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Lauren Ambrose Faces Denis O'Hare In The Battle Of The Ultimate Law & Order Rotating Players

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So I was going to insist on Michael O'Keefe, but then I actually looked him up, and the Lonegan brothers is the only time he was on Original Recipe, apparently! But he has been on SVU and CI twice each.

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"I've got to jettison two of Ambrose's off the bat. "Skin Deep" is from Season 3, and everyone knows that the years before the full-time female cast members arrived are not that essential. (Or, at least, I know that. You are free to disagree.) "

I disagree. And you're joking, aren't you? What a crazy way to dismiss the difficult work an actor does, and the terrific writing, regardless of the gender balance in the cast. Exhibit One: the mother-daughter work of Claire Danes and Alberta Watson (who later played a defense attorney opposite Sam Waterson) in "Skin Deep." It's worth a whole column in itself. There are dozens of other examples, including Noth's first episode in Season 2 (for acting and writing), and S. Epatha Merkerson, playing the most convincingly bereaved mother in all of L&O in Season 1.

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Oh "Pro Se." I honestly don't get why we were supposed to feel sorry for Denis O'Hare's character. Sick or not, the fact that he decided to represent himself and put his victims through that indignity speaks volumes about him.

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Pro Se broke my heart the first time I saw it; as O'Hare disintegrates and you can see he knows it's happening. When his sister is weepingly testifying about how heartbroken she is over his pain and how she's spent years knowing something terrible was going to happen, it hits him, so quietly, for the first time, what he's done. That this isn't about him and his desperate attempt to salvage something from his life--it's about all those lives he snuffed out or ruined, in the throes of a madness he can't, and/or won't, control.

The portrait of loss and waste is so traumatizing, and not at the expense or belittlement of the victims--it's just a heath of pain, that he's roaming over like Lear. Shattering.

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How can you overlook my favorite of all time, and superb in at least 3 episodes, Bruce MacVittie? Seriously.

 

He was also in two episodes of CI. The man seemed to be all over the franchise.

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I'm with Snookums on "Pro Se." At the beginning, you can't imagine feeling sorry for O'Hare's character, but the final courtroom scene is so sad. And Shawn Elliott, as Judge Rivera, has one of my favorite micro-moments: his voice breaks as he adjourns. So good, and he could easily have passed that moment by.

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