The Boyfriend of the Week

March 26, 2004

A month or so ago, I started working on a "Without a Trace" series, beginning with series star Anthony LaPaglia. At the time, I intended to keep going with the series and feature a few others from the show right away. Somehow, though, as so often happens in my chaotic world, I ended up sidetracked. For a really long time! And for this, I think I have to blame the whole rerun thing. You know how February is a sweeps month, right? So the networks bombard us with great new episodes of our favorite shows for four straight weeks, getting us all crazy and in love with characters and then March rolls around and BAM! All of a sudden, you're stuck twiddling your thumbs waiting for the television executives to bring their networks back to life. By about this time each spring, I start to get pathetically whiny during primetime. I start pacing around the living room muttering things like "How do they expect me to REMEMBER every thing that's happened on '24' if they're just going to put it on hiatus for six weeks right in the middle of the storyline? Bastards! And don't even TALK to me about 'ER.' I'll be lucky if I remember what Goran Visnjic even looks like at this point! And I cannot BELIEVE Monk's season is already over! THIS SUCKS! SUCKS SUCKS SUCKITY SUCKS! SUCKVILLE, USA! SUCKTERIAC FROM PLANET SUCKATRON! SUUUUUUUUUUUCKS!!!!"

Right about the time I hit the "Planet Suckatron" line, my husband gets up and leaves the room.

But, anyway, I figured that since the soul-sucking (SUUUUUUCKS!) vortex we call March is nearly over, and the wonderment-inspiring sweeps month of May is rapidly approaching (as is the next season of "Monk," by the way -- the USA execs have decided to bump its premiere up to June, yay!), I ought to bring us all back into focus by returning to that ol' "Without a Trace" series and wrapping that puppy up.

So, for your reading, viewing, and suckatronic pleasure, I now present Enrique Murciano.

Now, I have to confess something to you. When I first started watching "Without a Trace," I thought Enrique was kind of funny looking. Or, more specifically, I thought his mouth was kind of funny looking. And that mouth combined with those little ears that sort of stick out kinda made him look a little on the dorky side. When it came to Boyfriend material, I was thinking much more along the lines of Anthony LaPaglia and/or Eric Close. The serious-looking guys. The "handsome" guys. And, while I'm purging my soul, I should also tell you that it wasn't really until this season that I started to get serious about watching the show anyway. It's on opposite "ER," which I've been a fan of since the beginning, so last season, I only caught a few episodes in reruns, or ones my Mom had taped for me kind of randomly.

This season, however, every episode of "ER" has made me think of, aptly, sucking chest wounds (SUUUUUUUUCK!). What do I mean by that? I mean that the show this season is horrible, occasionally torturously bad, losing all the life it ever had, oozing hemoglobin all over the place. And yet, I feel like one of those doctors who keeps doing CPR for an hour, desperate for a revival, pressing on until my doctor friend finally reaches over, touches my arm, and whispers compassionately, "He's gone." Then I stop, pull my gloves off in a frustrated, angry manner, and pronounce "Time of death: 10:05pm" as I storm out of the room, fighting back extremely dramatic tears.

And yes, there have been some plotlines, and particularly some new characters, that I have really been enjoying. But on the whole, the show is exuding painful desperation this season. I think it knows it's nearing the end of its long, extremely popular run. And that nobody is ready for it, and they're all grasping furiously at anything they can find to try to keep the end from getting any closer. I wouldn't recommend emailing to argue with me about this, by the way, because once you get me started, I will never stop. And it's not gonna be pretty. Don't make me make you cry!

Anyway, the point of this tangent? Now that "ER" is losing steam, I've been finding myself much more interested in the competition. I started having my Mom tape "Without a Trace" every week for me this season (so I can still tape "Sucking Chest Wound" -- I just can't let it go yet). And boy am I glad she's nice enough to do it! Because this show kicks arse. To be honest, I'm starting to think that when "ER" finally goes to that TV series heaven in the sky, I'll be so distracted by WaT that I won't even notice.

Okay, that's not exactly true. I do still have a whopping crush on Goran Visnjic and Noah Wyle, after all. . .

Enrique, as fans of the show are aware, plays one of the younger Feebs who works in the missing persons unit under the unit's Yoda, played by Anthony. What I really like about this show is that it gives us the perfect balance of plot versus personal character information. The plot is always the strongest focus, but occasionally, smoothly, the plot will cross with one of the characters in a such a way that something deeper about that character is revealed. This is something "CSI" has always done well too (except for that whole plotline from last season about Gil's hearing problem -- that was so unnecessary, an opinion wholly validated by the fact it's all but forgotten this season). It never crosses the line into "soap opera," the way ER often has, but it's not the cold, characterless program that "CSI:Yawn City" is either. (Incidentally, speaking of CSI, did you guys hear that there is going to be a third one next year? "CSI: New York" starring Gary Sinese (woo!) and Melina Kanakaredes (double woo!). Sounds promising!)

In fact, the episode that made me fall hard for Enrique was just on a few weeks ago and is the perfect example of what I'm talking about. It was the one in which we got to learn a little bit about his character Danny Taylor's own past -- his brother in prison, his abusive father -- when the facts of a case he was trying to solve hit a little too close to home. I can't explain, really, why this got me all woozy over him. But I guess it has something to do with the the way Enrique has managed to carry that background pain all along, since the beginning of the series, really, putting it into his character so subtly and with such control, that when the truth about his past finally emerged, it was like a revelation.

All along there have been little signs that his character was haunted by something in his past. In retrospect, several scenes and nuances came back to me in a kind of "Aha!" moment. For example, there was an episode last season involving a runaway girl that offered a little glimpse of this history too. And what amazes me the most about Enrique the actor is that he was able to take this character -- probably with no more information about the character's past than we have at this point -- and somehow manage to put that hurt in exactly the right spot. It wasn't the heavy, fakey, mopiness that a lesser actor like Keanu Reeves will use to signify "I'm hurting" (no offense, Keanu-baby, but you should really stick with action thrillers). It wasn't a permanent crease in his brow, or a "life sucks" way of carrying his body or speaking, a la David Caruso in "CSI: Yawn City." It was something you could pick up on, but not really be sure was actually there. You know what I mean? It's like someone said at the start of the series, "Your character had a rough childhood" and he took that information and turned it into emotions so real, and so small at times, that it was both a surprise to find out the truth and not surprising at all.

I can't explain this right. I'm probably overanalyzing it, too. But hey, I'm trying to make it sound like my sole motivation for featuring Enrique isn't the fact that he's DAMN CUTE and that he's Latino and that I have a little thing for Latin men. In an attempt to sound deep, I think I may have instead managed to sound completely ridiculous (and not for the first time either). So, okay, here's the real reason I'm featuring Enrique Murciano: yes, he's very very talented. But hey, so are many actors out there! How many of them, though, have cute little ears that stick out and a sexy little mouth that just makes your own lips kind of twitchy with yearning.

Yes, ladies. What I'm trying to say is that Enrique Murciano makes my lips all twitchy.

'Nuff said.

Well, and one more thing: the truth is I absolutely LOVE dorky guys. I don't know why I forgot about that lifelong affection when I first saw "Without a Trace" and thought Anthony or Eric would make the better Boyfriend material. I was out of my mind at the time; I plead temporary insanity. Because I LOVE dorks. Seriously, crazily, deeply love them. I love love love love love LOVE them. In fact, I Loveteriac-from-Planet-Loveatron them. Looooooove them!

The distressing thing about Enrique Murciano, though, is that while he's been in show biz for awhile, albeit with small parts up until now, there aren't very many fan sites out there about him. What's up with that, you guys? So, for the second week in a row, my biographical section is a bit on the anorexic side. Or maybe it's on the bulimic side. Or, wait, I think it's actually on the Atkins Diet side. Except, hold on, the Atkins Diet is very meaty, and my biographical section is very not, so, I guess it's more on the vegetarian side. Possibly even the vegan side. Rice and beans, baby, rice and beans.

One web site said Enrique Murciano was born in Cuba, but the IMDB and CBS say his birthplace was Miami, Florida, so let's go with that one. Luckily, they all seem to agree that the date was July 9, 1973 (a good year for cute people -- I was born that December). Enrique originally wanted to be a lawyer, going to Tulane University and then Boston Law School. But while in law school, he decided his real passion was for acting. He moved to Los Angeles, studying at the Larry Moss Studio, and got his first break on television with a guest role on "Suddenly Susan." Shortly after that, he was featured in an episode of "The Pretender," and the next year, he finally landed a movie with a good-sized role in "Speed 2: Cruise Control" (a movie panned by critics, but which I enjoyed just because I have a thing for Willem Dafoe).

His next big break came with the movie "Traffic," starring ex-Boyfriend Benecio Del Toro. The role was initially only supposed to be a two-day gig, but it broadened into several weeks of work in scenes opposite Luis Guzman and Don Cheadle. This role helped him land a part in "Black Hawk Down," and a year after that, "Without a Trace" started up.

Coming next for Enrique is a costarring role in the sequel to "Miss Congeniality" with Sandra Bullock. And, of course, an indefinite number of seasons on "Without a Trace." The show has been a huge critical and popular success and I'm pretty convinced it's going to have long, long life. Maybe even as long as "Sucking Chest Wound," though, hopefully, without having to resort to weird plotlines involving helicopters that cut the arms off people and then fall on them a year later.

Watch for Eric Close to show up on the site soon, though probably not next week. I need to give my crush on Enrique some time to flourish before I cut him off and swap him for his coworker. Otherwise, things can get pretty ugly, what with the jealousy and heartbreak. I can only hope that Anthony is taking this write-up in stride. Hey, sweetie, honestly, there's enough love for all of you. I promise.

MacGyver Factor Score: 92.433%. Points off because I hate it when I can't find out any biographical information about a Boyfriend. I'm a librarian, so I'm supposed to be a genius when it comes to finding information. You can only imagine the depression and career-affecting self-esteem crisis when I spend an hour looking for something as simple as this and come up empty-handed. It's only going to get worse, too, when some of you send me email with links to web sites packed with all the trivia I ever wanted to know. Please, be gentle when you do. I'm already thinking I should've just kept that job as a barista.

Boyfriend-Related Links
Enrique's IMDB Page
The CBS Without a Trace site

The Official Enrique Murciano Site
The Official EM Fan Listing

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