We’re six weeks into the new Fall TV season, and surprisingly, only a few new shows have crashed and burned. Sadly, Undercovers, a show that I liked a lot, just couldn’t find an audience. Lone Star (not a favorite), The Whole Truth (not a bad show), My Generation (great cast, not so great everything else), and Outlaw (I love Jimmy Smits and wish him better luck with future projects) have all fallen by the wayside, but there are some fantastic new shows that are still (for now) going strong. If you’re an actor looking to work in television drama, there are some amazing opportunities to learn from the diverse and talented actors working on the small screen.
There is nothing more formulaic than a gritty cop show, but Detroit 187 and Blue Bloods are breathing new life into the stagnant format. The writing is strong and intriguing, but the subtle, detailed, and nuanced acting provides the backbone of these shows. Veterans like James McDaniel, Tom Selleck, Michael Imperioli, and Len Cariou show why they are called on again and again for stage and screen work. Detroit 187 has a strong multi-cultural ensemble and a lot of fresh faces, and Blue Bloods features a relatable family dynamic and believable sibling relationships. Also, the kids on Blue Bloods act like kids, which is a rarity on television. Both shows maintain the delicate balance between the police cases and the personal lives of the characters.
You can find another fantastic ensemble on Boardwalk Empire. This show features stalwart actors Steve Buscemi, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Shannon, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Michael Pitt among many others(wow, there are a lot of Michaels on that show), and they are making the most of their meaty roles. The actors have excellent attention to period detail, but they aren’t slaves to it. The performances are fresh and vital and intense, and the actors allow their physicality to tell the story. Kelly MacDonald has her best role since ever (and I’m a huge fan of her performance in a similar role in Gosford Park), and Paz de la Huerta is giving a break-out performance in tiny delicious increments.
What do these actors have in common? Each has taken a different path: some are TV veterans, some come from film and theatre backgrounds, but all of them have shown a deep commitment to their craft and the ability to inhabit characters. Your mom was wrong, you can learn a lot by watching TV.