The month of November has been extremely hectic for me. I’ve lost track of a few of the shows I was watching because I’ve been home for a total of six days. You know how it is. Some shows fall by the wayside.
So, uh, sorry, Ugly Betty.
Without hot-ass hottie Freddy Rodriguez serving up some spicy deli sausage, there’s no longer a reason for me to be quite so devoted. As an aside, I find it interesting that Ralph Macchio, an Italian, is playing Latino city councillor Archie Rodriguez, while Freddy Rodriguez, who is Latino, was playing Italian deli owner Giovanni Rossi. Fun with ethnicity!
Macchio is actually the perfect lead-in to what I wanted to discuss today. And that is the guest star spot. On two of the shows I watch, True Blood and Pushing Daisies, they’ve been fabulous lately.
HBO’s True Blood has really been hitting it out of the park. Their whole cast is fabulous. And though Rutina Wesley is murdering a simple, southern accent as Tara, Michael Raymond-James more than makes up for it with his mastery of the tricky cajun bayou accent as Rene Lenier. Kudos, sir.
Regular cast aside, this show has been making us sit up and take notice lately with its guest star roles. First, there was Lizzy Caplan, arguably our patron saint Mean Girl. She recently met her maker, but while she was around, she alternately made us laugh and shiver along with her psychopathic, vampire-blood addicted vegan.
In a recent episode, as her character Amy is stealing blood from the vampire she trapped and held hostage so that she can drink it, he suggests she might not be a very good person. “I am an organic vegan and my carbon footprint is miniscule,” she replied very seriously. It’s possibly the creepiest thing anybody’s ever said on this show.
Oh, and that vampire? Played by Jimmy James himself, Stephen Root. He humanizes Jason a bit, and plays the vamp as a fey Heroes fanboy, so of course, you can’t help but love him. Too bad now he dead from stake. Ah well.
As if that didn’t make me love this show enough, they’ve enlisted some former Homicide: Life on the Streets regulars. Zeljko Ivanek (Homicide’s put-upon D.A. Ed Danvers), recently played the Magister, the supreme court justice of vampires who metes out Bill’s punishment for staking a fellow vamp to save Sookie. I don’t THINK Scalia would rule that pulling somebody’s teeth out by the root would be a good punishment, but I can’t say the same of the Magister. He was effectively scary and I hope the role is recurring. Then there’s Michelle Forbes, who once portrayed Homicide: Life on the Street’s fucked up medical examiner Julianna Cox. The first time we saw her, she was standing by the side of the road, covered in blood and dirt and hanging out with a giant wild hog. Next, she was coming to Tara’s rescue in the form of a social worker named Maryann Forester. If you’ve read the books, you’ll have figured out who she’s supposed to be, and I can’t really go into any more detail without unveiling a huge spoiler I suspect will happen in tomorrow night’s finale.
Oh, and how ’bout them credits?
When this show first aired, we at the boob were wary. HBO has a history of producing brilliant credit sequences. Sometimes, as was the case with John From Cincinatti, the credits were better than the show.
That show, much as I was poised to love it because David Milch told me to, was a muddled mess that went under almost immediately. Fortunately, true Blood is less complicated. Parts of it can be annoying. Mostly, I mean the fandom’s irritation with anything less than total, slavish devotion to vampire Bill, who is a huge stick-in-the-mud. They and Sookie clearly prefer him to shape-shifter Sam, though I don’t know why, cuz I would hop on that in a second. I really hope they lighten Bill up a bit next season, because he bores me to tears.
I’ve read almost all of the books the show is based on and I’m much more impressed with the series. For one, if I hadn’t read the books, I wouldn’t have immediately known who the killer was. They’ve done a really good job of introducing red herrings and throwing us off the trail. And as this season draws to a close, I still have some questions. I hope they’ll be answered in tomorrow night’s finale, but if not, I trust we’ll be revisiting them next season.
My other favourite show of the season is Pushing Daisies, which delights me along the same lines as True Blood in that it has a stellar main cast, a wacky “check your disbelief at the door” plot and lush visuals. Oh, and pies.
Of course, this means ABC has cancelled it.
Don’t worry though. I’m sure that ten years down the road, when Bryan Fuller is even more famous and all his stars blow up huge, ABC will decide to remake this show into something unwatchable. In other words, shame on them and no, I do not hold much hope for the Cupid remake. Sorry, Rob Thomas.
FYI, ABC has also cancelled Eli Stone and Dirty Sexy Money, but you know… those shows suck and I don’t like them!
If I seem upset, it’s because I don’t get it. Pushing Daisies seems like it would be easily marketable, especially when compared to the dour look of those other shows. Daisies is different and vibrant with a tinge of the macabre and the core cast is absolutely charming and winsome. I love the occasional songs, I love the puns, I love the stacatto, almost poetic line delivery, I love the clever writing, I love the tragic love story at the centre of its universe, I love the quirky characters, I love Digby and Pigby and most of all, I love the pies.
Oh, and the guest stars aren’t bad either. Just kidding! They’re amazing, too!
This season, Pushing Daisies has given work to David Arquette (who I cannot stand, but who was surprisingly effective and even charming on this show), Mo Collins, French Stewart, Fred Willard, Paul F. Tompkins, Lee Arenberg, Missi Pyle and, again, Stephen Root, who is working his good-humoured man with a malevolent undercurrent bit to great effect here. There are tons more amazing guest stars coming up, and I can only suggest you watch the episodes left to air, find out what you’re missing and curse yourself for missing it.