Sunday, November 6, 2016

Series: This Week's TV MVPs -- Week 46

It's another week of television, and another week that we get the opportunity to celebrate some fabulous performances! This year, more than ever, there seem to be incredible shows on television worthy of recognition for this series. Whether it's the new comedies, engrossing dramas, or old favorites, this television season is better than ever before (in my humble opinion).

This week, the following writers are joining me to discuss some of their favorite performances:

Let's get started!

Jenn's MVP: Adam Scott as Trevor (The Good Place)

Why he's the MVP: First off, if you're not watching The Good Place, you really need to be. In typical Mike Schur fashion, this show is delightful. Jam-packed with an incredible cast who have equally incredible chemistry with one another, The Good Place is a feel-good comedy. It's bright (literally) and quick-witted, providing you with a way to fill that Parks and Rec-sized hole in your DVR. While the cast in and of itself is incredible, recently the show added some new characters into the mix: characters from "the bad place." Leader of this band of baddies? None other than Adam Scott, who plays Trevor. And yeah, Trevor is basically the worst... which is why Adam Scott deserves some recognition this week.

Just like "the good place" has some pretty funny and silly criteria and subtle jokes, so does "the bad place." We learned last week that the train that runs to this place gets one degree hotter for every time you think about how hot it is and also makes thousands of unnecessary stops. Adam Scott blends sarcasm, misogyny, and middle-school boy behavior into Trevor and it's both hilarious and also endearing. The character is smarmy, uncouth, and treats everyone around him as subservient. The best part about Scott playing this character though is that Trevor is never overtly evil (for the most part) in a traditional sense. When you think of the devil — or a demon — one often thinks of extremely vile, evil behavior. But Scott's portrayal is this fine line between douchey and just rude. The writing on The Good Place is impeccable, and the things that one has to do to earn a spot in "the bad place" are so brilliant. So of course they would love Justin Bieber there. And clown paintings. And bad dance music. It just makes sense.

I loved Adam Scott in Parks and Rec as Ben Wyatt — a lovable, perfect nerd — but he does an incredible job playing the exact opposite type of character in this show. Trevor is totally a character who you love to hate, and yet Adam Scott plays him with so much fun that it's infectious.

Bonus MVP: Vincent Rodriguez III as Josh Chan (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)

I'll be the first person to admit that I'm #TeamGreg on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and am not too fond of Rebecca and Josh together (mostly because they always seem to make each other worse/more juvenile). But dangit, I still really love Vincent Rodriguez III as Josh Chan. Even though he hasn't always been the most mature character, especially when it comes to making relationship decisions, this week Vincent really got the chance to shine in a few different scenes. His performance upon finding out that Rebecca has gone a little off the deep end was absolutely brilliant. So often we see Josh being subtly manipulated by Rebecca. But not this time. This time, he tries to process the fact that Rebecca might be pregnant with the realization that she actually isn't. And it's one of the only times in the series we get the chance to see Josh as someone who is decisive and at a breaking point.

But while that moment was great, the moment where Josh says goodbye to Greg at the airport is one of the most important and powerful ones — and Vincent pulled it off beautifully. We got the chance to see Josh break down in front of Greg, who is saying goodbyes and being gracious to the guy who slept with his ex-girlfriend. Josh is acutely aware of the fact that he doesn't deserve Greg being this kind and thoughtful to him, since he hasn't been a good friend lately. Vincent is so vulnerable and so sad as Josh, that as he cried and admitted to being a bad friend, I got a little misty-eyed too.

Greg and Josh's relationship has been rocky ever since Rebecca has been introduced, but I absolutely love this scene between them because we got the chance to see how Greg still looks at Josh as a friend — even after all that's happened. It's a moment that totally humbles Josh, contrasted perfectly with the heightened emotions and anger that he had earlier in the episode. Vincent Rodriguez III is such a gem and I'm glad that we got the opportunity to see an emotional side to Josh this week.


Chelsea’s MVP: Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers (Supergirl)

Why she’s the MVP: Supergirl has gone through a lot of growing pains since its move to The CW. The show is adjusting to shooting in a new, drearier city, dropping romantic subplots, and rewriting character roles to make up for the loss of Calista Flockhart’s wonderful Cat Grant. One thing that continues to be great on the show though is the character of Alex Danvers, portrayed by the wonderful Chyler Leigh.

Throughout all of season one, Leigh played Danvers as the sister who constantly sacrificed her life to protect Kara. And as wonderful as she was at playing that, season two — and especially this week’s episode — has let her spread her wings and interact with more villains (and a potential new love interest*). It’s obvious that Leigh loves exploring these facets of Alex, who is having to adjust to working with a new alien-obsessed partner and the challenges that come with balancing her knowledge of Supergirl with how much she trusts this new person. She also gets to have more fun working with new actors and playing a slightly jealous version of Alex that doesn’t know why she’s jealous of Maggie’s girlfriend spending time with her.

Leigh has so many more emotions to navigate this season with Alex, and she is quickly becoming the most compelling person to watch on this show. Chyler has always brought so much heart to Supergirl through her portrayal of the relationship between Alex and Kara. The relationship between these two has always been the most important one on the show. Now Leigh gets to bring the show’s first authentic romantic relationship to the screen, and I am excited to see what she does next. She has so much on her shoulders as she grounds these relationships. For that reason — and more — she’s my MVP this week.

*They’re not very subtle about setting that relationship up. 

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Erin’s MVP: Geena Davis as Angela Rance/Regan MacNeil (The Exorcist)

Why she’s the MVP: The Exorcist took a week off last week after revealing a huge plot twist. It’s difficult to maintain that momentum with the break, but Geena Davis doesn’t miss a beat. The reveal adds to that tall order, since we now know that she is really Regan MacNeil. She has to live up to what fans of the film and the book have in their heads as well as be true to the character she has been playing for the first five episodes. I am in awe of how effortlessly she took on this task.

That wasn’t the only challenge Davis faced in this episode either. Her character was put through the emotional wringer. Now that her family knows that she had hidden her past from them, she has to answer for the lies she has told. Her husband is particularly hard on her. Regan has to explain a very painful decision she made to try to move on from her trauma. He lacks understanding and compassion and she is very strong and patient in return. But she doesn’t go on the defensive. Even Father Marcus gets on her case about it and she shoulders the guilt so she can focus on finding her daughter. “I made a choice and I had to live with it every day,” she says.

Regan probably also lived with the fear every day that evil would come looking for her again — might try to invade her body once more. Father Marcus, Angela's husband, and her mother demonize her for the coping mechanisms she chose. She must have thought it was the only way to survive; to lead a normal life. The way Davis plays this is so real and so human, but also impressive. You can’t help but empathize with her. She is such a strong woman who can admit to her faults, continue to overcome the hand she’s been dealt, and still go on fighting for the ones that she loves.

The duality of her character now is quite interesting. She’s on both sides — as the girl who was once possessed and the mother dealing with a possessed daughter. The presence of her mother really showcases this internal struggle, and Davis excels in her portrayal of this. At the beginning of the episode, Chris and Regan are on a talk show sharing their experience (and promoting Chris’ book, The Devil In My Daughter). Young Regan is anxious and apprehensive. Later, when the family is in front of the cameras appealing to the community to help find Casey, she seems to revert back to that girl. Her mother is there, once again, speaking for her. She is being forced to confront a version of herself that she thought she had put behind her. The scenes she shares with Sharon Gless as Chris MacNeil are compelling. She is both that vulnerable little girl and a protective mother. Chris tries to lay some guilt on her, too: “You were my whole world. And you left me.”

The look on Davis’ face was subtle but so brilliant. It was one of defeat in having disappointed yet another person with her decision to move on and move past, but also one of conviction in her choice. She battles against her mother throughout the episode and then, after she sees that the body in the morgue was not Casey, she goes to hug her. It doesn’t feel forced or false. It seems quite natural, actually. Once again, Davis plays the dichotomy of her character in a very believable way. She is a child who needs the comfort of her mother and she is the adult who now understands the pain her mother must have felt. Man, the feels I had when they hugged were off the chart!

The Exorcist is quintessentially horror. The scare tactics are on point. How actors respond to the terror in this particular genre can be hit or miss. Davis’ reactions are incredibly effective in heightening the fright factor that is already present. The scenes that startle you and make you jump are made even more intense by the emotions she evokes.

There is a lot going on in this story and many interesting subplots, but I found myself most enraptured when Davis was on-screen. The character of Angela Rance/Regan MacNeil is fascinating and I am in love with the way Davis is approaching it.

Megan's MVP: Colin O'Donoghue as Hook (Once Upon A Time)

Why he's the MVP: For the last maybe one and a half or two seasons, I've had a pretty serious love/hate relationship with Once Upon A Time. I felt like they've probably, maybe, sort of lost their way and haven't really gotten the chance to get their groove back. I've had a hard time with certain storylines, but one thing I haven't had a hard time with is the acting.

While the stories can sometimes be a little unbelievable, the acting has always been superb. Someone who has really stepped up his game over the last season has been Colin O'Donoghue as our favorite pirate captain, Hook.

I've always felt that he just sort of blended into the background and allowed everyone take control of the scene, especially since he shares so many scenes with Jennifer Morrison's Emma. But as their love story progressed and he's gotten away from his story with Rumple, Hook's really started to shine. I distinctly remember crying once or twice when he was talking to Emma about how much he loved her last season. And while it doesn't take much to make me cry these days, he really made me believe what he was saying.

On this past week's episode, Hook was torn between saving Emma's future with the shears of of the Fates, and doing as she asked and getting rid of them. Oh, and he was struggling with all of this while also dealing with this past — and also current — interactions with Captain Nemo and his brother Liam aboard the Nautilus. He had to tell his story to Henry and sacrifice himself in order to keep a family intact rather than tear another apart. Hook was scared that he didn't fit in and worried that he would never be able to protect his new family.

Hook displayed a collection of emotions in the episode, rather than just one or two and I thought it was really great to see him show a great deal of range. Most important of those emotions were fear and worry. I thought it was sweet that he was willing to sacrifice himself to fix what happened with Liam and save the family that he wants so much to be apart of.

Colin O'Donoghue has really stepped up his acting in this season — and especially this episode — and it just makes my little heart so happy.  (Now, if only we can get the plot back on track...)

Who was YOUR TV MVP this week? Sound off in the comments below or by tweeting us!


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