Mindy Newell: Ho-Hum Heroics
Im-not-so-ho, the best thing about The Flash is Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West and John Wesley Shipp as Barry’s father. Im-not-so-ho, the best things about Gotham are Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth, and Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald “Penguin” Cobblepot. Im-not-so-ho, the best things about Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. are Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson and Ming Na-Wen as Melinda May.
What does that say about me?
Am I getting old? Am I no longer able to appreciate a pretty-boy face or a hot young thang? Am I just being nostalgic in my appreciation of Martin, who originated the part of Tony in Rent on Broadway and played Detective Ed Green (opposite the brilliant and missed Jerry Orbach as Detective Lennie Brisco) on Law & Order, which I still regularly watch in reruns, and Ming Na-Wen, who played Dr. Jing-Mei “Deb” Chen on E.R., one of my favorite television shows ever, and not just because of George Clooney or because it also introduced me to British actress Alex Kingston, best known to Whovians as Melanie Pond, a.k.a. River Song.
Or is it that the only real acting chops being demonstrated, the only “this is how real people talk” dialogue is coming out of the mouths of the afore-mentioned actors?
Yeah, I’m finding all the rest of them pretty boring, cogs spit out of the Hollywood machine, cardboard cut-outs, paper dolls. I haven’t seen any one of them (Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen, Ben McKenzie as James Gordon, Chloe Bennet’s Skye, et.al.) display more to me than some experience at acting class. Okay, I do like Iain de Caestecker as poor, fucked-up Leo Fitz, but only as long as he continues to play a warped, hallucinating, schizo – if, as seems evident from the last televised episode, Fitz is going to be suddenly cured and become one of the cardboard cut-outs, then, well…so long, Fitz.
Is the fault in the writing? Take Selena Kyle for instance. The girl is supposed to be living on the streets, for cryin’ out loud! What streets? Rodeo Drive? Fifth Avenue? Place Vendome? And she talks like a spoiled brat from Grosse Point or Upper Saddle River, not a hardened kid dealing with junkies and pimps and the other “underworld denizens” of the inner city. I mean, at least young Bruce Wayne is burning himself with the flames from candlesticks. That kid is seriously disturbed. What’s Selena doing? Giving milk to stray kitties. Awww, isn’t that cute?
Yeah, so for me, it is the fault of the writers on these collective shows. I feel like they’re writing from one of those computer programs for aspiring writers that offer plots and characters from a menu that looks like it was cooked up in a Chinese restaurant’s wok, not from their life experience, not from their love of the characters or the comics…not from their hearts.
As Van Buren, the manager of the hard-luck Washington Senators in Damn Yankees sings, you gotta care, you gotta believe, “You gotta have heart, all you really need is heart…”
So, yeah, writers of The Flash, of Gotham, of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., have heart. Don’t worry about pleasing your corporate suits. Take chances. Push the envelope of television standards and practices. You’ll win, because you’ll get the audiences. And audiences mean ratings. And ratings mean renewals. And renewals mean you all keep your jobs.
So have some guts, writers! You’ve got genies in magic bottles just waitin’ to come out. Rub those bottles and make it happen.
As for me, I’m crossing my fingers for Constantine.