In the third part of this six-part series going over the strengths and weaknesses of the now concluded 2011-2012 season, I discussed the actors/characters that made a significant impression and why that was the case. In this fourth entry, I’ll look at the opposite side of that spectrum and go into detail about the actors and characters that didn’t have a positive impact and my reasoning for choosing them.
As usual, these choices are entirely of my own personal opinion and as such, you may agree or disagree strongly with them. If that’s the case, I encourage your comments whether they be of the positive or negative variety (just not rude!).
Also, I perhaps should have made it clear in the last part that the choices made in these posts (the ones concerning actors and characters) aren’t necessarily chosen due to my belief that the ACTOR failed to do a good job and vice versa. There are several choices below where the actor or actress in the role did a fine job, it’s just the character that didn’t succeed.
Captain Gates (Penny Johnson Gerald)– Castle
When I initially heard that Penny Johnson Gerald was joining the cast of Castle for its fourth season, I was ecstatic. I’d seen her work in 24 and she played the part of manipulative bitch to perfection. However, whilst the actress herself did a good enough job in the role of Gates, the character was the one that fell far short of the mark I’d expected her to leave.
For a start, I would estimate from the top of my head that Cpt. Gates barely appeared in half of the episodes of the season and her time on screen was significantly limited when she was. Plus, there was little to no history to the character, no background or knowledge of what she did before she joined the precinct. Compare that to what we knew of the previous captain and how integrated he was with the rest of the cast and you’re left with a big empty hole that should have been filled.
Introducing a new character to a cast that’s remained the same for three years, as well as replace a well-liked character like Montgomery, is not the easiest thing to do. It could have succeeded with Gates but they simply refused to move her personality beyond that of a cut-throat, ‘just get it done’ type. There was potential to explore her background and her history, which in turn would’ve given us an insight into her and perhaps acknowledge her existence more, but there was none of that. All we really knew about her was that she used to be an Internal Affairs agent. As far as my memory permits, there was nothing else revealed about her.
Penny Johnson Gerald is a good actress by my estimation and although I’ve only seen her play ruthless and strong female characters, I’m sure that she would be good at anything else. It’s not as if I wanted Gates to become a weak-willed push-over; I just wanted some semblance of a history to the character to make her truly feel like a part of the cast. The way they failed to do that made her feel like an outsider and like she didn’t really belong and for most of the time, her presence was not noticeable. They had such talent on board and they wasted it, unfortunately.
Dr. Chi Park (Charlyne Yi) and Dr. Jessica Adams (Odette Annable) – House
House’s eighth season didn’t disappoint me on such an enormous level as season seven did. The quality of the stories seemed higher and things felt more like the good ol’ days unlike the previous year. It also introduced two new characters to the mix and unfortunately, both failed to leave a lasting impression.
With Foreman moving up to become the Dean of Medicine and Thirteen being fired/going awol or whatever it was, House’s team of diagnosticians was severely lacking. As such, new blood needed to be introduced, especially a female seeing as the cast was mostly testosterone-based after Cuddy’s impromptu departure. They brought in not one but two female characters to fill the void. Whilst they had a back-story that featured from time to time, both were simply cardboard cut-outs that didn’t bring anything new to the table nor make any attempt to.
Park was nothing more than a Martha Masters clone, who was a part of the cast briefly in season seven. Her mannerisms and social awkwardness were reminiscent of the aforementioned character and whilst they may not have been a problem had it happened several seasons later, it was merely months after Masters left the game. The result was the feeling that Charlyne Yi was simply filling a gap that Amber Tamblyn either wasn’t asked to fill permanently or didn’t want to.
As for Adams, I struggled to see any reason for her existence other than to be the token female beauty. Odette Annable wasn’t disappointing in the role but the fact that I never saw any reasoning for the character to even exist made that forgettable. They wanted, and needed, a female to join the cast to balance the genders but Park would’ve been enough to fill that hole. Adams was nothing more than extra bulk that unnecessarily weighted down the rest of the cast.
As I’ve mentioned previously, there was a need for a female cast member after Lisa Edelstein and Olivia Wilde left for pastures new. There was not a need to introduce two and as such, the cast felt larger than it needed to. If I had to choose just one from Park and Adams to have joined the cast, it would’ve been Park because as copycat-ish as she was, she at least had some redeeming qualities that made her feel worthwhile. Adams, on the other hand, had little to none.
The cast of Charlie’s Angels
ABC’s remake of Charlie’s Angels didn’t succeed to say the least. In fact, it bombed catastrophically and was panned by pretty much everybody that had the misfortune of having it emblazon their eyes. Whilst there was absolutely nothing in the short-lived remake that was actually any good, one of the biggest contributory factors in the show’s lack of anything resembling quality was the cast and how they, quite frankly, were appalling.
I cannot single out one actor over the other when describing this show because to do so would infer that the others were less shit than they were. That is incorrect and all members of the cast were equally horrific in their roles, trudging through the weak, poor script as though they were being forced to at gunpoint.
Of course, that is the only reason I can see that any of them decided to get on board for Charlie’s Angels. It seemed as though they were chosen for their roles not for their ability to actually act well on screen but because they looked good on it, which unfortunately does not a good show make. Even if they hadn’t cast actresses who didn’t command any screen presence or personality at all, the abysmal script would’ve dragged the rest of the show down.
Charlie’s Angels was a doomed project from the start and quite why ABC sought fit to bring it to pilot is beyond me. I can only surmise that strong hallucinogenics were being passed around that day that clouded the judgement of those in charge. The unfortunate side-effect of Charlie’s Angel’s collapse into the abyss of terrible tragedies is that those who acted in it (I say acted but it really wasn’t) will forever have a black smudge against their name for the future. Even though it’s somewhat unfortunate, if these people never get into acting roles again, that may be a blessing in disguise.
Adam Conant (Thomas Dekker) – The Secret Circle
The CW’s foray into witchcraft with The Secret Circle had much potential that was unfortunately squandered by inconsistent writing, far too much melodrama and a focus on the ‘teenage angst’ element of the show that became too frustrating to handle. Outside of that, the cast themselves were a mixed bunch and none more so than the aforementioned Thomas Dekker.
There were far too many instances in TSC’s first, and only, season where I felt as though he was dragging his heels through the script rather than gliding through it. Some of his scenes with Britt Robertson, who played his on-screen love interest, were clumsy, more wooden than your average garden shed and acted with more melodrama than you’d expect to see in a high school drama production. Obviously the up-and-down script didn’t assist with matters but these two were meant to be the token romantic pairing that The Secret Circle often focused on. As it was, they had no chemistry to speak of, no screen presence and both of their characters were among the weakest in the whole show. Plus, Dekker seriously abused the use of guyliner to such a degree that it should be outlawed.
Irrespective of the failed romance, the character of Adam didn’t really work well at all. He was incredibly judgemental, often excruciatingly soppy, far too dramatic and sometimes a pain to watch. I don’t necessarily think that Thomas Dekker is an awful actor, more like an inconsistent one. The same could go for the entire cast of The Secret Circle, as none were especially brilliant and nearly all had moments that were less than average. Unfortunately, as pretty to the eye as Dekker is, it didn’t disguise his weaknesses and as a result, they were glaringly obvious to see.
Juliet Martin (Zoey Deutch) – Ringer
Ringer had many shortfalls, one of which was its incredibly ridiculous script, but none more so than the cast. Honestly, putting my personal adoration for the actress well aside for the moment, only Sarah Michelle Gellar actually put it any decent work in the show’s only season. Kristoffer Poloha’s imbecilic character was a pain to watch and not always due to Poloha’s wooden acting, as was Jaime Murray’s stilted performance, and Nestor Carbonell, who was put at a disadvantage after being given poor material to work from. However, the pinnacle of the Ringer cast’s mediocrity has to come from Zoey Deutch.
Although Deutch wasn’t aided by being given a character that was, quite frankly, an annoying brat, it also didn’t make things better by the fact she really wasn’t a good actress. Even during the brief moments when Juliet showed some semblance of personality outside of being a bitch, Deutch’s weak acting never quite made the character stand out for positive reasons. Things really began to take an even worse turn around the middle of the season when the character was involved in a pathetic ‘fake rape’ plot that destroyed any remnants of likeability Juliet ever possessed, if there was ever any there to begin with.
Deutch’s poor performance was only highlighted more when scenes with the character’s family took place. Both her, Ioan Gruffudd and Sarah Michelle Gellar were never believable as a family unit, not even as a dysfunctional one. Considering the family dynamics of the Martins were such an integral part of the show, the inability to see them as such massively impacted a large portion of the show’s scenes. Instead of seeing them as a family, I saw nothing more than strangers thrown together and given that label. Needless to say, it didn’t work.
I can’t say for certain whether Zoey Deutch improved after episode sixteen or so because the show became far too ludicrous for me to continue torturing myself with but from what I’ve heard, she didn’t and neither did the rest of them. It’s a shame that Sarah Michelle Gellar’s talent was smothered with an ensemble cast that were weak and forgettable but I can only hope she finds a stronger position on another show in the near future. As for Deutch, I wouldn’t be too concerned if she didn’t.
So that’s part four brought to a conclusion. In parts five and six, the final two of this series, I will look at the biggest surprises of the season as well as the biggest disappointments, before bringing the series to a close in time for the new TV season beginning in September.
As mentioned in every post, as well as the beginning of this one, your comments are encouraged in the box below. Do you agree with any of the choices I’ve made above? Do you have your own? Maybe you want to throw mud at me for criticizing your favourite show (please don’t be Charlie’s Angels)? Either way, please feel free to speak your mind below!
Click here for part five