The genius that was Amy Ryan's Holly beatboxing on The Office last week got me thinking about other cast additions that have made shows better.
The first that came to mind was actually another Amy Ryan role -- Beadie on season two of The Wire. It took awhile for me to get into the whole dockworkers storyline, but it was Beadie that helped me through.
If a show plans to stay on air for awhile, it needs fresh blood -- but the process of introducing new characters isn't easy (witness how reviled Maya was on Heroes). The best new additions combine great actors with well-written characters.
Here are seven other (fairly recent) new characters that succeeded.
1. Desmond on Lost: His and Penny's love story always brings a tear to my eye, and 'The Constant' was the best episode of Season 4. And I'm not gonna argue with adding even more man candy to Lost.
2. Ben on Lost: I didn't want to highlight more than one character from a show, but it's impossible to leave Ben (Michael Emerson) off this list. Ben Linus is one of the creepiest, most manipulative and fascinating characters on TV. He's basically the reason I watch mindless reality TV after Lost (so as not to have bad dreams).
3. Amber AKA "Cutthroat Bitch" on House: Yeah, they killed her off, but before (and after) she died, Amber shook things up between House and Wilson -- much needed on a long-running procedural.
4. Archie Morris on ER: Scott Grimes came on as an inept resident who provided some comic relief to all the bloody drama. But he stuck around and became the heart, if not the lead, of the show. His reaction to Pratt's death last week proved it.
5. Katharine Mayfair on Desperate Housewives: We can all agree the show was circling the drain after the failed Applewhite mystery. But Dana Delany brought a breath of fresh air to Wisteria Lane -- and made a great foil for Marcia Cross. I can't wait to see them continue to cross knives.
6. Mahone on Prison Break: He started off as Michael Scofield's nemesis in season two and turned into an uneasy ally. And Mahone's infinitely more interesting than Lincoln, Sucre, Bellick, etc. William Fichtner rocks.
7. Callie on Grey's Anatomy: If nothing else, Sara Ramirez's ortho doc helped break up the incestuous sludge that was George/Meredith/Alex/Izzie/Cristina -- at least for a little while. But we'll have to wait and see on the Callie/Hahn hook-up.
Promising additions this season (but too soon for a final judgment)
Major Hunt (Kevin McKidd) on Grey's Anatomy
Daphne (Brea Grant) on Heroes
Who do you think were the most successful TV cast additions recently?