I was watching a snippet of “Bagdad Cafe” (1987) on television today and thinking about all the amazing films from the 80’s and 90’s that take place in waste lands ….films that offer great character studies while utilizing a hopeless and relentless landscape. “Gas, Food, Lodging” (1992), “Smoke Signals” (1998), Mad Max (1979), Tank Girl (1995). Yes, it would make an interesting bit of conversation ….and yet, I can’t help but also link to the actors that just fill up the screen or make a show you like into something you must watch. CCH Pounder is an actor that takes whatever she is in to that level.

From Films:

Bagdad Cafe (1987 Directed by Percy Aldon) – beautifully done, a friendship, a love affair, and a desert landscape….plus Jack Palance. Truly entertaining.

Benny & Joon (1993 Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik) – Watch for Aidan Quinn and Johnny Depp but be amused by moments from CCH Pounder, Oliver Platt and William H. Macy.

End of Days (1999 Directed by Peter Hyams) – Not great, but fun.

On Television:

The Shield (2002 – 2008) – A show that took the changing elements of cop drama to a whole new level. Anti-hero to criminal element you are never sure who is who or what is what but you always want to find out. As Claudette Wyms, Ms. Pounder shows her depth and emotional range as much of her characterization comes from quick glances and thoughtful moments. While much of the focus of the show is on Vic Mackey (played brilliantly by Michael Chiklis), its the honorable intelligence of Wyms relationship with her fellow cops that makes this show stand out.

Sons of Anarchy (Season 6 -7, 2013-14) – For me, no offense Kurt Sutter you are brilliant, the show took a “I’m not in this anymore’ turn with the death of Clay Morrow last of the first nine. It started to feel like it was wrapping up. Which was really a shame since CCH Pounder’s character as the hard hitting attorney could have pulled from the absence of Eli Roosevelt (Rockmund Dunbar) and Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff) as the town of Charming’s moral center. It may seem like a waste to cast her knowing it was the end, but it was actually brilliant. With so many MANY amazing guest actors, who better to throw in this mix than a great character actor able to withstand the onslaught of emotional endings?

NCIS: New Orleans (2015-) ooohhhh The NCIS franchise has missed a golden opportunity here and hopefully it will work things out. While all of the shows have concentrated on good old boy friendships and a archtype leader (male, filled with angst, a dodgy emotional past just waiting to be loved), they have in their cast the perfect opportunity to build on two great actors and a stylized show that could use a twist. Its time to let CCH Pounder be the star as she and Scott Bakula take this otherwise drab program set in an exciting city to a new level. He can still be an equal ‘star’ but lets move a tiny bit from the male driving forensic drama to the character driven long lasting show. There could be a new niche here and Pounder with Bakula could be a team to bring it forward.