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Chris Vance

Image Credit: Chris Vance as Frank Martin in Transporter: The Series. Photo Credit: Courtesy of TNT

Let's put Chris Vance back in the driver's seat

As we get excited for actors starring in new TV shows, there’s one person I’d like to see back as a series lead: Chris Vance.

Vance sort of circles around television like a shark. He’s always around, then pops up to take a bite out of whatever show he makes more watchable with his presence, and when he’s done, he moves onto the next role. You never quite know where he’s going to turn up next. But you do always know that it’s going to be good. Which makes it all the more disappointing that he hasn’t had the right opportunity to lead another series. He more than deserves to be front and center.

He spent this past TV season on Supergirl, where he appeared in nine episodes as the Kryptonian antagonist Non. It was an intriguing turn for him to be on one of last fall’s most anticipated new shows for nearly half the season. But playing a DC Comics supervillain just didn’t feel like the best fit for Vance, who was capable of so many other things than delivering menacing threats and choking people. As much fun as Supergirl was, it just made us miss him on TV even more.

If you really want to see what Vance is capable of, you have to take a few steps back. Start with Mental, his first time being number one on the call sheet. That show could’ve easily been mishandled as “House in a psychiatric hospital” (it was even on the same network). But Vance kept it grounded with his performance as Dr. Jack Gallagher. Jack had a lightness to his character that drew audiences in; it was impossible not to love his wit and his honest enthusiasm.

Rather than reduce the character to just a wisecracking guy, Vance was brilliant at conveying the layers beneath Jack’s eternal optimism. He wasn’t just funny to be funny; we understood why humor was such a big part of his approach and how his heart was what drove him, as well as what kept him up at night. It was an incredibly nuanced portrayal that made Mental a much better show than it was ever given credit for.

It took three more years until he got another leading opportunity with Transporter: The Series. But what he was able to do with Frank Martin made it worth the wait. He transformed himself into an action hero, taking down terrorists every week with style, panache, and sometimes, kitchen appliances. Again, he gave the role the substance that it deserved. Portraying a real action hero is about more than punching someone and getting the girl. By virtue of the television format, Vance was able to explore Frank Martin in ways Jason Statham didn’t get to, and create a rich version of the character who was clearly differentiated from the film character.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen Vance do pretty much everything across the TV spectrum. He’s played an alien supervillain and a very human hero; he’s been in a comic book adaptation and a film adaptation; he’s done comedy, drama, action, and sometimes mixed all of those genres within the same scene. He’s versatile, obviously hard-working, charismatic, and good-looking. So how is it that nobody has found another vehicle to make him the deserved star of the show?

There are certainly plenty of possibilities. It would be fantastic to see him as a sort of roguish hero, akin to a modern-day Thomas Magnum or Jim Rockford, working as a private investigator to handle all sorts of quirky cases while trading witty banter with law enforcement and his long-suffering sidekick. Or if TV ever properly remakes The Equalizer, Vance would be my first choice. He’s 11 years younger than Edward Woodward was when Woodward originated the role of Robert McCall, but you can’t tell me that Vance wouldn’t be amazing driving that Jaguar and laying down vigilante justice on the streets of New York.

The ideas are there, and Vance has demonstrated that he has the capabilities to carry them off. We just need someone to come up with the right idea and to cast him as their leading man.

Frankly, TV would be better off if they did. Television is full of extraordinary talents who work their tails off, and for various reasons, don’t get the chance they should to take center stage. Chris Vance is one of those people. If you’ve had the pleasure of watching him over the years, you’ve seen how he’s livened up every show he’s been on. Whether he’s saving the world or trying to take it over, he’s always a star. And when he’s gotten to lead a show, that star has positively shined. It’s time to give him another series of his own so that we can enjoy what he’s capable of on a weekly basis. He’s just too good to see only every now and then.

Mental, Transporter: The Series, and Supergirl are all available on DVD.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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