Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather are joined by frequent commenters Ben Adams (“Crazy Like A Fox”), Gabrielle Arrowood (“Gab”), and Tim Swann to overthink bad acting, overacting (different from overthinking!), and an actor’s job in movies and TV.[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/mwrather/otip210.mp3]
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Being a huge fan of the title of the show Desperate Housewives and Mulholland Drive, I wonder if the metaphysics of the blonde and brunette apply at all.
(I went to school in Fairview, OK. Pretty common town name.)
Love having the commenters on. Great podcast! Thanks.
In terms of “acting to your movie” and gloriousness, how do we feel about Gary Oldman’s performance in Leon: The Professional?
Did Wrather listen to the newly-released Harmontown podcast, or was there a happy coincidence in how he described non-actors acting?
Excellent show all round. Solid performance from all involved.
Happy coincidence. I actually only just now found out (from your comment) that there’s a Harmontown Podcast, and I immediately subscribed and will stay up tonight listening to it.
I believe I suggested doing a TNG Season 8 inspired twitter on this show. It’s now available at @TVThatNeverWas Can’t wait to listen back, Gab and Ben are both great to talk with. And the pros.
Tim, I need to know more about this documentary where Rhod Gilbert transforms into a woman. My brain refuses to compute this information.
http://t.co/QsNk34ta The latter is to be a realistic woman, the former a drag queen. Can’t find the complete ep online, as I don’t think any pirates have BBC Wales. I’m just thankful for my satellite.
I’ll just sit here sadly in the corner…
OK. I’m over it. To me, overacting is connected to melodrama which is all about getting you to feel a particular way and to feel it strongly. If you’re willing to buy into the world, then if that character is overacting in the right way it can almost provoke a visceral response. Twin Peaks and Desperate Housewives are interesting cases as to my knowledge, never having seen an episode of either, they are built upon strong ensemble casts meaning divided loyalties for the audience. Yet, at least for the episode or the span of a story arc, overacting can be used to make you side strongly with a character. I wonder if either show is similar to other melodramas in that certain characters almost always get their way or are proven to be right.
Interesting idea – can anyone think of any other examples? (I’ve just been seeing my brother watching FlashForward, which will feature heavily in TVThatNeverWas), where there’s a definite ensemble but it’s Jack Davenport who probably wins, not really by over-acting. What about LOST?
In thinking about voices from the dead, the only things that came to mind were Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies. I know those shows don’t really apply as the people who are dead are very vocal and capable of affecting things as they’ve been revived. But still, I think what’s interesting about them is that when these people are revived, they get a privileged view of a very strange side of the world. They watch from a completely different perspective compared to how a regular living person would observe things. So is this something that applies to all characters who have died and still watching over the characters in fiction? Or is there something to be said about the relatively mundane world of at least Desperate Housewives which I presume doesn’t have anything supernatural about it.
When you talked about drag it reminded me of something that was brought up in a class I took last semester. If any of you do not watch America’s Next Top Model, there is a judge/mentor called Miss J. who teaches the girls how to do their runway walks. He is a man but will often dress in a flamboyant, costume-y way, sometimes wearing women’s clothes. He can also be exaggerated (overacting) in his facial expressions and behavior towards the contestants.
Is it possible that overacting is not only a way of teaching the audience how to feel but of teaching people how to act like people? You sort of talked around it when you said real people are actually much odder than the characters who are meant to represent “real” people in fiction. So is overacting a behavior of cultural value that instructs us in how to behave out in society?
A reality show (of sorts) example that connects to this is What Not to Wear. It is kind of fascinating to watch the two leads serve as representatives for society as a whole as to what is acceptable attire for certain professions, ages, body types, etc. It’s about a kind of conformity. Yes, some people wear ill-fitting clothing because they’re uncomfortable about their bodies but there are also episodes where they shut down a person’s style because it’s not socially acceptable. There was a girl who was an artist who dressed too hipster-y for them. And when people are resistant to the process that’s when it really gets interesting. There was one episode where a woman really wasn’t enthusiastic and they kept asking her through the process how she felt and I think even at the end she rated her happiness at 7/10 which you could clearly see made the hosts upset. You’re expected to perform as if you’re ecstatic (overacting). There was another episode where a girl had both a public and private persona but was not confident in person and they revealed rather shockingly that they were playing exaggerated versions of themselves for the purposes of the show. How often does someone admit within the show that they are overacting?
Any episodes of AMNTM I’ve seen were from earlier seasons before that Miss J. character- but I think that’s just it, they’re a character. I like this idea of the people in the show teaching us how to be “real” people- if all we, as piddly non-actors can do is imitate them, be a mere shadow of them, we enhance some characteristics but can never reach their perfection. I know I always come back to Platonic forms, but I find myself once again leaning toward that comparison.
Best good/bad acting in a video game has to be Clive Owen in Privateer 2: The Darkening
It is glorious http://youtu.be/Mj7_0yMzAqg
It was nice to hear Tim bring up John Barrowman, as his tenure on Torchwood was the first thing I thought of when overacting was brought up. Of particular note was the episode with his brother, whose portrayal was so lethargic that it very nearly balanced out Barrowman’s acting style.
Contrast that with the episodes with James Marsters. Yeah, Barrowman’s the king, and it’s always shocking when it works – e.g. Children of Earth, which I adore. Admittedly more for Liz May Brice and Peter Capaldi.
Also, on good/bad acting in video games: play the RTS classic Dune 2000 and contrast John Rhys-Davies as the Atreides mentat with whoever it was who turned in the classic performance as the Ordos mentat. THAT…IS…THE MISSION
Alas! After-the-fact, I think of more things to say.
I think challenge shows like Fear Factor that are contained in one episode need to be separated from ones lasting a season, such as Survivor. There’s virtually no “plot” in the former, while the latter is dramatized and such in ways similar to stuff like Real Housewives, and the crew/producers will manipulate the situation to cause drama/tension. And not just by adding a twist like how in I think the third season of Survivor they started changing around the tribes or whatever. I mean like sabatoging or something in order to piss people off. My favorite example comes from a season of Top Chef where a fridge is mysteriously left open overnight and a bunch of people’s food goes bad. Either the editors made it deliberately impossible to tell which contestant did it, or someone on the crew was ordered to do it- and the old, curmudgeony conspiracy theorist within me totally thinks the latter.
Anyway, point, you hear all the time in interviews that Soandso really wasn’t as mean as they looked on TV or whatever, that was just editing, etc. on shows where the same people are slowly being eliminated over the course of the season. I think there’s a big difference in the story being told between that and something like Fear Factor.
What’s tricky is that both are sort of like gameshows, right? But is putting Wheel of Fortune in the same category as Fear Factor and Top Chef a good idea?
Also, I’ve decided I’m going to have to yell if ever I get on the podcast again. Interrupting the sausage fest is totally not easy. :(
But I’d gladly participate again! Thanks for having me, guys. Warm fuzzies.
I think you held your own, Gab. If I had been on I would have had your back but as it was, I was cheering you on as I listened to the episode. There are always rumors swirling around about shows like Top Chef. Especially when a contestant says something like “I’ve made this dish a hundred times in my restaurant” and then somehow it gets over or undercooked in the oven. Sure, some of the contestants aren’t good cooks and are just brought on for drama. But it’s pretty clear that the people behind the scenes mess with the equipment a little bit when there’s not enough drama.
Thanks, Cat. For both rooting me on and helping me feel less like a conspiracy theorist. :)
Did I mention Olly Mann from Answer Me This (can’t remember the episode) and The Apprentice? I really cannot remember about producer sabotage – guess I better listen to this pronto before more comments.
Pete, were you saying that Alfred Molina was in Tomb Raider The Cradle of Life? Did I completely miss a cameo by him or did you misspeak? Or did I misunderstand what you were saying?
Great Podcast, loved hearing the commenters.
Still, I’d like to well actually Timothy on his Twin Peaks memories.
There are no extra-terrestrials in Twin Peaks. Sure Major Briggs shows SETI printouts to Cooper with his name on and the ominous owl phrase, yet he later admits the signals did not come from outer space, but from the woods around the town.
It has never been confirmed Dennis/Denise was a post-op transgender. To my mind he was simply a guy who felt more comfortable in a dress. And a wig. And some rouge.
Those are some good Well Actuallies, the White Lodge who are communicating are more spiritual, though I might argue for inter-dimensional (barring revelations – I have two episodes to go). I really thought it was mentioned that Denise was transgender, but I must have conflated that. I apologise for the laxness of my terminology in that case.
You had to say it, didn’t you? Interdimensional beings.
Just when I almost forgot all about Indy 4.
I think in the David Lynch version of Return of the Jedi, that’s what the Ewoks were.