Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Robson Arms III: Things I like about Episode One.
1) John Cassini's performance.
For me, the character of Yuri is at his best when he doesn't know what the hell is going on. He's not the brightest guy, he's a bit of a jerk... but he doesn't see himself that way. Yuri sees himself as the guy who's got every angel covered, he's tough but fair. If anything, he's too easy on people, a bit of a soft touch.
In Gila Monster Yuri discovers how wrong he is.
I think one of the reasons the Robson Arms writers keep coming back to Yuri is that his usual state is as a guy whose world is constantly crumbling beneath him and he's always struggling to get on top of things. Yuri is most fun to write when he's failing.
In episode one, though many eyes will be drawn to the talented Dave Foley, for me it's Cassini that captures and shares the soul of a man who discovers he's not as smart or as tough as he thinks he is. It's a vulnerable and brilliant performance.
2) Nothing is written in stone.
Do the writers know how the season will end when they start writing the first episode? We think we do. I mean, there's a plan. But to be honest we're not even sure which episode will be the last episode or which will be the first. For example this year: "Geeks in Love," "Mean Girls" and "The Prince of Nigeria" were all written long before we knew the building had been bought by Americans.
But it's not just imagination that shapes the season. Real life gets in the way too! In this case we discovered well into writing that certain actors were unavailable. Some wouldn't be coming back and others couldn't come back... Which brings me to the another thing I like about episode one: the episode ends where other series' seasons end.
Okay, that might be overstating it a little. But here's the thing: even though the writers' can't take credit for "the why" of certain events, I think we did our best to turn a practical production problem into an opportunity for story. It's a terrifying and fun part of the job.
Watch it and maybe you'll see what I'm talking about. Or maybe it'll appear to be a surprising but inevitable turn in a character's journey. Here's hoping.