TVLine's Performers of the Week: Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan

Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen Masters of Sex Fight

A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen

THE SHOW | Masters of Sex


THE AIRDATE | July 26, 2014

THE PERFORMANCE | Put up your dukes, Masters of Sex aficionados: In this week’s episode, Caplan and Sheen gave knockout performances.

Yvon Durelle and Archie Moore’s late 1950s boxing match fight framed an episode that found Bill and Virginia — via some tryst-time role-playing — revealing deep, hurtful secrets about their pasts. With the researchers holed up in their hotel room, the boxers’ historic bout unspooled in the background while Masters and Johnson expressed their feelings between the sheets (and up against the wall… and with their robes pooled around their feet…).

Sheen’s portrayal of his repressed character — a pressure-cooker of a man under normal circumstances — was a study in how to communicate the unsaid. It began at the hospital, when the birth of a child with ambiguous genitalia got Bill ruminating on the concept of manhood and his own troubled upbringing. Then, as he passionately conquered Virginia in the bathroom and later evaded her questions about his interest in boxing, Sheen showed just how much his alter ego likes (and is accustomed to) being in control. And when Virginia finally pried open Bill’s white-knuckled grip on his memories, Sheen’s account of his character’s childhood under an abusive father seethed with resentment. Bill was snide, curt, surly. Sheen was amazing.

Caplan was equally fascinating throughout the hour, particularly when Virginia’s airy take on role-play turned real as she told Bill about her first real love — and subsequent heartbreak. But the actress also sparkled as she teased him about his lack of imagination, bristled as she questioned his motives for skipping the sexual niceties and entranced as she showed him exactly how she was able to make herself “feel good.”

By the end of the episode, Durelle and Moore had duked it out, Virginia and Bill had reached new (if uncertain) ground and Caplan and Sheen had us basking in the afterglow. TVLiners, was it good for you, too?

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Al Roker Sharknado 2HONORABLE MENTION | Not to take anything away from Tara Reid’s resonant line deliveries, but it was Today weatherman Al Roker who brought the tiniest whiff of realism to Sharknado 2’s over-the-top fish tale. Playing straight man to anchor Matt Lauer (who struggled with the term “sharknado”), Roker worked his weather maps arduously, keeping viewers abreast of every twist with this set of twisters — to a point that his onslaught of convincing meteorological jargon nearly sold us on the possibility of EF 5 sharknados (let alone snow in July) actually happening. It’s reassuring to know that in the event of absurdly inclement weather, Al has us covered.

MAJOR CRIMESHONORABLE MENTION | Smack dab in the middle of what has been a rather intense Season 3, Major Crimes lightened things up this week in great part due to West Bev grad Luke Perry’s turn as Johnny Worth, the star of a cop show whose overzealous stalker turned up dead. Whether sneaking a peek at his reflection in the glass while revering the badges of the LAPD’s “fallen,” willy nilly signing autographs (or away his Miranda rights) or obliviously taking pride in his photo’s placement on the murder board, Perry nailed the wink-wink casting of a TV heartthrob as a TV heartthrob. It was mere icing on the cake the way Johnny made lotsa the ladies (ADA Hobbs includes) swoon like Kelly Taylor teenage girls.

What performances rocked your TV set this week? Sound off below and let us know!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Jennifer says:

    Al Roker ftw.

  2. ilona says:

    Finally arrived the day where Major Crimes got in to this section! :)

  3. Alex M. says:

    YES! After watching this week’s Masters of Sex,, I was positive they would get the feature in this section. Caplan and Sheen’s performances were dazzling, mesmerizing. I literally couldn’t take my eyes of the screen. One of the best TV episodes of the year, hands down.

    • Ray says:

      I thought it was the most boring episode of the series. Far too static. It was like watching a two person stage show.

      • Kevon says:

        Thank you!!!! I’m so over the lovefest for this boring show! The only reason people is to see Caplan naked!

      • Tim says:

        I thought it was boring too! Enough with the games! The episode made me miss all of the other wonderful characters.

      • Bwhit says:

        I agree, I almost didn’t finish it. It was uncomfortable to watch and Bill continuing to deny what they are doing is an affair is getting annoying.

      • S. says:

        Wow finding it boring indicates a serious taste issue–there’s no way around it, I can hear you sighing about it from here and it’s beyond frustrating. You need something to have action or fast, shiny things to keep your attention? Yelling or tears? It’s interesting if you care about characters. You got a serious sense of backstory for both of them, both from what they admitted to and what they claimed was part of the roleplay. This is drama. Textbook, how it’s done, you’re welcome, etc. Yes it was like a play, and it was brilliant. Ba-rill-iant. Watching two people literally and emotionally square off and where it put them was incredibly riveting. This could win multiple people Emmys.

        • The Kaibosh says:

          Absolutely correct! Anyone who can’t see how good this episode was I’m sorry to say I have to question what they’re doing watching this show in the first place. They seem to have walked into the wrong classroom. The CW shows are across the hall.

  4. Kristen says:

    Luke Perry was so good on Major Crimes!

  5. Karen119 says:

    I’m old and had heard Luke Perry’s name before but didn’t know anything about him. I spent most of the recent episode of Major Crimes wondering if the actor was that stupid or was it the character or both. Not bad but not the best either. I’m with Rusty, googling for info.

  6. Sara says:

    I know I said it last week, but again, I would have liked to see some recognition (just an Honorable Mention would do) for the actors from Dominion. There were several intense moments, but Tom Wisdom and (again) Anthony Head really stuck out this week for their work. Carl Beukes as well for his his menacing yet playful performance.

  7. Alex says:

    Anna Camp deserves to be mentioned, she saves the whole “True Blood” mess this season for me.

  8. Jenna says:

    I thought this episode of Masters of Sex was fascinating, thanks to the writing and the incredible performances of Sheen and Caplan. Good call! And well deserved.

  9. Rita says:

    I thought what made the episode was their performances. This was a master class in acting and boring it was not at least not to me. Also it gave you a little more insight into the characters. That is not to say that the rest of the cast doesn’t as well have something to add as it is imo a great cast. I am especially going to miss Beau B. and Allison J. as I am reading that they are not going to be in this season. BUT back to this episode it was by far one of the best and I LOVED how they used that amazing boxing match as a back drop as remember this is 1958..

  10. Claire says:

    This has to be one of the best hours on tv I have seen in a long time (Masters Of Sex). Sheen (and Caplan) both knocked it out of the park.

  11. bigred says:

    I also thought it was one of the best episodes of Masters of Sex. I’m just pissed that Masters did not get a nomination for an Emmy for best drama !

  12. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Before I even saw who you picked, I was going to say the performer of the week should have been that baby from the same Masters of Sex episode. Good god, the scenes with that baby were completely horrifying. I really wanted to rewatch that episode for Lizzy and Michael, but I just couldn’t do the baby scenes again, even on fast forward. I’m a little surprised they managed to do an episode that was even more depressing than Catherine. But that was a good episode, nonetheless. I imagine the two of them will be using this as their Emmy submissions next year.
    Incidentally, did anyone know that episode that was penned by a former Party of Five writer? Because I just learned that.

  13. Katie says:

    Brilliant episode of Masters of Sex (and very possibly the best episode so far). I loved that they kept the storyline simple but revealed so much about the two characters.

  14. Alice says:

    YES!! Love Masters of Sex! And Fight was the best episode of any programme I have ever watched in years! It blow me away! Absolutely mesmerizing! I hope next year Michael Sheen get nominated for the Emmy he deserves!!