Ken Tucker rates Tuesday night's most annoying TV stars

By Ken Tucker
Updated January 18, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
Clapp: Randy Holmes

”NYPD Blue” and ”3rd Rock” feature bad acting

Thinking about becoming an actor, but don’t have the time or the dough to go out and take those annoying ”acting classes”? No problem! Just follow Tucker’s Tuesday Night TV Tips, and you’ll soon have a thorough background in the basics; in no time at all, you too can star in a bad television series!

1. Watch ”3rd Rock From the Sun.” (NBC, 8 p.m.) Note how John Lithgow has adapted his extensive stage training for the small screen. In the theater, you have to speak loudly (to project to the back rows) and make bigger gestures (to be seen by the audience in the cheapest seats). Lithgow, finding himself heading up an ensemble show that’s always been little more than ”My Favorite Martian Quadrupled,” made the crucial decision not to rein in his theatrical mannerisms for the small screen, but instead to transfer them intact. The result? An Emmy winning, over the top performance that was fun the first season and has been an absolute torture of repetition to watch after that. But so what: He’s making big syndication bucks! And the rest of the cast has learned to act just as broadly as he does, making him a kind of guru intolerable TV acting!

2. Watch ”Three Sisters.” (NBC, 9 p.m.) Note Vicki Lewis, the former ”NewsRadio” charmer, who plays one of the trio of siblings in this peerlessly unfunny comedy. Listen to the way Lewis has lowered her voice and streeeetches out eeeeevery woooord to make her feeble punchlines last longer than her costars’ feeble punchlines. Lewis is accomplishing two things here: She’s stealing scenes away from her colleagues with laughable ease, plus she’s keeping herself amused in the middle of an extremely unamusing show. That’s the way the pros do it — they find the silver lining in even the most tedious role!

3. Watch ”NYPD Blue.” (ABC, 10 p.m.) Note the way Gordon Clapp’s Medavoy has become a quaking mass of physical tics — the halting, nervous vocal delivery; the hangdog, head down, lurching movements. For this, Clapp was even nominated for an Emmy in ”NYPD”’s 1993 – 1994 season!

I guarantee, if you follow Tucker’s Tuesday Night TV Tips, in no time at all, you’ll be acing out better actors for coveted roles on the sitcom or drama of your choice. Or at the very least, you’ll get picked to appear on the next edition of Tuesday’s ABC ”reality” show ”The Mole.” Given the fact that ”Mole” host Anderson Cooper has exactly one expression — thinly veiled contempt — your energetic overacting is bound to be noticed, and you’ll become a star as well as the object of about 3,857 websites devoted to loving or hating you! Good luck, students!

3rd Rock From the Sun

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