Ioan Gruffudd

Ioan Gruffudd’s Classy Farewell to Forever

It is just not a good week for my TV shows. Wednesday brought news of The Mindy Project’s cancellation, and now another blow has been dealt: ABC has cancelled Forever.

Forever was certainly not the best show on television, but it was original. It also happened to star an underrated favorite actor of mine, Ioan Gruffudd (Yo-an Griffith—it’s Welsh. For more on the man himself, see my gushing post here.)

Ioan is an actor you might recognize but not know why. If you’ve ever seen Titanic (which, considering how many times TBS/TNT/USA/AMC play it throughout the year, it’s impossible not to), he’s the young ship mate with the moral conscious who returns to the sea of bodies to help find any alive ones. His main line, “Is anyone alive out there? Can anyone hear me?” (If you haven’t already, I suggest you take a cruise and bellow this from the deck’s railing. It’s not as morbid as it sounds. I don’t think.) If not for Ioan, Rose would have been lost! There would have been no “Come back! Jack! Come back, Jack!” moment, and that would have been a real loss in greatest cinematic tearjerker moments.

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                                                      “I saved Kate Winslet, don’t you get that?”

Ioan’s also been in a slew of other TV shows and films, and even had the starring role in Fantastic Four back in 2005 and 2007. And yet his career has just never seemed to take off. Perhaps it’s because he comes across as a little too earnest and eager-to-please—he does practically seem angelic. Maybe he needs a little bit more edge, like Castle or hec even Alicia Florick of The Good Wife. Instead his characters always seem just too perfect and kind-hearted. And I think we prefer a bit more conflict within our characters to add to the relatability factor.

On Forever, Ioan played Dr. Henry Morgan, a man who cannot die and has experienced death and resurrection so many times that he knows more about it than any normal, takes-just-one-death-to-kill-me man. His extensive knowledge of death leads him to team up with the NYC homicide department to solve murders. The show focused on Henry’s life in the modern world and his parallel experiences in past lives, which allowed for a flashback in almost every episode, whether it was to 1954 or 1872. It’s probably these flashbacks that killed the show. While they had the promise of being interesting, instead they played out in an almost farcical-manner. A milky film would cover the screen, as if the show was trying to achieve the glow of a 1940s MGM film. And Henry’s past somehow interrupted his present a little too conveniently. That old wealthy patron of the museum who just died? Henry knew her in the 1950s. That saxophone player whose son died? He just happened to teach Henry’s son to play jazz on the piano in the 1960s. It became formulaic quickly.

A flashback with Henry's wife highlights that milky glow.

                        A flashback with Henry’s wife highlights that milky glow.

Yet for once it was as if Ioan and a character aligned perfectly. Earnest Ioan worked as Henry because Henry was often too earnest as well, too quick to excitement and then concern for others. He was also just a tad bit cheesy, and it all worked, actor-to-character wise. The chemistry between Ioan and his co-star Alana de la Garza was there, too. Was she perfectly cast as a skeptic cop? No, not quite, but her having a soft spot for the eccentric Henry fit. And Judd Hirsch as Henry’s adopted son (who aged normally into an 85-year-old man unlike his pops) was a loveable antiques-collector with a lady’s man streak. The storylines may not have been the best, but the cast itself kept me watching.

Look at these two! They just work!

                                        Look at these two! They just work!

The show’s best quality was the underused Burn Gorman as a Henry-stalking creeptastic psychiatrist. With the same inability to die as Henry, Gorman brought some much-needed level of discomfort to the show. When everything gets tied up into a bow at the end of each episode, it’s not much to compel people to tune in next week. Episodes with Gorman made your spine tingle, but his sporatic appearances were frustrating and too far apart to make much of an impact.

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                          You creeped me the f*ck out, but I needed more of you.

I suppose I should stop spouting on about the show now and come to the real reason I wanted to write about its cancellation. It turns out Ioan is just as poetic in real life as he was as Dr. Henry Morgan on the show (which just seems fitting). Rather than release a quick statement expressing disappointment and a tidbit of appreciation, Ioan posted the below message to the show’s fans on his Instagram page, and it merits sharing:

“My dear friends, fans, supporters.

Tonight, as you all now know, I received a phone call that I was hoping not to receive, and to be honest I really wasn’t expecting it. I knew the numbers hadn’t been great, but I also knew the studio and the network both loved the show, and of course that it had an incredible fan base…so I thought we were in with a pretty good chance.

But sadly no, this time the cards weren’t dealt in our favor. Show business is like that. Hell, life is like that. You ride to the top of the wave and then you come crashing down again. I asked Alice to send out the sad news because I was a little bit shaken up and needed time to gather my thoughts.

So I sat down and started reading the thousands of Tweets in response to the announcement. And the more I read, the more I couldn’t believe it. The love, the sense of solidarity, the hope, the kindness, the support. Not just for the show, but for each other. And slowly I began to focus on what we had gained in the past year, rather than what we had lost in the last five minutes. I was overcome by a sense of gratitude. To have met you all and to have you all rooting for me and the show. At having a chance to play the role of my dreams, even if it was only for a year. To have been given the chance to bring Henry to life.

Watching the interaction of the FOREVER fans come together and share their love for the show has been breath-taking. It was you guys who held me up when I thought I could no longer go on. (Those days were LONG!) You made me smile when you pointed out the little things I did on screen that I thought had gone unnoticed. You gave me confidence when I accidentally found myself reading less than shining reviews. You were always with me, every step of the way, waving your flags, shouting your support for the show. It’s been an incredible, wonderful year, one that I will never, ever forget.

And guess what? The memories belong to us. We get to keep them ‘forever!’ Thanks again a million times for your unwavering support. Stay strong, be brave, and show kindness as often as you can!
Ioan xxx”

There’s a lot to like about this letter, but my favorite part is, “Slowly I began to focus on what we had gained in the past year, rather than what we had lost in the last five minutes.” It’s a great message from Ioan, and a great message for life. So quickly the bad things become all-encompassing, completely cancelling out anything good that may have led up to them. It’s a reminder to not get consumed by the bad, but to focus on all the overwhelming amount of good you’ve had that in the grand scheme of things, trumps the negative. It just works that Ioan would post something so Henry-sounding at the show’s end. He’s a rarity in an industry fueled by egos and self-serving behavior. He’s a classy man, more 1940s than 2015 (again, perfect casting).

I think Ioan may have been a sought-after star, sort of the moral compass Gregory Peck type, if he had been around in a different era. But in 2015, he’s an unusual sort, too good to be a layered leading man and too handsome to be cast as a secondary character, leaving casting directors at a loss for what to do with him. Forever may not have worked out for him, but if his letter is any indication, he’s certainly worthy of another chance. Here’s hoping some household-name success comes to him soon. If only so I can stop telling everyone how to pronounce his name properly. Now that would be some good.

Forever

           Good bye to this odd couple that somehow worked perfectly. I’ll miss you guys.

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Pop & Culture in 2014: A Year in Random Review

2014 has been an odd year. I started this blog. I wrote in this blog. I didn’t write in this blog. Now I’m writing in it again.

A whirlwind, am I right?

If you were to ask me my favorite pop culture moment from the past year, I’d have to say…well, honestly, I’d have to say I have no idea because who can be expected to remember everything that’s happened since January? Ellen hosting the Oscars was fun. Pizza will never be the same now that I’ve seen a pic of Brad Pitt in a tuxedo eating a slice. I really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy, which I really did not see coming. And I suppose most recently Into the Woods has been a real bright spot. Who knew Emily Blunt had such singing skills?

TV, though. TV was a big year. (Well, not Mad Men. Just end already, will you? You’re like the great aunt who can’t stop telling “wonderful” stories that we’re all sleeping through.) Game of Thrones–you killed so many people this season that you might as well have killed me. The SHOCK VALUE. You’ve inspired me to even pick up those Bible-sized George R. R. Martin books, although I think I’m regretting it. And might I say that little Ioan Gruffudd show Forever I mentioned a ways back has actually turned out to be not half bad? The immortal doctor plot with a little bit of sadistic stalker thrown in has really surprised me. I knew Ioan would be hot in it, but I didn’t know the plot would be hot, too.

The Mindy Project has been running strong this season, and even New Girl seems to have FINALLY gotten its groove back. I’m pretty sure that’s mostly thanks to the arrival of Wren from Pretty Little Liars (don’t ask me what his real name is, he’s just the hot British guy from PLL, okay?). Snooki and Jwoww has also had an excellent season. I see you judging me. I’m okay with that. The Frozen storyline on Once Upon a Time actually worked pretty well (I was kind of dreading it, but no word of Let it Go was ever spoken). Orange is the New Black even kicked some major butt in season 2. The violence was up as well as the accompanying rushes of adrenaline every time Lorraine Toussaint entered the scene, making for some major adrenaline-filled episodes. I’ve also discovered Homeland and The Good Wife, so I’m slowly catching up with the rest of the world. . …wow, who knew there was so much pop culture stuff in my head?

As for pop culture lows, oh, I don’t know. It was so difficult to remember the highs! Although, I must admit I dozed through most of The Grand Budapest Hotel and I cringed through all of Jersey Boys. Which is a real shame, because it’s my favorite Broadway show. It was like a parody of Moonstruck and Goodfellas had been melded together on the set of Disney’s Main Street, USA, when what I was hoping for was American Graffiti crossed with, well, the real Goodfellas. And I can’t say House of Cards Season 2 thrilled me all that much this year. Was the purpose of it to make the viewer feel like an idiot? In which case, it did succeed. All the hacking business was definitely rude. The last thing we need is for people to rally to James Franco’s and Seth Rogen’s cause. Don’t the two of them have enough money by now to just retire?

Wow! I wrote so much! Props to me! Yes, I support self-praise on one’s own blog. You should try it.

Here’s hoping 2015 will be just as interesting. And by that, I mean I hope George Clooney becomes a father and that Cinderella movie is hella awesome. By the way, do you think any of the Back to the Future: Part II predictions will come true? Because I’m still waiting on that flying skateboard…

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Ioan Gruffudd Is the Star of ABC’s Forever (And Why You Should Care)

For those of you who don’t know me well, which is almost all of you, you would not know that I am and have been in love with the actor Ioan Grufford for over half my life. When did the obsession begin?

The year was 1997, and Ioan delivered an Oscar-winning performance as 5th Officer Harold Lowe in James Cameron’s Titanic. (This is my blog, so I can use as much hyperbole as I’d like.) From that point on, every time I saw Ioan was in something new, I swooned a little and thought to myself, “This is the year he will be a household name.” (Name is pronounced “YO-an GRIH-fith” by the way. He’s Welsh. Which adds to his hotness by 100,000,000.)

The reason I’m making sure you’re well acquainted with Ioan’s wonderfulness is because he is getting his own show on ABC called Forever (premieres Sept. 23 at 10pm). Ioan plays a NYC medical examiner with years, nay, centuries of medical knowledge. Ioan’s character Dr. Henry Morgan cannot die, and so has accumulated his knowledge over a span of lifetimes. So we’ve got science, doctors, the undead, NYC, and Ioan’s face–is this not the most perfect combo you have ever heard?

In doubt that ABC has made a mistake? I provide photographic evidence that this is their best casting decision in years.

1) Part one: Do you still yell “Is anyone alive out there? Can anyone hear me?” every time you’re on a giant ocean liner crossing from England to New York? Yeah, it’s cause o’ this guy.

Ioan plays the only officer to return to the site of the Titanic’s sinking in search of survivors. Rose would be dead without this lad.

2) Ioan steals hearts as Kevin Sheperd in 102 Dalmatians. Haven’t seen it? Get to it!

Note Ioan’s beautiful smile as he grins adoringly on his sea of dalmatians.

*Of important note: Ioan’s co-star Alice Evans was so smitten by the man that she married him.

3) He played Lancelot and women everywhere totally got why Guinevere would pick him over King Arthur.

The movie King Arthur should have been called Ioan Grufford: Hot One, but it lost by one vote.

4) Ioan is so dashingly handsome he was chosen to play Mr. Fantastic in the Fantastic Four franchise.

If you don’t find him handsome here, there is something wrong with you.

5) Next up Ioan wowed the world (ie: me, his world) when he fought for the end of slavery as William Wilberforce in Amazing Grace. 

Fighting for justice is the ultimate token of hotness.

6) Then he was in the show Ringer with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but his hotness was too much for the CW to handle.

“I’m breaking up with you because my looks are meant for a bigger network.”

7) But have no fear, because ABC has heard our (my) cries and has granted him Forever, which, if there is a god, will last forever, so we never have to miss Ioan’s beautiful face ever again.

I am Ioan, and I am beautiful.

8) Watch the trailer as many times as you need to convince yourself all I’ve said is true: