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Wednesday, 19 November
Actually, Seventh Grade Sucked

Tonight, rather than luxuriating in the usual nothing that is my non-performance evening, I had to instead travel down to my old theater haunt and do a FIRST READ of the next play I'm doing. Yes, I am leaping from one show directly into another, mostly because I'm fucking nuts.

It's actually a role I've done before a few years ago: the show is called The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, a darker-than-obsidian holiday show about whether or not Santa Claus raped the reindeer Vixen. The story is told through eight monologues by the eight reindeer--I play Donner, the rather sad, nearly cataleptic father of Rudolph (and there is some question as to what happened to the poor, retarded Rudolph, who apparently spends his days mumbling alarming nonsense about penises and mistletoe). It's basically the Anti-Holiday show, and should appeal to an entertaining demographic of sociopaths and aspiring misanthropes. We'll know we're doing a good job if people despairingly vomit into their laps. Or, you know, clap enthusiastically. Whatever works.

When I got home, the wife and I eventually settled in for a "West Wing" rerun on the indefatigable Bravo (Motto: "Even liberal fairies enjoy television!"). It's a decent enough show, and some pretty good leftie spank material--but even that's not really fair. The show portrays a government that we all kind of fantasize about in a sort of seventh-grade way: "I HEART DEDICATED PUBLIC SERVANTS!" Surrounded by curvy hearts in our mental Trapper Keepers. Never mind that we can't nervously shake our shapely, ungravitied asses in the direction of our almost-needs-a-shave dates to some ripping J. Geils band music, but at the very least we'd like to imagine staring across the auditorium at our government, nervously clutching our watery punch, and hope they notice us. On "The West Wing," every character is a quarterback, and every play is fourth and long, and the cheerleaders all scream, but it's seventh grade, so in the end nobody scores. The show is teen pathos embodied.

There is another meta-level on which this show kills me, which is the utter conundrum that is Mary Louise Parker; or, more specifically, how much she is hated by the wife. Tonight's barb: "Is she supposed to be funny? Or witty? Or attractive?" The wife smoldered for a moment before posing a kind of koan: "Is she for men?" I had no real answer to this. "Well, she's not for me." I wasn't lying: I think she's about as sexy as sheet rock. Her nearly Martian intonations are kind of the kicker for me; she pronounces almost every line as if she has an impending dental appointment. The wife and I have some favorite moments, and tonight didn't disappoint: one of her lines was, "Not so much with the talking for you." Now, this is of course as much writer Aaron Sorkin's fault as anyone's, but her read on it was just otherworldly; the line--which was, I believe, supposed to be a sort of snarky come-hither dissing to Josh--came out mostly like someone bloodlessly evaluating the relative quality of some locally produced jerky.

I'd go on, but not so much with the talking for me.


Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

I agree with the wife - every time Mary Louise Parker speaks I want to yell "enunciate!" just like my drama teacher did to us my junior year in high school.
And she need a retainer or something.

And I bet Donna's MUCH more reciprocal in bed.

Comment number: 003924   Posted by: dayment on November 19, 2003 10:29 AM from IP: 66.167.53.14

What I love is how all policy comes directly from the Communications Department. It's like a bunch of PR execs (or, you know, television writers) got together, did some blow, and fantasized about how to run the country.

"And then we'll have Sam sleep with a hooker!"
"OK, but she has to have a heart of gold!"

Comment number: 003925   Posted by: mark on November 19, 2003 11:45 AM from IP: 66.47.18.130

I never watch this show, so I had no idea who you were talking about. I looked her up on IMDB, and whoever is in charge of her PR should DEMAND that they take that headshot down... check out out here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000571/

Comment number: 003926   Posted by: Ryan Waddell on November 19, 2003 12:03 PM from IP: 206.47.252.98

I don't know, I saw Mary Louise in 'Proof' in broadway and thought she was actually quite brilliant. As for the "West Wing" itself, I make it a point to watch it on Bravo most evenings. The girlfriend now likes it as well because, as she puts it (hand to god), 'all their talking, in those voices, puts me to sleep'. As for policy coming from the Comm. Dept. - how exactly is that different from Clinton's admin.? or the anti Comm. policy of the Bush admin.? Might not be that far off.
P.S. SAT question:
As A&E was to "Law and Order"
Bravo is to (fill in the blank)?

Comment number: 003927   Posted by: Ryan on November 19, 2003 02:06 PM from IP: 143.223.20.50

I'm not a big fan of many of the new television shows for one simple fact: the dialog moves too rapidly. Now, I'm not saying that I don't understand what they're saying. Nor am I saying that I can't keep up with the ideas presented (although I am often quite the retard when it comes to picking up on certain things... television is not one of them). No, I'm saying that the dialog moves much faster than normal dialog would, like all the actors are in some kind of insane race to get their lines out as fast as they possibly can. It makes me wonder if the first person to finish his/her lines in a given take jumps up on his/her directors chair and yells at the top of his/her lungs, "first!"

Or not. I felt the same way when I caught the first few minutes of Gilmore Girls, and I think that Ed suffers from the same problem. I've not watched an entire episode of any of these shows, mind you, but it's an effect that's difficult to miss. Also, I'm not quite sure what the goal is, unless there's simply not enough time in their timeslots to get a full story out without hurrying things along. Maybe it's just me.

Comment number: 003928   Posted by: dave on November 19, 2003 08:31 PM from IP: 66.93.25.219

Mary Louise Parker spent so much time not looking at Josh in tonight's episode that I thought she was supposed to be blind. And Marlee Matlin was in tonight's episode too, so I thought maybe next we were gonna get a mute, a guy who couldn't smell, and someone with no nerve endings in his hands.

Then I realized she just wasn't looking at him.

Comment number: 003929   Posted by: stennie on November 19, 2003 08:39 PM from IP: 68.164.62.217

Dave: 20/20 or one of those "news" shows did a segment on how fast the dialogue is getting on popular TV shows - Gilmore Girls was the fastest - West Wing came in second. (They timed the words per minute or something.)

Comment number: 003930   Posted by: dayment on November 20, 2003 10:02 AM from IP: 12.228.176.238

Wow! I feel much better that I'm not the only one who has noticed the unreal velocity with which these people deliver their lines. I tried to explain it to my girlfriend at one point, but she just looked at me like I was a retard (which, as I previously mentioned, I may very well be).

Comment number: 003931   Posted by: dave on November 20, 2003 11:47 AM from IP: 12.109.16.140

On another topic: That's not a real play, is it? Is it just way avant garde?

I suppose virtually anything can be a play. Somehow that reindeer story seems too absurd to be a real play if that is possible (I suppose it isn't).

On the other hand it sounds almost familiar. As if I've heard of it before.

Comment number: 003932   Posted by: Miel on November 21, 2003 01:28 AM from IP: 151.203.80.171

I think she's about as sexy as sheet rock.

It doesn't help her either that she has screen time with Stockard Channing, who chews most actresses up and spits them out without even trying. (Although I am not feeling the short hair this season; I suspect it was chopped to divert attention from, uh, certain work done during the summer hiatus.)

Comment number: 003933   Posted by: lia on November 25, 2003 09:49 PM from IP: 66.65.191.133

Of all the goddamn shit on the idiot box I've watched with my wife, I'd say Gilmore Girls is the most tolerable. It's a reverse-gendered, double-speed Dennis Miller comedy routine.

Now you know.

Everyone who has ever watched even two minutes of "Charmed" intentionally should be put into a wood-chipper.

Comment number: 003934   Posted by: Todd Derscheid on January 18, 2004 09:28 AM from IP: 24.238.147.175

Todd - strap me down, pack me in and fire up the chipper. If it makes you feel better, I'm very ashamed of my past Charmed addiction.

I'm suddenly feeling unworthy of the Awesomeness That Is Skot.

Do I get bonus points for wanting to smack Mary-Louise Parker whenever someone reminds me that she exists? Shame, she seems like a lovely girl, and she certainly wasn't as hateful in Angels in America. But I can't stand her. Is her jaw just...STUCK like that? Or..?

Oh, and The Eight sounds like something I would have thought up. I'm really, really jealous of whomever did. And that's sad.

Comment number: 003935   Posted by: CG on March 3, 2004 10:13 AM from IP: 68.160.206.167

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