Boomerang Actor – Shannen Doherty

A boomerang actor is one you keep returning to as new projects come out or when you revisit their previous adventures as comfort food. These actors make an impression–if not to the general public, then to you. They resonate. In this installment: Shannen Doherty.

For me, Shannen is an actress who has that ineffable talent for elevating a production. That doesn’t mean that everything she works in should be put in some registry for posterity, but that what she brings to her roles seems to ratchet up the quality level a notch or two. My impression–borne in no way by objective research on my part–is that she has held herself to a high standard and expects something similar from those around her during a production. Needless to say, actors of this ilk are often thought of by those around them as difficult and so forth.

I’m not a Shannen apologist. She has also been, at times, her own worst enemy. Her acts of uncivil behavior have been (over-)documented for quite a while. But, over time, she’s stuck by her friends and her friends have stuck by her. That says a lot. It’s this Shannen that I’d pay attention to in any case.

Even so, the fact is that there is also the ongoing Doherty oeuvre. While I’d seen her in her first guest-starring appearances on TV and film (Girls Just Want to Have Fun, anyone?), it really wasn’t until Our House that her talent really caught my eye (I was, at best, an infrequent viewer of the various Michael Landon series she was on previously). A couple years after that show, Beverly Hills, 90210 happened. That’s when a lot happened.

In the aftermath of BH90210, and the rumors surrounding Shannen’s departure, I was as surprised as anyone that Aaron Spelling had hired Shannen for this cult show of his called Charmed. That act, however, helped confirm for me what I’d suspected: whatever the perceived difficulties attached to Shannen, she brings something extra to the table. Charmed showed this. The death of Prue Halliwell brought a change in the show. Whether it was for better or worse isn’t the topic here, but the shadow of the missing Ms Doherty lingered for the rest of the series’ run.

While I don’t watch everything she’s in–she’s a busy little bee–I do keep my eye out. Shoot, her presence even got me to watch a few installments of Dancing With the Stars. With whatever material she’s been given, I can’t think of a time her performance has disappointed me. Because of that, Shannen Doherty remains an actor I’ll return to time and time again.

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