Good Actor, Poor Show: Joshua Malina in 'Big Shots'
Good Actor, Poor Show:  Joshua Malina in 'Big Shots'
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
In BuddyTV's 2007 Fall TV Guide, we analyzed which great stars are working on shows that aren't worthy of their skill levels. The three to earn that distinction in 2007 are Fred Willard in Back to You, Jerry O'Connell in Carpoolers, and Joshua Malina in Big Shots.

The cast of ABC's new show Big Shots has a pretty decent track record. Dylan McDermott was great as a hard-nosed defense lawyer on The Practice. Christopher Titus created a surprisingly funny, self-titled FOX sitcom. And, of course, Michael Vartan was everyone's favorite CIA handler Michael Vaughn in Alias. Yet somehow they all fall flat in Big Shots, trying too hard to fill roles they are completely unfit to play.

Then there's Joshua Malina, a nerd's nerd playing a pharmaceuticals company president who uses his wealth to live out a teenage fantasy of sleeping with a hot young blonde. It's an awkward scenario with preposterous plot twists and bad writing, which is something this brilliant actor is simply not accustomed to.

Perhaps that is the reason I'm so used to thinking Malina is a great actor who deserves better than this. Aside from the recent bomb Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Malina has appeared in everything Aaron Sorkin has ever written, and when you're working with such a fine caliber of writing, it's hard not to come across as a terrific actor.

He had bit roles in such Sorkin-penned films as The American President, A Few Good Men, and even Malice. His breakout role was as Jeremy Goodwin, the uptight sports enthusiast in Sorkin's first television foray, Sports Night. Perhaps it's because I consider it the greatest television show ever made, or that Jeremy is my favorite character, but Malina's ability to be exasperated, uneasy, overconfident charming and clumsy all that the same time is an impressive feat.

Most recently, he tested his dramatic chops as up-and-coming speech writer Will Bailey on Sorkin's The West Wing, where once again he maneuvered through Sorkin's rich dialogue like Kenneth Branagh with Shakespeare.

The end result is this: Malina deserves better than this. Much, much better. He's capable of true brilliance and can switch from comedy to drama at the drop of a pin. Big Shots, sadly, is a total waste of his talents.

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Comment if you agree or disagree. Also check out these other actors who cannot save their shows: Fred Willard in
Back to You and Jerry O'Connell in Carpoolers.

-John Kubicek, BuddyTV

(Image courtesy of ABC)