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Performers Of The Month - September Winner: Outstanding Actor - Tony Denison

Television is more prominent than ever before and at any given time, hundreds of performers are working their magic on our screens. With such an overabundance of talent at the disposal of consumers, sometimes performers slip under the radar of the masses. All the while they are quietly working their craft to the awe of their fans. It is those performers, the ones who seem to lack the recognition they rightfully deserve, that usually have the most vocal fans. They are willing to fight to make the performer be known to the masses, because they know what this performer has to offer and they want others to be able to bask in the glory of this performer’s work. Tony Denison (Andy Flynn) is one of those performers whose name isn’t as widely known as it should be. This is a man with immense talent who can immediately enthrall longtime fans and new viewers with his vast talent, not to mention his overwhelming charm. To watch him work is to watch an artist paint a grand canvas. He has such control over his craft that every spoken word is like a precise stroke of a brush. What he does week in and week out on Major Crimes is astonishing. For those who have long been in awe of his work, it should come as no surprise that he was nominated for and won the title of most outstanding actor of September for his intense work on the episode entitled White Lies Part 3 (5x13). The episode began him working his magic as he guided Andy through a typical interrogation and ended with him taking Andy through the most terrifying and helpless moment any person can experience as a heart attack brought this gifted detective to the ground.

Through Denison’s exceptional guidance, Andy Flynn has become a staple of Major Crimes. While he may not have started off as the most likable guy, he evolved to become someone that fans root for. With a poor health record, there is a clock constantly ticking around him, yet he doesn’t allow anything to slow him down. He goes after the bad guys with the intensity of a twenty-year-old and never lets up until he gets his man. His ferocity is commendable as he goes after every criminal with iron-clad determination. Andy Flynn only exists because of the hard work and dedication Denison has put forth to bring him to life. Major Crimes has some very smart writers who give him great material to work with, but it is the way he chooses to portray those words that make him a standout.

Some performers require grand blocks of dialogue to make themselves known. It is what they thrive on, what they excel at, yet the best performers know that every second of screen time, no matter how low-key, is extremely important. When the team is in the bullpen trying to work through the case, there is a moment where Andy walks off to the side and eases into a chair, and it’s obvious that something is bothering him. Seeing him shift his neck around in discomfort and rubbing it is the first clue of what will occur as the episode draws to an end. This was a quiet little moment for the character, yet Denison understood the importance of it in the context of the episode and he gave as much dedication to this performance as he does to a line of dialogue, the discomfort Andy was in was perfectly captured on Denison’s face. In the moment, it was easy to dismiss this as just the strain of the case causing him a headache. After all, by this point, the team had been working long hours trying to bring this very personal case to an end. The ability to make subtle moments pop like this is the sign of a true talent.

Even though he does brilliant work in every scene, he does some of his best work when he is side-by-side with regular scene partner Mary McDonnell (Sharon Raydor). Denison and McDonnell work magic together. When they are in a scene together, their chemistry is palpable. Even in simple moments like when their characters were on the couch just talking about the case, their chemistry was evident. Denison has a smile that could light up a dark night and whenever he smiles at McDonnell, the whole scene lights up. It’s evident how much respect he has for all of his scene partners, but with McDonnell, in particular, he just feels at ease. It works perfectly for the character because of everyone in the world, Sharon is the person that means the most to Andy. The writers have gone to great lengths to create a relationship that portrays two people as true partners. They always support each other and their love is never in question and it may very well be one of the most realistic yet low-key romances on television. That actually gives even more meaning to the relationship between the characters. What they have is magical, but a lot of that magic exists because these performers have learned how to effortlessly blend their performances. They work as a single unified team, as much as their characters do when they are in scenes together.

Despite this unique bond, the characters don’t always agree on everything, forcing the performers to make subtle shifts in their performances to portray the divide. When Rusty (Graham Patrick Martin) comes home with the newly acquired evidence, there is a very small moment of a divide between Andy and Sharon. Denison chose to play Andy as proud of Rusty even though Sharon was annoyed with her son. In fact, the voice Sharon used on both men showed her dislike of the situation. Yet Andy’s pride for Rusty’s initiative never wavered. Andy always wants Rusty to feel comfortable with him around and when Denison is in a scene with Martin, he ensures that he and his young co-star maintain an open connection. In fact, that’s a hallmark characteristic of how he chooses to work with his co-stars. While McDonnell is the one he interacts with the most, he has an easy chemistry with everyone he works with. He is caring and open, always ensuring that he gives his scene partners plenty to work opposite of.

Even though he is a master at these quieter moments, he goes full speed when Andy is in work mode. During the raid on the trucking company, his voice was fierce as he confronted the worker trying to leave during the raid. He stood firm and ensured that Andy’s dedication to the operation was evident. They were there to do a job and Andy was going to play his part to ensure that everything went off without fault. When Denison delivers lines with his fierce tone and powerful voice, everyone has to listen. The performers opposite him have no choice but to react because what he delivered in that moment felt very real. Moments like the raid allow Denison to really show off just what Andy Flynn is made of: he is a no-nonsense kind of detective and anyone trying to challenge that won’t like the outcome.

While the entire episode really highlighted what makes Denison’s work so special, it was the final moments that really allowed him to shine. Calling back the look of discomfort from the earlier part of the episode, Denison showed Andy’s rapid deterioration as the heart attack began. His acting in this moment was so poignant that it felt like watching someone you know collapse before you. He made it so real that it was heartbreaking to watch this strong man brought down, not while in the field chasing a bad guy but in the safety of his own office. No matter how strong a person is, they aren’t immune to the weaknesses of the human body. The entire last minute of this episode was fueled by Denison’s all-consuming, heartbreaking performance that made every viewer gasp in fear as he collapsed against the wall. When he grasped at his chest it was almost hard to watch because of how real his performance was. For a moment, a viewer would have been forgiven for being worried for Denison himself as he made Andy’s terrifying moment come to life.

Whatever happens next for Andy, one must commend Denison for his stunning performance in this episode. Throughout the run of the series, he has been a consistent performer who always hits his mark straight on. He’s never delivered a single performance that fell short. Whenever he’s on the screen, he brings his all, making sure that every single word out of his mouth has meaning for his character. Anytime an episode fades to black with the life of a character on the line, it is heart wrenching for the fans. This one was even more terrifying given how deeply ingrained Andy is within the context of the story. He means the world to Sharon, but on that same note, Denison means the world to fans of Major Crimes. With any luck, he’ll be around for a long time to come working his magic alongside McDonnell and all of their gifted scene partners.

Denison delivered so many incredible performances in September that it was impossible to cover them all. His energy makes his character so present that every single moment he is on the screen makes his character stand out. Please feel free to use the comments section to discuss all of his extraordinary moments in September and throughout this season that this article could not cover.

Tony Denison was your fan pick as the most Outstanding Actor of September 2016. Hit the comments below to tell others why you think he earned this title and what you most enjoyed about his September performances.

PLEASE READ: This is an article to recognize Tony's work and to honor his performance in September on Major Crimes. Shipper-related bashing will not be tolerated in the comments, even from Tony's fans. Honor the performer and his performance. Have fun and be kind to one another.

Note: This is a generic warning to avoid any issues in the comments section and to help keep this a fun and safe place to gush about the winners. This is geared to no fandom in particular.

Author’s Note: Prior to writing the September POTM articles I had never seen a single second of this series. As of now, I’ve only watched the three episodes pertaining to the September POTM articles. With that said, I was immediately enthralled by this show and will certainly be adding it to my Netflix watch list. But I must send out a very big thank you to Major Crimes reviewer Prpleight for her immense insight into the series and the interconnectivity between the characters. This article would not have been able to exist without her aid and insight.

Special thanks to Bradley Adams for helping to edit the article.