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July 08 2006

Love for Wesley Wyndham-Price. Or rather a new review of the Wes Vampire Anthology DVD which came out in the UK last year.

First time I remember seeing Wesley's accent criticized...but then I missed a lot from back when.
I only remember AD slipping up once with the accent in the entire Angel run.
When was that, Grounded? Just curious.
Okay. Yeah. Some mad love for Alexis Denisof in this review ("Denisof puts in some superb work as Wesley'), but I gotta bit of a wee problem with this remark just prior:

"It's not often that the acting in this show deserves a mention..."

I begs to differ. From the regular cast members to guest appearances (Summer Glau, Gina Torres, Ling Bai, etc.) I think the acting varies from uniformly good to excellent and occasionally superior. Grr... Arrgh...

Not to mention the outstanding performance by a relatively unknown actor in the pivotal role of "Numfar" in "Through The Looking Glass". His name escapes me at the moment...
That Numfar actor was never asked back. IIRC I heard he let his big break go to his head and sat in the directors chair in breaks in filming...

And yes, the acting on Ats, and BtVS and FF has always been excellent. I can't recall ADs accent slipping but I do remember Spike saying Pay-tron-ise instead of Pat-ron-ise. Not bad for six years of episodes.
Everytime a clueless internet reviewer states an opinion a soulless film critic gets his blood-soaked wings.

But seriously sir, thanks for the kind words for Wesley. (Damning with faint praise comes to mind...)
Aw, man, is this UK only? I'd love to get it in the US- Wesley is my favorite in Angel. Rare to see a really well-done tragic hero on TV anymore. (Hmm, I can't help but think there's a steak/stake joke in there somewhere.)
The only problem I had with accents on Buffy and Angel was Spike always said 'Ass' opposed to 'Arse'. Annoyed me every single time.
When was that, Grounded? Just curious.

If memory serves, it was in Spin The Bottle.
Since Spike has been living in the US for a while and seems to be addicted to US TV, it's not surprising that he would pick up a few US pronunciations. One that I've picked up myself (presumably from TV, as I've never been to the US) and now can't drop is "skedule". And, since expressions like "kicking ass" are so quintessentially American, "kicking arse" sounds worse to me than "kicking ass" with an English accent.

By the way, I seem to remember Giles using an American pronunciation on at least one occasion, despite being played by an English actor. (Sorry, I can't remember now what it was.)
I always feel that Giles generally uses American pronunciation (eg a-DULT instead of A-dult) when talking to the Scoobs, except where use of the British pronunciation is necessary to highlight that he is an alien abroad.

Whereas Spike's English accent wobbles a lot, but charmingly so :-)
I respectfully disagree.

Not to act all trolly or flamebaity, but personally, I wouldn't mention the acting as one of the series' main selling points. Of course, the quality of the acting varies immensely. There are moments when the acting reaches new heights, but in general, the acting (to me) is "adequate", meaning neither overtly good or bad. One of the finest moments (acting-wise) was the end-scene of "I will remember you" between Sarah and David.

I agreed 99% with the review Simon linked to. (I always thought Alexis was British...)

edit:

It should be noted that I never saw any flaws in the acting on Joss' shows until I watched The Sopranos. When I saw what some of the actors could do with a line, I achieved a (somewhat) better understanding of what a good actor/actress is. What I'm saying is that, on their own, the acting in Joss' series is good; it gets the job done, but when compared with other series with more experienced actors (such as The Sopranos), it is possible to see a difference in quality. This is (of course) not a criticism of Buffy/Angel/Fireflym, or in any way meant to be stated as a "fact", but rather a highly subjective observation.

[ edited by [wcip]Angel on 2006-07-09 15:30 ]

[ edited by [wcip]Angel on 2006-07-09 15:31 ]

[ edited by [wcip]Angel on 2006-07-09 15:31 ]

[ edited by [wcip]Angel on 2006-07-09 22:05 ]
Hmm, interesting theory. Maybe you've got something th--

Um, nope. Not really. But thanks for playing. ;)
"The only problem I had with accents on Buffy and Angel was Spike always said 'Ass' opposed to 'Arse'. Annoyed me every single time.
Jona | July 09, 12:22 CET"


Funny. I very specifically remember reading something where JM used that as an example of a time when ASH helped him out with his accent. ASH apparently told him that "we pronounce it 'ass' like the rest of the world." Is it pronounced some places in England one way and some another?

I know that when I am speaking to someone with a different accent for any length of time, my accent often changes. For that matter my exposure to hours and hours of Gilbert and Sullivan as a teenager as well as English Literature in general makes me prone to slipping into a more British turn of phrase (often archaic) or pronunciation when I am around Brits for any length of time. That said, depending on the circumstances I also found myself becoming even more American than I usually am at times when I actually visited Britain. That was what I thought I saw happening to Giles. Sometimes he started slipping into the surrounding culture and sometimes something would pull him back to his root identity.

As far as the acting in Ats, I personally think it holds up pretty well. Some of the actors are more consistently interesting and than others, of course. Some of the acting is amazing.

I have been around acting of various quality levels all my life. Yes, there are times when the process shows or where it something does not quite work, but that is to be expected on a show as ambitious as Ats or any of the other Whedon shows. Joss asks a lot of his actors on a tough schedule. I have not seen the Sopranos but it is a very different show with different challenges.
I had no problem with Spike's saying "Ass" instead of "Arse" since I regularly say both. In fact these days when I say arse it's mostly in a Father Jack style so that's just showing how much I've been influenced by watching tv. I'm sure if I lived in the US I'd pick up even more of the local vernacular.
In the phrase 'kick ass' most Brits would say 'ass' unless they're specifically (and possibly slightly ironically) pointing out that they're not American, since it's a US expression.

I personally don't know any Brits that would say 'asshole' rather than 'arsehole' or 'my ass' instead of 'my arse' (again unless they were doing an impersonation or for irony) especially the last phrase since there's a recent popular TV show, 'The Royles', where that was one of the characters' catch-phrases though I suspect this may be generational and that a fair number of people under 25 would use the American/British terms fairly interchangeably.

Alexis' accent was pretty much flawless IMO. He could easily pass for a Brit (of a particular class and background) who'd spent a few years in America though early on I think he maybe went slightly overboard on the traditional differences like pronouncing the 'c' in speciality as more of an 's' than a 'sh' and, obviously, keeping all the syllables in there and though Spike's was much patchier he could still just about pass for a Brit who'd been travelling abroad for over a century, IMO. JM would trip up on the tricky stuff and every now and then the simple things too (I remember him mis-pronouncing 'Mum' once when he got stuck somewhere between a long and short vowel choice - it's always M-uh-mm, never M-oo-mm) but a lot of his slips could actually be fan-wanked away by remembering that William was also quite preppy and well spoken but Spike was trying very hard for estuary pronounciation - after the Thames estuary - which sounds lower class and, consequently, tougher (it's much more Johnny Rotten, much less Rupert Giles). There were also some slightly more northern pronounciations with him too so he wandered a bit.

One thing I did notice with Spike (and this is a writing issue not an acting one) was his frequent mis-use of 'bloody' (and I see this in the comics too so I guess it's probably a general US misapprehension). He'd almost always use it before the phrase being intensified whereas in common British usage it often comes in the middle i.e. Spike would say 'bloody complete rubbish' or 'bloody totally naff' but a Brit would use 'complete bloody rubbish' or 'totally bloody naff' much more naturally. It's understandable since it's not a traditional US curse word but it used to jar a bit (that said he had one of my favourite lines of all time in - I think - 'The Gift' as they go to battle when he completes Giles' 'We few, we happy few...' with '...we band of buggered' which struck me as not only funny but also quite a British thing to say in the situation. Where a Yank might be talking about kickin ass, stepping up, getting it done, we would just categorically know that it'd all end badly somehow ;).

(and newcj, I do exactly the same thing of falling into the speech patterns of those around me whether they be Irish, English, American etc. As a bloke it's led to one or two dicey situations where people have thought I was taking the piss ;)

Re: acting, it was usually good and sometimes fantastic, IMO. 'I Will Remember You' stands out in my mind as an early high-point too though I think SMG did pretty well most of the time (she wasn't always great at acting laughter I seem to remember). Obviously there were some with more ability than others (DB started out pretty one note but did improve) and there were areas where some were stronger than others (I don't think anyone could turn a scene from, say, happy to sad/poignant quicker or more deftly than Alexis Denisof, no-one delivered a self-deprecatingly goofy line better than Nick Brendon and Alyson Hannigan's subtle little facial expressions conveyed volumes) but on balance I think they were a great ensemble and don't get enough credit for the show's success.

(whoops, that post spread a bit. It's alive, I tell you, alive ! ;)
Yes! I couldn't agree more, Saje. I love Sarah for many reasons, but I always cringed when she had to do laughter. On the other hand, I have yet to experience an actress do grief as well as her.

Similarly, to echo Joss' words when Alyson cries, you cry as well. She has a way...

To this day, whenever I watch Willow falling to the floor crying in response to hearing about Jenny's death in "Passion", I lose it. It's just a horrible scene, made even more perverse by the fact that Angelus is outside revelling in the grief he has caused. Applause applause to both Alyson and Sarah.
I also agree with Saje. I think that the casts of Buffy, Angel and Firefly have all done a tremendous job in realising the excellent writing and direction they were working with.

I think that some people tend to associate bad or adequate acting with episodes or scenes which just aren't as dramatic. For example, much of Buffy season one is fairly entertaining and relatively angst free compared to later seasons, so much of the acting isn't recognised as being amazing. Which I think is a fair assessment because I don't think the cast had really been tested during the first season, apart from a couple of episodes like Angel and Prophecy Girl. But the acting was perfectly adequate the rest of the season.

And then of course there are the standout, amazing performances such as Sarah Michelle Gellar's in Becoming, The Body or I Will Remember You, or James Marsters in Fool For Love. But I think many of the other characters, such as Xander, didn't receive quite as many important moments to work with, but Nicholas Brendan's consistent and understated performance developed over several seasons so although he may never have been tested quite as much as SMG was in The Body, overall his ability made scenes like the final scenes from Selfess and Potential incredibly powerful even if they aren't quite as dramatic as having to send your lover to hell or sacrifice yourself to save the world.

I basically feel that most of the cast were very reliable and whenever they were asked to rise to the challenge they were perfectly capable of doing it. And of course they have strengths and weaknesses but they were all stretched creatively and managed to achieve a lot of great work.

For example, Emma Caulfield was used primarily for comic relief, and of course we loved the hilarious Anya-isms and bunny fear that she brought to the show. And even though she was never as prominent as Buffy or Willow, when she had to deliver she did so outstandingly, in The Body, Hell's Bells and Selfless particularly.

And of course there may have been the occasional episode or scene where our cast weren't quite as good as usual. Buffy's over-the-top, unrealistic crying through much of Triangle, for example (although I think this was the intended effect, nonetheless it was out of character for Buffy's pain to be used for comedy).

In the first season of Buffy I definitely thought David Boreanaz and Charisma Carpenter's acting was inferior to the rest of the cast, but they certainly developed quickly so that by the time both moved to LA for AtS, they were phenomenal. You could also say that it depends on how the character is written. Wesley was originally intended for comedy and annoyance and Alexis wasn't really given a chance to do any drama until AtS, where he was a complete revelation.

[wcip]Angel, I agree with that Passion scene. Similarly wrenching was Willow's reaction to finding the corpses in Prophecy Girl.
"I'm not ok. I knew those guys. I go to that room every day. And when I walked in there, it wasn't our world anymore. They made it theirs... and they had fun."

Also Willow's final scene in "The Gift" deserves a mentioning. Oh, and when Willow sits in Angel's lobby when they return from Pylea at the end of season 2...knowing what news she has for Angel.. it feels like you're falling off a cliff.

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