Bad Actors in Good Shows

Last season, my EW TV colleague Ken Tucker wrote about Good Actors on Bad Shows—talented thespians like Malcolm McDowell and Tony Shalhoub who were being wasted in crap like Pearl and Wings. Mercifully, those two performers have been freed from their small-screen purgatories. Now it’s time to look at the reverse scenario: Bad Actors on Good Shows. Lots of otherwise-solid series have one cast member who doesn’t seem to fit. You’ll be happily enjoying one of your favorite series when that character appears—and suddenly, your remote trigger finger starts to feel itchy. Here are seven who rub me the wrong way.

DAN CORTESE The ex-MTV Sports jock looks like a minor leaguer compared with the comedy all-star team on Veronica’s Closet (Kirstie Alley, Wallace Langham, Kathy Najimy, et al.). NBC keeps trying to turn the himbo into a Must See TV star, giving him roles on Seinfeld, The Single Guy, and now Closet, but he’s the male Jenny McCarthy: He’s not nearly as cute or as funny as he thinks he is.

SHAE D’LYN Despite its too-cute hippie-marries-yuppie premise, ABC’s Dharma & Greg somehow manages to avoid preciousness—that is, until D’lyn’s ”wacky” neighbor enters and joins Dharma (Jenna Elfman) on excruciatingly kooky misadventures (like dressing up as a pair of ’50s housewives to go grocery shopping for Thanksgiving). This sitcom isn’t big enough for two flighty nonconformists.

JEREMY LONDON I’ll spare little Lacey Chabert, now that there’s a regular on Fox’s Party of Five who’s even more irksome than her Claudia. As Griffin, lunkheaded husband of Neve Campbell’s Julia, London shoots for Marlon Brando-esque brooding but manages to muster only Mickey Rourke-esque mumbling.

CLEA LEWIS Ellen DeGeneres has made sweeping changes on her eponymous ABC sitcom over the years, switching the original title (These Friends of Mine) and supporting cast—not to mention her character’s sexuality. So why hang on to Lewis’ annoying Audrey? Her only distinction is that she’s the only actress on TV with a voice more grating than Fran Drescher’s.

FREDRO STARR I suppose it’s believable that a wholesome teen like Brandy Norwood on UPN’s Moesha would rebel against her strict dad (William Allen Young) by going out with a wannabe gangsta rapper like Starr’s Q. I just wish there were something funny about the guy. He’s too busy posing as a street tough to bother with jokes.

SOFIA MILOS Some would quibble with my characterization of Caroline in the City as a Good Show, but no matter. I still maintain that the NBC sitcom’s often-stale jokes are made fresh by its gifted ensemble—all except Milos. The only thing she brings to the role of Julia (exotic new wife of Malcolm Gets’ Richard) is an exaggerated Italian accent.

CRAIG FERGUSON In its first season, The Drew Carey Show spun quite a few jokes out of Drew’s never-seen department-store boss (voiced via intercom by The Usual Suspects‘ Kevin Pollak). For some reason, the ABC sitcom saw fit to replace him last fall with Ferguson’s British Mr. Wick. Like Caroline‘s Milos, Ferguson’s only contribution to the character is a ridiculous foreign lilt. At least she‘s easy on the eyes.