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Using His Head

One of the great joys of watching excessive amounts of British television is that you keep running into Anthony Head all over the place.My latest encounter with him came in the Doctor Who episode “School Reunion,” where he plays a headmaster who happens to have wings and a plan for world domination. It’s a really nice little performance. Even though his character is wearing human skin for most of the episode, he’s not actually human, and Head conveys that nicely. When he’s feeling particularly angry, ravenous, or alien, the angle and range of motion of his shoulder goes wrong. For long periods of time, he’s stretching his mouth wider than it can comfortably go, and makes it seem like the unpleasant placidity he wears for most of the episode is the real mask. It’s a good bit of physicality, more than he got to do as Giles.He’s less alien in the guest role he takes on Spooks, which sadly lasted only an episode — he plays a deep cover agent gone over to the other side (in this case, ecoterrorists) for love. I wish they’d kept him around. His character was eccentric and brilliant, and it was disappointing when he bit it.I don’t really get why the guy doesn’t have a more extensive American career. Is it just that he’s too type-cast as Giles? Is he too old, or too unconventionally good-looking to play one of those sexy Brits who charms American ladies? He’s really quite versatile, and it’s unfortunate that he hasn’t found a subsequent place where I get to enjoy him more often without waiting for Netflix to load.

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