Tim Daly Madam Secretary Performer of the Week

Performer of the Week: Tim Daly

THE PERFORMER | Tim Daly

THE SHOW | Madam Secretary

THE EPISODE | “Unity Node” (Jan. 10, 2016)

THE PERFORMANCE | Henry, the Madam Secretary character most often relegated to the role of Elizabeth’s biggest supporter and emotional ballast, spent this week’s episode acting out his fury, frustration and grief over Dmitri’s death. It was a spectacularly bad day for Prof. McCord, relayed via a strong performance from Daly.

Given the McCords’ usual closeness, it was jarring to watch Daly create distance between Henry and his secretary of state spouse, whom he blamed for the death of an operative he’d been handling. Daly plays Henry as a rational man above all, which we saw in the measured way he hugged Elizabeth tightly upon seeing her for the first time after she survived a fatal explosion, then could barely look at her as he quickly postponed a discussion/argument about Dmitri’s fate.

But the best actors are at their most captivating when their characters are pushed past their limits; accordingly, Henry’s blowup at his daughter’s school event — in which he both confessed his anger at his wife and owned his part in the young spy’s death — was incredibly watchable. Daly’s distress at being at the intersection of so many emotions, without resolution in sight, was palpable.

Henry’s relief after finally getting past his anger, right down to the warmth returning to his gaze as he looked at Elizabeth, was just one more reminder of why we love Daly’s portrayal of Madam Secretary’s mister. (Oh yeah, and that DIA resignation scene, complete with the mic-drop exit, was pretty badass, too.)

JCHONORABLE MENTION | 2 Broke Girls is tacky, sophomoric and goofy as hell. But enough about why we love it! Today, we’re singling out Jennifer Coolidge, who’s turned horny discount glamorpuss Sophie into not only the sitcom’s breakout character but a classic on par with Fonzie and Urkel. (Debate as necessary.) By now — the 100th episode aired this week — part of the fun is knowing Sophie well enough that we can anticipate how she’ll react in different situations. So when she arrived at Caroline’s luncheon for her snooty grandmother — with Coolidge exclaiming “Darling!” in a hilariously posh accent instead of Sophie’s usual Polish one — we just about lost it. And by the time the poser forgot her class act and asked to use the john — sorry, the “Jonathan” — we no longer needed a bathroom break, because we’d already peed ourselves. Which, come to think of it, is a compliment that Sophie, if not Coolidge, would surely appreciate.

CharlieHONORABLE MENTION | Charlie McDermott has always been an underrated hoot as The Middle‘s happy-go-lucky Axl Heck. But in this week’s episode the actor truly established himself as one of TV’s most gifted comic performers. It was obvious it would take some time for Axl to adjust to his first internship, but his reaction to the 9-to-5 work day allowed McDermott to display a knack for physical comedy we weren’t aware he possessed. Whether he was throwing himself over a kitchen counter to convey restlessness, contorting his entire body to flow like a slinky as he fell towards the Hecks’ refrigerator, or committing to an entire scene hunchbacked as Axl complained about a crick in his neck, the fearless McDermott held nothing back. Axl may have a tough time adjusting to the daily work grind, but McDermott more than got the job done.

Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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29 Comments
  1. Lee says:

    I hoped for at least an honorable mention for Carol Burnett or Alex O’Loughlin for Friday’s Hawaii Five-0. The switches from comedy to heartbreak were seamless and both actors were excellent. The final scene between them was one of the best of the series.

  2. I hate Sophie. That’s the biggest joke of an honorable mention ever. You know it’s a slow week when a really fake eastern European accent lets you occupy the same space as some award-worthy performers.

    • flutiefan says:

      Kind of agree. I like Jennifer Coolidge but Sophie grates. I didn’t appreciate her becoming the “breakout”… She’s an Urkel, not a Fonzie. She’s almost a Cousin Oliver.
      What happened to the gay waiter they added a couple years ago? He was fun. Bring him back!

    • robandco says:

      Yep, Sophie is the weakest character on the show. But this week was great. Jennifer Coolidge did a great job. The posh accent was hilarious. I agree the show could use a lot less Sophie, but she’s part of the dynamic. It’s nice to see 2 Broke Girls get some recognition even if it is just that, because I rarely laugh harder than when I watch this show.

  3. Ann Marie says:

    There should have been at least an honorable mention for Matthew Gray Gubler on Criminal Minds this past week. He held the screen for almost the entire episode and did a terrific job.

    • Angela says:

      Wholeheartedly agreed on this. He was a great mix of intimidating and heartbreakingly vulnerable.

    • Agreed. He is always overlooked in these things, and this week had one of his best performances as Reid. We saw classic Reid, outwitting the unsub and using his abilities as both a profiler and a genius. And then the Morgan and Reid moment at the end was just… well for me it was awesome. I loved it. But this performance was up there with when Reid lost Maeve, that was heartbreaking but very well acted.

    • kirads09 says:

      Agree. Will Poor Reid EVER catch a break in his personal life tho. If ANYONE deserves some sort of “happy” ending after all the horror its Spencer.

  4. Valerie says:

    I love Tim Daly and it’s so nice to see him get kudos for Madam Secretary. MS is one of the most underrated shows on TV. Great cast, great writing, great story lines. I’ve loved every episode.

  5. I would’ve liked to seen Jared Harris get a honorable mention for being so captivating in his scenes with Thomas Jane on The Expanse!

  6. Sam says:

    Why is Denis o’hare not there! His performance for this week American Horror story was excellent!

    • The Beach says:

      The bigger question is why isn’t Denis O’Hare there EVERY week. He makes everything he’s in better. His season on True Blood was the best of the entire series.

  7. I thought both Charlie McDermott and Articus Shaffer were very good in this week’s The Middle!

  8. leash10 says:

    Yes, yes, yes! I love Tim Daly and love the chemistry he and Tea Leoni have. This is one of my favorite shows because they balance the drama of their professional lives with great humor and banter in their home life.

  9. BM says:

    Yeah! Absolutely loved this Madam Secretary episode and Daly in it! Great writing, always feels so real.

  10. NLP says:

    Tim Daly has been on fire this season of MSec!! The storylines coming up should also be great for him too!

  11. Boiler says:

    Great choices….all 3. Finally shows I watch:)

  12. HAP says:

    Interesting bit of trivia- Tim Daly’s first credited role was in a 1966 TV movie called An Enemy Of the People, based on an Ibsen play, with the teleplay written by Arthur Miller. It starred Tim’s dad, James Daley.

  13. Mak says:

    Axl is awesome…I’m glad Charlie is getting this recognition. Brick & Axl are the reason why I’ve stuck with this show for this long, they are a hoot!

  14. Larc says:

    Great job from Tim Daly. His upset over Dmiti’s apparent death seemed real, which I can understand since I was also unhappy about it.

  15. Ram510 says:

    The Middle was the highlight of me tv week. I watched that episode multiple times, it was excellent! Blackish was also really good too

  16. Paul says:

    Carol Burnett and Alex O’Loughlin knocked it out of the park last night.

  17. Beckers0505 says:

    Middle is my favorite show! Happy to see Axl got some love! Every single one of those characters is amazing!

  18. David says:

    Great recognition for Tim Daly and Charlie McDermott, who are both great actors on terrific series that should receive far more attention! I think it’s a bit too late in the game for “The Middle” to gain awards traction outside of the Critics’ Choice, but I really hope Leoni and Daly can break through for “Madam Secretary” somewhere!