Sunday, February 22, 2015

Series: This Week's TV MVPs - Week 1

There is so much good acting on television each week that it's nearly impossible to watch everything -- every show, every scene, every actor or actress. But every week, one actor or actress usually rises above the rest. Be it a standout scene, a stellar episode, or an emotional confrontation, these are the M.V.P.s. They're the ones whose performances leave you speechless, in the best way possible. They're the ones that you tweet praise about, the ones you spend the next day thinking of, re-watching those moments with them again on YoutTube or reblogging every Tumblr GIF set you can find. They're the most valuable actors or actresses in an episode.

And we're going to celebrate them each week.

I know a lot of really smart people who watch television. These are my friends who spend countless hours discussing the merits and pitfalls of television series or character arcs. They understand what makes a compelling episode of television and what makes a bad episode of television. They can articulate WHY something is good. And sure, sometimes they flail and squeal about a ship or an episode, but you're more likely to find them on blogs and reviews intelligently discussing why something is worth watching, rather than just claiming that it is. These are my people. These are my ladies.

Every week, there will be an installment of this new series called "This Week's TV MVPs" where we will get the opportunity to discuss some stand-out performances in television that happened over the course of that week. This week, joining us for the conversation are my distinguished panel of friends:

So if you're ready, let's talk about some television, shall we?

Jenn's MVP: Simon Helberg as Howard Wolowitz (The Big Bang Theory)

Why he's the MVP: Simon's television alter ego, Howard, has often been a divisive character. He can be selfish and childish and when the series began, he was "that annoying guy who treated women like objects." Over the years, Howard has grown and married Bernadette. He's become a better character -- a more compassionate one, for the most part. In this week's The Big Bang Theory, however, we see Howard resort to his petulant ways as he becomes angry that Stuart's new comic book store is home to some of his childhood furniture. In the middle of everyone fighting with everyone else in the store, Howard gets a phone call. His mother passed away in her sleep.

Simon perfectly acted that scene, from the way that he was barely able to form the words, to the quiet tears, the small smile when Sheldon offered words of encouragement. The shock and sadness completely and totally humbles Howard as a character. It actually humbles everyone in that scene, reminding them that what they're all arguing about is stupid. It's pointless. It's finite. With so few words and such beautiful nuances, Simon Helberg powerfully conveys a grieving man, especially when he sits down in the chair that used to be in his childhood home. This is honestly one of the few scenes in the show that has ever made me cry, and that is thanks -- in large part -- to the simple, profound emotional acting from Simon.

Connie's MVP: Willa Holland as Thea Queen (Arrow)

Why she's the MVP: Willa Holland's performance on Arrow this week was so great. She usually doesn't get to stretch her acting legs very much, since she's been out of the main action loop for so long, but she really got to strut her stuff this week. Her despair over finding out that she killed Sara and her subsequent rage at Malcolm was phenomenal to watch. Her line at the end? “I will be your student, I’ll be your partner, I will even be your soldier, but never again will I be your daughter.” Amazing! Getting to watch her play younger more shallow, party!Thea compared to her character now was really well done and she held her own during her action scenes as well. Now that she knows Oliver's secret, I can't wait for more great scenes with her and the rest of Team Arrow. Kudos to Willa for really bringing it this week.

Deena's MVP: Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester (Supernatural)

Why he's the MVP: Honestly, if I could nominate Jensen EVERY week for MVP, I would. His acting has always been nothing short of great for the past nine and a half seasons of Supernatural, but it always seems to be top notch in the more serious episodes such as this week's "The Executioner's Song,” the ones that are more Dean centered at its core and deal with his personal struggles. He's such a complex character, especially this season, torn between doing what's right and giving in to the darkness of the Mark's urges, and I think that this week it was the subtleties of Dean breaking down--- mentally and emotionally, that really made this one of Jensen's best, especially in the last few minutes of the episode.

When Dean admits to Sam that he's scared, right before facing Cain, you can point out the exact second that his expression shifts to complete and utter fear, the changes in his voice as he tries to prepare himself for the inevitable. He knows what he's getting himself into, and for the first time in a long time, he's no longer the fearless hunter that we're all used to seeing. He's always faced his problems head on with a little bit of humor, but this time, it's different. There are no forced jokes here, no shrugging it off and going with the “silent man pain” routine. Jensen just... blows me away with his ability to portray that much emotion with so many little words, the realization that despite this being the right thing to do, he knows the high risk that he's not going to walk out of that barn the same person, and that scares him. He doesn't want to do this, but he has to, and that anguished yell right before he kills Cain says it all.

Laura's MVP: Devon Bostick as Jasper Jordan (The 100)

Why he's the MVP: It’s been a great week for television but my pick for MVP goes to Devon Bostick. Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen Jasper step up and become a leader of the group that is being held captive by the Mountain Men. This week, with Maya’s life on the line, we saw him further step into that role, unwilling to let a single one of his people die. He won’t let Maya die in place of the rest of them, but he also will not let them all go down without a fight. Through the course of the show, Devon has done a brilliant job of showing Jasper develop from timid and hesitant to a true hero. One thing that has remained, since the very beginning of the series, is that he is willing to risk his life to keep those that he cares about safe.

His performance in this week’s episode, as he made the decisions necessary to keep the group safe, was exciting to watch. The moment in the episode when we see him take an ax to the guard who was injured but not dead, showed just how much he has changed. There was no mercy or regret in his eyes as he brutally attacked the man, ending his life. Jasper’s journey has been incredibly believable due to Devon’s portrayal of the character. Much like every character on the show, he has struggled with moral dilemmas but throughout it all has remained steadfast in his beliefs. As the stakes continue to get higher, Devon has shown how difficult it is for Jasper to make these tough decisions and it’s because of that that we love the character so much. All of this was highlighted in Wednesdays episode, which is why I believe that Devon Bostick was the MVP of this week.

Jen's MVP: Candace Accola as Caroline Forbes (The Vampire Diaries)

Why she's the MVP: My pick for VIP this week goes to the lovely Candace Accola.  I've made no secret about the fact that I believe The Vampire Diaries writing has been subpar the last few years. However, the last two episodes have been reminiscent of The Vampire Dairies' glory days.  At the center of each episode is Candace Accola's Caroline,  the super controlled vampire, struggling with a very human milestone...the death of a parent.  Whether she was super organizing the funeral trying to make casket shopping sound fun, fervently avoiding bonding with "enemy" Damon (who was writing the eulogy) or quietly grieving in front of her mother's casket, Accola moved deftly from scene to scene staying true to the essence of the character. As Caroline struggles to "categorize" Stefan post kiss, Accola sheds any remnants of the supernatural. The innocence & hopefulness in Caroline's voice reminded me of that great Notting Hill line..."just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her." Candace finishes off the funeral with a rendition of "Go In Peace"  that is so stunningly beautiful it literally makes Stefan Salvatore fall in love with Caroline.  However, it's not until her final scene with Elena, as Caroline sheds the facade of control and crumbles from the depth of her grief, that Accola truly shines.  There was something incredibly unnerving watching the plucky & always in control Caroline lose it.  Accola balances Caroline's heart wrenching grief against her logical "plan" to flip her humanity switch expertly. She skates on the razor edge between grief and madness, until finally a decision is made. Watching warm & kind Caroline break Elena's neck (something I've waited six years for her to do) with the coolness of a serial killer was equally shocking as it was believable.  It was a tour de force performance and reminded me why I fell in love with this show.

There you have if, friends and readers! Our inagural MVP post has officially kicked off. Who made your MVP list on television this week? Hit up the comments below and let us know what you thought. Until then. :)


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