Sometimes it's the writing and dialogue that brings us in to TV shows. Other times, it's the actors themselves.
Dr. Gregory House: House, M.D.
Hugh Laurie imbued the anti-social House with more layers than the thickest onion. He also gave nearly every man out there an excuse to explain to their significant other why they hadn't shaved in three days: "Well, you love that Hugh Laurie scruff..."
Walter White: Breaking Bad
It's still hard to believe that Bryan Cranston, who has been a genius in showing the transformation in White from good to evil played the hapless dad on Malcolm in the Middle. His work during the last episodes of this show has been nothing short of a master class in acting. People are on the edge of their seat to see what happens with this druglord.
Tony Soprano: The Sopranos
Rest in peace, James Gandolfini. Your work as Tony Soprano was some of the best acting seen on TV. Your portrayal of the head of a Mafia cartel who juggles both business and home life was a mix of fury and pain (both personal and meting it out on others).
Omar: The Wire
One of the best characters on TV in the past decade, a thug with a strict code who also happened to lead a lifestyle that didn't mesh with his tough-guy exterior. It's a shame he went out like he did - shot in a convenience store.
Don Draper: Mad Men
Draper, a man who is not who he says he is, is played to perfection by Jon Hamm. It's a good thing Thomas Jane passed over the role. A philandering husband with no sense of loyalty would be hard to like, but the suave Madison Avenue ad man pulls it off. It's going to be interesting to see what happens to him during the final season.
Frank Pembleton: Homicide: Life On the Streets
Andre Braugher's work as Pembleton, a tortured man whose dedication to justice came at the expense of everything else was near perfect. His seething intensity in the interrogation room (aka "the box") was a sight to behold and Braugher was mesmerizing in every line he spoke. He brillantly handled his character having a stroke as well.
Dr. Mark Greene: ER
Anthony Edwards played Greene as the anti-House - a doctor who cared. He also showed how a doctor's personal life can spill over into his professional life, especially when he got attacked in the bathroom. His death from a brain tumor remains one of the saddest moments on any show.
Dana Scully: The X-Files
Gillian Anderson was much more than a pretty face to play alongside David Duchovny's Mulder. She had brains and skepticism to his almost childlike willingness to believe everything.
Dexter Morgan: Dexter
A sympathetic serial killer? Michael C. Hall is able to show someone devoid of real emotion as someone we can root for. It's too bad that this show's final season is also the same one as Breaking Bad.
Vic Mackey: The Shield
Michael Chiklis was far from The Commish when he portrayed this utterly corrupt cop that still had the tiniest shred of conscience buried inside of him despite everything. He first thought he was getting results, no matter what, but that soon spiraled into doing things like murdering a new member of your own squad and other things like that. Mackey lived life brutally.
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.