Image Credit: Tina Gill/PR PhotosThe Hollywood Reporter brings us devastating news: JAG star David James Elliott has swooped in and replaced Neal McDonough on the ABC dramedy pilot Scoundrels. You’re probably asking: Why should I care? Who’s Neal McDonough? What’s a JAG? Why haven’t we retired the word “dramedy” yet? PopWatchers, I don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you this: Neal McDonough is one of the great American actors, and Hollywood has spent a decade wasting his considerable talent.
Hyperbole? You wouldn’t think so if you saw McDonough on the stealth classic TV show Boomtown. McDonough played self-destructive David McNorris, an ambitious, alcoholic, adulterous Assistant District Attorney. I’m not exaggerating when I say that McDonough made every line of dialogue sound like Shakespearean prose-poetry.
Alas, Boomtown was canceled. Because he looks like a middle-aged version of the ’80s bully (Aryan blond hair, empty blue eyes), McDonough can usually only get work as a Z-grade villain. He was the vile casino owner in Walking Tall, and the vile serial killer in 88 Minutes, and the vile M. Bison in (sigh) Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li. He was in (double sigh) I Know Who Killed Me. He was probably most visible as Edie’s vengeful, crazy husband on a season of Desperate Housewives — a fun detour but a definite waste of talent.
McDonough’s career pattern is somewhat similar to Timothy Olyphant, another great actor forced to play blandly evil Stephen Dorff villains. Of course, Timothy Olyphant is finally getting his due on Justified… a show produced by Graham Yost… who also produced Boomtown! Hmmm, can Olyphant’s Raylan Givens have a blond, morally ambiguous brother?
PopWatchers, am I alone in my admiration for McDonough? Sound off below!