Saturday, November 24, 2012

Old Vanity Fair Article: Rodgers and Heart

James Wolcott
Lance Mannion ponders the question of why Kathryn Erbe clicks and Sarah Paulson (so far) doesn't. Erbe plays detective Eames, Vincent D'Onofrio's partner in Law & Order: Criminal Intent; Paulson is the born-again Christian with the googly eyes and sad backstory on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I have nothing to add regarding Erbe's intelligent, tucked-in characterization, but I think an additional reason the Eames-Goren relationship plays so niftily is that she's so poised and delicate-featured, he so mallet-headed and gallumphing (swiveling his waist halfway around to make a rhetorical point). It's like having the calm before the storm and the storm in the same room. Unfortunately, the scripts have let down their dynamic thus far this season, their broody psychological duets submerged in frantic busywork cooked up to compete with C.S.I. and the other forensic hotshots.

Speaking of forensics: It seems to me the unsung heroine of the Law and Order franchise, the most valuable utility player, is the red-headed medical examiner Rodgers played with such creased, wry, stoic, seen-it-all, shrugging, authoritative perfection by Leslie Hendrix. Her dry delivery, her understated compassion ("this one was really worked over," as she bares a parade of bruises on the deceased), her professional banter with the detectives (which never sounds cute or quippy), her cumulative air of fatigue from years of determining cause of death, her discreet private life (we know she once went to the opera with Lenny, not much else), all of these make her the exemplar of the Law and Order ethos, or what the ethos used to be. If her role were being cast today, Rodgers would probably be played by some modelly hot brunette with sultry eyelashes whose line readings would sound phonetic.

1 comment:

  1. I loved the stuff he said re: tomboys, and this:

    "Erbe also does such a good job of downplaying her looks that it's surprising and disconcerting when in an odd moment when she lets her guard down and smiles broadly or when an accidental camera angle reveals that she is in fact beautiful."

    It's really a great article to read. Thanks for sharing.