Harry Brighouse reports secondhand that a British survey (of Radio Times readers) found that Hugh Laurie on House has the fourth-worst American accent by a British actor.
Commenter Matt McIrvin thinks things generally have improved:
There used to be a lot of British actors doing terrible American accents. You can hear them if you watch old sitcoms and Doctor Who serials from the sixties and seventies (the rocket pilot in “Tomb of the Cybermen” is a particularly choice example). Most of them seemed to be doing one of two accents. One was an outrageously exaggerated cowboy drawl used mostly for comic effect; but the other, used for non-cowboys, sounded sort of like an attempt to imitate the style of 1940s radio or newsreel narration—this rapid, somewhat nasal, loud barking patter that I’ve never heard any American use in actual conversation. I assume that acting classes were actually teaching it as a generic American accent.
Used to? For all my love of Inspector Morse, I don’t think any of the alleged “Americans” on that series ever managed to sound like an American—most sounded like a British person trying to imitate John Wayne and failing miserably because they weren’t John Wayne and no other American talks like him. More recently, the less said about the accents of any of the actors in Dalek during the first season of the Doctor Who revival, or the president they killed off last year, the better.
John Barrowman sounds like an American on Torchwood, but that’s largely because he is one. (The incongruity there is that nobody ever seems to be very bothered by the fact he’s running around Cardiff dressed like Bomber Harris and talking like an American, not even the people who ought to be predisposed to dislike Torchwood. Or Americans, for that matter, which may be an overlapping set.)
The news that the Duke-UNC game is available in high-definition on ESPNHD, but will be blacked out in Durham in favor of Jefferson Pilot’s craptacular standard definition broadcast (which, no doubt, will be poorly upconverted to HD on our CBS affiliate), has tipped the balance in favor of me watching House on Fox (in HD) at 9 rather than via TiVo delay.
This is one of those days I wish I were a Nielsen family.
OFJay has a couple of thoughts worth responding to:
Why is it that Trek fans absolutely, positively, demonizingly hate Voyager? It’s as if that show had no merit whatsover either as a Trek show or as a TV show. This inquiring mind would like to know.
I don’t know that fans necessarily “hate” Voyager, although most would probably have it tied with Enterprise for the nadir of televised Trek. I think the main problem with the series is that televised science fiction had “grown up” since The Next Generation came on the air, as more sophisticated shows like Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5 were out there, and Voyager quickly settled in as essentially redoing TNG with an inferior cast; its oft-discussed failure to deliver on its premise left it in the position of having less intelligent things to say about pushing the limits of Trekkian ideology than DS9 did in the comparatively “safe” confines of the Alpha Quadrant.
That said, there were lots of elements of Voyager that really worked, and some of the best hours of modern Trek were on the show. It just never added up to much of anything more. (This critique probably also applies to Enterprise.)
It’s been less than a month since the season ender for House but I sure miss that cranky doctor. And the “tall dark one,” the “little girl,” and the Aussie that “would run like a scared wombat.” Also Lisa Edelstein, who played a post-op transvestite in Ally McBeal and a real woman in the last season of The Practice. At least they’ve signed it on for a second season.
Indeed, despite the occasional gore (something I’m really averse to), House M.D. is probably my favorite network show these days. Greg House is probably the best unlikeable character on TV since at least early Andy Sipowicz, and possibly even Basil Fawlty. Add my thing for Sela Ward and you have must-see TV in the fall.