Saturday, July 14, 2007

But it's REAL, y'all! And when is 70 minutes not enough?

I was reviewing some of the comments about Monday's night's exceptionally powerful and well done episode of The Closer, "Ruby," on TWOP. There were the usual insightful observations and analysis from the TWOPers, about Gabriel's motivation, Taylor's problem solving, Brenda's dedication to the case, Provenza's "cover up" and the outstanding performance from the actor playing the degenerate perp.

But I also noticed a few comments related to the promos for a new TNT series, called Saving Grace, starring Holly Hunter. This came up because of the unusual timing of "Ruby." For TV aficionados, it was quite apparent that this episode was going to run 10 minutes over the hour. TNT announced it in their ads for the episode. It was noted on all the major TV websites, and I even saw it in the mainstream "printed" press. In addition, my Tivo, smart best friend that it is, had already added the extra 10 minutes to the recording time. So all was well, right? Blergh. I timeshifted, as I always do, and watched this compelling 70 minutes of television. At the "end," Brenda Leigh got her confession and we weren't quite sure what would would become of Gabriel after his questionable tactics in extracting the location of the little girl. I put quotes around "end" because there were a lot of fans who weren't quite sure exactly "when" and "how" this episode ended. At what I thought was the end, TNT did their usual cross promotion. Typically, it's been for the Treat Williams vehicle Heartland, but this time, the voice over asked us to "stay tuned for a special preview of Saving Grace." More on that, and Holly Hunter, in a moment.

Okay, when the network tells us to stick around for a preview, that means the current show is over, right? I mean, almost every show tells us to "stick around for more of (insert show here)." And then you wait around (or fast forward) and all that remains of the current show is the credits. Or maybe, just a tiny "tag" scene. But TNT made NO MENTION of "more Closer" coming after the Saving Grace preview. And we were already at the 1 hour and 10 minute mark. So any reasonable viewer would assume that The Closer was over. Done. Complete. Uh, not so. Apparently, outside of the 70 minute mark that we'd all been warned about and taken into account, and AFTER the Saving Grace preview, there was more Closer, and it was damned important. Brenda suspended Gabriel for his actions with the suspect, and put a note about the use of "excessive force" in his file. Gabriel told Brenda that he wasn't sure he wouldn't act the same way again, under similar circumstances. He laid his badge and gun on the desk. The perp killed himself in the jail. And wrote a suicide note on his right hand. And the hand is important, because we had clearly seen in previous scenes that the perp was right handed. I offer all this information about the end of The Closer not from memory, or having seen it, but from recounts provided by helpful TWOPers, because these critical closing scenes came AFTER the Saving Grace preview, and AFTER the much publicized "extra" 10 minutes. All I can say is What. The. Fuck? I've tried to find this final scene via TNT or the youtubes, but to no avail. Fuck you, TNT.

Okay, that brings me rather long windedly to Holly Hunter. On the boards, several of the posters expressed the following sentiment: "I don't care how many times they try to shove that Holly Hunter promo down my throat. I'm not watching because I can't stand her ridiculous accent."

Keep in mind that this was expressed in a forum for The Closer. And posted by fans of The Closer. Which stars Kyra Sedgwick, who was born in New York. And went to USC (in California, not the home of the fighting poultry). And now lives in Manhattan. Who stars as Georgian Brenda Leigh Johnson, a tough southern belle, with a thick southern accent who is a fish out of water in SoCal. Look, I love Kyra's performance and consider it nuanced, powerful and definitely Emmy worthy. I would also suggest that she's doing some of the finest work on TV, on par with female performances from Edie Falco and Mary McDonnell. But y'all? Her accent is FAKE. And as much as I love the show, it took me a good 3 or 4 episodes to get past the fact that her accent is too over the top and not as natural as it could be. I mean, it's not Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins bad. Or Bianca Lawson in Buffy bad. Or Kevin Costner in Robin Hood (or Thirteen Days, or anything, for that matter) bad. But it's obviously not real, and any true southerner, and especially Georgian, can spot that a mile away. So someone who is a fan of The Closer objects to Holly Hunter's accent? You have got to be kidding me. That's about as REAL as it comes. Holly is from Conyers, Georgia. And despite her immense acting talent, I'm sure holding back her thick accent has cost her some mainstream roles where her character did not have a background from the south. The irony of that just makes my eyes roll back in my head and my stomach turn in knots. So you like The Closer, but don't want to watch Saving Grace, because Holly's accent bugs you? Hopefully, a door-to-door "Clue Salesman" will soon visit your home, so you can get one. Argh.

As for Saving Grace itself, I'm torn. On one hand, I do really like Hunter. And I like the somewhat "supernatural" nature of the show, featuring Deadwood alum Leon Rippy as an "angel" giving Holly's self destructive detective another chance at life. However, my feelings on all this theological poppycock are well known, and I really don't want to waste an hour of my life (and believe me, I waste those with reckless abandon) getting some treacly lecture. If it's Touched by an Angel in Oklahoma, or Michael Landon with a badge, then count me out. But given the talent involved, I'll give it an ep or two to win me over.

But seriously? You like The Closer, but Holly's accent bugs you? I'm think I'm going to go have a seizure.

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