Tag Archives: Bill Gorman

Mrs. Pucci, say it’s not too late for us!

Human Target is a TV action adventure series on Fox.  Last season it was all very "boy’s own."  Lots of fight scenes, stunts, mayhem, intrique and things blowing up.  For all the special effects it was, I thought, very credible TV with writing, acting, and directing vastly better than the genre normally elicits.  

But finally it was too boy’s own, which is to say all that daring-do got in the way of complexity or nuance or anything resembling the way human behave when they are not action heroes.

Clearly, someone at FOX said, "very well, let’s give the USA Networks treatment."  And this means taking a page from the resoundingly successful playbook created by Bonnie Hammer and making our male heroes actually interact with and sometimes depend upon the women in their lives.  Think of the girlfriend and mother in Burn Notice. The assistant and girl friend in Royal Pains.  The FBI jailor and girlfriend in White Collar. And mother, sister, boss, male assistant and boy friend in In Plain Sight.  (There are actually two versions of the Hammer strategy.  I discuss the official one in McCracken 2009 and the unofficial one in McCracken 2010.  See the links below.)

And it came to pass that two women were added to Human Target.  One of them was the Mrs. Pucci (pictured) played by Indira Varma (er, also pictured).  What a difference Mrs. Pucci makes!  In a graceful, elegant way she dismantles the genre, scene in and scene out. Now we really have no idea what’s happening next.  And while we are trying to puzzle out the character, we are treated to a great actress treating us to lots of nuance and subtlety.  

But hang on!  Bill Gorman reported yesterday that the numbers for Human Target were abysmal.  Not much better that Under Covers which is now down for cancellation.  My suggest we treat this as a new year’s eve resolution: defend Mrs. Pucci from cancellation!


Gorman, Bill.  2010.  The Numbers of Human Target. December 23.  click here.

McCracken, Grant. 2009.  The Hammer Grammar.  This Blog Sits At the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics.  August 31.  Click here.

McCracken, Grant.  2010.  The secret script at USA Networks (aka the unmeshed male). This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics.  Feb. 5.  click here. 

Fringe aka Managing Multiplicity

If you’re fan of the show, you know Fringe (Fox, Thursdays, 9:00) can be fiendishly interesting.  

One of the pleasures of the show is the performance of Anna Torv (pictured).

Torv’s character Olivia exists in two, parallel worlds.  So Torv must play Olivia twice.  She must be the same person in both worlds, but the viewer also needs to see small, and telling, differences.

Managing two identities in this way makes the actress a little like the audience.  Many of us are called upon to manage several identities at once.  The differences can be small, but they must also be telling. 

Torv was recently asked about playing the same person twice.  You can hear in her answer some of the difficulty of the task.  But you also hear her voice some of the advantages of the postmodern self, the ability to slide across perspectives, to see oneself with new clarity.

Anna: I was so excited when it first came up, and then we’ve kicked in. I haven’t really had the chance to play the Ultimate Olivia properly for herself. It’s been our Olivia, thinking that she’s the Ultimate Olivia. Then, the Ultimate Olivia pretending to be our Olivia. It’s been a little bit tough to work that line. What has been interesting is how clearly I am now seeing Olivia, which I don’t think you get to do. You don’t get those opportunities where you actually get to step back and look at a character from a different perspective while playing her. Each of them has their own impression of the other that they haven’t met really properly.

So, it’s been tough, but fun. The differences are subtle there. They both ended up in the same job. They both ended up to the point where they even had the same partners. It’s just gentle little shifts. It’s been fun. I think all the guys that have had that chance would say the same. It’s been so fun to play on the other side, which does feel like, “Wow, this is a completely different energy.” Then, I get to pop back. I’ve loved it.

Those who have not seen Fringe might want to have a look.  Bill Gorman, at TV By The Numbers, said today the show’s in peril.   


Gorman, Bill. 2010. “Will Fringe Or Lie To Me Be Cancelled Or Renewed?.” TV By The Numbers. http://tvbythenumbers.com/2010/10/12/fox-fringe-new-season-same-bad-choice/67591 (Accessed October 13, 2010).

McCracken, Grant. 2008. Transformations: Identity Construction in Contemporary Culture. Indiana University Press http://www.amazon.com/Transformations-Identity-Construction-Contemporary-Culture/dp/0253219574/.  

Radish, Christina. 2010. “Anna Torv Interview FRINGE Season Three.” Collider, October 13 http://www.collider.com/2010/10/13/anna-torv-interview-fringe-season-three/#more-54255 (Accessed October 13, 2010).