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Which actor is the best in TV guest roles?

Which actor do you think specializes in TV guest roles the best? Check out today’s Ask the Critic question and post your own

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Everwood: Bruce Birmelin

Which actor is the best in TV guest roles?

Many movie actors these days seem to specialize in guest roles on TV — who do you think is the best? —Jackie K.

Why, that’d be my favorite eightysomething, Charles Durning! The veteran actor has come to specialize in a particularly difficult character: prickly, emotionally inarticulate dads. He recently showed up on The WB’s Everwood as Treat Williams’ long-alienated father, his regret hanging on him like an old cardigan vest (in addition to an old cardigan vest), and brought genuine emotional heft to the final episodes of that series. And he’s having a hell of a run on FX’s Rescue Me, playing Denis Leary’s pissy, boozy dad. This season, as a onetime master of the house who now wets his bed, he’s particularly layered — watching his gruff, ailing patriarch try (and fail) to give a meaningful birthday toast was more of a jab in the stomach than all of Rescue Me‘s fistfights combined.

(Got a TV-related question for Ken? Post it here.)