Screen: HBO

Where There's Smoke, There's Michael Weston

It's not his fault -- but he keeps showing up at the same time as annoying plotlines and character beats, so he's a Dealbreaker.

I put off writing this piece for a few weeks because the thing is, I like Michael Weston. He's a perfectly good actor, and he's appealing -- I always recognize him, and I always say, "Hey, Michael Weston!"

Unfortunately, it seems that wherever on TV Michael Weston goes, bad things follow: beats for other characters entirely that don't work; never-ending subplots only the showrunners seem to care about; poorly conceived relationships; exhausted tropes. I didn't want to write Weston up as a Dealbreaker because it's never Weston's fault. He doesn't ruin arcs or strain credulity. In fact, he often elevates the material just enough that I don't notice for awhile that it stinks -- and that, once again, Weston is nearby. He's like the Jessica Fletcher of late-season writing; he's not a murderer, but when he comes to town…

I haven't seen everything he's done on TV, and I hope he rocked it on Scrubs, but thanks to a very high correlation between Weston's presence and plotting that has annoyed me, I'll have to treat him as a red flag from now on, even if he's not responsible. As you'll see from the list below, I think he's had enough chances.

Six Feet Under

Weston's Role: The psycho crankball who kidnapped David and sent him into a PTSD tailspin.

Why It Sucked: Weston and Michael C. Hall both acted the hell out of it, but the carjacking and its aftermath just ate David's storyline in the fourth season, and felt like a soapy copout for a character Hall had given fine, fearless shading up to that point. Weston is fine at first, then forced to go bigger and more cartoonish as the PTSD plot drags on.

Law & Order: SVU

Weston's Role: In case you're a Mennonite and didn't hear: Detective Olivia Benson is the product of a rape, and her bio father had at least one other child: Weston's Simon Marsden, Liv's half-brother.

Why It Sucked: Where to start? I mean, besides that he's miscast and Mariska Hargitay seems to dwarf him physically? Fine: the contortions the show underwent so it would never have to drop Benson's mother's case, even after she'd died, got even Gumbier when she found, and began obsessing about, her half-brother Simon Marsden. Benson running her own DNA and not telling Warner; Benson solving a frame-up involving Simon in New Jersey; Benson helping the perpetually-under-investigation-for-rape Simon get his kids back -- he's due for another appearance next season, probably to reveal that his mother is William Lewis or something. (Just kidding. Since Benson almost died like five times last season and nobody thought to call him, HER ONLY FAMILY, I assume we'll never see him again.) Weston did his best, as usual, but Simon's story, in episodes spanning five years, is every lazy, hysterical, unrealistic sweeps-bait SVU tendency in one role.

Helter Skelter

Weston's Role: Bobby Beausoleil, still in prison as of this writing.

Why It Sucked: Manson-Family biopics always suck for whatever reason. Nobody at the center of the story is very interesting, much less sympathetic; they're just a bunch of broken, easily led kids, and disappearing into the Manson role the way Jeremy Davies did here is not exactly a positive.

House

Weston's Role: Cuddy love interest and P.I. Lucas Douglas, initially hired by House to spy on Wilson.

Why It Sucked: The Wilson/House estrangement felt both overdue on Wilson's part and contrived on the show's (NOW Wilson gets fed up?). But it's the "Huddy" pairing that turned me off House MD in the end, and Cuddy had a perfectly functional relationship with Lucas -- who also got on well with the baby -- but dumped him for a shot at a relationship with House.

Those Who Kill

Weston's Role: The impossibly prepared and baroquely invested in dated rave culture killer.

Why It Sucked: Weston is typical of TWK's tendency to give good actors obnoxious tropes to play -- in this case, a couple-killing psychopath with unlimited funds and time to prepare his hamster wheel of torture who nevertheless follows such a predictable pattern that our heroes can finally apprehend him. After like five years? I don't even know. I do know that the super-smart sicko with the Rube Goldbergian MO is so tired it has Epstein-Barr.

As I said, none of it is Weston's fault. He's doing his best with dumb scripts and situations, or he's standing in the next room holding an infant when the story goes south. But circumstantial evidence is still evidence, I'm afraid, and until I rewatch his Monk-isode and see if that gets bunged up too, he's officially a Dealbreaker.