On the 3rd day of Festivus, TV gave to me... - VIDEOS
by Allison Waldman, posted Dec 21st 2008 12:26PM
...three Zachs for viewing.
Perhaps it's just coincidence, but right now our TV world has a trio of superb young actors in very different programs and they're all named Zach. Coincidence or the fact that the year they were born, Zachary was a really popular name for baby boys? Whatever, the bottom line is that Zach Braff, Zachary Levi, and Zachary Quinto are terrific and Scrubs, Chuck and Heroes, respectively, wouldn't be the same without them.
What's really interesting about these three Zachs, beside the fact that they all share the same first name, is that they could probably all play each other's roles -- even though it's hard to imagine Braff or Levi as evil, they're good enough to do it. And Zachary Quinto has done the nerdy, computer guy when he was on 24.
It's interesting, but if you squint a little and tilt your head, they all could look like they're brothers. However, while the Three Zs may pass as the Three Amigos if you put them in sombreros, they are definitely making the TV world a much happier landscape.
1. Zach Braff, Scrubs
There's a fine line between playing goofy and being goofy. Zach Braff toes the line just right. As J.D. on Scrubs, he's found the right balance. He can pull off all the wild, fantasy stuff, the flights of fancy and audacious chicanery, and still make those real moments emotional and true. You believe that despite his childishness -- shared by Turk -- he's very much a grown up and knows what's what. When I say that Zach has made J.D. not unlike Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H, I'm paying him a compliment. And in some ways, Scrubs has a better handle on the sap factor. Here's a look at the upcoming season when the show switches to ABC:
This is likely the last year of Scrubs for Zach. He's already proven himself as a writer and director outside the sitcom field. His indie hit Garden State also showed that he's not a one-trick pony. He's destined to do many more memorable shows and films in his time. And thanks to syndication and cable and DVD sets, he'll be forever in his 20's as Dr. John Dorian of Sacred Heart.
2. Zachary Levi, Chuck
Is it right that I love the character of Chuck Bartowski because he's a lovable, sweet doofus and I think he's a lot like Zachary Levi? Am I being unfair to the actor, confusing the role with the portrayer? Hmm...perhaps not. Watch this video and you'll see, as I did, that Chuck and Zach are two peas in a pod:
Zachary Levi as Chuck is truly a Hitchcockian character: the guy who is in the wrong place at the wrong time. In Chuck's case, that wrong man thing resulted in him becoming the Intersect and now he's up to his neck in espionage. The action and the cool blonde make the danger worthwhile, most of the time, but Zach Levi never lets Chuck lose his humanity. He may put on the Charles Carmichael guise when needed, but ultimately, he's just Chuck. And that's thanks to Zach Levi.
To really appreciate what Zach is doing on Chuck, take a look back at Less Than Perfect, the ABC sitcom in which he played Kipp Steadman. Kip would have hated Chuck. He would have mocked him and dissed him and generally made Chuck's life a joke. Same actor; two different characters. Take a look (and by the way, ABC should have stuck with this show -- look at the talent in that cast, and it was funny!):
3. Zachary Quinto, Sylar, Heroes
As Sylar, Zachary Quinto is a very scary guy. He completely inhabits that character to the point that if I were to meet him and he pointed his right hand at me, I'd duck. I'd be afraid that he'd be slicing off the top of my head to get at my brain! Seriously, Zachary Quinto has emerged as the breakout star of Heroes, which is saying a lot considering how big a cast of really great actors involved.
But Zachary's Sylar is the villain of all villains, and what makes him work so well is that he's torn about his evil nature. I compare Sylar to Barnabus on Dark Shadows; remember the way Jonathan Frid played him? He didn't want to be a vampire. He fought the monster inside him, and so does Sylar. But to make that work and make viewers care, that's Zachary Quinto. I want to like Sylar. I fear him, but I want to like him.
Of course, you can't talk about Zach Q. without mentioning Spock. I love that he admits that he campaigned for the role in the new J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. I have faith that he's going to capture the Nimoyism of Spock and yet still make him his own creation. Here's a look at Zachary talking about both Sylar and Spock:
Four impressions we'll be missin'
Five cancelled shows
Six shows you should be watchin'
Seven shows a-thrivin'
Eight stars a-shinin'
Nine foreign Americans
Ten shows on DVD
Eleven babes worth watchin'
Twelve shows a-stinkin'