October 4th, 2006

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02:27 am - on criminal cuteness and costume colliquys...

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on criminal cuteness and costume colliquys... - graffiti.maverick — LiveJournal

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[User Picture]From: beststephi Date: October 4th, 2006 - 06:12 pm (Link)
(For the record, I think getting into this is probably a bad idea, but some part of me is an optimist.)

I would have no problem admitting if I watched something just because I think someone is hot. But they'd have to be pretty damn hot to be worth the time. While I do find Vincent D'Onofrio somewhat attractive, I do not find him as he currently looks (older and overweight) anywhere near "hot". He was hot when he was younger (there was a movie where he played a bad boy older brother and in one scene he's walking around the kitchen with his shirt off---YOWSA! I need to get that on DVD.). But, alas, that was long ago, and now he is old and frail.

I can see why people would find his know-it-all character annoying, but I grew up reading Agatha Christie novels with know-it-all detectives and got used to this type. I also think what some people mistake for bad acting is actually his portrayal of a borderline crazy guy (every once in a while they'll allude to his mother's stay at a mental hospital or his non-existent personal life). I'm not sure what his diagnosis would be, maybe OCD-ish, given his penchant for detail. But I actually knew a guy when I was an undergrad--brilliant but "crazy"--who reminds me of his character. So I find his character both interesting and believable.

Anyway, you may insist on attributing what you can't see to something you do understand, which is fine. But I really don't disagree with you for fun.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: October 4th, 2006 - 06:49 pm (Link)
Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm not implying you pretend to like the show just to disagree with me for fun. Quite the contrary. I believe you actually like the show. I on the other hand complain about it on end to be difficult. :-P

Anyway, to break down your comments, i think there are two aspects to the issue:

1) The character. He is annoying know-it-all. That can be off-putting yes, but its something I can deal with. The character isn't really innovative. In fact I think what they're actually trying to do is write a modern Columbo (or Perry Mason, Murder She Wrote, Matlock, whatever). I actually liked Columbo a lot. Yes, he did the little Agatha Christie, solve the whole case in a neat little bow. And he often tricked the bad guy into confessing with Johnny-Cochran-Chewbaca-Is-A-Wookie-Scooby-Doo logic. But the difference was that Columbo worked alone. One of the things I like most about the other L&O serieses is the team aspect to solving the crimes. The interplay between the characters not only creates a more interesting portrayal of police/lawyer work, but the personas being dealt with are interesting and the complex relationships between the characters makes for a good story. You're right, the Goren's non-existant personal life isn't D'Onofrio's fault, and I don't mean to make it out to be. But the way he's written makes him one-dimensional and boring outside of just solving the case itself. This is as opposed to McCoy in the main show, who also lacks a personal life. But he's a more realized character. He is the job. But the aspects of who McCoy the person is vs. the position of know-it-all buereau chief is interesting in a relatable way to the viewer that I think the character of Goren isn't. Goren comes across as a crazy but infallible supercop, and if that's the case, why do we need Eames at all (or for that matter Logan, Green, Stabler, Finn, Benson or any other cops. Since he's infallible, and has no personal life, they should just put him on every case and have him do everything. Just like Columbo. But at least Columbo had a relationship with his (unseen) wife that often colored the character. Goren has his mother that he mentions on occasion but the relationship is more distant, and while that could be interesting, the way its written it just comes across as an added annoyance.

2) The Actor. Peter Falk just did a much better job of playing the know-it-all character. I'm not just annoyed by Goren the character. I am annoyed by D'Onofrio the actor. I am perfectly capable of making the distinction. I don't believe him in the roll. He does this overworked method acting thing that makes him seem like a saturday night live portrayal of an artsy drama student in a lot of cases. To simply compare it to the other Law and Orders, when I watch them, I see Jack McCoy, not Sam Waterson. I see Olivia Benson not Mariska Hargitay. When I watch SVU, I see Vincent D'Onofrio not Goren. In fact, I am so unable to look past him and suspend belief and see the character that I couldn't for the life of me remember his first name was Bobby until I looked it up just now. And its not just because they only use last names on the other serieses, but I can remember them all. To be completely fair to him, I feel the same way about Kathrine Erbe as Eames. I think she's a better actor than D'Onofrio, but not enough so that she doesn't annoy me. Especially when combined with the fact that her character generally comes across as useless because of the writing.

Anyway, my point was more that I don't really have a problem with liking a show because the cast is cute. Or even liking a something that's stupid because it makes you laugh (like you like Reno 911). I just find it odd that with that show in particular, and women in general, bad acting seems ignorable due to an actor being cute. I went out of my way to not mention him in the post, since I didn't want the comments to degenrate into "you just hate him" but I'd actually argue the same about Depp. Men, I think tend to not ignore bad acting. We just don't care. No one thinks Jessica Simpson is a great thespian. But she does have a great rack.
[User Picture]From: beststephi Date: October 4th, 2006 - 09:21 pm (Link)
I know what your point was. I was disagreeing with your absolutist opinion that D'Onofrio's acting in LOCI is bad. And I disagree with your conclusion based on that opinion, that I (and women in general) ignore bad acting just because a guy is cute. This is just not true. For example, Keanu Reeves is cute; however, I (and probably other women) believe he is a bad actor. You and I simply disagree on what "bad acting" is (as I'm sure we'd disagree on what "cute" is).

Also, minor point, but I wasn't saying that Goren's lack of a personal life is a problem--it actually adds to his character in that it shows his inability to make personal connections. I can imagine him at home, perfectly contented to be wrapped up in books.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: October 5th, 2006 - 01:06 am (Link)
Actually many women do seem to think that Keanu is a great actor. A lot of men too. In fact, he really isn't bad. I'd say he's better than D'Onofrio. I'm trying to remember which acting school it is, but one of them actually bases a class on the films of Keanu Reeves. In Keanu's case, most of the assumption that he is a dumb and untalented guy comes from his voice affect much more than his actual talent, but that isn't really fair. Marlee Matlin for instance has a bad voice due to her deafness, but she's still a great actress.

To be fair, I was being unfairly sexist there as there are also many men who think that Jessica Simpson is a good singer. In as much as you can compare these things, I'd actually argue that Simpson is a much better singer than D'Onofrio is an actor. I'll also suggest that D'Onofrio is a much better actor than Simpson is. But, talent aside, I don't think anyone would argue that more of SImpson's fame comes from how she looks, not how she performs.

Anyway, I won't claim that I am more qualified to judge acting than you are. D'Onofrio's suckiness or lack thereof is based purely on my opinions. But I will say that I can probably find more people who agree with me than people who agree with you. That's neither here nor there. Anyway, Meron or Marli or someone else with acting chops is welcome to step in here and lend an opinion.

What I will argue however is whether or not the writing of the character is good or not. And I will categorically say that it isn't. His character is written in a flat and uninteresting way. Your enjoyment of him is an aside. I enjoy many things that are bad. At the end of the day, however the things that make a story engaging and interesting to the majority of the populace are pretty easily criticized, and CI is definitely lacking in several of those, primarily due to the reasons I mentioned earlier. A good comparisson would be hard science fiction. While several sci-fi fans are very into them, the very things they enjoy (the in depth attention to detail at the expense of development of character) is the very thing that turns off the general populace and relegates it to nitch market. Good writing isn't about plot, its about character. If it can get plot brownie points on top of that, then so much the better. A character who can't make interpersonal connections is by definition hard to relate to by the majority of the audience, which is really what the writers number one goal is. Far better for the character to make negative connections than for him to exist in a vaccuum.

As evidence I submit the ratings for premiere week for the shows. The NBC network average for the week was a 10.4. CI and SVU both premiered on Tuesday and CI scored a 10.6 rating to SVU's 14.4. SVU also reran on Saturday for an additional 6.9. The highest show for the week was CSI with a 23.8. The clip show of last season's Lost pulled a 9. The Heroes premiere pulled a 14.1 and the rerun on Tuesday night (the lead in to CI) pulled an additional 4.9. As far as i can tell, the lowest rated first run show from the big 4 networks was the friday results show of Celebrity Duets with a 3.6. The main Law & Order show pulled a 10.0.

Now here's a prime example. I happen to enjoy L&O itself, but its been increasingly bad in the last couple of seasons and the two new characters they added this season are FAR from engaging. This is exactly what I mean by "I can like a show while acknowledging it isn't actually good." I'll even freely admit that the last couple of episodes of CI were slightly better written than the last couple L&Os. My reluctance to watch CI though comes from the fact that D'Onofrio is WAY more annoying than anyone on L&O. I actually find the Chris Noth episodes far more tolerable. Which is a good example because, at least last season, Anabella Sciorra was essentially the same character as D'Onofrio and yet far less annoying and it wasn't because of how she looks. At least I don't think so.
From: joy_dee Date: October 5th, 2006 - 01:22 pm (Link)

off topic

Have you ever seen the mid-80's movie "Warning Sign"? Zombie type movie that has Sam Waterson as one of the heroes in it. Not only is it amusing because it was hard to recognize him without any gray hair, but his character was a sheriff studying to become a laywer.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: October 5th, 2006 - 02:39 pm (Link)

Re: off topic

nope, but I've seen other movies with him in it. He's actually a great actor. One of my favorite parts of his was as Nick in the Great Gatsby(1974), opposite Robert Redford.
[User Picture]From: sundaygray Date: October 8th, 2006 - 10:52 am (Link)
w00t, steph. I think we're coming from the same place about vincent d'onofrio in lao:ci. it's not that he's extraordinarily physically hot at this point. He's a little too old and borderline-too-heavy for my tastes in eye candy. i think it's that I'm just turned on by geniuses, and his character is a genius-type. The lightning-fast mental footwork coupled with a touch (but not a shovelful) of arrogance and self-absorption really does it for me. I used to watch all the law and order variants, but now CI is the only one I tivo, and his character is why.

And yes, about the whole "bad acting" thing. I do wonder if people misinterpret his character's extreme awkwardness for d'onofrio's inability to act. I think there was one episode where they implied that his character had Asberger's.

If you also think the whole brilliant-but-crazy-genius-type character is hot, you should check out Charlie Epps in Numbers, Spencer Reed in Criminal Minds, and House.
[User Picture]From: sundaygray Date: October 8th, 2006 - 11:02 am (Link)
Now that I think about it though.... I wonder if my true opnion isn't some sort of weird hybrid between yours and mav's. As in, I watch the show because he's hot. But not because he's hot like "OMG I want your bod" hot. Because his personality and weirdness is hot. And that makes me want him. A little.

Whew, that's fucked up. I'm going back to bed now.
[User Picture]From: beststephi Date: October 8th, 2006 - 05:17 pm (Link)
Interesting that you mentioned Aspberger's. It did occur to me that that's what he might be portraying, but I discounted it because his character's so good at understanding people. But on the other hand, it's also possible that his brilliance allows him to explicitly understand people (and even better than a normal person).

Thanks for the pointers. I've seen a couple episodes of Numbers and Criminal Minds (just started tivo'ing that one). I've seen one episode of House, which to me, seemed even more over-the-top than D'Onofrio's character (esp. wrt arrogance). I doubt any can compare to Goren :).

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