The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Megyn Price (“Rules of Engagement”)

After a season on “Lateline,” five seasons on “Grounded for Life,” and seven seasons – so far – of “Rules of Engagement,” Megyn Price ought to know the process of putting together a sitcom inside and out by now, so it’s not entirely surprising to find that she’s decided to step behind the camera and direct an episode of her CBS series. Price chatted with Bullz-Eye about what it took to transition into directing and how her castmates helped her efforts (there’s a bit of a spoiler in the mix, so be wary) while also reflecting on some of her favorite and not-so-favorite aspects of the show’s seven seasons to date. Before getting down to business, however, I’d promised to pass on a message…

Cats & Dogs

Bullz-Eye: First of all, I’m supposed to tell you that Donal Logue says, “Hello.”

Megyn Price: Awwwwwww… I love him! We’ve been going back and forth on Twitter. My former TV husband…

BE: Yeah, he and I just did an interview in conjunction with his debut on “Vikings” for the Onion AV Club.

MP: Oh, you did? Oh, great! That’s fun. He’s such a great guy, isn’t he? Did you have a 400-hour interview with him? ‘Cause he can not stop talking. [Laughs.]

BE: Well, actually, it started out a phoner, and then we ended up doing a bit more by email. It was for a feature called Random Roles, and I wanted to try to cover as many of his roles as possible. Lord knows he’s got enough of ‘em…

MP: Oh, God, I bet he loved that! He has the best stories. He used to tell a story about being on “The Patriot” anytime wardrobe would come up to us on “Grounded for Life,” about how there was this stampede, where everyone was getting run over by horses, and he said that wardrobe would come up to him and fix his collar. He’s, like, “Okay, you don’t need to fix my collar. I’m about to get run over by a horse!” [Laughs.]

BE: Okay, on to the topic at hand: your directorial debut. What took you so long to get behind the camera?

MP: It’s hard to get the shot, y’know? There are no small directing jobs. There are small acting jobs, but no small directing jobs. Somebody’s really got to be generous and kind, like our producers were on this show, and give you a shot. And, y’know, I think I had to earn it a little bit. A) I had to have the experience, but B) I had to do a lot of research and a lot of studying with other directors and prove that I was serious about it all.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

Sons of Anarchy 5.13: J’ai Obtenu Cette

SPOILER WARNING: This post will appear following a new episode of “Sons of Anarchy.” It is intended to be read after seeing the show’s latest installment as a source of recap and analysis. As such, all aspects of the show up to and including the episode discussed are fair game.

Two weeks ago, I said, “Violence and adrenaline are as big a draw for [the Sons] as the brotherhood, motorcycles, and ‘easy’ money. You don’t live this kind of life, or at least continue to, without a taste for cheap thrills.” Back then I was referring to Jax, Tig, Chibs, and Happy escaping an ambush by going off-roading in a station wagon as bullets flied in every direction. After confirming that they were all alive, the guys laughed and screamed with excitement. Happy spoke for the group when he exclaimed “I am rapturous!”

That was a long winded way of saying these guys are adrenaline junkies. They are addicted to the lives of danger, risk, and crime they lead. Turn to Clay’s actions at the beginning of this season for further proof. Upon realizing that “the life” might be taken away from him, he did everything in his power to prevent it—like a caged lion claws and scratches in an attempt to find freedom or, say, Bob Hughes hustles to get a fix. Ironically enough, the SAMCRO clubhouse has a “No Junkies” sign, right by the doorway leading out to the picnic tables.

Regardless of what substance, lifestyle, or what have you an addict is dependent on, if he truly wants to quit, he quits. Right there on the spot. If he really means it, there is no last hurrah, no one last fix or drink, he won’t give himself another month of using, he won’t say Christmas day will be his last. Because when an addict gives himself that time, it’s not just time to use, but to reconsider whether he really wants to quit, and, more often than not, rationalize why it’s just not the right time yet.

You may see where I’m going with this. Jax and Tara were never going to get out and live safe, peaceful lives with their boys. They sentenced themselves to life in Charming the second they started making excuses and delaying. Jax was being just as dishonest (with everyone, including himself) when he said he’d get out once he’d “protected the club” as a junkie who promises to quit if he can use for just one more month, day, or hour. It’s always “just one more.” Likewise, if the Teller family really wanted to get out of Charming, they would have done so, right the fuck then, the same way an addict or alcoholic who’s quitting needs to really and truly commit right there on the spot. Otherwise, by the time you actually mean it, it’ll be too late. And for Jax and Tara, boy is it too late.

The episode title, “J’ai Obtenu Cette,” means “I got this” in French (perhaps as a nod to Chucky’s new language of choice). It’s a phrase Jax could have spoken in reference to  just about every task he set out to accomplish this season. He now has everything he ever wanted, but it doesn’t feel right. There’s a reason for that (aside from his wife getting arrested): as we’ve discussed so often, he had to transform into Clay to get it. The scary thing, both for us as fans of the idealistic Jax of the past and the people around him, is that he’s way better at being Clay than Clay ever was. Because while his willingness to do anything is reminiscent of Clay, his intelligence and ability to ensure his own hands appear clean is more in the vein of one Damon Pope. When Marks, Pope’s now-elevated number two, implies that the reason the chips fell where they did was because Jax engineered it, Jax responds, “You think I planned this whole thing? Come on, man, you’re giving me way too much credit. I ain’t Pope. I’m just a mechanic looking out for my family.” Yeah, whatever.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Sons of Anarchy 5.12: Darthy

SPOILER WARNING: This post will appear following a new episode of “Sons of Anarchy.” It is intended to be read after seeing the show’s latest installment as a source of recap and analysis. As such, all aspects of the show up to and including the episode discussed are fair game.

Can “Sons of Anarchy” accomplish the unthinkable, can it make Clay Morrow a likable character again? Over the course of the second half of this season, Clay has become more and more sympathetic. He’s not actually sympathetic, not yet anyway, but the Clay of late is at least a human being. His confession to the club was real, the most honest words we’ve ever heard him utter. That’s not to say they were the complete truth or that they didn’t contain some element of self-preservation. And granted, if Bobby got even a whiff of bullshit, I’m sure he would’ve joined the rest of the club in voting “yay” on Clay meeting Mr. Mayhem. But the confession was still a revelation. When we saw Clay ask for some time alone so he could break down and cry, it may have been our first ever glimpse at the person behind the crimes. I had to remind myself of the crimes to stop from feeling sorry for the person.

Clay now hopes to start and lead his own small club to earn money. It’s a dream that has clear parallels with Nero’s hopes of settling down with his son on his uncle’s ranch, completely free of the life he left behind, or Jax’s desire to mold the club to fit his father’s vision (as well as last season’s goal of escaping Charming with Tara and the boys). These are exactly the type of fantasies we expect from the manchildren that populate this show, ambitions that are almost adorable in their simplicity and improbability—like when a toddler tells you he’ll grow up to be a professional baseball player. But just like the characters, we want to believe.

Clay’s retribution is something we’ve yearned for since season four at the latest (the pilot at the earliest), and it was accomplished in a way that met and subverted our expectations at the same time. Clay was brought to the table during the influx of his humanity, and as a result, the verdict on his survival brought both relief and frustration. Part of me enjoyed every moment of the beating Jax handed out afterwards, because I wanted Clay to die too. But at the same time it was the perfect illustration of Jax’s spiral out of control—the way anger and a thirst for revenge are driving him more than the good of the club ever did. It seems Clay’s justification for his dealings with the Nomads made sense in a fucked up, Clay sort of way. He was right that Jax wasn’t ready for the pressures of leadership, just not in the way he expected. Jax has been a fantastic president for the SAMCRO Clay built. But that wasn’t what he wanted when he took the gavel, he wanted to be a great leader for the club as he and his father envisioned it. The protester outside the White House clamors for world peace, but would he have the strength to make it a reality it if he was the one sitting in the oval office?

Love-hate-love (and vice-versa) arcs have always been “Sons of Anarchy’s” bread and butter. In the case of almost every major character, the show has started us out feeling one way and then worked to push us in the other direction. Often, when a character reaches the other side of the spectrum, the show turns him or her right back again. If you, like me, are starting to lose respect for the man Jax has become, it’s a mark of the show’s success. Shooting Wendy with heroin, given that she is an addict in recovery, was truly reprehensible. It’d be easier for us to see Wendy has a point about being the best person to raise the boys if not for the fact that Jax (and to a lesser extent Tara) are the protagonists. Likewise, Pope advises Jax to find a way to have Clay offed indirectly. Maybe it’s what Clay deserves. But at the same time, Jax going behind the club’s back to off him despite the vote to let him walk, purely for his own purposes, would be a trademark Clay move. If that’s the road Jax goes down, it will be the ultimate symbol of his transformation. Actions like these will give his inevitable redemption all the more emotional impact. I’m certain that by the series finale, we’ll be back in Jax’s corner. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. It might take the entirety of the final two seasons to accomplish.

Speaking of Pope, with Clay now stripped of all power, he’s sure to be a major source of conflict moving forward. I still don’t know if I believe Jax is just going to hand Tig over, even if Clay’s ousting means Tig’s usefulness is diminished (or even gone). At the same time I think the new Jax genuinely looks up to Pope. He tells Bobby that “you can’t sit in this chair without being a savage,” and given that Pope is the ultimate mentor in savagery, it makes sense that Jax would continue to seek his counsel. Whether he’s planning to turn Tig over or go to war with Pope, Jax is going to need every play in the savage book. Jax’s decision on the Tig front will either cement Pope as a friend or an enemy during the finale (if it’s the latter, Jax will have a plan to make it seem like he’s giving Tig up until the very last moment before taking Pope out).

Another source of conflict will be Lee Toric, the retired U.S. Marshall played by Donal Logue whose sister was the nurse Tara accidentally helped Otto murder. I predicted this meta motivation last week based on the fact that the actress who played said nurse was Logue’s real-life sister. Tara played her deposition almost perfectly. It’s clear her interrogator had his doubts about her innocence and naivety, but it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which she gets off and Toric is forced to seek his own justice. Toric is next season’s big bad, meaning he’s here to stay. His appearance during the ending montage showed him holed up in the dark with enough weapons for a small army and a bag full of pill bottles (perhaps he’s addicted to painkillers or some other pharmaceutical, which would give him a weakness and explain why he’s a retired U.S. Marshall). The most unsettling thing, however, may have been Toric’s choice of literature, “Watchfiends and Rack Screams,” by Antonin Artaud. The book was written during the last three years of Artaud’s life, which he spent incarcerated at a mental asylum, and it reads like it. I made that joke about Jax needing every play in the savage book, well, he might have to ask if he can borrow it from Toric first.

Check out the preview for next week’s episode below and follow the writer on Twitter @NateKreichman.

  

Sons of Anarchy 5.11: To Thine Own Self

SPOILER WARNING: This post will appear every Wednesday following a new episode of “Sons of Anarchy.” It is intended to be read after seeing the show’s latest installment as a source of recap and analysis. As such, all aspects of the show up to and including the episode discussed are fair game.

“To Thine Own Self” opened with Tara telling Jax about the offer she got from the practice in Providence. She followed the news up by insisting Jax had accomplished what he set out to and that it’s time to get out of Dodge. “I know why you couldn’t walk away a few months ago. The club’s been your whole life, you couldn’t let it die… But ending RICO saves SAMCRO, and whatever happens with Clay you have put the MC on the right track, you’ve done everything you’ve wanted to do. It’s your turn now, we can move on.” On the surface, she’s right. Especially considering all the shrewd (and more importantly, successful) moves Jax made as the episode moved forward. And yet, we all know there’s a zero percent chance the Teller family will be taking their talents to Providence. And it’s not just because a show called “Sons of Anarchy” would be a lot less interesting absent, you know, the Sons of Anarchy.

Exhibit A is Jax, Tig, Chibs, and Happy’s escape from the members of Nero’s old crew who decided that while they’d like a cache of the club’s guns, they’d prefer not to pay for them. The guys went off-roading in a station wagon, fired some automatic weapons, and narrowly escaped with their lives. Happy even had a bullet graze his head, and his response? “I am rapturous!” He was speaking for the group.

Violence and adrenaline are as big a draw for these guys as the brotherhood, motorcycles, and “easy” money. You don’t live this kind of life, or at least continue to, without a taste for cheap thrills. It doesn’t matter that the club no longer has RICO hanging over his head. It doesn’t matter that both Galindo and the Chinese are on board for the new weapons deal. It wouldn’t even matter if Clay finally got his comeuppance. There are only two places Jax can end up post-SAMCRO: in a cage or in a box. Sorry Tara, your husband  is never going to be a peaceful mechanic in motherfucking Rhode Island.

It’s become clear that Jax’s little rage trip is not a temporary result of Opie’s death. This is something that’s been building. A big part of it stems from his ongoing quest to kill Clay, which as Bobby points out is turning Jax into the very thing he despises. But one of this season’s major points  is that the gavel is what’s changing our protagonist—that angry and vengeful are necessary characteristics of the man at the head of the table, the man with all the power, the man in control. Maybe Clay became the man we all love to hate because he was under the same pressures Jax is now.

As Jax turns into Clay, Clay turns into something else. These last few episodes, in his talks with Juice and Tig and Jax, those words were genuine and heartfelt. Don’t get me wrong, Clay’s still a snake, as evidenced by the way he slithered those legal documents away just as they (sort of) fell into his former stepson’s hands, but he’s not the same snake. He had the opportunity to eliminate Jax and return to the presidency, instead he gave advice which he believed both good and necessary, that the club shouldn’t just walk away from Galindo. Clay’s not going to give in, let the truth come out, and die in disgrace, but he no longer seems to be motivated purely by self interest. Bobby’s decision to go to Clay at the end of the episode was driven by fear of the new Jax, sure, but it seemed to come from recognition of the new Clay as well.

The new direction of Clay’s character is something I did not see coming. The same can be said of Nero Padilla. When Nero was first introduced, he seemed too good to be true—loyal to Jax, loving to Gemma, a smart and safe business partner—I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I thought the show would wring drama and suspense out of Nero by having him turn on the club, in some way becoming yet another enemy. Instead, Nero was everything he seemed to be and more. And just look at how that’s worked out for him.

I mentioned that Jax’s arc has demonstrated the way being in charge changes people. Likewise, Nero’s arc is meant to show that just being close to the boss brings tumult and turmoil, anger and vengeance, by proxy. His life’s gone to shit not because he’s an enemy of SAMCRO, but because he’s a friend. When Nero believes his former crew kidnapped Jax, he goes out and does a bit of murder, returning to the life of violent crime he’d sworn was behind him. All because the club was quick to call him when they (thought they) needed his help, and sort of forgot to let him know when they didn’t. The Nero we saw at the end of the episode seemed like he’d just stepped out of a warzone, like he’d been truly traumatized, and he has. He’s messed up, but he’s a former OG, it’s something he’ll get over—or would, if he had Gemma there to comfort him. But he doesn’t. And why’s that again? Because Jax has put his mom to work, throwing both her and Nero under the bus in his efforts to eliminate Clay.

Meanwhile, this episode introduced a new character, Lee Toric, played by Donal Logue, whose sole mission is to make the last few months of Otto’s life a little more miserable, if that’s even possible. We know very little about the character so far, other than that he’s got the pull to get into a maximum security prison and beat the shit out of a dude in solitary confinement. His motivations remain unknown. All we have to go on is his desire to torture Otto and his following Tara at the end of the episode. A good guess would be that his actions have something to do with that nurse Otto murdered. Maybe she was a family member and he’s out for vengeance. All that might be a bit too convenient, considering she was played by Karina Logue, the actor’s real life sister, but Toric is sure to be a major player moving forward.

A few more things:

-“This Kenny G shit’s gonna give my cancer cancer.”

-The club’s lawyer is played by Robin Weigert. I knew I recognized her from something but couldn’t figure out what (looking it up is cheating). Last night it hit me, Weigert played Calamity Jane in “Deadwood.”

-As I predicted last week, Jax isn’t going to just hand Tig over, and that’s going to make Pope mad. A confrontation is brewing.

Check out the preview for next week’s episode below and follow the writer on Twitter @NateKreichman.

  

The Light from the TV Shows: Eight Years of “House” Guests

With “House” coming to its conclusion on Monday after an eight-year run, it’s fair to say that quite a few regular cast members have seen their way in and out of the doors of Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, but their number can’t hold a candle to how many guest stars – we’re talking people who were on the show for a single-digit number of times – have turned up over the years. This isn’t all of them, but it’s a start…

Season 1

Robin Tunney (Ep. 1.1, “Pilot”)
Character: a kindergarten teacher who becomes dysphasic and starts having seizures. Turns out she’s invested with tapeworms.

Sam Trammell (Ep. 1.4, “Maternity”)
Character: the father of a baby girl that’s not even out of the maternity ward and already on death’s door from a virus.

Elizabeth Mitchell (Ep. 1.5, “Damned If you Don’t”)
Character: a nun who looks like she’s suffering from stigmata but is later discovered to be suffering an allergic reaction to a copper cross IUD left over from her, uh, wilder days.

Dominic Purcell (Ep. 1.6, “Fidelity”)
Character: a husband whose wife – the Patient of the Week – turns out to have been unfaithful.

Amanda Seyfried (Ep. 1.11, “Detox”)
Character: girlfriend to the Patient of the Week.

Scott Foley (Ep. 1.12, “Sports Medicine”)
Character: a baseball player suffering cadmium poisoning from all the pot he’s been smoking.

Joe Morton (Ep. 1.17, “Role Model”)
Character: a senator suffering the after-effects of an epilepsy treatment from childhood

John Cho (Ep. 1.20, “Love Hurts”)
Character: a guy who, after spilling apple juice on House’s clothes, ends up being diagnosed by him as having had a stroke. Upon further investigation, it’s determined that he has a trauma-induced aneurysm as a result of a preference for sadomasochism.

Carmen Electra (Ep. 1.21, “Three Stories”)
Character: While begrudgingly lecturing a classroom of medical students about a past patient who is depicted as looking like Carmen Electra playing miniature golf. In reality, the patient was actually a male golfer…and he played regular golf, by the way. (Who knew miniature golf could be so sexy?)

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Related Posts