could-have-been nature of Boardwalk Empire on the whole.

36: Workaholics – 2013: 32

Workaholcis

Most contemporary television comedies create characters we become invested in and storylines that take us through their lives over the course of several seasons. Still, shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Workaholics, push on under a different model, centered around incredibly stupid characters who never grow and change. The only goal of these shows is to make you laugh. These shows can be great but they pose a challenge. Parks and Recreation generates appeal in two ways; you can like an episode because it was funny, because it made you feel, or both. Workaholics has got to be funny. Shows like Workaholics often feature a problematic running-out-of-ideas over the course of a few seasons, and Workaholics is no exception. Five seasons and going is a run to be proud of, but with so many episodes, it’s hard to keep pumping out new classics. Because of the difficulty of coming up with new ideas every episode, these shows tend to be consistently inconsistent; a hilarious episode is followed by a relative dud. All of this is true for the solid but not spectacular fourth season of Workaholics, which had its share of winners and was definitely worth watching for fans of the show, but which stopped short of classic status.

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The Surprisingly Welcome Return of 24

7 May

Jack and Chloe Absence does make the heart grow fonder, even if sometimes it takes the end of that absence to make you realize that.

I have to admit that I wasn’t all that excited to hear that Fox was bringing back 24 for a limited series. I was a fan of the first run right from the first season, and a pretty big fan. I take proud credit for introducing my friends to the show, and watched the first three seasons with a group of them, all of which I had already seen, over a college summer. Still, 24, like many shows, but in particular because of the contours of how seasons had to progress from beginning to end, got, over the course of its run, tired and repetitive. There’s something fun about knowing there’s a mole and guessing who it is, and waiting to see how CTU will be attacked every year, but it usually got a little less imaginative every time. I admit to this day I’ve never seen the end of the seventh season, and most of the eighth, though I watched the last episode. It wasn’t a conscious decision – I meant to come back some day – I just never quite motivated myself enough to do so.

I’ve never held 24’s slowly diminishing returns against it. Unlike other shows which I stopped watching at points, like Lost, I have nothing but fond memories of 24 and hold it in nothing but the highest esteem. It was an extremely entertaining show for a long time, and the repetitive issues were largely due to the show being repeated over and over eight times rather than the writers losing their way and forgetting what made the show good in the first place, and they didn’t retroactively bathe older seasons in a negative light.

That said, when it was over, it seemed about right. I wasn’t upset, and as I hadn’t watched most of the eighth sesaon, I doubt I would have watched the next season. It had a very good run, nothing to be ashamed of in the least, and that was that. And again, as I mentioned above, my first thought when I heard Fox was bringing the show back was, well, “Why?” But with a five year rest, I decided I’d dive back in and try it out.

When I started watching again, I changed my mind over the course of the first of two hour long episodes. There were nothing relevatory about the episodes, and nothing mind-blowing or earth-shattering. But what it did make me realize is that having four years away, that 24-less break, really does make all the difference.

The second reason I enjoyed the first two episodes of 24 more than I thought I would is that 24 is a more enjoyable show when you’re watching it then when you’re thinking about it later. I remembered liking it, but sometimes had trouble articulating why I liked it so much. It’s just fun. It’s TV’s empty calories. What I presume some people like about watching some reality shows, is what I like about 24. It’s easy to watch, which is sometimes nice, in the age where all my favorite hour long shows are thinkers which require some level of intense concentration. That’s not a bad thing, and there’s a reason those are my favorite shows but a change of pace is appreciated.

The same parts of 24 which can get tiring and are also fun in an almost campy way; the show itself is deadly serious but it’s hard for me to imagine the creators are not winking at the audience sometimes through their choices. There’s tropes and character types that we see time and again; the always-wrong boss, the treacherous aide, the unfairly framed suspect. Mostly though, it’s about watching Jack Bauer be awesome. About watching him injure people in cruel and unusual ways, yell short and concise commands, and just figure out one more way take out the bad guys. I am in solid opposition to the use of torture, but I’m all for Jack Bauer using it in an episode of 24 if it makes for a cool scene.

24 is such a great show for binging because (aside from the obviously gimmicky real time premise), when it’s all said and done the plot both means everything and doesn’t matter at all. In the minute, you follow whatever wacky zigs and zags go down. Once the show ends, though, it’s often hard to remember the larger plots. What stands out are huge moments; significant deaths and Jack Bauer kills mostly.   So, kudos 24. I’m not sure if the show will be able to sustain the momentum for an entire season; I still think the shorter season is a smart play (to use 24 vernacular). Seasons were always too long to begin with. Still, I finished the first two episodes with a much more positive feeling than I expected, especially after putting them off for a week due I thought it might be a slog, so my expectations have already been temporarily exceeded.

Six Shows I Stopped Watching, Part 2

26 Apr

Part 2 of a brief list of six shows I actively decided to stop watching.   Part 1 and a full intro can be found here.

24

Beep beep

The only show on this list that I truly harbor no ill will towards.  24 was just doing its thing, year to year, and yeah, that thing got kind of, well, extremely repetitive (there’s always a mole) but it didn’t materially deviate from the promise that it made it great in the first place.  It just kind of got a bit worse doing the same, and at least part of that worse is that the writers were just out of ideas; if the last season was first, it might have seemed better, because repetitiveness was a problem that was harder to avoid in 24 than even in most other long-running shows.  Eight seasons is a lot.  I watched the vast majority of the seventh season and then missed the last few episodes due to circumstance, and just noticed as I went through that summer meaning to click on remaining episodes which were safely stored on my dv-r that I never really had the desire to.  Every time i sat down to, I instead decided to watch something else.  I then didn’t see most of the eighth season, but like with Lost, I also watched the finale, this time with a much greater sense of closure and merely saying so long to Jack Bauer (and Chloe, let’s not forget Chloe) without the vitriol that powered by viewing of the Lost finale.  I only vaguely understood what was going on, but that was fine.

As I’ve said, I don’t really hold any real animus towards this show; unlike with Lost, the inferior later seasons didn’t retroactively bring down the quality of the earlier seasons for me.  I still harbor great love for the first few seasons and the first season in particular, and the joys it brought me to see every 24 trope for the first time, and then to root for the tropes as they happened the new few times after that (Jack:  It’s not the right play!, Kim is kidnapped again).  The one later plot point that did particularly rub me the wrong way was the resuscitation of Tony Almeida who for all intents and purposes had been dead for seasons and now was a super evil bad guy for some reason.  I get how they could be very 24-y but it just did not work for me; very few characters in the pantheon outside of Jack actually mean something, and Tony was one of them.  If they had to decided to make him come back and go all revenge-y soon after, it would have been one thing, but to have him lay dormant for years and then bring him back was too much.

How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother

It’s almost a tribute to how much I like certain aspects of this show (namely, Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel) that I stuck with it for as long as I did considering how much this show seems like it was designed to bother me and me alone.  I know plenty of people who like the show, and plenty of people who don’t, but almost no one who is as irritated by the same aspects of the show that irritate me.  Just about everyone I know would agree the quality has slipped from the show’s second or third season peak, but how much is an open question.  What the show has going for it at its best is the cast, and, well, the jokes; it can actually be quite funny, and you’d think for a comedy that should be enough, and sometimes it is.  The show had an awful narrative device, and I just hated its tone, which I found moralizing and patronizing, trying to tell lessons that seemed uncalled for (see “Nothing Good Happens After 2 A.M.).  The show constantly told, rather than showed – it wasn’t enough to display some lessons through the events of an episode, but rather, narrator Bob Saget had to hammer the message home just in case you couldn’t follow along with the complicated narratives that How I Met Your Mother provides.  I stuck around for a fair time because it was funny, but when the later seasons became to seriously lack the funny, I was out.

I had threatened to leave for a long time before I did, coming back to the show, figuring it was only 20 minutes of my time, even if I didn’t really enjoy it.  This is, until I watched Season 7’s Symphony of Illumination, which had Robin narrating the show, presumably to her children, from the future, instead of Ted, and ended with the twist that she was just narrating the story to her fictional kids in her head, because she can’t have children (and I guess couldn’t have possibly adopted kids).  I just hated, hated, hated everything about it, and if I had been going back and forth about leaving the show for a season or two (in hindsight, I can’t believe I waited that long), that make it a quick and easy decision, and I haven’t seen an episode of the show since.  I always hated the idea of Barney and Robin getting together (not that it violates any key precept of the show, I just personally didn’t like it) from day 1, when it seemed inevitable (I still don’t understand how this isn’t weirder between Ted and Barney), so I didn’t particularly mind missing their engagement, though I suppose I’ll follow close enough to at least find out who plays the mother if they ever do get to that.

The Trouble With Politics on Homeland

3 Oct

Homeland’s great; the new season has just started, but based just on the first season alone, it’s one of my top four hour long programs on TV (along with Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones), a very prestigious group.  However, no show is completely perfect and it’s always fun to slightly pick at the ones we love, in good fun, of course.

There’s something that rings false about talking about politics in a serious way on a television show or movie and trying to keep everything non-partisan.  With a show like Veep, it’s mostly doable, because it’s a comedy, and because the show is short on policy and long on silliness – the whole show is based around the idea that the Vice President essentially has no real power.  It’s still not ideal, but it’s simply less important – it still feels false that party never comes up, but it’s less of a big deal that it feels false, because of the above reasons, and because the stakes are so low.

As long as politics is on the fringes, like it was in most of the first season of Homeland,  this isn’t an issue.  The Vice President was mostly important because of his being a target, and his relationship with CIA director David Estes.  In this limited role, where the Vice President was mostly acting as a particularly political figure, it didn’t feel like party was necessarily relevant.  However, once Brody’s name was brought up as a Congressional candidate, Homeland veered into the trouble area.  There is simply no way you go into a congressional campaign, and the meetings and parties which Brody attended, without party coming up.

This season, with Brody a congressman, and being talked up in the first episode as a potential vice presidential candidate, already looks to be entering the more political sphere of Washington D.C.  Party is so wrapped up in today’s political scene that it feels false to have meetings with the Vice President talking about political matters without it ever coming up, even offhand.  Homeland tries to skirt this by only dealing with the Vice President, rather than the President or other prominent political figures, but now that the Vice President is clearly revving up his Presidential campaign, honestly avoiding parties just feels forced.  It feels like the otherwise natural conversations were jury-rigged to remove any natural hints of political party.

Sure, I understand the benefits of avoiding mention of political parties – choose the wrong one, and you immediately alienate half of your audience.  That’s a problem for TV sure, and it’s a calculation weighed against the negative lack of lack of naturalism, and as for the limited relationship with the CIA, in the first season of Homeland, it’s not really important.

Several other shows have had this issue.  Boss, in which I assumed from the get go that the mayor was Democratic, because there hasn’t been a Republican mayor of Chicago since the Great Depression.  Particularly in that situation, such a one-party system, not mentioning parties at any point seems to make even less sense than it does in other instances – the benefits to be gained by keeping out partisanship are lessened when everyone will just assume it’s Democratic anyway.  24 went back and forth; initial presidential candidate (and later president) David Palmer was clearly labeled a Democrat which made sense, and even though of course 24 wasn’t really about politics, it made a lot more sense to name the party, especially in the second and third season when he dealt with his cabinet, and his reelection campaign, and had a specific opponent.  However, 24 seems to stop talking about it as the show goes on, and by the time of the final president (there’s an insane number of Presidents in 24, but that’s a story for another day) party stops being mentioned entirely and it can only really be back engineered by figuring out the timeline of 24 that Allison Taylor is a Republican (or the very nature of American two party politics have drastically changed in the fictional 24 world).

In The Wire, which features a very Boss-like situation of a one party city, there’s no shying away from mentioning party.  David Simon, whose aim is to provide as realistic portrayals as possible, clearly labels Carcetti and essentially every other important political figure in the show as Democrats; to go throughout a campaign without party mention would break that naturalism.  The single most politics based show in recent memory is of course The West Wing, and the main characters are basically all Democrats; it would be ludicrous to imagine that show without party identity.  In a recent failed show which heavily revolved around politics, Commander in Chief, which starred Joan Allen as a Vice President, who ascends to President when the President dies, the creators partially cop out by having Allen play an independent (a Republican nominating an independent as his vice presidential candidate in this decade’s political climate?  ha), but at least labels her as a former moderate Republican, and the President she was elected with as a Republican.

Simply put, the fact is that it seems ridiculous to showcase a presidential election campaign nowadays without mentioning party, far and away the most important identifier of a candidate.  I’m not sure how close Homeland is going to take us into a potential Brody run in a presidential campaign as the vice presidential nominee, but the closer it decides to take us, the more limiting it feels to not label the party.

While I find this issue minorly troubling,  clearly it doesn’t deal with the very fabric of Homeland, and thus the show can and will still be excellent without it.  Still, I’m sure they won’t deal with it unless they absolutely have to, otherwise they would have by now.  For a show in which nearly every other interaction and scene feels true (even if it isn’t, what the hell do I know about the CIA, but that’s not really the point),  the political scenes feel off with the deliberate aversion of party.

The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Michael Gaston

11 Jan

(The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame is where we turn the spotlight on a television actor or actress, and it is named after their patron saint, Zeljko Ivanek)

We love character actors who play rich white guys here at the Zejlko Ivanek Hall of Fame and this week we’ll be celebrating on of the less well known entrants, Michael Gaston, who has experience playing rich white men and police officers, and who has gotten more and more work as the years have gone on.

He began his career in the mid-90s, with his first role in an episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete.  In the 90s, he appeared in single episodes of New York News, New York Undercover, One Live To Live, Homicide: Life on the Street, andSpin City.  He was in three episodes of The Profiler and played the title character in TV movie Nathan Dixon.  He appeared in the pilot episode of The Sopranos as CPA Alex Mahaffey.  He works for Blue Cross/Blue Shield and participates in a scheme to defraud Medicare with Tony and Hesh to get himself out of debt he acquired through gambling.  To convince him to participate in the scheme, Hesh and Big Pussy threaten to throw him over a waterfall, after Tony hits him with his car and Christopher and Tony beat him.

In the early 2000s, he was in episodes of Third Watch, The $treet,100 Centre Street and two of Now and Again.  He was in TV movie Cora Unashamed and appeared in Oz as death row prisoner Shirley Bellinger’s (played by Kathryn Erbe) ex-husband.  He was a recurring character on one season Oliver Platt drama Deadlien and appeared in two episodes each of Ally McBeal, Ed, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.  He appeared in five Law & Order episodes over the course of the series run as five different characters, with the first appearance in 1994 and the last in 2009.  In 2009’s Bailout, he played a Wall Street CEO for a sinking investment bank who is at first accused of murdering his girlfriend.  In 2001’s White Lie, he played the military husband of a woman accused of helping smuggle cocaine into the US.

He was in individual episodes of The Practice, John Doe, Hack, The Guardian, NCIS, Malcolm in the Middle, The West Wing, Without a Trace, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and two of JAG.  In The West Wing, he played a friend of Josh who has been waiting a year to be confirmed in his appointment to a federal appeals court judgeship by the Republican congress.  In 2005, he was a main cast member as a cop in one season literally titled Steven Bochco show Blind Justice.  In two episodes of Prison Break, he played Quinn, and agent from “The Company” who ends up at the bottom of a well.  He was in four episodes of three season Brotherhood.

In two seasons of post-apocalyptic cult classic CBS show Jericho, Gaston portrayed Gray Anderson. Anderson is a businessman who controls the Jericho Salt Mines.  He defeats mayor Johnston Green to become mayor himself and helps lead the construction of a new power source, a wind turbine.  He participates in an Allied States of America conference (I have no clue what this is but the show sounds vaguely intriguing) but disagrees with their ideas and eventually turns the town back over to former mayor Green.

He was in episodes of ER, Numb3rs, and Saving Grace.  He was in an episode of Mad Men as Head of Accounts Burt Peterson who is fired by Lane Price so that Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove can take over.  He makes a scene while leaving, knocking items off desks and yelling.  He was in two episodes of Raising the Bar and in TV movie U.S. Attorney.  He had a quick appearance in the pilot episode of White Collar as a director for the US Marshals working at the prison Neal Caffrey escapes from.  He plays recurring character Roger Kastle in six episodes of Damages.  In two episodes of season eight of 24, he was General David Brucker.  Brucker disagrees with President Allison Taylor and believes she should turn over Omar Hassan to potentially save Ameircan lives.  Brucker concocts a plan to abduct Hassan without the President’s knowledge, but his plan is foiled by Jack Bauer and he is later arrested.

Gaston appeared in four episodes of short-lived AMC show Rubicon as Donald Bloom.  Bloom is an independent contractor who formerly worked for the CIA.  He is hired by Truxton Spangler to kill main character Will Travers, and to make it look like an accident.  However, the plan is botched and Will manages to shoot and kill Bloom before Bloom can inject him with an overdose of heroin.  Later in the same year, Gaston was rich white guy Ben Zeitlin in four episodes of one season Terriers.  Zeitlin is a corrupt attorney who is part of a conspiracy at the heart of the season, and is attempting to purchase some land through shady means.

In 2011, Gaston began a recurring role on The Mentalist as California Bureau of Investigation head Gale Bertram.  Mostly concerned with the political and media aspects of being director, Bertram has noticed the impressive record of Agent Teresa Lisbon and Patrick Jane, and has been hinted to possibly have connections to serial killer Redjohn.  Gaston is currently a regular cast member of CBS detective show Unforgettable.  Unforgettable focuses on Carrie Wells, a police officer with a rare condition that gives her amazing memory.  Gaston plays Detective Mike Costello, a detective in Wells’ unit.

The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Alan Dale

7 Dec

(The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame is where we turn the spotlight on a television actor or actress, and it is named after their patron saint, Zeljko Ivanek)

Alan Dale didn’t get his start in American television until well into the ‘90s, but he has spent the last decade making a living as an older powerful rich white guy, much in the Malcolm McDowell mode.

Born in New Zealand, Dale got his start in Australian soap The Young Doctors as Dr. John Forrest, a role he played for almost four years, from 1979 to 1983.  He then graduated to the granddaddy of Australian soap operas, Neighbours, which has been the breeding ground for popular Aussies from Kylie Minogue to Natalie Imbruglia to Guy Pearce.  He played the role of Jim Robinson for eight years, from the inception of the role in 1985 until 1993, when failed contract negotiations resulted in him being off the show and his character being killed off on screen.  Jim was the powerful and wealthy (watch the theme develop) family patriarch who loves cars and his children.  He’s still best known for his Neighbours work down under and in the UK.

He then plied his trade in Australia for a couple more years, guest spotting in Janus, Frontline, and Blue Heelers and in a couple of American shows which filmed in Australia such as Time Trax and Space: Above and Beyond.  He also recurred in Aussie police show State Coroner.

United States television finally took an interest in him in the late ‘90s.  He was first in Muriel Hemingway TV movie First Daughter.  Once the new millennium hit, the roles came fast and furious.  He recurred in four episodes of ER as South African Al Patterson, which was his first big American break.  He was then in episodes of The Lone Gunmen and Philly and three of The X-Files as “Toothpick Man.”  His character was a high-ranking FBI agent who was a super soldier and also a judge in Mulder’s military trial.  He was in an episode of American Dreams and then two of The Practice, two of JAG, and two of The West Wing as Mitch Bryce, the Secretary of Commerce in the Bartlett administration.  He was in a CSI:Miami, TV movie Rent Control, and a Crossing Jordan.

He appeared in eight episodes of 24 as Vice President James Prescott.  In the second season, Prescott believed the president should authorize an attack on a Middle Eastern nation he thought responsible for a failed nuclear strike in Los Angeles.  Prescott and Mike Novick conspired to get the 25th amendment invoked to take Presidnet Palmer out of power, and Prescott takes control, only to give it up when he learns the evidence about the failed nuclear strike was fabricated.  He took power again when the President was injured in an assassination attempt.

Next, he was a main cast member in The O.C.  He played Caleb Nichol during the first and second seasons.  Nichol was a wealthy and powerful businessman who owned real estate company The Newport Group.  He was known for unethical business practices and treated his daughter Kristen harshly even though he appeared to have genuine affection for her.  He married Julie Cooper, discovered an illegitimate daughter and eventually died of a heart attack.  Later he was found to have been bankrupt.

He appeared in seven episodes of NCIS as NCIS director Tom Morrow, reprising his role from JAG.  He left within the show to become Deputy Director of Homeland Security.  He was in three episodes of E-Ring.  He was a main cast member of Ugly Betty for the first two seasons.  He portrayed Bradford Meade, the rich and powerful publishing titan behind the fashion magazine at which Betty works, MODE.  He puts his son in charge of the magazine after the previous editor died, and hires Betty.  Apparently Ugly Betty is a far far more insane show than I had realized, and I can’t even begin to sum out Bradford’s role in just two seasons except that he learned that at least two people he thought were dead were alive, including his son who was now his daughter, and he was seduced, using his foot fetish, into only marrying someone who wanted him for control of the magazine.  He died of a heart attack eventually (reading about his character, I’ve read more about Ugly Betty than I have in my life and I want to repeat that I can’t believe how insane it is).

He was in episodes of British shows Torchwood and Midnight Man and six of Aussie show Sea Patrol.  In Lost, he played the important recurring role of Charles Widmore as a wealthy and powerful businessman who was a former Other and was Penny’s father.  He is Ben Linus’s key rival, and was leader of the Others before him.  Eventually exiled from the island, he desperately wants back and eventually finds the island and sends a team to investigate and take it back.  Ben shoots and kills him after he gives information to the Man in Black.  Yeah, I don’t really understand the last season of Lost either.

He appeared in Flight of the Conchords as the Australian ambassador (ironically, as Dale is a kiwi) and mocks Murray continuously.  In five episodes of Entourage, Dale plays Warner Bros. studio head John Ellis.  Ellis offers Ari Gold the job of studio head once, which he turns down but recommends Dana Gordon for, and later offers Ari the job of succeeding him when he retires.  He was in single episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Important Things with Demetri Martin, Burn Notice and Californication.  He was three episodes of Undercovers.  He appeared in two of The Killing as mayoral candidate aide Gwen Eaton’s (previous Ivanek honoree Kristin Lehman) father Senator Eaton.  Most recently he appeared in a Person of Interest and as King George in an episode of Once Upon a Time.

The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Geoff Pierson

23 Nov

(The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame is where we turn the spotlight on a television actor or actress, and it is named after their patron saint, Zeljko Ivanek)

Today we spotlight Geoff Pierson, who got his start in the 1980s, watched his career progress in the ’90s and who has been active as ever in the ’00s.

Pierson’s first role was in 1980 TV movie The Mating Season.  He then appeared in eight episodes of Texas, a daytime soap which existed only in the early 80s and 15 episodes of soap opera Ryan’s Hope as Frank Ryan, a district attorney.  He was just dipping his toe into the television waters in the 1980s, which he finished out with appearances in The Equalizer, Search for Tomorrow, Married with Children, Kate & Allie and Days of Our Lives, and in TV movies Necessary Parties and Mutts.

The ‘90s began with more bit roles, including one episode stints in Alien Nation, Against the Law, Another World, The Adventures of Pete & Pete and New York Undercover.  He was in two very early Law & Order episodes, two of Party of Five, and in TV movie Murder in Black and White as “Father with Boat.”  The rest of the ‘90s were taken up by his two biggest roles.  In 1994, he began a recurring role in Brett Butler’s Grace Under Fire, appearing in 30 episodes over the course of the show’s five season run as Grace’s ex-husband Jimmy.  Jimmy was alternately a trouble-maker alcoholic and a clean romantic intent on winning Grace back, and while that didn’t happen he managed to befriend Grace and deal amicably with their kids.  A year after Grace Under Fire began, Pierson began starring in WB’s Unhappily Ever After, a show about a dysfunctional family which lasted for five seasons.  Originally intended to showcase the mother, portrayed by Stephanie Hodge, within a few episodes the show was changed to focus on Pierson’s father character, Jack Malloy, who was a schizophrenic alcoholic depressive who frequently interacted with a talking rabbit, Mr. Floppy (voiced by Bobcat Goldthwait) who only he could see.  The talking rabbit was one of the only two things I knew about Unhappily Ever After, along with Nikki Cox, who played daughter Tiffany and became the breakout character who took the lead along with Pierson.  The other kids were played by Kevin Connolly, who went on to play Eric in Entourage, and Justin Berfield who later played Reese in Malcolm in the Middle.

After Unhappily Ever After ended, he appeared in episodes of Cosby, The Divison, Becker, three of Nash Bridges, two of Popular, and one of Friends.  He was in two of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and then appeared as a regular in the short-lived That ‘80s Show as R.T. Howard, the father of two of the other main characters, who owned “Videx” a small company which sells personal fitness equipment.  His son is portrayed by Glenn Howerton, now best known as Dennis Reynolds from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  The show lasted 13 episodes.  After its failure, he was in episodes of The District, Touched by an Angel, The O’Keefe’s, and The Drew Carey Show.  In three episodes of The West Wing, he played Senate Minority Leader Wendell Tripplehorn, who briefly ran for the Democratic presidential nomination before withdrawing.  He appeared in Comedy Central original movie Windy City Heat and TV movie Deal and episodes of Monk, NYPD Blue, and Eyes.

He was in 18 episodes of 24 as President John Keeler.  In Season 3, he is approached to help blackmail President Palmer so that he would have an easy road to the presidency, and after Palmer withdraws, he is president at the start of Season 4.  His reign is short-lived as Air Force One is fired at while he is on it, killing many of the passengers,  He survives but is in critical condition, and Vice President Charles Logan takes over his duties.  It is never revealed if he died or was just too injured to serve again.  Next, he was in episodes of Desperate Housewives, Criminal Minds, NCIS, Numb3rs, and Medium.  He was in two episodes of Veronica Mars as Stewart Manning, Meg Manning’s father who was abusing Meg’s younger sister Grace.  He was in TV movies The Poseidon Adventure, The Valley of Light, and Sweet Nothing in My Ear.  He was in three episodes of Rodney, two of Life and one of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as a prison warden.

Around this time, he began his recurring role in Dexter as Deputy Chief Tom Matthews, showing up in 25 episodes.  Matthews is an officer who was best friends with Dexter’s father Harry Morgan and buried the fact that Harry’s death was a suicide.  He constantly battles with Maria LaGuerta, fighting over credit and blame, haranguing her over her affair with Angel, and being blackmailed by her to be promoted to captain in the most recent season.  Pierson has over the course of Dexter also appeared in episodes of The Mentalist, Better Off Ted, Fringe, In Plain Sight, Glory Daze and Castle.  He appeared in two episodes of Rules of Engagement as David Spade’s character’s wealthy father and so far in three episodes of Boardwalk Empire as Senator Walter Edge, based on a real life senator from New Jersey.