Monday, 9 August 2010

TV Season, 2009/2010: Top Fifteen Supporting Actors, Comedy and Drama

One of the most common conceits of acting is that drama is more difficult comedy. That’s a lie. That’s not to say that the opposite is correct either; it’s not easier than comedy. It’s a non-answer in the most obvious of senses – but there it is. I’m recapping the last television season, and I’ve decided not to divide the subjects by genre. Is it laziness? Most likely. I haven’t been as avid a TV watcher this pass season, in fact I haven’t watched all episodes of most TV shows (I’ve seen the majority of most I’m interested). That means that there’s a possibility that my judgement is flawed – but then again, does the Emmy committee look at every show all season long? Sure, they do.

Eligible Shows (Eligible does not mean featured): 30 Rock, Big Love, Brothers & Sisters, Burn Notice, Californication, The Closer, Community, Cougar Town, Desperate Housewives, Dexter, Entourage, Family Guy, Glee, Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother, Law & Order: SVU, Lost, Mad Men, Medium, Monk, The Office, Parks & Recreation, Private Practice, Psych, Royal Pains, Samantha Who, Supernatural, The Tudors, Ugly Betty, Weeds

I saw the pilot for The Good Wife and Nurse Jackie, but it’d be unfair to judge them from that – Christine Baranski would be on a list, so excellent and possibly Edie Falco though I didn’t love her there.

(Obviously this means giants like True Blood, Modern Family and The United States of Tara won't be featured: I've never seen any.)

Runners Up (Alpha): Jack McBrayer in 30 Rock (for constantly turning a stock character into comedic genius), B. J. Novak in The Office (for having the best line-readings even though Ryan doesn’t get much screen-time anymore), Terry O’Quinn in Lost (for just being brilliant, even though I’ll never LOVE Lost); Danny Pudi in Community (for his rantings on pop culture and his endearing tics), Mark Salling in Glee (for being my favourite of the cast, though unfortunately he doesn’t get the A material), Joe Webber in Medium (for being, indisputably, the best husband on television)
            
#15: Ed Westick in Gossip Girl
as Chuck Bass
I caught up with the second half of Gossip Girl recently. It’s not quite as witty, though it’s still good enough (for CW especially, too good really). Westick has moments of brilliance; unfortunately he has moments of blandness too. Okay, perhaps not blandness, just laziness. I’d be really interested in seeing what he could do outside of the show, but for now I’m impressed with him – he delivers best when his character is at his most dramatic and for someone who is still considered a villain (really, still?) he manages to be the most emotive.
     
#14: J. K. Simmons in The Closer
as Chief Will Pope
Simmons has the consistency of a see-saw on The Closer; sometimes I think he’s still playing in Burn After Reading. Even at these times I love him. He still shines brightest when he’s opposite Kyra Sedgwick, but who doesn’t? Chief Pope is a bit of an incidental character at times, but Simmons plays him just right. He’ll never be lauded for his work by the important people – but I will.
             
#13: Chris Colfer in Glee
as Kurt Hummell
Though he ends up the highest, I don’t think Colfer is the best (supporting) actor on Glee. But he’s had a significant amount of material to work with, and he’s delivered. For someone who’s somewhat of a novice he delivers on the drama, but Glee is a comedy and it’s his one-liners that always secure my appreciation of his talent. Sometimes he’s just TOO acerbic and disingenuous (or is that his character?) but on his best days he’s quite good.
       
#12: Neil Patrick Harris in How I Met Your Mother
as Barney Stinson
Sometimes I don’t know what to make of How I Met Your Mother. I don’t think I’ve ever found it “hilarious” though, for what it’s worth, it’s one of CBS’ better comedies. It’s a good show, at its best, though and Harris’ Barney is a significant portion of that. Maintaining an odd degree of coolness mixed with the pungency of over-the-top ridiculousness on occasion he’s hilarious.
          
#11: Jeremy Piven in Entourage
as Ari Gold
Apparently Piven’s monopoly on the Emmy race has ceased. I’m not exactly heartbroken about it, but I think it’s unwarranted – given that he’s still as good as he used to be, Entourage may not be as on point but it’s still a good show. The initial WOW factor of Ari Gold has gone, but Piven is still a skilled actor.
                         
#10: Paul Schneider in Parks & Recreation
as Mark Brendanawicz
I’m going to miss him severely on the show; he was always the best person to keep a handle on crazy Leslie Knope. Unfortunately for him he doesn’t get to play “funny” – he’s the lone person on the show who exists in the real world but he still manages to make an impression and what’s more he never seems condescending to the ridiculousness that goes on around him.
              
#9: Rainn Wilson in The Office
as Dwight Schrute
There was a certain episode with a duplicitous mallard that made me a believer in Wilson. I’d been a coaster before, sometimes impressed and sometimes not. But that episode sold me, he’s playing a semblance of a real person like many comic supporters but it’s to his credit that all of Dwight’s fits seem completely real…and still hilarious.
              
#8: Naveen Andrews in Lost
as Sayid Jarrah
I’m not sure where I can draw the line between opinion and favouritism…I like Naveen Andrews, though. Admittedly his arc last season was small but he still ends up out acting everyone in the cast from my view. It’s a bit unfair that these award shows reward quantity of performance as much as quality since bit role or no this man is still amazing.
 
#7: Justin Chambers in Grey’s Anatomy
as Alex Karev
This is conceivably just residual appreciation for better days of Grey’s Anatomy, but I’ve always held out that on his best days he’s the strongest male on the show. The aftermath of the Izzie drama, his brother turning, dating the annoying Lexie and ultimately being shot (but not killed) proved that he still had the chops even if the good storylines are only coming his way after years.
             
#6: Aziz Ansari in Parks & Recreation
as Tom Haverford
Ansari treads a maddeningly thin line between making Tom unbearably peppy, a potential ladies’ man and a realistic friend of the rest of the cast. It ends up working much better than it could because Ansari is funny enough to pull it off. Chemistry with the cast is everything and though they’ll never be romantically linked (god forbid) he and Poehler have one of the shows weirdest (and oddly hilarious) friendships.
        
#5: John Slattery in Mad Men
as Roger Sterling
I’m aware that it’s weird how much I like Slattery in this role (he is my favourite actor/character of Mad Men). It probably would have been easier for him to win that Emmy way back in the first season, but prizes be damned he’s excellent as Sterling..
                
#4: Chris Pratt in Parks & Recreation
as Andy Dwyer
Remember him on Everwood? Who’d have thought he turn into such a brilliant comedian (that being said, Marcia Cross was on Everwood too? It was a stroke of genius getting Pratt’s Andy to become an unofficial staff of the Parks & Rec office and though his chemistry with Rashida Jones was a highlight of the first season it was even more rewarding watching him and Offerman trade funny bits. He’s ridiculously dumb at times, but not in an exasperating way. It will be nice to see what happens between him and Plaza in the next season.
                
#3: Henry Cavill in The Tudors
as Charles Brandon
Supporting wise, no one will match the brilliance of Natalie Dormer two seasons ago (that was just f***ing brilliant) but Cavill actually manages to get better as the seasons go buy. True, he’s not the most consistent actor but when he’s on his game he delivers with surprising aplomb.
              
#2: John Krasinski in The Office
as Jim Halpert
 
It’s a bit unfair how underrated Krasinski is. After six years you’d think that people would realise that he’s a big part of what makes The Office a good show. He continually wins in the game of who has the best facial reactions and it’s weird how he makes us root for Jim even when he’s treading the line between stickler and douche so dangerously. At the end of the day, though, he ends up being the show’s most reliable cast member.
            
#1: Nick Offerman in Parks & Recreation
as Ron Swanson
Sometimes Parks & Recreation defies reality- I’m at a loss to how 30 minutes per week manages to turn over one of the brilliant bits of ensemble acting where everyone gets a chance to shine. Nick Offerman is, for now at least, the king of deadpan comedy and his ridiculously perfect take on the boss in charge is an excellent bit of comedic genius. From the baritone voice to the freaked out (and freaky) facial expressions and that bit of weirdness with the toe (Parks & Rec fans will understand) he delivers every week. His performance should be put in a time capsule.
         
Which supporting actor were you most impressed with last season?
      
(PREVIOUSLY: Guest Actors and Actresses)

(NEXT: Lead Actresses)

7 comments:

Marcy said...

Ed Westwick is probably the best CW actor...well, now he has serious competition with Ian Somerhalder of The Vampire Diaries in the mix. But he's very good in season two and he has an excellent episode in season three (episode 12).

I don't know how to make of How I Met Your Mother either, but Neil Patrick Harris is very good. Probably not amazing enough for me to tune in every week, but he consistently delivers the best performance in the cast.

I saw Chris Pratt in Parks and Recreation and I was like, "OMG HE WAS BRIGHT IN EVERWOOD." Loved that show before it was CANCELED YEAH WTF. But yeah, I agree, I was surprised of his comedic chops in P&R.

Jude said...

Naveen Andrews!?!?!?!?!? He's like, the weakest ensemble member in "Lost," at least in season 6. When he "woke up" why did he wake up with a British accent? Why is he always so frustrating?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

marcy YES westick is brilliant (along with meester whom i love).

jude you know i've never been known for my logic :) perhaps it's old love from the english patient, but yes, i do like naveen here.

Marcy said...

Meh. I liked Meester during season one, but she's not nearly as good anymore. Blair just comes off as a total brat now.

But I do love Taylor Momsen.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

marcy i actively loathe taylor momsen's acting.

Marcy said...

Aww. May I ask why? There are so many other actors in GG whose acting deserves to be loathed much more!

To each of their own.

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