By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
Pompeo, on the other hand, has no authority to her voice. In fact, she barely registers as an ingĂ©nue to anchor an emotionally gooey hospital ensemble, especially one that includes heavyweights Sandra Oh and Isaiah Washington. She’s a wispy RenĂ©e Zellweger clone — not exactly a good thing — who flirts uneasily with Patrick Dempsey’s boyish surgeon and can’t sell the intense "Isn’t this place and aren’t these people magical" close-ups required of her at episode’s end. She also hasn’t quite nailed that aura of body-pounding fatigue mixed with adrenaline shots that characterizes doctors-in-training. A few of her co-stars have — Oh and Katherine Heigl — but they’ve been relegated to stereotypes: the acerbic Asian and the can’t-touch-this bombshell. Yet we’ve seen Oh rock qualifiedly as the hot chick in the movie Sideways, and Heigl has shown she has ready reserves of fierceness and vulnerability. Why isn’t one of them playing Meredith Grey, the sensitive, confused, pretty-yet-ordinary Everywoman with the cloying voiceover? Don’t interns have to rotate duties on a regular basis?
The L Word, ending its second season Sunday, is remarkable for its unselfconscious bizarreness — the "L" must mean "Loony" — which can also make it smooth going as a dopey melodrama. But standing out this year — something we all could see coming after Season 1 — has been Jennifer Beals. The Showtime Web site describes Beals’ character in Dr. Evil–like terms, accompanied by a photo of the actress posing like an America’s Next Top Model diva: "Art museum director and control freak, Bette will go to extraordinary lengths to keep people exactly where she wants them." This does something of an injustice, though, to the consistently complex work she’s been up to. Since losing her life partner, Tina (Laurel Holloman), after entering into a misguided fling, Bette has spent the entire season trying to convince Tina she’s worth another shot, but most poignantly trying to convince herself she’s worth it, too. While the other cast members slog through ridiculous story lines involving strap-ons, hidden cameras and bad New Age writing, Beals — with that beautifully sad smile of hers — has been giving us a strong portrayal of a powerful woman’s exposed wounds, all the more remarkable after her has-it-all alpha-female turn last year. Do the writers just save their best stuff for her? Or does she just knock it out of the park? In a recent scene, Bette made the logical gripe to her father (the late Ossie Davis) that he never asked once about her soul mate, Tina, but now seemed keenly interested in his other daughter’s new boyfriend; Beals made the moment less about prejudice and more about an overachieving daughter’s insecurity. On a series that’s rapidly turning into a circus sideshow, that kind of nuanced character work needs to be encouraged.
GREEN WING | Thursdays at 10 p.m. (repeats on Fridays and Sundays), BBC America
GREY’S ANATOMY | Sundays at 10 p.m., ABC
THE L WORD| Sundays at 10 p.m. (repeats on Wednesdays and Saturdays), Showtime
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