Television is a vast wasteland, according to Newton Minow.

Hearing voices

Posted: 09 April 2007 | posted by David J. Loehr |

Tomorrow's New York Times has an interesting article about the question of whether Americans automatically assume someone with a British accent is a brilliant actor.

The article deals with theatre, then film and finally television, and I quote critic Alessandra Stanley:

A case in point is “House,” the hit television series that obliges one of Britain’s best and funniest actors, Hugh Laurie, to lose his clipped Oxbridge cadence and imitate an American accent, which he does flawlessly. Yet Mr. Laurie’s chief asset is not his voice but his bravado.

He does it very well, but "flawlessly?" I've been watching and enjoying Mr. Laurie's work for more than twenty years now, and I do enjoy House in spite of its formula. (Having spent a good part of my life in Plainsboro, I'm amused by the setting. It's also fun to know what the hospital building is in reality.) And yes, his American voice has deepened and matured. But it's still a little too American, too flattened and overenunciated.

Maybe that's a silly criticism. Too American? The bravado, the commitment, the unflinching misanthropy, the art of discomfort, these are the keys to Laurie's performance, which is the point she's making. But to call his accent flawless, she's been taken in by the brilliance of his voice as well.