Some Kind of Magic

An article (“Some Kind Of Magic”) on talks about on-screen chemistry that keeps viewers coming back. Some have it, some don’t. While most of the article is the usual (Australian-orientated) stuff – I disctinctly remember Moonlighting – I’ll quote a couple of points that I found interesting:

“The X-Files was a classic for that,” says Seven’s John Holmes. “I remember years ago talking to someone in a bar and them saying, ‘Did you see last night’s episode? She touched his hand!'”

The X-Files is one of those touchstones of the ilk. Besides its pop culture influence, the chemistry between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson was so strong that even when the show got completely ludicrous, we watched. After years of being promised answers and then being frustrated by the lack of them, and even though I really like Robert Patrick, once Duchovny left and Anderson’s role diminished I stopped watching. It just wasn’t The X-Files anymore.

Castle, starring two perfectly charming actors, Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, are clearly supposed to be experiencing the kind of URST (UnResolved Sexual Tension) that will lift the show from a pedestrian crime drama (which it is) to tantalising appointment viewing (which it isn’t). He’s a raffish crime novelist, she’s a straight-up police detective. All the pieces are in place. But the writers and director are so desperately keen for us to buy the sexual tension they’ve managed to almost extinguish it.

SPOT ON! So many people around the ‘net are raving about this show, but when I watched the first couple of episodes I felt the relationship between the two was very flat. Nathan Fillion is great, of course, and possibly Stana Katic would be too given time, but you could positively feel the manipulation behind the scenes. You could almost hear the producers rubbing their hands, saying “We’ll give these two characters unresolved sexual tension! That’ll bring them in!” To my mind, it just doesn’t work. Fillion is worth a lead role in a series, but he needs better writing than this. Firefly was awesome not just because of the writing, but there was real chemistry between the actors that wasn’t forced.

Mad About You Pre-Seinfeld, this was the original show about nothing: a couple of newlyweds kinda figuring things out. It was the magic between Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser that kept us watching.

My wife and I loved this show, right up to the point where they had a baby. Then the show turned from “a couple… figuring things out” to “a couple figuring out a baby” and at the time, that’s not something we identified with. Following the baby, we also felt that Jamie (Helen Hunt) became quite a shrill, demanding woman. Paul Reiser is worth his weight in gold in any project (just see what he does with his small but pivotal role in Aliens – such a likable guy cast as a neo-villian!) but even his appeal couldn’t hold the show together.

Great chemistry keeps an audience watching even when the show goes a little bit off the rails. We want to see those small character interactions, those glances or touches over which we linger.

So what other shows can people think of that had great chemistry?