What’s old is new
Ok, so I’ve never seen Dawson’s Creek. It’s probably better that way. Joshua Jackson isn’t fighting any preconceived notions (or old images of his teendom in a Milk ad and that controversy) with me when I watch his freaky series Fringe. What’s won me over is what I think works best when the show is full of strange and amazing…you need a guy that’s neither. Joshua Jackson plays the straight guy, occasionally with a flippant remark aimed at his crazy genius father, but trying to keep everyone else on the show tempered and balanced in the cold hard logic of the world. But even he has secrets. Like where’d he get that hot jacket? And all those hot kung fu moves?
The thing about weird TV is that its practitioners need to be totally devoted to it. And underacting (which will get back to in a minute) is the easiest way to do it. So Joshua Jackson lets John Noble carry the freak flag in the show…while he just seems to get hawter with every episode. (Maybe it IS the jacket, I wonder!)
Or maybe it’s that chemistry that worked so well in The X-Files(again, hold please) although admittedly having two down-to-earth truth seekers with the father being the kooky one is a nice mix. And I’m enjoying it. ‘Course, having a sexy voice to go with that stoic and sardonic delivery doesn’t hurt Mr. Jackson at all. And A-plus for nattily, well-kept beard and ‘stache…too much and suddenly, you’re Grizzly Adams. I hope the network gives the show a full run with Season 2 but as freak shows go, you just never know.
What starts off as blue
No, it wasn’t Robert Carlyle’s first international role in Trainspottingthat got him a lot of US notice. It was the little, a-hum, charming movie
about unemployed male workers who develop a striptease act to raise cash that did that. The Full Montyseemed to be everywhere for a while but it was literally a blip in this character actor’s resume of fringe roles: psycho, stripper, Hitler, Bond baddie, cannibal, zombie killer, government conspiracy theorist…And now, he’s headed into the Stargate.
One thing about Robert Carlyle: you never know what’s next with him. He’s run the gamut of roles and been stellar in all of them. He might as well open a class on how to play freak roles sensibly, with purpose and conviction without being an over-the-top Nutter.
Of course, years of BBC television seems to be excellent training for the said same underacting that makes sci-fi/weird TV work. Not that he hasn’t hammed it up a notch…you did see Ravenous, didn’t you? No? You weren’t hungry?
He’s made the fringe roles so inexplicably cool that when he showed up shoulder to shoulder with Jack Bauer last summer, my mind went blank. Dr. Benton? Really? It just felt all sorts of wrong. And maybe that was the intent of the actor as well as padding his wallet. You just never know when his kooky, off-beat coolness will appear. But you can count on it.
What remains Cerulean blue
Lifestyle choices aside, when one thinks of successful weird TV actors, the obvious choi
ce is David Duchovny. And who knows how his personal demons have influenced his professional choices. After all, his first repeat TV role was reading Red Shoe Diaries, HBO’s soft core erotica series from the 90’s. Unless you count his stint as FBI Agent Dennis/Denise on Twin Peaks. Hmm, I’m detecting a pattern and the pattern is full. But The X-Files became the standard in weird TV for a generation and beyond. It’s what Fringehopes to repeat. And herein begin the lessons in underacting…in seven seasons (yeah I conveniently forget the last two seasons, especially the series finale), Mulder and Scully investigated every manner of alien-creepo-biohazardous misfit both foreign and domestic.
Duchovny played both straight man and nutjob, tight-ass FBI agent and certifiable misfit, socially inept geek and sci-fi saint. It’s a burden the actor has carried for years trying to shrug off his great success of making you believe that Jersey Devils and Mexican Goatsuckers exist. Or at least make for great TV. So when it took another fringe role as a womanizing Hollywood writer in Californication to pull him back into critical success, it wasn’t really a surprise. And maybe the personal demons along that road weren’t a surprise either. Here’s just hoping that this hot guy takes some time to align his current professional success with some personal too…and keep being our main fringe hot guy squeeze.