Netflix Rabbit Hole: Neil Jackson

One of my favorite things when I “focus” on a new actor is run through their IMDB page, see where else I may have seen them before and get busy watching everything else. Luckily, in days of Netflix Instant Watch and Hulu, it’s a lot easier to catch up on an actor’s career. To think I spent WEEKS back in 2007, waiting for discs from Netflix to arrive to catch up on John Krasinski in Jarhead and Smiley Face. How far we’ve come in five years!

Anyway, I’ve been on a bit of a Make It Or Break It kick these last few weeks, prepping for the show’s return for its third season. Unfortunately, it’s back without Sasha Belov (Neil Jackson) as the coach, which is definitely limiting my interest in the new season. I was definitely all in on this campy show on ABC Family when it was just Dr. Dave (sorry, Erik Palladino, but you’ll always be Dr. Dave from ER to me) coaching elite gymnastics. But then they brought in “Sasha Belov!” and I was sold hook, line and sinker. Besides his good looks, charm and British accent, he’s got a body to kill and frequently takes his shirt off. Gymnastics and a hot guy – yes, please!

Neil Jackson appeared in the premiere of Make It Or Break It with decidedly TERRIBLE hair, prompting the journey down his IMDB page for answers. I didn’t have to go far. Mr. Jackson is a member of the new Upstairs Downstairs miniseries cast. I assume this hairstyle is in keeping with the 1930s time period, but it was definitely a shock to see it on Sasha Belov! Unfortunately, even though the first series aired just after Christmas in 2010, I cannot find the episodes online. I hope I can snag a copy of the DVD when I’m in London next month because even without Neil Jackson, this seems right up my Anglophile alley.

Luckily, the next stop down the Netflix rabbit hole was a lot easier – Flashforward. I remember trying to get into this show, but it was on opposite something else I watch (I think) and once you’ve missed one episode, it’s hard to catch up. Anyway, I skimmed through the half dozen episodes in which Neil appears and it was almost enough to get me on board. He plays (one of?) the nefarious evil geniuses behind the “flash forward,” mostly requiring him to dress in three-piece suits and talk in riddles. I’m not so much for the latter, but when dressed as the former, I can deal. The accent helps. It was also cool to see Zachary Knighton (known to me from Happy Endings) and others.

But it was The Thirst, the other project that comes up when you search Neil Jackson on Netflix Watch Instantly, that prompted this post. The reviews, many of which start with “This isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen but…,” are pretty spot on. I’m not into vampires or campy slasher/horror flicks, so I definitely wouldn’t have even clicked on this one without Mr. Jackson’s name attached to the title. Luckily, Instant Watch has a preview screen, so I can skim through the poor special effects and gore until Vampire!Neil appears. However, this was just a little TOO ridiculous for me. Watching moments like Neil’s fevered glee at killing a sex worker in an S&M club for the vampires to feast on her blood just reminds me I could never be an actor because I can’t even type that sentence without laughing, much less act out the scene.

It stands to reasons that with his pale skin, fair hair and lanky build, he’d have to play a vampire once or twice, but that was just a little too silly for me. Looks like he has another few vampire appearances in post-production, so fingers crossed that the writing on those projects is a lot better. In the meantime, I’ll happily move on to guest appearances on CSI: Miami and How I Met Your Mother, thank you very much!

So far, I still love Sasha Belov the best, but it’s also the longest gig he’s had, so there’s plenty of time to develop nuance. He started out as a former Olympian turned no-nonsense coach, ready to take the Rock girls to the next level and evolved into the leader of the Rock Rebels to the object of Payson’s crush, then a Romanian barkeep and finally US World Team coach. I mean, he even made me love Candace Cameron Bure’s character on that show for a brief time (while he romanced her) and I didn’t think that was possible. And who could blame her? Look at that face!

I doubt my venture down Neil Jackson’s Netflix Rabbit Hole will increase my appreciation of him like John Krasinski or gain a new fandom like Chris Meloni (and Oz), but it’s not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon. After watching the Giants lose their third straight in as many days, looking for this face in a terrible movie or TV show doesn’t seem too bad at all. 🙂

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