Help me pick TV's best supporting actors of 2009: From 'Chuck,' 'The Office,' 'Southland,' and more! |

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Help me pick TV's best supporting actors of 2009: From 'Chuck,' 'The Office,' 'Southland,' and more!

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?


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