TeeVee Awards '02: Worst Actor, Best Half-Hour Actress
And so we bring you, as quickly as possible, our final two TeeVee Awards.
Once upon a time, there was a show called Twin Peaks. And to the extent that any one actor was its star, Kyle MacLachlan deadpanned his way into the hearts of millions of cultists who, frankly, sometimes get on our nerves. But that wasn't really the fault of MacLachlan, who kept his face completely expressionless as he walked through the chaos of David Lynch's television show, talking mostly about pie and coffee.
On Wolf Lake, Worst Actor Lou Diamond Phillips did pretty much the same thing, except that it didn't work very well. He was playing a police officer surrounded by strange goings-on (well, one going-on: werewolves), and his response to everything was stone-faced stoicism. A wolf would run across the background while spooky music played, and then there would be a close-up of Lou's face. Was he excited? Scared? Hungry? Balancing his checkbook? There was no way to tell.
Phillips, of course, has been acting long enough that he has to be considered "established," even though much of his c.v. is made up of movies with titles like "Extreme Justice," "Shadow of the Wolf," and "Young Guns II." But all that relatively-big time experience never translated into a good performance on Wolf Lake, as Phillips turned what should have been an at least intermittently-interesting show into a Rorschach test, with the audience trying to read an emotion, any emotion on Lou's face.
How big a flop was Wolf Lake? So big that after it was shitcanned, Lou Diamond Phillips was able to guest-star in a couple episodes of 24. And not even episodes that close to midnight. Did we mentioned that his character was brutally murdered on 24? "That's for Wolf Lake," said Balkan war criminal Dennis Hopper as he pulled the trigger. And rightly so.
Now for the exact opposite side of the coin -- our Best Half-Hour Actress award. For this, we turn to a supporting actress in a star-driven sitcom. It's not every day when you can impress us when you're just an accoutrement to the comedy star who's had a show fashioned around them.
We like Andy Richter Controls the Universe a lot, and we're happy to hear that it was renewed for midseason. And we like Andy Richter, who came to be one of our favorite things about Late Night With Conan O'Brien, even though during the show's first episode we thought he was some sort of drifter who had camped out on O'Brien's couch accidentally, only to find himself in the middle of an NBC talk show. In his sitcom debut, Richter turns out to be a decent actor who can bear the load of being a comedy star well.
But we really enjoy it when Richter plays off of Paget Brewster, our award winner. Brewster plays Andy's boss and former girlfriend, but rather than filling the dumb-galpal role, Brewster's character is alternately a morass of neuroses and a woman of reason and authority. Brewster takes this set of contradicting behaviors and knits it into a funny, likeable character. What can we say? There aren't a lot of strong women's roles in comedies these days. Playing a troubled mom just doesn't bring out the best in people. Brewster has sunk her teeth into a different kind of part, and we're all the better for it.
And that, as we say, is that. Bring on the new season!
Additional contributions to this article by: Jason Snell, Monty Ashley.
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