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It hurts less if you don't see it coming

Ya'll, Friday's Battlestar Galactica BLEW MY MIND. That mushy pile in the corner there? That used to be my brain. Best. Episode. Ever. So good, I can't even talk about it.

As for last night's Grey's Anatomy... I thought it was awesome, as usual. I've been reading what Shonda Rhimes and the other writers have been posting on Grey Matter, and thinking about the whole Meredith thing, and I finally figured it out.

It's not that I hate Meredith Grey, it's that I hate Ellen Pompeo. As written, Meredith is a flawed yet sympathetic character who, by all rights, should be perfectly likeable. As portrayed by Pompeo, however, Meredith is a limp, sulky, humorless, one-note, self-involved hosebeast. There's no depth to her performance, nothing going on beneath all that surface mopiness.

Think about it: on the surface, most of the characters aren't particularly likeable. Christina's a bitch, Bailey's mean, Alex is insensitive, George is pathetic, Burke is a cold fish and Shepherd is an indecisive, lying dick. But all of those actors are so wonderful that they've managed to take these traits and make them assets. They show us with subtle glances and gestures and expressions that there's a whole lot more going on beneath their very human and very flawed exteriors, and we fall madly in love with them. We forgive them when they hurt each other, we celebrate with them when good things happen and we sympathize when everything goes to crap.

Not Pompeo, though. She's just as colorless as her character's name. Christina was exactly right: "Everyone does terrible things." We should be able to forgive Meredith because what she did to George is not really any worse than what George did to Nurse Syphilis, or what Alex did to Izzie, or what Christina and Burke do to each other, or what Addison did to Derek, or what Derek did to Meredith, or what Izzie was doing to Alex last night. We can forgive all of them and love them even more because they screw up. So why not Meredith? Because she sucks.

That crying scene last night? Just plain embarrassing. Especially on the show that gave us Sandra Oh's masterful hysterical crying scene earlier this season. It's really a shame to see such a fantastic show tied to such a weak actress. If only they'd named it "Seattle Grace" or something, I could fantasize about the day they wake up and give Ellen Pompeo the boot.

That's okay, though, because as long as they give us stuff like Bailey's milk letting down (oh, how many times I suffered through that myself, but never with as much dignity and style), I will continue to be so madly in love with this show that even Ellen Pompeo can't ruin it for me. And I loved that George did the voiceover this week instead of Meredith. And honestly, I'm glad that the whole George/Meredith BAD THING happened, because I can see where it's going to lead George, and it's all of the good. George dodged the bullet, and now he can finally stop pining after Meh and go for the hot orthopedic surgeon.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
kelbelle
Feb. 27th, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC)
Dude, BSG was AMAZING. I watched it twice...the second time more sober. But I was sitting there all agog while it was going on. Just so much freakin' GOODNESS.

And just WORD to everything you said about Ellen Pompeo. I think maybe if they'd cast someone more charismatic...with better acting skills, I wouldn't hate her nearly as much as I do. But I just don't think she has "it." And they've surrounded her with people who are light years more entertaining, charismatic and fun to watch (I just said three words that mean the same thing.) She just doesn't hold up.

And Yes...George and Dr. Torres. Bring it.
bgirlla
Feb. 27th, 2006 06:40 pm (UTC)
GMTA
Funny, because I was basically thinking the same thing driving in to work. I don't think Pompeo is as bad as you do, I think the problem is that she's surrounded by people who are that good. And several of them are big ol' stage actors for the most part (Chandra Wilson and the amazingly understated T.R. who has been treading the boards since he was a child). But in all honesty, sitting on this side and seeing how the networks make their choices for casting, I'm sure even if they had Sandra Oh attached first (I'm not sure if they did) the network wanted someone like Pompeo in there. So if having her as Meredith helped get the pilot greenlit and on the air, I'm okay with her being around.

Loved that they had George do the voice-over. I think it went even more to how completely frozen and unable to cope Meredith was, she couldn't even express what was going on inside her own head, let alone explain it to George or anyone else. I do hope though that at some point she explains to George that she'd seen her dad that night. Because her choosing him that night is in a backhanded way a compliment to him. She thought wonderful, loving George could take away that pain for her and then found he couldn't.


kiss_me_cassie
Feb. 27th, 2006 07:00 pm (UTC)
omg, you nailed it! I mean, I don't think I'd LIKE Mere no matter what she did. But the loathing would at least abate just a little.

Last night's crying/sex scene was incredibly hard to watch. And not just because poor George was getting stomped on. Because, goddamn it, I was supposed to be understanding WHY Mere was upset and why SHE was reacting the way she was and I didn't. And mostly it was the acting. She sucks. There's no way around it.

She's great at the flirt (Hmmm... makes me wonder how she gets her roles. hehee) but she sucks at drama and deep emotion. Which... really isn't good on a show like this.
hannasus
Feb. 27th, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC)
She's great at the flirt (Hmmm... makes me wonder how she gets her roles. hehee) but she sucks at drama and deep emotion. Which... really isn't good on a show like this.

Re-watching the first two episodes this weekend it's striking how not-annoying Meredith is. Then again, she practically disappears under the brilliant glare of Patrick Dempsey's nuclear charms. You can hardly concentrate on anything but his amazing smile whenever he's on screen.
mikijean
Feb. 27th, 2006 08:29 pm (UTC)
Say what you know to be true
I screamed--literally screamed out loud--when Caprica Six first saw Chip (Sorta) Baltar. Of course, this opens up all kinds of weird questions about Cylon psyche and whatnot (Helo!Sharon said she knew Chief before she ever met him, presumably from Galactica!Sharon's memories, so won't the other Sixes and Eights be able to figure out Hero!Six/Eight's sneaky plan even before Three is resurrected? So confused), but I don't care because untangling the stuff is so delicious. Loved how the "We're alive" ties all the way back to the opening of the miniseries and Summit!Six's question to Doomed Guy.

Although I can't imagine the Hera "resolution" working out well.

I think you're right on the nose about Meredith Blah/Pompeo (Veronica Mars is having this trouble with the actress who plays Jackie--so much weaker than the rest of the ensemble that it sticks out). B, could you say more about what you think casting was looking for? Maybe this is because I'm unimpressed with Pompeo, but what was the "something like Pompeo" they were looking for? I think she has an interesting voice--something like that, that made her stand out from the 8 million other pretty actresses? Or something else?

I'm not sure what I think of George immediately having an admirer--if it's just supposed to position him as a man instead of a puppy, I'm all for it. If it's supposed to give him an immediate love interest to make us forget the Bad Thing ever happened, eh. Although I love Sara Ramirez, so I'll take what I can get. And does Addison's question about her dilemma apply to the audience, too? Now that she's had this ridiculous storyline, can we stop punishing her for her earlier actions and start viewing her as a real character instead of someone to be hated because she's in the most boring character's way?

(all of which, of course, means I enjoyed the ep tremendously.)
bgirlla
Feb. 27th, 2006 09:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Say what you know to be true
B, could you say more about what you think casting was looking for? Maybe this is because I'm unimpressed with Pompeo, but what was the "something like Pompeo" they were looking for? I think she has an interesting voice--something like that, that made her stand out from the 8 million other pretty actresses? Or something else?

Well, it probably wasn't what casting was looking for, and more what the network or studio wanted. I'll have to see if in the commentary on the DVD they mention if Sandra Oh was the first one cast or not (I know she originally read and was tapped for Bailey when she asked about playing Christina instead), but even if she was, while she was coming off of "Sideways" and critical acclaim, the network/studio wouldn't think that would be enough (and also that she's not traditionally pretty enough) for the show to sell. So they would have wanted someone either with an established TV audience or, my guess is that coming off the success of "Old School" Pompeo was perceived as having a certain amount of appeal to men and a big enough "name" for a television show. Which is what allowed them to then cast relatively "unknown" actors in the other roles.

I don't remember from the development season when Grey's would have been in process whether this was a cast-contingent pilot or not. It might also be interesting to find out of Touchstone had a talent deal with Pompeo, which not only helps her get cast in a pilot, but helps a pilot script actually get made (hello "Jake in Progress").
mikijean
Feb. 28th, 2006 08:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Say what you know to be true
So they would have wanted someone either with an established TV audience or, my guess is that coming off the success of "Old School" Pompeo was perceived as having a certain amount of appeal to men and a big enough "name" for a television show. Which is what allowed them to then cast relatively "unknown" actors in the other roles.

Ah--that makes more sense. I'm too Pompeo-lite, I guess--I couldn't figure out why they'd want the girl from Moonlight Mile, but a possible male fanbase from Old School makes more sense.

It's endlessly fascinating to me, however, to see how this works--I wouldn't have thought she'd be a big enough deal to allow for unknowns to be cast. Interesting.
hannasus
Feb. 27th, 2006 09:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Say what you know to be true
I screamed--literally screamed out loud--when Caprica Six first saw Chip (Sorta) Baltar.

Me too! I yelped in surprise (because, of course, at first I thought he was a Cylon), fell of the couch, and then stood up and shouted "Oh my god!" And then I made Mr. Sus get off the computer and come watch the episode with me. (He loved it, btw.) His theory on the Baltar/Six psychosis is that it has something to do with the A.I. research they were doing together before the Cylon attack. I, on the other hand, lean towards a more mystical and less rational explanation.

Helo!Sharon said she knew Chief before she ever met him, presumably from Galactica!Sharon's memories, so won't the other Sixes and Eights be able to figure out Hero!Six/Eight's sneaky plan even before Three is resurrected?

I was wondering about this as well. Is it just an inconsistency in the writing, or is it something that's going to be important later? You can never tell with this show.

Was also terribly disappointed we didn't get a glimpse of any other Cylon models, though. An entire planet populated with only five of the twelve models? No, wait, it was only four, wasn't it, because the doctor from "The Farm" wasn't there. Seems kind of odd to me. I can't imagine how difficult those scenes were to film, though. And I'm sure the casting and scheduling issues are monumental when it comes to the recurring Cylon actors.

I should probably go listen to the podcast, but I'm still reeling.
bgirlla
Feb. 28th, 2006 04:38 am (UTC)
Re: Say what you know to be true
His theory on the Baltar/Six psychosis is that it has something to do with the A.I. research they were doing together before the Cylon attack. I, on the other hand, lean towards a more mystical and less rational explanation.

My theory is that it has something to do with Cylon physiology and the fact that they were physically connected to one another when the nuclear blast hit. Because why else do they keep showing us that Six shielded Baltar from the effects of the blast? A blast which, we might note, killed her, but not him. So...was the fact that they were physically touching each other and the fact that she is a machine have something to do with it? That's my theory.

And yeah, I don't have Sci-Fi channel and usually go over to a friends to watch it. We had a full house that evening, and everyone went batshit when we first saw Baltar and thought he might be a Cylon too. And who knows, maybe he is? ;)
hannasus
Feb. 28th, 2006 04:42 am (UTC)
Re: Say what you know to be true
Innnnnteresting. Of course, it could just be that it's a really pretty shot that cost a lot of money so they like to use it as much as possible. But I like your theory better.
mikijean
Feb. 28th, 2006 09:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Say what you know to be true
Both B's and Mr. Sus' theories are veddy, veddy intriguing. I may be hoping for a more mystical answer, just because I've liked what they've done along those lines so far--break out a new book of scripture that tells of a dual soul. Yippee! ;)

As to the Cylon models--I assumed that the African-American heads we were seeing from behind in the Cafe of Doom were meant to represent the Farm doctor but saved money on actually having to pay the actor. I was disappointed in not getting a new model revealed, too, but it was so darn fun to see Sleek!Baltar that I forgot I was mad. ;)

This was my first podcast, and I can't stop laughing that all the background noise is really Ron Moore trying to light a cigarette. ;)
hannasus
Feb. 28th, 2006 09:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Say what you know to be true
Ah, I missed the African-American (African-Caprican?) heads in the cafe.

I imagine that if you're a struggling actor, getting cast as a Cylon is a very sweet gig, because you're guaranteed to have a recurring job on the show pretty much indefinitely. But I also imagine that it's very difficult to get all the Cylon actors back every time they need them. What if Lucy Lawless gets a series picked up? Or decides to go off and make another killer bat movie?
mikijean
Feb. 28th, 2006 10:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Say what you know to be true
Isn't it just like a Cylon to go off and make a killer bat movie?

I suppose that Cylon structure means they can be used in almost any way the creators want to, and that might save them--if Lucy Lawless goes off chasing more crickets (locusts? They're not the same thing?), they can introduce a new actor as the heretofore unseen Five and talk about some kind of internal strife where Five is trying to steal Three's thunder, or talk about how they've retrofitted Three into a more efficient chassis or something. It's not the same as trying to figure out how to work around, say, Paul Campbell's absences. It requires some mental gymnastics, however, and it also costs you in attachment to the character--apparently the only reason Billy didn't go to Kobol with Roslin in the first place is because they didn't know if they'd have Campbell. So you "accidentally" get this wonderful arc and character moment of Billy refusing to go and then Roslin seeing him again. Because you can build a new Cylon if you need one, you run the risk of not having arcs like that.

It's a good show. :)
ancor4eva
Feb. 27th, 2006 08:50 pm (UTC)
Think about it: on the surface, most of the characters aren't particularly likeable. Christina's a bitch, Bailey's mean, Alex is insensitive, George is pathetic, Burke is a cold fish and Shepherd is an indecisive, lying dick. But all of those actors are so wonderful that they've managed to take these traits and make them assets.
I LOVE that explanation. And it's true no matter what Meredith does I can never find it in me to like her or feel sorry for her.

And last night I just joined the large group of ppl that hate her. Poor George.

Well at least yay George/Dr. Torres. :D
austin360
Feb. 27th, 2006 08:56 pm (UTC)
Exactly. 100% exactly what I'd say about GA if I were articulate enough. Alas, I leave it to you.
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