Sometimes, you see an actor or actress in a role that seems like a mismatch. What's even weirder is when an actor or actress seems ill-suited to be on a show at all.
Monday, Jeremy Sisto, known for playing dark, tormented characters like Billy Chenowith of Six Feet Under, guested as an ex-boyfriend of Jordana Spiro's P.J. on the innocuous TBS sitcom My Boys. From the moment he was on screen, Sisto seemed so out of place a resident of the Pit of Despair who had accidentally stumbled into the cotton candy factory.
Sisto certainly tried to make the best of it, but his innate depth (not to mention the unconvincing plotting) just highlighted how relatively shallow and clumsy My Boys is. I've seen every episode of this show, now in its second season, and I keep wanting to like it, but it's sort of an ongoing disappointment. It's neither particularly funny nor particularly clever. It mostly trades on its goodnaturedness (and a lack of sitcom competition) to become comfort food - comfort food that leaves you with the slightest case of indigestion, especially when P.J. is indulging her god-awful baseball analogies in voiceover every episode.
My Boys has its moments, usually thanks to the efforts of Jim Gaffigan as P.J.'s brother Andy, but most of the time you can see the actors straining to make the show seem more than it is.
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Another sort of weird bird is Damages. For all the talk of Glenn Close dominating the small screen, her Patty Hewes character has become less interesting with each episode. The pilot hinted that, alongside the mystery of the ongoing legal matters between involving Hewes and Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson) and how they led to someone's murder, we would unravel the mystery behind Hewes' cold facade, but all we've really gotten since is a minor subplot involving her troubled son. Essentially, we are left to feel that Hewes just is who she is something in her past made her become tough and manipulative, and so now she's tough and manipulative. She isn't any more complicated than that.
That said, Hewes is still more interesting than ingenue attorney Ellen Parsons, played by Rose Byrne. I liked Byrne in The Dead Girl, but I've given up on anything compelling emerging from Ellen. Her juggling of career and engagement hits the same notes every week. We know from the flash-forwards how she's going to end up, and while that's a dramatic twist, that doesn't make her present any more fascinating.
The star of Damages isn't Close or Byrne it's the plot. The main pleasure of watching each week is to see the latest turns of the Frobisher case. Somewhat like My Boys, you can see the effort in this. The actions of Tom Shayes (Tate Donovan), who was given a showcase in Tuesday night's episode, really don't make any sense from a character standpoint they're at the mercy of the plot.
The show has got me watching despite next-to-no character development, so they must be doing something right. Damages has sucked me in, probably more for worse than for better.