My photo
Athens, Ohio, United States
"Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Word of the Year: Smitstastic

Note: To those of you who don't watch Showtime's brilliant show Dexter, what is your problem and why are you still alive? To those of you who do watch Dexter but haven't reached episode ten of season three yet, proceed with caution because HERE BE MILD SPOILERS. To those of you who do watch Dexter and ARE completely caught up, congratulation and enjoy the post.

Since the Presidential election ended, I have been stuck at a crossroads.

I am in a campaigning mood but there is nothing to campaign for! All the election posters have been taken done, all the annoying people soliciting my vote on the streets have vanished and even Sean Hannity has stopped his bizarre xenophobia (Hannity: HIS NAME IS FUCKING BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA, PEOPLE! I DON'T KNOW WHY WE AREN'T STONING THIS MAN TO DEATH RIGHT NOW). Without my daily fix of campaigning, I have had to turn my attention to a different source. And now, thanks to Showtime's brilliant show Dexter (the name of the show isn't "Dexter" as far as I am concerned, it is "Showtime's brilliant show Dexter") I have found something I can campaign for. So listen up, Golden Globe/Emmy/Nobel because I have an announcement to make:

For your consideration, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:

I have been a curious onlooker of Jimmy Smits career for sometime now. This Brooklyn actor has been in the public's collective(ly) unconscious since he played the role of Victor Sifuentes in 1986's L.A Law. Being negative four years old in 1986, I never quite got the opportunity to see the Smitsmeister in action. No, it wasn't until George Lucas decided to embark on a few ill-conceived prequels, that I got to my first exposure of Jimmy Smits. Playing the upright Senator Bail Organa (i.e one of the three or four people at the end of the films who isn't evil, dead or an annoying Gungan), Smits was.....boring. The role of underwritten and Lucas's directing was soul-less and Jimmy Smits had nothing else to do in the movies except look honorable and trustworthy. But something about the way he carried himself must have had an impression on me because I immediately recognized his mustachioed Latin glory when he showed up again in a favorite show of mine.

I have written about the final season of The West Wing before, but now I finally get to tell you a little more about why I loved it so. Jimmy Smits as Matt Santos and Alan Alda as Arnold Vinick absolutely OWNED that season. They created their characters from the ground up and took the viewer on a year long ride from the announcement of their candidacies to the primaries and through the national election. Smits, in particular, drew me to his character and all the various challenges and triumphs in his world like very few television actors (I mean "television actors" as a compliment, not a slight) ever had. He was the viewer's eyes and ears into this dangerous game of politics and I respected Smits immensely.

Then, earlier this year, I heard that Smits would be guest-starring on one my favorite shows, (Showtime's brilliant show) Dexter. I was eager to see how Smits would handle a role that promised to be far less idealistic that George Lucas's interpretation of a proud, incorruptible Senator or Aaron Sorkin's interpretation of a proud, incorruptible Congressman. There are really only three outcomes for a guest star on Dexter: having a loved one murdered, being murdered, or killing someone. And as far as Smits's character, Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado, he may undergo all three options.

Now that I am 10 episodes in to a 12 episode season, I can safely say that Jimmy Smits has done the best work of acting on television I have seen yet this year. He seamlessly transitioned into the mood and tone of the show. His character goes from grieving brother to shrewd political maneuverer to curious student to megalomaniacal murderer all in the span of about 8 hours or so. It is a startlingly, yet fair portrayal of a man who is nowhere near what he seems.

And finally, after waiting the better part of a decade the producers and writers of Dexter have allowed me to see something I had always hoped I would see: Jimmy Smits letting loose. For whatever reason, this man has been type casted as a trustworthy politician for the last few years. His characters were reserved, professional and rarely openly passionate about other words, quiet. The good folks behind Dexter used this type cast to their advantage, painting this ADA as yet another shrewd and conniving, yet quiet, politician. But in the most recent episode, they gloriously let all pretense fall away to expose a feral, angry man who becomes furious and explosive at the thought of being slowed or halted in his quest for absolute power. 

In a line that I hope becomes this years "I drink your milkshake", Miguel circles his intellectual foe, Dexter, like a caged tiger before lunging at him and screaming with all his might "You don't want to fuck with me. Because I will FUCK YOU BACK in ways you can never imagine!" It is a shocking and powerful moment and the perfect climax to a season's worth of slow-burning tension and passion raging in this supposedly reserved man's conscious.

Thank you, Mr. Smits, from saving the fall TV season from boredom. Thank you for giving the wonderful character of Dexter such a perfect foil. And thank you from for finally losing your mind on camera for us all to see.

I just hope the Emmy is as thankful as I am.

No comments: