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Which actors need rescuing from subpar TV roles?

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Withoutatrace_l

Withoutatrace_lIt’s been a pretty exhausting week, the kind where I want nothing more than to come home to an uncomplicated, unchallenging kind of TV show — and that’s led to a steady diet of crime-procedural reruns. Last night, my DVR and I settled down for a Without a Trace episode called “Res Ipsa,” which featured a guest performance from an actress named Camille Guaty (The Nine, Prison Break) that was so hammy, I half expected surprise cameos from Honey Mustard and Swiss Cheese.

Since the sight of Guaty scrunching her face and literally wringing her hands during the climactic interrogation scene proved to be 1-800-too-much, I instead focused on Marianne Jean-Baptiste, playing FBI agent Vivian Johnson, and started wondering to myself, “What’s an Oscar nominee like her doing in a jank scene like this?” I mean, seriously, Jean-Baptiste was so remarkable back in 1996’s Secrets & Lies (watch a clip of it, after the jump); now, she’s stuck in a role that asks so little of her, I bet she could mentally compile her grocery list while she’s shooting, and nobody would notice.

Wouldn’t it be nice if CBS rewarded Jean-Baptiste for her years of service on Without a Trace by greenlighting a juicy TV movie or miniseries built around her? Yeah, I know, they’ve been too busy developing Greatest American Dog*. But it got me thinking: What other actors need rescuing, or at least a day pass, from their long-running series roles? Speak now — your favorite thespians are depending on you!

* Not that I’m not totally DVRing that mess.

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