Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Accent on the Positive

Maybe it's because I'm half-English, but I've always had an ear for accents. For me, it can make or break a TV show or film if the actor can't pull off the accent he or she is trying to portray.

One of the reasons you have to love Meryl Streep is her ability to pull off accents. Gwyneth Paltrow did a great English accent in "Shakespeare in Love," but her Sloane accent in "Sliding Doors" was a bit grating. (She deserves part-credit, though, for knowing the difference.) Natalie Portman is a terrific actress, but her accent in "V for Vendetta" left a lot to be desired.

Don't even get me started on Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder in "Bram Stoker's Dracula." It makes me wonder -- couldn't Francis Coppola find English actors to fill those parts? For that matter, why is most of the principal cast of the new release "All the King's Men" -- Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law, Kate Winslet -- British?

TV has had its share of good and bad accents. James Marsters and Alexis Denisof of "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" fame, both had great accents. In fact, Marsters sounds a little weird to me in his natural accent on "Smallville." On the other hand, David Boreanaz and Juliet Landau fell well short in their accent attempts on those same series.

But the best accent of all is Cote de Pablo's Israeli accent on "NCIS." (CBS, 8 p.m.) I've seen other actors try Israeli accents before -- it's a bit hit and miss in the recent movie "Munich" -- so I assumed the first time I saw de Pablo's agent Ziva David as a guest star on the show, the producers had recruited an Israeli actress. Needless to say, I was a little surprised to see that she had been born in Santiago, Chile and raised in Miami.

Not only is her Hebrew perfect, her English with the accent is as well. Even my dad, who lived in Israel for 11 years, was fooled.

"NCIS" is one of CBS' better procedurals, having a certain charm and humor that most of the many, many procedurals on the network lack. They've also shifted the dynamics of the cast recently, having Mark Harmon's lead character apparently quit. So it will be interesting to see which direction the show will go in.

TUESDAY'S BET: Notice how I left the word "best" out. I missed the pilot for the CW's new show "Runaway" Monday night on its normal slot, but tonight (CW, 9 p.m.) is a second chance for everyone who missed it. I won't have many opportunities, since it will run opposite "Heroes" -- for me, required viewing -- but the premise of Donnie Wahlberg as a fugitive who takes his family on the lam sounds interesting.

Making it's debut tonight is "Help Me Help You" (ABC, 9:30 p.m.) starring TV favorite Ted Danson as a therapist who is as screwed up as most of his patients. I'd love to have a review to tell you whether or not it was worth 30 minutes of your life, but ABC is leaving the TV Guy off their critics list, so either watch it or don't watch it.


Zodin2008 said...

I agree about what a weak night Tuesday has become. It's so funny, everyone has a different account as to what a "good" night on TV is and a weak night" and until "Veronica Mars" returns, Tuesdays are slightly ahead of Fridays.

Sundays, without any good Cable shows (like on USA or HBO) are also dead.

On the other hand, Monday has suddenly become my busiest night of Television with "Prison Break", "The Class", "How I Met Your mother", "Heroes", "Runaway" and "Studio 60" and I might have kept watching the mediocre "Vanished" had it not been for all the other talent at 9 pm. In fact, I also have showtime and have become completely addicted to "Weeds", also new on Mondays.

But I completely have to back you up on how good NBC's Dramatic duo on Mondays are. I am not sure they make sense (long term) paired together, but "Heroes" and "Studio 60" are the best new shows of the season, (having yet to see "the Nine").

I also am intrigued by "Runaway" and will check it out tonight.

I am less intrigued by "Standoff" which only survives my current slate of shows based on the lack of great choices on Tuesdays.

Anonymous said...

Tuesdays have both House and Gilmore Girls. I can never decide which to watch because I love them equally. I don't consider that a bad TV night.

Phillip Ramati said...

I never actually said Tuesday was a weak night. House is oneof the best shows on TV, and remember, The Shield and Rescue Me, both appear on Tuesdays. New shows such as Standoff and Smith have shown me enough to keep me coming back, and I have always enjoyed NCIS.

Monday has a terrific lineup, but it's not mutually exclusive to mean that Tuesday has to be bad because Monday is good. Wednesdays pick up next week with the return of Lost, and Thursdays are the most competitive night of the week.