Wednesday, June 13, 2007

REBECCA DeMORNAY and JOHN FROM CINCINNATI

First reason I wanted to check this show out—it was created by David Milch.

Second reason—it had Rebecca DeMornay in it.

I know a lot of people who already find this show totally confusing.

After watching the first two episodes back to back, I don’t.

As always with Milch’s productions, there’s some of the most original dialogue, unexpected acting, and unique story lines you will ever see on TV.

As I’ve said before, for me, DEADWOOD is as close to Shakespeare as TV has ever been. This ain’t DEADWOOD (though some familiar faces from that show crop up here), but whatever it is, I’ve never seen it before. Maybe this one’s as close to Pinter as TV has ever been.

Or let’s drop the comparisons and just say that Milch is an incredible creator. Even when he’s off, he’s original.

And like I said, anything with Rebecca DeMornay in it, count me in. The character she plays is certainly the hottest grandmother I’ve ever seen.

But that aside, DeMornay has always been one of my favorite actresses, ever since she kicked ass in RISKY BUSINESS, THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL, and THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE. Her range is extraordinary. Though she has often been mis- or under-used.

Not here. So far.

The other great thing about this show is the kid (Greyson Fletcher). It killed me to see him in jeopardy already in the second show, because right from the first frame he appeared in, he became the show for me.

Even though his favorite response is “anyways”—which Milch always has one, or some, or all of his characters in his various shows use as a substitute for other, usually deeper and profounder thoughts.

It might be an old Milch device, but it’s better than whatever we could expect a surfer to say, like “whatever dude.”

And Ed O’Neill kicks ass as a retired policeman with a house full of pet birds, a widower, it would seem, with issues, as they say.

I worked with O’Neil in a scene on another Milch show that didn’t make it past its first season (BIG APPLE, in which I played a priest!). I know a lot of the people involved with this show, and most of them I admire and am a big fan of. Including DeMornay and O’Neil, and many of the actors with smaller parts.

Milch gives them all some great lines to interpret, (the title character especially, played brilliantly by Austin Nichols) and then usually asks them to do it differently than what they might ordinarily come up with. He also rewrites at the last minute, if this is anything like his other shows. Many actors find all that much juicier and exciting than the usual approach. But some actors find it more difficult, or just do their own thing no matter what is called for. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Over all, this show is incredibly well acted, well written, and totally original.

As for the confusing story lines, I’m buying it all so far, not as “reality” or the usual A-B-C every-plot-point-properly-checked TV storyline, but as an expression of some deep questioning of the great struggle life is for some of us, at least some of the time, and the ways we often make that struggle even more difficult, especially when we think we’re doing the opposite.

Hey, what can I say, I’m ready to see what Milch can teach us, we already know he can bring it.