Sunday, November 18, 2012

James Callis on DCI Banks, part 2: Whew. And Drool.

SPOILERS. I tried to avoid them in the Midsomer Murders episode, but in the end, do people really care whodunit in a British cop show?

Linkage: There's an interesting article here about typecasting and James' role here. As usual, I feel the need to mention that Gaius Baltar was more than just a villain, more than just a traitor, more than just... Well, he was more than any other character I've seen, and James has said before that he did so many things in that role, he may never get a similar chance again. So whatever he does from now on, it could be said to be typecasting in some way. It's inevitable. As such, I don't see this role as typecasting, even if he does some Gaius-like facial expressions. But it's an interesting read, and gives a better recap of the episode than I feel I have.

If I'd done my research last week, I would have known that Innocent Graves, part 2 aired the day after the first part. But I was too shocked by part 1 and probably wouldn't have watched it last week anyway.

The second part is a great relief for me, as it turns out Owen Pierce is... innocent. He's being set up, he's not a molester or a rapist either. There are some shocking, rough scenes, and for a moment there I was worried I'd have to watch James kill himself in character. That would have been horrible. But his character turns out OK and in psychiatric care. I'm so glad of how this ended. The murderer, as it happens, is neither Pierce nor the creepy boy who was the other suspect. Well played.

We begin on a sad note, as Pierce reports the vandalism on his house and gets the cops in - seven hours late. There's lots of tension between him and Banks, who says he will knock Owen's door first, no matter what crime is committed in Yorkshire. Great acting moment here. James' eyes look almost yellow in this light, transparent. His sadness and lonely desperation burn me.

Speaking of burning - Owen shows them what happened to him in prison: scalded with sugar water ."Sugar intensifies the burn. You did this to me."

Maybe I'm a horrible person or maybe it's a coping mechanism, because I can't stand to think of James scalded, I just can't. But look! He gets to show his belly a bit! I get so many "James Callis shirtless" searches, and here it is - James Callis at least partially shirtless. It's.. drool... gush... OMG... He's so beautiful. I just... Wow.

I mean, after all, the burn is not real. It looks bad but it's just makeup. We can just look past it and focus on all the sexiness going on. I do wish he got to be shirtless in a more positive (and longer) shot, but this still made me very happy.

Maddy, one of his students who was just telling the cops he likes rough sex, has been writing love letters to prison. She acts like they're going to be together after this. But I think us viewers know what she really wants: a scandal. My heart breaks again here, because all he wants is for someone to trust him, to love him. He's so desperate and she betrays her.

In the meantime, someone kills Ellie's best friend Becca, and the police find a destitute Owen in his home. Oh James, don't cry! We love you, we do. All is well. (Edit: Blogger went nuts because of my heart icons, so I'll just rewrite this bit. HEART HEART HEART.)

I can apparently tell James and the character apart, but only when it comes to overwhelming fetishes like his body, or how tiny he looks in a hoodie. But when he's crying like this, and all alone in the world, I just feel it's James there and my heart breaks for him. (Of course, they didn't show him being scalded - gah, now I thought of him being scalded in prison. This show is a mindfield. Um, minefield. A minefield for the mind? Nevermind.)

Luckily someone saw Owen with Maddy around the time Becca died. But then he sees the paper. Maddy has sold his love letters as "sick letters to Ellie".

And his world comes tumbling down. I can't even really think about how he must be feeling.

This scene was perhaps the hardest yet. Owen goes off the deep end and kidnaps Maddy, but the police find him in time.

He asks what it matters now, everyone thinks he did it, he might as well do this to Maddy. Banks tells him he'll have to live with a murder on his conscience. Also, Banks is so sorry for his doubts, and they caught the real killer now. In the end, Owen is able to drop the knife. James does some stellar work here. He does desperate, and pained, and even murderous.He blows me away here.

I thought he would do it. The suicide would have been even worse, but him spending life in prison, and me having to watch James kill someone in character - I'm so glad it didn't come to that.

In the end, Owen Pierce gets psychiatric help. We no longer see him, but he know he'll be OK, or at least better than he was. Not alone.

It strikes me that James may have spoken with his Yorkshire/Aerilon accent all through this. It's a show set in Yorkshire, after all. I didn't really notice, so maybe that means it was a really good, natural Yorkshire accent? I'm not a good judge of that.

Either way, amazing performance. This was a hard watch, but for the ending, and the shirtless bit, I feel like it was worth watching. Caution is still adviced to those of sensitive persuasion. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

James Callis on DCI Banks, Part I: Oh All the Feels.

WARNING: This show disturbed me so it might disturb others. Murder, possible rape, really difficult to watch. 

Wow, this really traumatized me. I've seen James in most of his roles, and I've usually been able to enjoy them in some way. But this... I just felt incredibly uncomfortable watching this. I can't hate this character because it's James, but I also can't like him very much because we aren't given much to go on. This is a two-parter, so he might turn out be the murderer. He might like rough sex with really young girls, or the girls may have set him up. He's weaselly and he's lying and there's something really off about him - but he may be innocent, and now his life is ruined. I give the show credit for not showing us the murder, like some shows do; we don't know who did it and why. There are two creepy main suspects, but it's not obvious who did it. 

When I say it's James, just to clarify, I know it's just a character, and he said on Twitter that it was an "unwelcome" role. He's not this guy. But this guy looks like him. It's the same hairdo, and the same stubble, and even his clothes look like what James might wear. There are many Gaius Baltar mannerisms when he's obviously lying, and these are mannerisms I've come to know and love. He's done them in many Q&As to show what a weasel Gaius is. But now he's doing them here and he may have murdered a young girl, and I can't help but feel for him because it's James, but really I should probably hate him. My feelings are confused. 

I did feel disgusted at Mason Duryea on Numb3rs, but Mason looked and acted nothing like James. He had a Southern accent, his hair was wild, his look was haggard and disturbed. He talked and looked like a madman. I applaud James for making that happen, but I don't really see James in that role, so it's not so disturbing. I was able to distance my fan feelings from him completely. Mason isn't really that attractive; he's too haggard and violent and awful to be admired or gushed over. 

I find Owen Pierce attractive though, because I find James attractive. He has James' face, hair, and body. He has the sad puppy eyes at some bits, and the Gaius mannerisms. It's only when he yells at the female detective that she obviously hates men when his eyes obviously aren't James's. I see him as someone else there. But then we go back to troubled Owen, and hated Owen, and broken Owen, and that looks similar to the troubled hated broken Gaius Baltar. And I do hate when people see him only as Gaius Baltar, but there are similarities here that I can't overlook. 

And I don't know, maybe this is just because I'm a fangirl and I have so many feels about James from over the years. Maybe I can no longer watch a performance of his without feeling something for him as the actor. Or maybe it's just too close for comfort. 

I'm really not sure if I can rewatch the episode but here's a brief recap with pictures: 

We open on lights going round and James telling someone, in his gravelly voice, to "show me your fear." But wait, he's only being a good drama teacher! He's not killing a young girl! Psych! A pretty powerful beginning. Also, chest hair, but I'm having trouble even drooling over him here. 

Creepy face, but it's acting, so it's OK. I like this shot a lot, with the two young girls' profiles. It sets up a nie theme for the episode. (Although I have to mumble to myself that it's always attractive young girls who get killed in these shows.) 

They burst into laughter and he's suddenly their buddy. We see how he tries to be one of them and wants to be liked. (Perhaps desperately?) 

Ellie - our murder victim - is given friendly advice. Just the teacher's hand on the shoulder, it's not sexual. OR IS IT?? 

After class, various sexy young girls try to get his attention, but he's still staring at Ellie. It's creepy. 

Also, even more creepily, he reminds me of a professor I had, who shall remain nameless. He was a sexy older* man, and he flirted with everyone, he even flirted with me. (Maybe I'm more attractive than I think, or maybe it's just some universal "I love women", I don't know.) It was flattering and I think many of us had a crush on him, although I don't know if he had any affairs with students. It strikes me that I see him as a good guy, but if someone accused him of rape or sexual harrassment - I'd probably buy it. That sort of attention with women can usually go both ways, and some girls weren't comfortable with it. If you don't know the person that well, and you felt sexual tension between him and you, there might be a feeling of fear that leads you to believe he did it. Someone could definitely abuse this underlying fear and lie about him. This thought makes this episode even more disturbing. (* = considerably older than James, but we were 20-25, not 15 like the girls here.) 

Viewers, this guy is creepy. Please hate him and suspect him, OK? 

Nice closeup though. I like the lines on his face. I haven't really seen them until the last couple of years, but they look like a friendly person's lines. Like his eyes have laughed a lot. 

Talking to the cops, Owen tries hard to come off as totally normal. "She was always such a bright young thing! So... vital!" He sounds like he's thinking of her boobs, or their sex together, or something. He's doing a lot with his eyes here, trying to give a wide-eyed look of innocence. 

Gaius lying faces!!! He ends up looking something like a frog when he does these faces. Maybe it's his bulging eyes and the mouth positions. My boyfriend didn't like Gaius based on screenshots, because "He's always bulging his eyes!!" But he did like Gaius then, when we were actually watching. He said it makes James look less attractive when he does these faces. I think it's rather adorable. Not really sexy but.. adorable. 

Ribbit, ribbit. I think it's just his natural comedian coming out, trying to do something fun to a role that's about to get very dark. 

And then it gets very dark and at this point, I may not be able to recap much longer. 

Awww! James, don't worry!! We don't hate you! We love you! :* :* :* ..Um, fangirl mode kicks in. 

Notably, he lies some more, nothing he says can be trusted, he's really arrogant and desperate, and  "Let's just say I appreciate the female form". So dirty old man (although he's not that old), possible murderer, all kinds of icky. But also all kinds of desperate and sad and miserable. Then, when he's already lost his reputation and been beat up in prison, he's let go on a technicality - and finds his house wrecked. And then goes stalking another young girl, so did he do it? DID HE?! More next week. 

Some pictures below. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, because I feel really awful. But it's a great performance from James. There are Gaius mannerisms, but that doesn't mean he's stuck in a rut and does them in every role. In fact, I haven't seen them since Gaius. The sad eyes, the misery - he does a lot with this character, and it couldn't have been easy.