ABC's summer crime dramedy (at least I think it's trying to be funny) suffered a huge loss when Neal McDonough was reportedly sacked after three days of production because the devout Catholic refused to shoot sex scenes with costar Virginia Madsen. McDonough brings a riveting malevolence to every role he plays, from sleazy DA David McNorris on Boomtown to psycho killer Dave Williams on Desperate Housewives. He surely would've lived up to the name of Palm Springs crime family patriarch Wolfgang "Wolf" West.
Here's the real crime: McDonough was replaced by David James Elliott, a likably generic TV hunk best known for his role as straight-arrow military man Harmon "Harm" Rabb on JAG. But on Scoundrels, Elliott seems completely harmless, even with tattoos and a prison jumpsuit after his character is unexpectedly sentenced to five years' hard time.
As mama bear Cheryl West, Oscar nominee Madsen (Sideways) needs a strong leading man to balance her out - even with her face immobilized, the Botox poster girl is a formidable force. But Elliott's Wolf feels more like a puppy. When Cheryl says she's going to take over the family business - and go straight - he sneers, "You don't have the balls." Ironically, Elliott should come across like a Soprano, yet he seems like a castrato.