Sunday, February 14, 2016

Series: This Week's TV MVPs - Week 28

Happy Valentine's Day, darling friends and readers! We here at Just About Write hope that your day was filled with realizations of how much you are loved (along with plenty of chocolate and flowers and wine). Since this week in television was a mix between heartbreaking comedic performances and astounding dramatic ones, let's jump right in and discuss who made our MVP lists.

Joining me this time around are:

  • Our token male, Jon
  • The wonderful and talented Jen W.
  • As sweet as they come, Maddie
  • The amazing and fun Megan
Let's do this thing!


Jenn's MVP: John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn (Arrow)

Why he's the MVP: After this week's Arrow, I was convinced of two things. One, Malcolm Merlyn was the most vile and despicable villain the show has seen. And two, John Barrowman was an absolute revelation. Throughout the course of this series, Barrowman has been able to utilize a wide range of his skills as an actor — from playing a shrewd villain, cold father, ruthless man, and sassy nemesis. Part of the allure of a character like Malcolm Merlyn is that he's often so self-serving and terrible, and yet played by such a lovable, endearing actor that you don't know whether you want to see Malcolm dead, or not. This week's "Sins of the Father" (a most on-the-nose title, by the way) focuses on showcasing every facet of Barrowman's talent.

I absolutely and positively loved the scene between Malcolm and Oliver on the rooftop, where Malcolm emphasized how pretty, but dumb Oliver usually is. And I found my fists clenching during the moment at the end of the episode where a vindictive Malcolm approached current "Big Bad" Damien Darhk, willing to trade over the life of Oliver's son for the sake of evening a score. I love that Malcolm Merlyn is a villain once referred to as "The Magician" within the League. It seems apt, because often, Malcolm creates smokes and mirrors, double and triple-crossing people he claims to care about in order to protect himself. And the reason that this character has worked so well for years is because of Barrowman's portrayal. In the hands of any other actor, Malcolm's antics could become predictable and trite. And though Arrow struggles with creating fresh conflicts for the characters, to me, watching Malcolm spiral into his evil deeds occasionally feels aimless but never dull. Barrowman's talents are so easily malleable.

The scene, however, that earns Barrowman the title of MVP this week is the one in the lair between Malcolm and Oliver. Barrowman's delivery of the story of the day he first met Thea and she stuck her tongue out at him seems so real and believable. In spite of the horrors that he has committed and will commit even in this episode, Malcolm's humanity shines through only because of how talented Barrowman is. It's the gentleness of this speech contrasted with the booming outburst that comes a few minutes later that really struck me. When Malcolm roars at Oliver about how he will not give up his power to Nyssa, I literally said: "... woah" at my television screen. Barrowman terrified me, in that moment, as Malcolm in a way he has never done before. This duality to Malcolm — this rare glimpse of humanity and intensely self-serving villainy — is what makes him complex, and though it's impossible to even think of justifying Malcolm's actions, somehow Barrowman's portrayal engages me.

Malcolm Merlyn is a villain and proves in "Sins of the Father" that there is no line he is unwilling to cross in order to get what he wants. But John Barrowman? Well, this episode proved that there is nothing he can't do and do extremely well.


Jon’s MVP: Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon (The Flash)

Why he’s the MVP: If I had the ability to do so, I would make every single person on The Flash my TV MVP for this week. Not only was this week’s episode one of the best of the season — if not the entire series — but everyone involved does an excellent job portraying two different versions of their character. There is not a single weak link in the cast. However, seeing as how I can only pick one TV MVP for the week, I believe out of the entire cast, Carlos Valdes absolutely nailed both sides of Cisco, making for a beyond-entertaining performance.
Cisco Ramon has become one of the more entertaining aspects of The Flash since the series began, thanks to his quick wit and incredible talent for nicknames. With the recent addition of his new “Vibe” powers, we’ve now begun to see Cisco mature a little. He still can act like a ten-year old kid in a comic shop, but we’ve seen him accept his new role seriously. With the arrival to Earth-2 this week, not only do we see Valdes having a ball with playing Cisco discovering Earth-2, but we also see him portray a more calculated and malicious version of Cisco, known as Reverb.

One of the best aspects of The Flash this season is seeing everyone play two different versions of their character. With Reverb, Valdes plays a much smarter and colder Cisco — someone who knows exactly how to work people up and demands respect. An example of this comes from when he threatens Killer Frost after she talks back to him, then goes right back to talking to Earth-1 Cisco like they’re old pals. It’s a great testament to Valdes’ acting ability, and how deftly he can move from light to dark.

Valdes looks to be having an absolute blast in the dual roles, specifically with Reverb. He shows up at the end of the episode, but he chews the entire scenery in the best way possible, relishing in the chance to finally play Cisco as a villain. The dual performances he gives are an absolute treat (“Are you Cloud City Vadering me right now?”) and only helps elevate one of the strongest episodes of The Flash to date.

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Jen W’s MVP: Viola Davis as Annalise Keating (How To Get Away With Murder)

Why she's the MVP: This week marked the return of one of my favorite shows on TV: How To Get Away With Murder. Even though I desperately need a flow chart to keep up with who’s lying about what, who killed whom, and just generally what in the blazes is going on, I’m almost always mesmerized by the performance of Viola Davis and this week was no different.

She has an Emmy award for this series, and for me, it’s quite deserved. In this episode, Annalise’s character is recuperating from a gunshot wound to the stomach. She’s on heavy narcotics and as such is having incredible hallucinations — at least we’re led to believe that’s why she’s having these hallucinations.

Viola’s very grounded performance in being five steps ahead of everyone else while still struggling was fascinating and heartbreaking to watch. Honestly, I didn’t know which was was up for most of the episode, not sure if we as audience members were hallucinating right along with her, or if perhaps these situations were actually occurring. We get to see Viola as a wary soon-to-be mother — such a juxtaposition to the Annalise we know as ruthless, conniving, broken, and totally flawed.

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It’s a true gift to watch Viola Davis work week after week. She’s an immense talent that makes Annalise Keating someone you just need to watch.

Maddie’s MVP: Rachel Bloom as Rebecca Bunch (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)

Why she’s the MVP: It’s been interesting in the past two episodes of the show to watch Rachel Bloom play Rebecca as fully self-aware of her feelings for Josh. This has allowed both the story and Bloom’s performance to dig deeper into Rebecca’s characterization. It gives so much credit to Bloom, that despite Rebecca’s problematic antics, the audience is able to empathize with her so easily, and feel her devastation when everything goes horribly wrong. In “That Text Was Not Meant For Josh!”, Rebecca hits rock-bottom in the instantly iconic music number “You Stupid Bitch” — which Bloom actually co-wrote with Aline Brosh McKenna. Its blend of song style and lyrics make the moment simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking.This song is the anthem of anyone who has struggles with holding deeply negative thoughts towards themselves.

First, from a purely musical standpoint, Rachel Bloom’s powerhouse vocal is incredible as she tackles this ballad like the best of divas. However, what is even more amazing is how much emotion Bloom is able to put in the song. The comedy of it required Bloom to fully commit to the attitude and emotion in order to provide the contrast to the song’s elegant theatrical style. Bloom puts every ounce of Rebecca’s overwhelming brokenness, self-loathing, and dramatic flair to the number. Because of her performance in this song, I bet the majority of the audience — along with myself — care even more about Rebecca Bunch than ever before. Thus, Rachel Bloom not only earns the title of TV MVP this week, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if a few months from now Bloom submits this episode to Emmy voters for consideration of a Best Actress in a Comedy.

Megan’s MVP: Beyonce (Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show)

Why she’s the MVP: Who else could possibly be the MVP this week when Beyonce has graced our screens with her presence? Although the halftime show was billed as Coldplay “with special guests,” we all know that we were tuning in for our queen. Sure, all of the colors in the Coldplay portion of the performance were fun, but when the camera turned and quickly led us to Beyonce, that’s when the good time really started. Playing the track she had dropped only the day before, Bey showed us what her new album would be like. She gave us a political stance, a message to be proud of who you are, a message to every woman to stand up and be the boss you were destined to be.

Beyond the obvious, when she got off the field and onto the main stage, it was clear what an absolute legend Bey truly is. During a dance-off with Bruno Mars that featured some great choreography, Beyonce nearly fell and managed to catch herself and make it look like it was part of the routine. Isn’t that great? Most people would fall and then make it obvious that it was a mistake. Not our Queen Bey. She seriously didn’t even bat an eye when she almost hit the floor, and this made it look like she was giving her accident a little extra flair.

Bey went from being the boss during “Formation” to partaker in a friendly competition when everyone was together on stage, to smiling and screaming the message of love by the performance's end. That’s what I love so much about her — she can go from one end of the spectrum to the other and to me it’s like, “Okay, she gets it. She knows that we’re all capable of everything in between. I can be hard and soft all at once. Thanks, Queen Bey. You’re the realest.”

But seriously. Beyonce reminds us that we are in charge of our own lives and we shouldn’t let anyone get in the way of achieving our goals. She also reminds us to love everyone... including ourselves. She’s great. Does this get me tickets to the Formation tour or...?

Who were YOUR TV MVPs this week? Hit up the comments below and let us know!


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