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August 31, 2015

The Summer's Seven Most Valuable Supporting Players

by Allison Waldman, posted Sep 6th 2010 11:00AM
john_slattery_mad_men_amcIn baseball, a seasoned, veteran ball player is considered a valuable member of the team. It's not that different in television, and during the summer -- when baseball is thriving -- a lot of primetime drama series thrive thanks in no small part to the contributions of valuable assets like the following "boys of summer."

Without the experienced and knowing assists of veteran actors, the summer series listed here simply wouldn't be as entertaining.

Check out our seven "most valuable players" and tell us if we got it right ... or who we left out!

1. John Slattery: Roger Sterling on 'Mad Men'
In its darkest hours and most serious moments, it takes the wit and wisdom of John Slattery's Roger Sterling to keep 'Mad Men' from sinking under the weight of all that angst. This season, Roger's been in top form. He's healthier and re-energized in the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

We've seen Slattery as Roger deftly handle the bullying of Lee Garner Jr. (Darren Pettie) at the Christmas party, his longing still for Joan (Christina Hendricks), and even last week's rant against the Honda execs over wounds never healed from World War II -- all reinforcing how important Slattery is to the well-balanced martini that is 'Mad Men.' Here's a great moment from the show with Roger musing on booze:

willie_garson_mozzie_white_collar_usa2. Willie Garson: Mozzie on 'White Collar'
If you loved Willie Garson as Stanford on 'Sex and the City,' you might not have realized what a terrific actor he is till you saw him create a completely new and different lovable schnook as Mozzie on 'White Collar.' More than just a sounding board or a supportive pal, Mozzie is Neal's (Matthew Bomer) go-to guy when it comes to crime. And he's a bit of a genius, too.

My favorite Mozzie moments, though, came in the episode when he had a crush on the crossword puzzle girl from the diner. That showed that there's a lot more to Mozzie than scamming the feds or making millions on a con.

joe_morton_henry_eureka_syfy3. Joe Morton: Henry Deacon on 'Eureka'
'Eureka' is an ensemble show, but there's one member of the cast who stands out as both invaluable and integral. Joe Morton has had bigger roles on other shows, but it's as Henry that he brings gravity and perspective to the science fiction weirdness of 'Eureka.'

This was no more evident than on the Season 4 premiere -- the time travel episode -- in which Henry, a former bachelor, gains a wife after the time shift.

sam_axe_bruce_campbell_usa_burn_notice4. Bruce Campbell: Sam Axe on 'Burn Notice'
Whether he's ex-Navy SEAL Sam Axe, or alter ego Chuck Finley, Bruce Campbell is so much more than a supporting actor that he could easily steal the show with the arch of his brow. But the real gift that Campbell has is playing well with others.

He's the perfect partner in crime for Jeffrey Donovan's Michael Westen. In recent episodes, Sam's been forced to be less a fun-loving, womanizer with a taste for mojitos and play it a bit more seriously, like when Jesse (Coby Bell) dredged up Sam's past during a case, forcing him to deal with some difficult memories. Fortunately, last week Sam was back to his old ways, chumming it up with a nasty Brit con artist to expose him for the scum bag he was. By the way, if you wonder why USA is planning a Sam Axe prequel movie -- with Campbell -- take a look at this promo video. The guy's a star:

Jk_simmons_the_closer_tnt5. J.K. Simmons: Will Pope on 'The Closer'
While Kyra Sedgwick is the strong centerpiece of 'The Closer,' her supporting cast is a who's who of superb character actors, and the top of the bunch is J.K. Simmons. As Chief Pope, Brenda's superior officer in the L.A.P.D., Simmons offers layers of complexity to his character. It's not just his tangled personal relationship with Brenda, it's also his ambitions to rise politically.

The episodes this season emphasized that Pope's reach may be exceeding his grasp, with Brenda becoming his unexpected competition for the top cop job in all of Los Angeles. Simmons is never better than when he allows Pope to reveal his flaws. The episode in which he learned his dream job was not to be his was a prime example.

henry_winkler_royal_pains_usa6. Henry Winkler: Eddie R. Lawson on 'Royal Pains'

If casting is a big part of the success of a character, choosing Henry Winkler to play Hank Lawson's (Mark Feuerstein) dad was a sure thing. They look like father and son and even have similar expressions. But what has made Winkler such a good fit on 'Royal Pains' is that his Eddie R. Lawson is not what he seems to be. There's depth to this performance, and Winkler has only shown the tip of the iceberg.

A recent flashback episode, which included a photo of Winkler from his Fonzie days, was especially good as it showed how Hank learned to be creative at the foot of his father. As the season finale approaches, it'll be interesting to see if the mystery of Eddie is unveiled or left for future episodes. This preview from the 'Lovesick' episode gives you a feel for how well Winkler has fit into the show:

carlos_gomez_the_glades_a&e7. Carlos Gomez: Carlos Sanchez, 'The Glades'
Medical examiners on crime procedurals rarely get more than a scene or two to deliver the data the hero needs to crack the case. On 'The Glades,' Carlos Gomez has a lot more to contribute as Jim Longworth's (Matt Passmore) best friend and golfing buddy. Carlos is the compass, the guy who knows more about the lay of land than Jim, and he's not afraid to tell Jim when he's a pain in the butt.

The Carlos high point for me this initial season was when, in the midst of a hurricane, the M.E. took on doctor chores and displayed a bedside manner that was pure gold. And he also knew how to steal a generator from FEMA like a pro. Gomez plays Sanchez as a character with spunk and heart.

Who's on your roster of most valuable summer supporting players?

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