Tag Archives: The Closer

The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Mark Pellegrino

20 Nov

Mark Pellegrino

(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)

Some of the people we induct into the Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame are actors who most people would instantly recognize because of their long, prolific television careers, or character actors remembered in particular for one stand-out main cast role in a much-loved television show. Some however, are less well-known, and can only be pinned down by most people as “the guy who played” one character from a couple of episodes of a couple of shows. Well, Marl Pellegrino is one of the latter, but I think if you’ve watched a lot of television in the ‘00s, you’ll likely recognize at least a role or two he’s played. In particular, he has appeared in one all-time recurring role of a character much better remembered by name than for the amount of screen time he gets in the seven episodes in which he appears. But we’ll get there. First we start at the beginning.

Pellegrino’s first IMDB credited role is as “punk” in an episode of L.A. Law. Next was an appearance in TV movie What Price Victory, followed by one-shots as “Dude” in Doogie Howser, M.D., an episode of Hunter, and as “Punk” again in a Tales From the Crypt. He ran through the entire decade of the ‘90s appearing in single episodes of many television shows, some of them popular, including, Northern Exposure, something called The Hat Squad, The Commish, Viper, Renegade, Deadly Games, ER, Nash Bridges, The Sentinal, Brimstone, and The X-Files. In X-Files episode “Hungry” he played a murder suspect, Derwood Spinks, who gets eaten by the true murderer and self-hating monster Rob Roberts. He also appeared in TV movies Class of ’61, Knight Rider 2010, The Cherokee Kid, and Born Into Exile. His best known role of the decade, however, may have come as an unnamed blond Jackie Treehorn thug in The Big Lebowski. He dunks The Dude’s head into the toilet and drops the bowling on the tile, breaking it, towards the beginning of the film (“Where’s the money Lebowski?,” he asks).

In the ‘00s, Pellegrino’s career began to pick up with some recurring roles. He was in three episodes of The Beast and four of NYPD Blue. He was in single episodes of The Practice, The Unit, Burn Notice, and Grey’s Anatomy, and two of Without a Trace, along with TV movie NYPD 2069.

Paul from Dexter

In 2006, he got the first television role for which he’s frequently recognized. He played Rita’s sketchy ex-con ex-husband Paul Bennett in eight episodes of the first two seasons of Dexter. Bennett is extremely possessive, and after he gets out of jail he comes looking for Rita and her new boyfriend, who is, of course, Dexter. Bennett was an abusive husband who beat and raped Rita, which got him to jail in the first place. Rather than simply kill him, per Dexter’s m.o. Dexter sets him up with some heroin and gets him shipped back to prison, where Bennett gets killed in a prison fight.

After getting killed off on Dexter, Pellegrino spent some more time as a TV nomad. He appeared on episodes of Women’s Murder Club, K-Ville, Knight Rider (remember that reboot?), Criminal Minds, Fear Itself, Ghost Whisperer, The Philanthropist, and The Mentalist, and two each of Prison Break and CSI.

Jacob from Lost

Soon, though he was to land his next extremely recognizable recurring character as the infamous Jacob from Lost. I don’t even begin to actually understand much of Jacob’s story, but he was a legendary figure talked about and heard but not seen long before his backstory was revealed. Jacob was the long-time protector of the island. He had a centuries-long feud with his brother, the nefarious Man in Black who also took the form of the Smoke Monster, and also killed their mother (Yes, Lost makes absolutely no sense; as someone who watched most of it, I can’t even imagine how ridiculous this sounds to someone who has seen none of it). Jacob was worshiped by Ben Linus, he was the one who made Richard immortal and he eventually anointed a successor to his place from among the survivors of the Oceanic crash.

Pellegrino was in TV movie Locke & Key (as Locke), a CSI: Miami, and a Breakout Kings, before guest-starring in six episodes of TNT hit The Closer as Gavin Q. Baker, a lawyer who represents Brenda in whatever the Turrell Baylor lawsuit is. He’s described by Wikipedia as flamboyant, astute, clever, and brutally honest.

He appeared in two Chucks and a Castle. He got a pretty choice recurring role as Archangel Lucifer on Supernatural. He has appeared in that role for 10 episodes over the course of seasons 5 through 7 and is the primary antagonist of season five, when, after breaking out of his prison in hell, he attempts to get Sam to be his vessel who he can inhabit (I don’t really know what that means either. Maybe I’ll watch you one day, Supernatural).

He appeared in the TV movie Hemingway & Gellhorn and in episodes of Grimm and Person of Interest.  He was a main cast member in the first season of the American Syfy remake of British supernatural show Being Human, in which a ghost, a werewolf, and a vampire live together and try to make it in modern day society. He played James Bishop, a vampire, turned in the 15th century, who now works in the Boston Police Department.

Pellegrino played Jeremy Baker, a member of the Monroe Militia in four episodes of Revolution. Currently, he’s starring as the antagonist in the CW’s The Tomorrow People, about a near-future where some people have genetic super powers. He plays the head of the villainous government organization Ultra, charged with rounding up and disabling all the people with genetic mutations.

Before, he may have just seemed to be “the guy who played Jacob in Lost,” but he’s so much more. Welcome to the Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame, Mark Pellegrino.

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Summer 2012 Review: Major Crimes

4 Sep

Do you like The Closer?  If so, you’ll like this.  If not, you won’t.

I really want to simply end this review with that line but it feels like a cheat, so I’ll explain Major Crimes, if by chance you, the reader, has had the good/bad fortune to never have seen The Closer, or can’t imagine a Closer without Kyra Sedgwick (after 7 long seasons as the most popular show on cable, it can be hard).

Mary McDonnell, best known to me, at least, as President Roslin in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, portrays the new main character in this The Closer spin-off.  At first, I thought moving from President to head of Major Crimes would be a pretty big demotion, but the LAPD may actually be bigger than the society over which Roslin was President.  McDonnell, as Captain Sharon Raydor, a character introduced late in The Closer, with the possible intent of a spin-off right from the beginning, takes over right where Kyra Sedgwick left off.  Quite literally, she replaces Sedwick’s Brenda Johnson as head of the LAPD’s Major Crimes unit.  Many in the unit, mostly the same characters from The Closer, are not fans of Captain Raydor, and and apparently have despised her rule-abiding policies for the past couple of seasons of The Closer, which I have not watched, when she was in a different position. Aside from the general emasculation that the old white police boys club clear feels because a woman has been assigned to lead them (again!), they don’t like Raydor in particular because of her new plea bargain friendly policies, designed to create cheap, fast and easy plea bargains for criminals even though they may involve slightly shorter sentences than if these cases went forward and to trial the old-fashioned American way.

In particular, this first episode involves a police shoot out.  Undercover cops are trailing a couple of suspected armed robbers, who have taken out a couple of grocery stores, but without violence.  Right at the beginning of the episode, the robbers are involved in a shootout with the police, leaving two of them dead, and one caught.  The caught criminal is about to agree to talk, when he’s fired upon.  It’s at this point that we learn that Raydor has become the new head of the unit and her subordinate, who headed the unit for about a week previously after Brenda left is not happy about it, let me tell you.  He gives her and Assistant Chief of Operations Taylor, who comes by to deliver the news, all the guff they can handle before reminding them that there will be more guff later, after he does his damn job and solves this case.

Blah, blah, blah, it turns out the shooters were a gang of military vets who were unable to fit in with regular society and played a first person shooter called “Win or Die” together (only the relatively young  woman working the case knew what the video game, or video games in general, were, unsurprisingly).  One is left alive, and turns out to be a cop’s son, and the police have the goods on him.  Raydor works hard to get the right facts confessed for the DA and makes a plea bargain happen which again further incenses the old white dude now her inferior.  Raydor struggles with her hold on the unit, which largely despises her, but stays firm and does her damn job, making it through her first day in charge alive and with a win on her record.

Oh, also, there’s a weird subplot about a disaffected teenage boy who is a material witness in a major case which may or may not have been discussed in The Closer and who needs a place to stay until his time as witness is up.  He complains and whines and complains and eventually it turns out he’ll live in an uncomfortable living arrangement with Raydor and be a main or at least recurring character for some reason.

This show is exactly what it appears to be on the surface.  I’d rate it as slightly better than The Closer because I prefer President Roslin’s no nonsense rule-following attitude to Kyra Sedgwick’s incredibly annoying I’m-just-a-girl southern accent as she talks to suspects when convincing them to confess, but the style, format, and cast is essentially the same (sadly without JK Simmons).  It’s well produced and the action is brisk, easy to watch, and paced smartly.  It’s nothing more than a police procedural though, and there’s no special element that makes it stand out, and anyone expecting anything additionally will be sadly disappointed.

Will I watch it again?  Honestly, no.  I would understand if someone else did though.  If you liked The Closer and it wasn’t entirely for Kyra Sedgwick, you’ll probably like it.  If you didn’t you probably won’t, and if you didn’t care at all about The Closer, you probably will not care at all about Major Crimes, which is more or less how I feel.