Moved from the Arrow thread:
The conversation sparked after I expressed my belief that a good enough actor can rise above crappy writing.
Bezerker: I disagree, crappy writing is crappy writing no matter how good the acting is. I think a good example using Smallville for me is I thought all the actors gave an "A" performance acting wise in the episode "Promise" yet to me that is the worst episode ever on the series due to storyline alone(and I would argue their was alot of other things in that episode that would be better then normal for the show(camera work, writing style, etc), but still the storyline ruined any good mojo I might have for those things). If I was rating Promise on everything but actual plot, it would probably rank top 10 episodes ever for Smallville
I feel some of the actors could have been favorably judged independently for their acting skills in Promise, some rose up to make the crappy writing more acceptable (a little - it is "Promise" so there wasn't much for anyone to work with) while others failed to be believable at all.
Take Lex. Lex acted desperately out of character but I felt his desperation and fear and longing even while I rejected the portrayal as "not consistent with Lex Luthor" Rosenbaum as an actor did an excellent job in Promise, but yes, was a victim of the crappy writing making it all pointless.
In the case of AoT, JG, and AM, I think all of them too were given crappy, out of character material, but that they IMO managed to find something in the crap to stress to make their actions somehow slightly consistent with their characters. AoT made her advice come from seeing her son so unhappy and trying to comfort and give him hope. I felt this not from her words but from her expression and the way she looked at her son. Chloe berated Clark for not saving Lana (a complete about face from earlier) but AM managed to make her actions not about saving Lana from her bad choices but Clark being her personal hero. The dialogue was IMO soooo clunky and heavy handed but when I watched AM, I believed Chloe could have saved up hope deep down that Clark could sweep in at the last minute and make everything better. Then there was Lionel. Lionel IMO also had weird and all over the place characterization but JG had long since mastered the art of playing Lionel with enough mystery that I just accepted that their was stuff was going on that I didn't yet know. As actors, I felt they rose above the crappy writing.
That was not the case IMO for TW or KK which was a bigger problem since they both carried the majority of the episode. I felt that neither TW or KK had the acting skills needed to make Promise believable. The writing was the crappiest of a long line of crappy but what didn't work for me wasn't just the absurd about faces and out of nowhere motivation, it was the fact that emotionally I did not connect with the actors. I do think TW tried to up his game but KK lacked any subtlety or nuance in her reactions which meant for me that the whole episode felt like a bad parody including overacting by the leading lady.
SHe put on the worst happy face I have ever seen. Yes KK portrayed Lana's sadness very well as the Limo was pulling away, but the scene cried out for something IMO far more nuanced and subtle. I couldn't even make myself believe that seeing the abject misery on Lana's face and in her eyes as she walked down the aisle that Lex would have gone through with the wedding. Her "good" acting didn't work IMO even just within the context of the episode.
Since the leads IMO failed to make me connect with them, I would rate Promise as a stand alone episode nothing higher than a C+. Choppy and confusing timeline. Obscure character motivation coupled with even within the episode out of character reaction (like Chloe really searching for Lana and worrying to Lex that she wasn't to show up. Chloe should have/would have noted her absence and then stalled to give her time to make her get away, not marched right to Lex to comfort him.) Wooden side characters (Aunt Nell) and over the top plot twists. Yeah, Promise is still one of the worst episodes in my opinion all around.