Before Interim Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad began his career as a police officer in the NYPD (a career that deserves more scrutiny), he tried his hand at acting. Being that The Rake is committed to unearthing Vermont stories that “traditional media” won’t cover, we’ve taken the time to find every single one of Murad’s film and television acting highlights. I, with the esteemed Cocktail Hell, are channeling our Siskel & Ebert to (de)grade Murad’s former Hollywood dreams.
Our reviews consist of commentary and an arbitrary rating system of our choosing. I’ve chosen to rate Murad’s most striking feature – his face’s ability to always look strained and completely unnatural at all times – on a five-point scale. Cocktail has chosen to award Murad with the exact dollar amount of bonus salary the given performance deserves.
Sweet Hearts Dance (1988): “Teenager”
Matt: Murad plays a teen submitting to an “authority figure” and looks like the one guy in the group the others would ditch if they could. What a loser. Also, no way would Jeff Daniels and Don Johnson run down a car like this. They would complain about the incident on Front Porch Forum and Murad would immediately respond to them. (By the way, in the scene immediately before this, Bernie coincidentally makes a cameo.)
Cocktail: This is a Second Grade School Play level performance. Murad’s primary acting choice seems to be looking down and turning his head back and forth. His line delivery is awful; it took me five run-throughs of the clip to realize his character is supposed to be lying and that the eggs actually aren’t, in fact, for school.
Murad’s Strain Game Rating: 2 out of 5
Bonus Salary Awarded: -$50. Jon Murad owes me $50 for having watched this.
Melrose Place (1996: Season 4, Episode 4): “Shooter’s Patron”
Matt: I can’t say for sure, but it looks like Jonny Drama went off the script notes to showcase some “acting.” Pouring the bottle into a glass? You were cast to just sit there and take the beer, pal. Also, who does this? You would ask for a draft, right? Or, drink from the bottle? I’m giving way more time to this than it deserves. Thankfully, we’ve got a service industry pro also reviewing this to set the record straight.
Cocktail: People do on occasion order a bottled beer and request a glass to pour it into. This, however, is special. I recall a quote about how difficult it is for actors to even walk across camera naturally – similarly, Murad seems to have completely forgotten how people handle drinking vessels. Out of the thousands of beers I have seen people pour themselves, I have never seen anybody use both hands to pick up the bottle in such a concentrated fashion, much less pass the beer to one hand and pour the beer while tilting the glass away from the bottle so that they are nearly parallel to one another, the whole time grinning like a lunatic. If I saw this behavior at work I’d be full-fledged staring at this dude.
Murad’s Strain Game Rating: 2 out of 5
Bonus Salary Awarded: $22. He really made a meal out of this.
Beverly Hills 90210 (1996: Season 8, Episode 27): “Al”
Matt: As a high school reunion episode, I can only assume this was part of a larger story arc where “Al” is revealed as the school district’s mole in the Donna Martin Graduates movement but was cut for time. Instead, we’re left with Murad smiling, then an uncomfortable look down to the floor as the camera is about to cut away, which deserves its own Werner Herzog narration and analysis.
Cocktail: Murad here is employing the highly difficult “Vince McMahon GIF” acting technique. First, he is Concerned. We cut to a muscle man (Steve Sanders, played by Ian Ziering). We cut back to see Murad being Excited. His reactions remind me of a baby you’re playing peek-a-boo with. I believe this originated from the Meisner School.
Murad’s Strain Game Rating: 0 out of 5 (smiling, eww!)
Bonus Salary Awarded: $7. He would have gotten more, but the guy to the left really upstaged him.
Profiler (1999: Season 3, Episode 10): “Young Officer”
Matt: The typecasting begins! Murad gets his first adult talkie role, and well, he’s just never seen one like this, lieutenant. He’s doing his role to be completely forgettable, so much that it seems like he is repeating his lines and literally forgot if he asked them or not 10 seconds earlier.
Cocktail: Much like with the beer, Murad is holding his official police clipboard in a very rigid, alien way which I don’t think anybody has ever done in real life. What backstory did Murad give “Young Officer”? Why are his face and voice completely devoid of emotion? Is it simply bad acting, or is he the killer?
Murad’s Strain Game Rating: 3 out of 5
Bonus Salary Awarded: $10,000 for being a brave police officer.
Seven Days (1999: Season 1, Episode 17): “Perimeter Guard”
Matt: How long did Murad workshop that “I think this passenger is suspicious” face with his acting coach, only for it to continue to end up looking like he’s having a hard time passing everything he ate at craft services? Who am I kidding? It was an hour, it cost $250, and the coach told him it was “very James Dean”… James Dean after his car accident.
Cocktail: Jon Murad, in this clip, is a dead ringer for an NPC presiding over a passed Charisma check.
Murad’s Strain Game Rating: 4 out of 5
Bonus Salary Awarded: $0.
Martial Law (1999: Season 2, Episode 2): “Officer Russell”
Matt: I have gleefully watched this clip more times than Jim Garrison watched The Zapruder Film. Back and to the left. Back and to the left.
Cocktail: This clip caused me to yell-laugh and kick the chair on the other side of my desk from beneath the desk, which in turn caused me to roll backwards into a bookshelf, knocking several books onto my head. I love this clip more than my mother. It may be true that all great performances are made in the editing room, but I can’t imagine this working without Murad’s specific brand of “acting.” Bravo.
Murad’s Strain Game Rating: 5 out of 5
Bonus Salary Awarded: $10,000 in retention bonuses, $5,000 in injury pay, and $500 for the hell of it.
The X-Files (2001: Season 8, Episode 16): “Intercom Guard”
Matt: The MuradLax Form is finalized. The look, the lack of movement, the line reading, the role. Something, something we merely adapted, he was born and molded by it. His final role being on a show about extraterrestrials is a nice touch: it’s clear acting was an alien concept to the guy the whole time.
Cocktail: Fitting that Murad, one of the most robotic actors I’ve ever seen, should get screen time opposite somebody who literally played a Terminator.
Murad’s Strain Game Rating: Scale broken out of 5
Bonus Salary Awarded: $0. Do robots need money? What would he buy? Bolts?
After his X-Files appearance, Murad had no other IMDB-credited work. In 2005, he joined the NYPD. But he got another chance on set. Murad served as the NYPD’s technical advisor on the TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which employs plenty of liberal copaganda. That role deserves no ratings from either of us for entirely different reasons, but… points all around for not putting him in front of a camera again. Besides, Murad gets to continue his love of acting every week when he lies to the community about public safety.
Matt Moore is a writer from Vermont. He is on the editorial collective of The Rake Vermont.