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Best of 2002: Movies, Books, Music.
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Saturday, October 12, 2002

Without an Accent
I’ve watched the first few episodes of Without a Trace, the show CBS has put in the post-CSI slot this season. It’s a missing persons show that focuses on reconstructing disappearances and finding the disappeared, combining CSI-style flashbacks/reconstructions and a Law and Order-style focus on process. It’s pretty compelling, even though most of the recurring characters are rather cold.

What interests me most, though, is that two of the five leads are foreigners playing American. Anthony LaPaglia is an Aussie who has played American characters many times (and his brother Jonathan was in what might be considered a quintessential late 20th century U.S. cop show, New York Undercover) and Marianne Jean-Baptiste, of Secrets and Lies fame, is a Brit. Lots of British actors move to America, but very few do American accents. Jean-Baptiste is pretty convincing in this part, partly perhaps because so far she’s been portrayed as a schlubby pants-wearing kind of G-woman, in sharp contrast to the blonde, beskirted agent who gets to have all the sexual tension with Anthony LaPaglia.

I’m sure it’s great to get work in a relatively high-profile series, and I’m happy to see her on-screen every Thursday night, but I miss her “real” voice, and I certainly miss her smile. And it’s a sad commentary on American television that the actress with the Oscar nomination has the least exciting role in the entire show.