Thursday, July 8, 2010

Noble, But No Prize

I've been on something of a high today because of the overall quality of this morning's Emmy nominations. I'm as pleased as can be that the voters showered a remarkable amount of (much deserved) love upon ABC's Modern Family, especially my personal favorite - and someone that all the entertainment sources discounted when making their predictions - Jesse Tyler Ferguson. His Mitchell is certainly one of the less-flashy characters in the ensemble, but it's such a sweet, delicately-modulated performance of a buttoned-down soul constantly nudged outside his comfort zone by his effusive partner Cameron (the fearless Eric Stonestreet.) And while Mitchell vs. The Pigeon may wind up alongside Lucy & the Conveyor Belt and Carol Burnett's "Went With the Wind" dress in TV comedy history, it's the subtle moments (catch that smile at the end of the Clown Moment) that had to make the voters sit up and notice. Ferguson's nomination, as well as the nods for other out performers as Neil Patrick Harris, Jane Lynch, Ian McKellan and Chris Colfer, made me feel like this was a watershed day in entertainment history.

And since this is ostensibly a Horror blog, kudos must also go to the creative powers behind True Blood, scoring one of the six Best Drama nods. There is much grousing on the Interwebs today about the failure of the voters to recognize any of the actors, but I confess that this feels about right to me. The show is such pulpy and propulsive fun that the style of acting required is not exactly - let me be delicate - subtle, and no one would truly warrant a statuette if consistency in a dialect was the criterion. No, the marvelous achievement is that a series of Horror - and heart-ripping, blood-gushing, loins-thrusting Horror at that - received a Best Drama nomination. Pretty damn incredible when you stop to think about it.

But there was one other nomination I was pushing today, one that some in the entertainment biz went so far as to say was a front-runner for a Supporting Actor in Drama nod. In the past two seasons of Fringe, John Noble's performance as Walter Bishop, a brilliant scientist living within the wreckage of his own mind, has been nothing less than stunning. Possessor of secrets of another dimension, Bishop struggles to find his way in the world after chunks of his brain were literally mined from his skull; what cerebellum remains sparks to life in ways often uncontrollable and unpredictable...but his genius endures. As strong as Noble's work was in the premiere season, he surpassed it in the second, as we witnessed three other Walter Bishops -- the scientist before his brain was stolen, as well as the "Walternate," both the other dimension's equally-brilliant pre-1985 scientist, and his present-day persona, as America's icily malevolent Secretary of Defense. That man is willing, even eager, to sacrifice his only son Peter to destroy our dimension, while our Walter would do anything to save him, evidenced by the impetuous way he plucked alt-Peter from the other side years ago to save his life...and raise him as his own.

Whew. How much more could one series ask of an actor? Why, they all but asked Noble to sing. Strike that; he DID sing in a musical episode that had Fringe-ophiles worried at the outcome, but wound up as a charming tangent that happened at a moment of deep pain an
d apprehension in the season's storyline. I repeat - What more could they ask of John Noble?

It wasn't enough. Even though his cause was championed by many in entertainment reportage, the Academy demonstrated its long-held aversion to Science Fiction, or, in the case of Fringe, Sci-Horror. (And another thought: I've long wondered why the series has failed to receive any substantive coverage by my fellow Horror bloggers. Granted, I'm certainly one to talk, as this is my first posting concerning the show, but considering that creator J.J. Abrams launched it with the intent of making it "Rod Serling meets David Cronenberg," a description it certainly merits, Fringe has been a decided persona non grata in the Horror blogosphere.)

Oh well, there's always next year. Since the Third Season promises a good many scenes on the Other Side, it should certainly give Noble ample opportunities to display his prodigious talents. But how any Emmy voter could view even ten minutes of last season's episode "Peter" and not write Noble's name at the top of their ballot is a mystery that may be too complex for even the Fringe Unit to solve.

1 comment:

Wings said...

Totally agree with you on so much here, especially Noble's performances. He is great, truly an under-appreciated talent and I feel lucky to get to watch his work. It is an ensemble show, for sure, but made up of such talented parts.