Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Set on an Open Course for the Virgin Sea

I like Lara Flynn Boyle.

Regardless of what anybody says about her and her pointy, skeleton-like appearance, I think she has a certain appeal on screen. She's pretty, in a defined way, and she has this icy-sexy vibe that verges almost on creepy, but in a good way. Like if Morticia Adams dressed sensibly and went on a diet and had high-paying jobs. No, that's a terrible example. Nonetheless, I've enjoyed her work as troubled teenager Donna Hayward on "Twin Peaks" and as tough-as-nails prosecutor Helen Gamble on "The Practice" and as Wayne's obsessive ex-girlfriend in "Wayne's World." She's versatile — and she used to fuck Jack Nicholson, too.

So when "Las Vegas" came on at Todd and April's and I saw that Lara was a guest star, I was interested. I have never seen an episode of the show before, and though I don't recognize a single one of the regulars, I thought it might be worth a shot. The episode itself was nicely done. A comic book convention has taken over the central hotel — the Montecito hotel and casino, a fictional resort with a slant-rhymed name I can't stop repeating — and so the entire episode is framed in a comic book motif, with paneled, word-bubbled pen and ink drawings leading to and from the live-action shots every time the show went to or returned from a commercial. A nice touch.

The episode also had a underlying theme of things slipping away. Subtle, and far better done than I would have expected, it started with a drag queen singing STYX's "Sailing Away" at a funeral — one of the episodes many subplots. Yes, I realize a drag queen covering a STYX song at a funeral is not subtle, but following that, there's these nice little touches here and there that recall that idea. And that was nice, too.

I can't say I was as impressed with Lara. First off, something horrible happened to her lips. They're bigger, no doubt the result of some cosmetic science experiment. Lara may think they look good. I think they press together in the semblance of a duck bill. We're just going to have to disagree for now, but eventually I think she'll realize that she looks like she's had an allergic reaction to her plummeting body mass index. More importantly, Lara's role sucked. She's a domineering sexpot boss — and a boring one at that. When a role like that is poorly written, it just makes the character a villain and gives people a subconscious reason to hate women that make something of themselves. (A theory of mine.)

Lara's character appeared in the very first shot of the episode, and April immediately recognized the show as a rerun. I was stunned. Sure, I can identify any episode from the first twelve seasons of "The Simpsons" within ten seconds, give or take, but I didn't expect April would have honed so squarely on "Las Vegas." I'd be surprised if anyone has, really.

But then there was the episode's final scene. In it, Lara's character calls one of the regulars up to her office on the hotel's top floor for a tongue-lashing. (The bad kind.) She's standing up there on the windy balcony, yelling and berating and wearing this oddly multicolored nightgown that has a cape. Before you can turn to the person next to you and ask why the fuck she's wearing a cape, the wind whips her and her billowy clothes off the balcony and into the distance, like Spider-Man but without any of the superpower prerequisites that prevent him from falling into the pavement at terminal velocity.

Bam! Blend into comic book-style art. "To be continued..."

Clearly, the character is dead, in a wonderful mingling of the episodes two motifs. This, of course, explains why April could immediatelyt identify the episode as a rerun. Frankly, I'm impressed. It's one of the most out-of-nowhere deaths of a major character since Rosalind Shays stepped into an open elevator shaft in a episode of "L.A. Law" and fell out of the show forever. The death may be a jab at Lara's lack-of-weight problem, but I say that's exactly the kind of wild surprise television needs in its hour-long nighttime soaps.

I can't say that I'll watch the show again, especially since my principle draw is pavement goo, but for what it's worth, "Las Vegas" gave me one more reason to like Lara Flynn Boyle.

1 comment:

  1. this is boring, blog about the aquarium or something.