It’s that time of year to pass around praise to folks who don’t always receive enough attention over the course of the TV season. Here’s my list; when I’m done, I hope you’ll add yours:
Ellie Kemper in The Office As Erin, Pam’s replacement as receptionist as Dunder Mifflin, Kemper has steadily established a distinctive personality and comic rhythm. Kemper, who’s also written for The Onion and McSweeney’s, radiates a sly devilishness beneath a fine poker-face. At first, Ellie seemed a little dim and as skittish as a pony, but by now, she’s part of Michael Scott’s inner-circle of crazy. Ed Helms’ Andy has a crush on the perky-smiling, soulful-eyed Erin, and she’s proven crush-worthy in extracurricular activities such as this:
Adam Baldwin in Chuck Col. Casey could have been consigned to play the big doofus, the muscle-man straight-man to Chuck and Sarah. Instead, Adam Baldwin has grabbed the role, taken the writers’ clever cues, and made Casey a he-man with feelings, a sensitive guy who growls at the mere mention of sensitivity. And I can tell you that, having seen the opening episodes of Chuck‘s season three starting Jan. 10, Casey only gets better. Baldwin is providing much of the balance — the fulcrum, as it were — of the comedy and action in Chuck:
Regina King in Southland This terrific cop show benefits hugely from the presence of Regina King as Det. Lydia Adams. King plays her very tough — a total pro — but we also see her compassionate side. With a lesser actress, the role could have been female-cop-with-heart-of-gold stuff, but King kicks it to another level. Southland returns Jan. 12 on TNT with a re-airing of the series pilot featuring added new footage. After rerunning the first 13 episodes, TNT will air the new season starting Mar. 2 I’m really looking forward to the new episodes, aren’t you?
Julie Bowen on Modern Family Because she’s pretty and cast as a long-suffering wife to a peerless goofball (Merry Christmas to you, wonderful Ty Burrell), Bowen’s Claire could have been a blank blonde cipher. Far from it: Bowen’s wide array of silent gazes at the camera, her slow-burns at her clan’s bad behavior, and her ability to freak out without seeming nutso crazy makes her an essential, stand-out part of TV’s best freshman ensemble cast. Just look at the way she handles this family scene, her Claire matching Phil moment-for-moment in funniness:
Chris Pratt on Parks and Recreation Beloved by some of us for his work on Everwood, Pratt looked like a cameo character on the first season of Parks and Recreation. This season, however, Andy has found a permanent place running the shoeshine stand in Leslie Knope’s office building, the better to continue pining for Ann. Pratt’s ability to be both boyish, ridiculous, and bearishly charming make him a winner.
So there are some of my picks for Best Supporting Actors of 2009. Who are yours?