Sunday, July 18, 2010

James Callis on Eureka: "A New World"

OK, episode 2 of season 4, A New World.
(Click to enlarge each photo.)

This episode wasn't as good as the first one, but I still enjoyed it a lot. It makes me hopeful - two good episodes in a row (written by different people too) could mean the show has improved and will make for fun watching. This week, James got to do some fun action stuff, and he had great expressions. I've got quite a bit of gushing to do, so I'll start with the negatives and then go onto the more detailed/fun part.

-The beginning of the episode was, James-wise, disappointing. We last saw him tell someone that he's looking for Allison, but he never shows up at her door. Instead, we simply see him at the fair where we left him. (And that almost ten minutes into the episode.) Now, somehow he's found out that Allison is a doctor, and he isn't at all surprised that she has two children. There must have been a deleted scene in there somewhere. Knowing they handled Carter and Tess's breakup in a deleted scene that was then used as a "previously" bit - what?! - I shouldn't be too annoyed. But if Trevor Grant is going to have something with Allison Blake, this episode certainly didn't get them any further down that road. They talk to each other for like a minute, and he spends the rest of the episode interacting with other characters. That's a bit disappointing.

-While there were some fun moments and we got to see the scientific side more, I still feel like Trevor Grant is a mystery. What do we know about him? Basically nothing. I expected to find out a little more this week.

-There is still no explanation to "Charles" Grant. I'll just call him Grant for now.

-Generally a bit annoyed that the scenes with James keep cutting away from his face. He does awesome expressions in every scene and tends to steal the show, no matter who he's acting with. (Depending on the skills of the co-actor, of course; when he was with, say, Mary McDonnell and Tricia Helfer, he had to compete a little. But on Eureka, I think you can safely say he steals.) For a viewer, it can be frustrating that they keep cutting away from him. It's natural to start focusing your eyes on his face if he's the one with the most animated expressions. I had considerable trouble catching his expressions in the screencapping phase. Hopefully that will change.

-Non-James related nitpick: I understand there needed to be scenes about Allison's autistic son not being autistic anymore, and about Carter still being with Tess, and Fargo being the new head of General Dynamics. I did feel, however, that there were too many scenes with Jo Lupo, whose fiancé in the "real" timeline has no feelings for her in this one. I'm sure she's heartbroken, but the moping gets old, especially since the fiancé was only discussed and not there for most of the episode. You'd think Henry Deacon's new life - the mayor now, and married to someone he had barely met in the "real" time - would have been more interesting to explore.

OK, on to the

Grant is very cocky and casual in the first scene. He seems to enjoy the surprise momentum, especially in public where the others can't show much of their shock. He's really a bit of a show man.

The future's fine and all, it's just that he expected "more flying cars - robot servants - superhighways strecthing to the sky..." (Sounds terrifying, but then that's what I expected of the 2000's, too, when I was a kid.) He seems disappointed that there are 1940's cars on the street, and instead of saying they're all for the Founders' Day, Carter says he's sorry. You can tell he's getting annoyed with this guy. Grant says he ended up with one of the "doohickeys" - hee! - that moved them in time. Carter said it was in his pocket. "Please, don't blame yourself," Grant says incredibly patronizingly. "I wasn't planning to!" snaps Carter.
(I can kind of see why Carter hates him; he's so patronizing and cocky, especially at Carter. Yet that's what makes him hilarious. I'm not sure if I like him, it varies from scene to scene, but he is funny and engaging.)

Grant doesn't waste any more time; he wants to woo this lady. I'd love to see more of him interacting with Allison, but I think they wanted this scene to be all about Carter and how much he's hating the rivalry. As you can see in this photo:

Grant asks Allison out on a date, but Carter's quick to stomp in and say Grant needs to stay with them and they need to figure out the temporal anomaly. Allison agrees. "OK, for you," Grant says to Allison, with another charmer's smile.

(More nitpicks: It doesn't make sense to me that he'd just want to go off on his own. He has no modern money or place to go. I think I need to take off my realism goggles when I'm watching this show. )

Some nice flirtation going on between James and Salli. I think I'll enjoy their scenes together.

While Henry and Carter discuss the situation, Grant seems to have found someone else to woo on the side. Oh Trevor, you're looking too cocky for your own good! Watch out or you'll end up in...

Yeah. Carter tells him he didn't appreciate almost being left in 1947! Grant says he's disappointed in the future where he's being falsely accused and locked up. "It's a damn shame, Jack!" Carter: "Yeah well. My cell, my time, my rules. Get comfy."

He plays a good game, acting all indignant, but, well, see below for his next scene. (Is he wearing suspenders under the vest? I think he is! So cute!!!)

He is quickly distracted by the robot Deputy, Andy. This is more like the future he was envisioning.

Perhaps slightly overdoing the boggle eyes? I can never really tell if this is good acting or overacting. I need to be critical of James but how can I?

The scene is hilarious, that I'm sure of.
"Come closer, Robot Man," Grant says. Hee! I love how they make him sound all ignorant because he's not used to talking to human-alike robots.
"I prefer 'synthetic coworker'," Deputy Andy says good-naturedly. Hee!

"You're extremely lifelike," Grant marvels. Andy seems to take this as a compliment, although it's more a compliment to the person who made him. Either way, he's utterly cute.

Grant (very serious): "I would love to take a look under your uniform."
Andy (freaks out): "Boss?"
I love how Deputy Andy apparently has some feelings of privacy regarding his body.

Jumping over a few scenes. Non-James things I loved in this ep: Deputy Andy guessing they come from 1947; Allison's son Kevin wondering if his mother is on drugs, wanting to talk to him so much; a robot with weapons running around shooting things - but it's only a runaway robot from a crazy scientist, not some alternate timeline robot war. I loved that little mindfrak; and Fargo having to enter a secret area and give a password that he can't know. "Guess," says Carter. Fargo: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer!!!" Computer: "Voice recognition complete." Hee!

Oh, and I almost forgot: Allison wanting to stay in this reality because she finally has a connection with the earlier autistic Kevin. Loved, loved, loved that scene. So beautiful.

Later, Grant has summoned Carter back, excited that his phone can pick up transmissions anywhere!

The tongue! I love the tongue!
He confesses: "I may have... maneuvered... things so that I would end up moving in time, into this time."
What about Carter?

"Sometimes scientific development requires sacrifice." Look at his face! It says: "I am brilliant, aren't I? You didn't even notice!" I'm not sure what to make of him in this scene. Good guy or not so good guy? He doesn't show any repentance, even if his actions were very selfish and even quite cruel. But maybe we need to let him slide because he is a big science nerd, and just seeing people from another time and having the chance to go with them... Like he says, "I've been chasing after the future my whole life." (Maybe this is why Salli Richardson-Whitfield said you wouldn't be able to tell if he's a good guy or bad guy. But James said good guy, repeatedly, so I believe him.)

So now that they're "square", or so Grant thinks, he'd love to get out of this cell. This scene is a gem for James' expressions. Watch him try to be extra charming so nasty Sheriff Carter would get him out of the nasty cell.

Pleading eyes.
Faking camaraderie.
Turning on the charm.
All of these expressions come and go in a manner of seconds and I had such a hard time getting especially that last, most hilarious, one captured. How does he do this?

However, Carter isn't charmed and just walks out. Grant is actually disappointed and upset: "I thought we were square!" Is this some kind of army thing? You're not supposed to be offended if someone screws you over? Weird yet funny.

They never show him be released, but he must have been, because:

In a later scene, Dr Grant marvels at Global Dynamics, and I marvel once again at James' physique. How can you have sunken in cheeks and a potbelly?? Don't they cancel each other out? Dare I believe in his belly, lest I become disappointed as it's all muscle or a bunch of clothes..? Somebody at GD should investigate his physique... yeah, OK, the scene.

Because he's from 1947, Grant casually lights a cigarette. Lupo tells him to put it out, but thankfully she's not all "Tut tut, how can you smoke?!"

Also - belly or no belly, I'm loving the chest hair and the casually opened white shirt. *drool*

A non-smoking robot (hee) shows up. Here's her view. LOL at "Martha"!! (Note that all the carcinogens in the cigarette are listed and highlighted.)

Martha: Global Dynamics is a non-smoking environment. Please extinguish your smoking materials.

Grant is too "Yay, a ROBOT!!" to really focus on the issue at hand. (Or literally in his hand. Heh heh.)

Grant: Excuse me... ma'am... what kind of propensity system do you use?

Martha: Please extinguish your smoking materials.
*squirts water onto his cigarette*

Martha: Have a pleasant day! *flies away*

Grant: ..I think I'm in love with this time!

For a moment there, I thought he'd say "I think I'm in love with that robot!" which would have been both hilarious and really inappropriate.

(Nitpicking again! He could have acted a little more surprised, since smoking wasn't prohibited basically anywhere in 1947, and I doubt they even knew of its health effects. But let's just say he's too into the exciting robot to think of anything else. He is a science nerd first and foremost.)

And in the very next scene, he gets to be all crazy scientist! He's so excited about modern technology, trying to save the device that brought him into this era.

(Arrogantly, at Carter) "I don't supposed you've heard of the LASER."
This was really funny, although they did it first on Austin Powers. They kinda ruin it by having Carter say, "I have it in my printer, actually", with no response from Grant. Is he supposed to be familiar with printers? (Maybe James made a good face at that, but they don't show his face. Should I stop nitpicking? I know it's supposed to be fun and light, so I can't scrutinize it like Galactica.)

And now... ACTION JAMES!!!

This is a new thing for me. I've seen most of James' roles, and he hasn't done a lot of action (thankfully since I hate that genre). But here, he volunteers to do a risky science experiment thingy, and he's just... amazing. It feels exciting that he's in this scene, that he gets to run and jump and shout and be done just at the nick of time.

Look at that outfit! Safety goggles! Moonwalking boots! Silvery outfit! His hair coming out of the do! He is ... Science Man?

Sooo cool. Fun to watch and probably even more fun to do. He'd like to do James Bond, and suddenly I kinda see why.

But alas, their experiment fails. The temporal anomaly or whatever.. did not get fixed.

They meet at Café Diem to contemplate on this.
There's a military protocol in place for these situations. Which is: don't talk about your time travels or you are dead. A "don't ask, don't tell" sort of policy?

Trevor Grant finally realizes he is in this time for good. And he's sad about it, which makes him more relatable and likeable. The camera doesn't zoom at him or anything, but I did get a few nice shots: Puppy eyes James!

Aww, James, don't cry! I'll pet your sweet luscious hair. (This character is already giving me maternal feelings. Also happened with Gaius Baltar. And Guy Curran. And.. .possibly all of his characters..?)

Next week, it's Wil Wheaton's stupid guest episode. I don't have anything against WW, but he's been advertised sooo much and he's only doing ONE episode. He's been discussed more than James. Apparently he was Wesley Crusher on the Next Generation and the 11-year-old inside me yells "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Wesley! He was so cuuuuuuuuuuuuuute!", but I still think they could have been a bit more low key. Anyway, next week for Wil. And hopefully a lot more details about James' character.


Nicole Anell said...

"Come closer, robot man." LOLOL. And the tongue. You got a screencap of it! I could watch him on this show all day.

Deniselle said...

Yes, the tongue! (L) He's got some mad skillz with expressions. I don't know if it's learned or natural but he rocks his face. (Um, if you an say that.)

It's beginning to irk me more and more that they cut away from him just as he's doing cute expressions. I had to go back many times to get some of these because it's like a few seconds.

I think we need an episode where the camera is on him and no one else the whole hour. :D

Robyn E. Kenealy said...

In defense of Wil Wheaton, he was quite good in 'December'. The movie itself was frakking awful, but Wheaton I found somewhat charming.

Aditionally, I'm starting to get really enamoured of this medium of Pic Spam you keep using here- it's got a relationship to comics, to illustrated novels or children's books, but also to those vertical comic memes I'm seeing a lot of these days. I always wanted to do something to go with the Emissary project that I now realize is a picspam - Maculinity is Serious Business, or,The 12 Stations of Normative Masculinity , I think I called it (because I'm pretentious.) Face closeups, between Gaius and Lee, in Daybreak. Anyway....

Deniselle said...

I'm just dabbing my usual commentary onto photos. But you make it sound like an artistic choice, which is really pretty cool. So um yeah, this was totally intentionally referring to comics. ;) You should totally try this for Emissary!

Wil may be the best actor ever (after James), but the episode still sounds like something where he will be on 90 % of the time, with very little focus on the actual main characters. But we'll see. I don't expect much so if it's any good, it will surpass my expectations.

Robyn E. Kenealy said...

I think I understand what you're saying. You're worried the episode may be like this:

Deniselle said...

LMAO!!!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D:D That's soooooooooo.....

Permission to use that if the ep turns out to be that way?!

Robyn E. Kenealy said...

Well, it's the nature of these things to be used WITHOUT permission. In fact, I understand I'm not even supposed to acknowledge authorship... so go nuts! But just so long as you know I'm not the person who made up that joke. (I mean, I assume you already do...)

Proof of my unoriginality: