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Who’s the most underrated television actor?

Who’s the most underrated television actor? —Jill Walker

Let us now sing the unsung praises of the most overlooked acting gig: the supporting player in a crackerjack ensemble. I’d never stop watching The Shield, but should Jay Karnes’ intensely nerdy, loyal, ambitious detective Dutch ever be packed off, I’d certainly watch less enthusiastically. (My idea for next season — let Dutch join the Strike Force, where his dueling desires to be one of the guys, yet superior to them would make a great flashpoint). On The Office, Jenna Fischer takes a deliberately underwritten character — sweet, shy, be-sweatered Pam — and gives her dialogue just enough sly spin to make you want to know her better. Kinda like Jim. Everwood‘s Chris Pratt takes what could be a stereotype — Ephram’s dumb-jock-y best buddy Bright — and turns him into so much more than a sidekick, in part thanks to sheer, laidback charisma. Finally, I’d happily watch a Sopranos spin-off starring Sharon Angela, who steals every scene she’s in as Carmela’s mournful, frank best friend, Rosalie Aprile (she of the cigarettes-and-scotch voice). Call it The Ropranos.

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

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