Sunday, January 24, 2016

Series: This Week's TV MVPs - Week 25

Hello, dear friends and readers! As most of you know, this is the first installment of the TV MVP Series in 2016! Isn't it crazy that 2015 is over and we're already almost done with the first month in the new year? (I think it's insane, honestly, and I have no idea where time is going.)

When we left you all last, our favorite shows were airing their mid-season finales. That meant that many characters were falling in love, having first kisses, getting married, or else getting maimed and even dying. As the shows we love begin to slowly return from their winter hiatuses, the actors are bringing out their A-games and providing us with funny, heartwarming, and sometimes downright heartbreaking moments.

This week, we are going to highlight, as usual, some of the best performances on television. Joining me in this post-hiatus endeavor are:

Let's get to it, then!

Jenn's MVP: Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter (DC's Legends of Tomorrow)

Why he's the MVP: I was looking forward to DC's Legends of Tomorrow for two people: Arthur Darvill and Caity Lotz. And while the White Canary soared in this week's pilot episode of the series, it was Arthur Darvill who truly stood out to me and shone with his performance.

For those who don't know, Darvill played Rory Williams for years on Doctor Who — a companion who was, more often than not, goofy and endearing in his sweetness. And Darvill was perfect at playing this character. Rory would occasionally act aloof and confused, but he loved his fiance (and then wife) Amy Pond with such ferocity that it reminded us he was just as much of a hero as anyone else on the show. But there were also moments throughout that series filled with anguish and pain (episodes like "The Girl Who Waited" and "Angels Take Manhattan") that reminded us that not only could Darvill excel at humor, but also make us weep with the sheer power of his emotional breakdowns.

Throughout most of the pilot episode of Legends of Tomorrow, Darvill played to his Rory Williams-esque strengths — he was low on patience and high on wit and humor. But then, toward the end of the pilot, he made me pause and get misty-eyed. Because Rip Hunter broke down, revealing that he had gotten the team of "legends" onto the ship because, in fact, they were not legends in his future. They were nobodies and messing with their lives to stop Vandal Savage made the most sense. Understandably, the group is furious with him and demand to know what Savage did to him. Darvill's thinly-veiled rage and grief are palpable as he recalls the story of how Savage killed his wife and son and the Time Masters did nothing about it, merely shrugging his loss off.

Darvill managed to convey this really complex layer to Rip Hunter's character with complete and total believability and allowed us to empathize with him and with his suffering. Another actor would have done the lines justice, but Darvill did the EMOTIONS justice — he caused me to pause, lean in, and actually care about Rip's story and his excuse for lying. And the flashbacks with Rip cradling his dead son were just a punch to the gut. I'm really looking forward to seeing what else Arthur Darvill has in store for us throughout the series. Because if the pilot is any indication, then we are in for some more impressive acting from him in the future.


Lizzie's MVP: Jeremy Jordan as Winn Schott (Supergirl)

Why he's the MVP: Why is Jeremy Jordan my MVP this week? Well, because he made me want to watch Supergirl next week. I’ve been hot and cold with this show. Sometimes I like it; sometimes it makes me roll my eyes so far up my head that I fear they’re going to get stuck there (as my mother used to say). But never, ever do I absolutely adore it. At first, I thought it was because the chemistry between Kara and James obviously fizzed, or because my favorite character was Cat, when it should have been Kara. It was this week that I realized my ambivalence was because I didn’t feel emotionally connected to anyone’s journey.

Enter Jeremy Jordan, and Winn’s awful-no-good-very-bad-day.

Look, a superhero show is always going to have some contrived situations. I can accept those. I can look the other way when Kara finds something difficult that she could/should have taken care of in 0.2 seconds. I can’t, however, look the other way if the character development is lacking (as it has). And, hopefully, this week means I won’t have to.

Winn’s name made this episode anything BUT surprising. We knew he was Toyman Jr. We knew his father was going to come up sooner rather than later. What we didn’t know is how Winn would handle it. We didn’t know he was afraid he was of being destined to become his father. We didn’t know that Kara would step up to the challenge and actually prove herself as good a friend to Winn as he’s always been to her. We didn’t know Winn would look at his father and find the strength to be brave. We didn’t know. We couldn’t have. Because TV shows usually play unrequited love stories for much longer than Supergirl did.

And I’m grateful. I’m grateful for how the show handled it, but mostly, I’m grateful to Jeremy Jordan for making me go the full range of emotions in this episode, from "TELL HER" to "Oh, Winn," to "Let me hug you," and ending with "Wow, you did it." Because this is the first time Supergirl has managed that. And, if only for that reason, I’m rooting for Winn to “win” the girl.

Deena’s MVP: Misha Collins as Castiel (Supernatural)

Why he's the MVP: One of my favorite things about the cast of Supernatural is how seamlessly the main actors can switch from one character to another within the show, and how well they portray the subtle (or not so subtle) nuances between the normal versions of Sam, Dean, and Castiel in comparison to their counterparts. We've watched Jensen Ackles switch so effortlessly between Dean and "Deanmon," and Jared Padalecki is no stranger to this either, having portrayed not only Sam, but Sam possessed by Meg, Lucifer, and Gadreel, as well.

Over the past eleven seasons, Misha Collins has also proven his acting chops, and this week's episode was no exception. Out of the aforementioned actors in the show, he's probably portrayed the most versions of his own character and others, each one as different than the last — Jimmy Novak, Leviathan Cas, human Cas, endverse Cas, Meta Misha, and now: Lucifer.

We only get to see the effects of Lucifer's possession of Castiel at the very end of the episode, but even those few minutes are enough to show how brilliantly Misha has changed his mannerisms to match that of Lucifer's actor, Mark Pellegrino. Even his voice sounded different than normal, and the facial expressions were spot-on. His movements seemed almost comical at times (honestly, maybe it’s really just Misha being Misha), but I was still in shock of how closely they mirrored Lucifer's. I don't think I'll ever tire of watching this man tackle so many varied personalities, and I’m excited to see how he continues to tackle the role of Lucifer during this storyline.

Laura’s MVP: Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak (Arrow)

Why she’s the MVP: There’s a reason why nearly every week, someone from the site picks Emily Bett Rickards as their MVP. From the start, she is the reason why so many of us fell in love with Arrow, bringing a light to a show that had been almost completely dark up until that point. Each week since that first episode, she’s brought something new to the table, showing an amazing range as an actor. And although it was the comedic elements of the character that first attracted us to Felicity, she has more than proved over the seasons that she can do drama just as well. Without the hard work and effort that she and Stephen Amell put into their characters, the Oliver and Felicity (or Olicity) ship could have been just like any other. Instead, they’ve made it into something truly special.

Despite having quite possibly the smallest amount of screen time since she became a regular on the show, Emily once again wowed in the mid-season premiere of Arrow. Even in pain, unsure of whether or not she’d be able to make a full recovery, Felicity stayed true to herself, making an innuendo that is right up there with the best of them. The way Emily plays off these accidental innuendos is so perfect, the look of understanding when Felicity realizes what she said always on point. And with her whole team (sans Oliver) surrounding her as she prepared to go into a final surgery that would determine her fate, Emily once again showed the strength and determination of this character, insisting that she would be fine as everyone around her showed their concern.

The true emotion that Emily pours into this character wasn’t seen until after the surgery however, when Oliver finally visited. From the shaking in her voice, to the one slow tear trickling down her face, it was impossible to watch this scene without feeling Felicity’s pain and vulnerability. Unsure of whether Oliver still wanted to be with her and even more unsure of whether or not she’d ever be able to walk again, Emily gave everything she had into this one short scene, making us feel every emotion that Felicity was feeling. With one sigh, one teary look, she lays everything on the line in a way that only a truly incredible actress can.

Later, when Oliver once again visited Felicity at the hospital, Emily and Stephen both gave performances that reminded everyone why they initially fell in love with this pairing. When Oliver told Felicity that he wanted to go to Bali and she responded with “I would go anywhere with you,” even the most cynical of fans have to acknowledge that their hearts swooned at least a little bit.

And in the flash forward at the end of the episode, all you had to do was watch the body language of these actors to realize that something serious had happened between Oliver and Felicity. Even if you didn’t notice that Felicity’s ring wasn’t on anymore, it was evident from her portrayal of the character that she and Oliver were separated. When she vehemently told Oliver that he needed to “kill that son of a bitch,” it was also incredibly clear that whoever is in that grave is someone who meant a lot to Felicity. For an actor to express so much in an episode where they have so little of an amount of screen time takes a lot of talent. And that is why Emily Bett Rickards is my MVP for this week.


Jon’s MVP: Jennifer Carpenter as Rebecca Harris (Limitless)

Why she’s the MVP: After a week off, Limitless returned with another standard (or standard in Limitless world) case of the week. However, what made this episode so special was how the humor flowed throughout the episode. Because of how grisly the murders are that Brian and the FBI are investigating, Brian’s subconscious turns every awful and evil word into a happy word (i.e. “killings” is turned into “huggings”). The best aspect of this running joke is how straight-faced the cast was able to pull this off.

The best actor (or in this case, actress) on the show this week belongs to Jennifer Carpenter, who not only managed to pull off saying words like "Mr. Rainbow Sherbet" in a sentence with a completely serious tone and face, but also gave some insight into the character of Rebecca herself.

What was so great about Rebecca is that we got to see two sides to her this week: her lightheartedness and her sheer determination. In regards to her lightheartedness, Rebecca manages to greatly convey this facet of her personality when she takes a road trip with Brian, from playing punch buggy with VW Beetles to singing her all-time favorite songs. It’s a side of Rebecca that’s rarely seen but very welcomed. Carpenter manages to showcase this side very well, showing Rebecca to be having a blast, even if it is for a little while. Perhaps we’ll get a lighthearted Rebecca-centric episode in the future.
But the big development this week was when Rebecca fully started to look into Senator Morra’s assassination attempt, which she believes was the result of him being on NZT. What was great about this small moment is the determination and amount of detail Rebecca puts into the case. She studies up on so much about Morra and looks into him with great detail. Carpenter does a great job showing the first tinges of this determination, which looks like it could develop into an obsession somewhere later on in the series, an aspect that might prove quite intriguing. For all that and more, Jennifer Carpenter is my MVP.

Megan’s MVP: Timothy Omundson as King Richard (Galavant)

Why he’s the MVP: First things first, friends: if you love musical comedy and you’re not watching this spectacular ABC series, you’re missing out on some quality television.

With that said, this show boasts a cast of humorous actors and actresses, but Timothy Omundson’s King Richard is by far one of the best. His portrayal of a king on the run and with nothing to his name (his kingdom having torn down his castle to build a better village in his absence) is nothing short of knee-slapping. He plays the down-on-his-luck king so beautifully as he’s torn between being destitute to assuming he’s still ruling over everyone.

In last Sunday’s episodes, he is utterly convinced, and plays it up with such seriousness, that the lizard he has recently procured is in fact a dragon. Moreover, Richard doesn’t understand why everyone else can't see this as well. It’s fantastic. From a war between “giants” and “dwarves” (everyone was the same height!) to wondering where his place is in the world now that he’s without crown to being an over-pampered brat, it’s his face that does the most comedic work. Sure, he delivers his lines flawlessly, but his facial expressions are what truly make his character spectacular. He emotes entirely with his face and it instantly makes you laugh.

It would be hard for someone to play King Richard without those facial expressions. And it would be even more difficult for an actor to have perfect comedic timing and such self-confidence as to be able to deliver absolutely ludicrous lines with gusto and sincerity. Yet Timothy Omundson nails it every single episode and he makes me look forward to every one that follows. Although the entire cast is fantastic and Galavant is a show that pokes fun at everything it’s about, Timothy Omundson’s King Richard is my favorite.

Maddie’s MVP: Lotte Verbeek as Ana Jarvis (Agent Carter)

Why she’s the MVP: In the second season of a show, new characters are always brought in to shake up the status quo, but such new additions can be hit or miss. They can either consume screentime from characters you love, or they become a breath of life that enhances characters’ arcs while remaining compelling in their own right. I am very pleased to say that Lotte Verbeek’s turn as Ana Jarvis is absolutely the latter. She had a small amount of screen time in the two hour season premiere but she delivered a standout performance that immediately made me look forward to the next time she was on screen. To be completely honest, I was a tad nervous when it was announced that we’d see Mrs. Jarvis in season two. Peggy Carter and Edwin Jarvis’ friendship and dynamic is one of my favorites currently on television, and I was worried that a new addition would disturb said dynamic. However, my fears were allayed upon the announcing of Verbeek’s casting, whom I positively adored on Outlander, and it only took one scene for me to fall in love with the character.

Verbeek comes in like a breath of fresh air with undeniable charisma. There is something about when an actor is able to exude pure joy that is completely contagious. However, that joy and exuberance is comes from such a genuine place that it feels real, so the audience can’t help but adore the character. From the very first time she is on screen, Verbeek’s eyes sparkle with mirth and just the right amount of mischief that audiences, myself included, can see that she fits right in with the world the show has built. The performance is so natural and engaging that the audience can immediately buy Ana and Peggy’s fast friendship. Verbeek is perfectly able to engage and match Peggy in the witty repartee she shares with Jarvis.

However, Verbeek isn’t mere comic relief. While her performance is filled with wonderful sass and has a certain ease to it, there is a layer of earnest tenderness as well. While I loved the teasing and flirtation she shares with Jarvis, my favorite moment with those two was her watching him through the window. You see how much she loved him in her eyes and how truly happy he makes her in her smile. He may look ridiculous wrangling a flamingo, but he is hers and she loves him. It was a short moment, but it was sweet and added a gentler, loving side to the firecracker that is Ana. Likewise, when Ana comforts Peggy, Verbeek’s performance emanates a sort of kindness and sincerity that elevated the scene and endeared audiences. Overall, Lotte Verbeek is a delight as Ana Jarvis and I already love the character and can’t wait to see what’s next in her story.

Who were YOUR TV MVPs this week, friends? Hit up the comments below to let us know your thoughts. Until then!


Post a Comment