John C. McGinley is widely known for his work on Scrubs as the ever-cantankerous Dr. Perry Cox, but starting tonight the self-proclaimed TV junkie is taking on a new role: that of Tom Card, former CIA training officer and mentor to Michael Westen on Burn Notice. In honor of McGinley's new gig—he'll appear in at least five episodes of the USA spy show—we called up the actor to chat about why he loves TV and what he's watching on it. Here's what he had to say...
On people who don't watch television:
McGinley said he hates it when people say they don't watch any television, a sentiment he shares with Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence.
"Billy Lawrence, who was the executive producer on Scrubs, would say it was an arrogant, back-east thing, and it's always a lie when celebrities would tell him they didn't watch any television," McGinley said. "When someone would tell Billy they didn't watch TV, he would always go, 'Yes, you do!' And I've seen him do it, and after a few seconds, they'll say, 'I guess I watched 60 Minutes, and Game of Thrones' ... 'Oh, so you doooooo watch TV!'"
On his TV influences:
"One of my biggest influences is Carroll O'Conner from All In The Family, but just to scramble your eggs," he said to me while laughing maniacally, "I'm going to throw in Phyllis Diller, she was a daffy, female comedian who used to destroy Johnny Carson. When I was a kid she destroyed me. I can't remember why, but she did. And then there's Redd Foxx of Sanford and Son, and he's also one of the dirtiest stand-up comedians in the history of stand-up. And Flip Wilson, he was a cross-dressing comedian and played a woman name Gerald Dean."
On loving his DVR:
"That box is the greatest thing ever invented."
Read on to find out which TV shows made McGinley's top five, starting with his absolute favorite.
"I would put this show up there with The Sopranos. It has a great layered complex storytelling. I like the agreement that it seems to make with the audience that we're going to start this story out really slowly and meticulously and YOU ARE GOING TO WATCH. That leap is unbelievable. It's just so ballsy. It's the best show on TV, by far!"
"The A B C D storylines in each episode are shot on different continents. It's as good visually as most films to me. The actors are completely superior, the direction is flawless, and it's as good as any old-fashioned serialized storytelling. I just can't wait for the next episode."
"I especially loved Season 2 because the writers learned from all the mistakes that were made in Season 1. The storytelling got so much more sophisticated and then of course I love when you kill a principle [character]. In the Season 2 finale, a principle [character] was murdered. Also, Steve Buscemi is one of my favorite characters on the show—he's sublime."
"Love the show, but the last season I felt they lost their way a little bit. The first three or four seasons were really good, and I'm not going to say negative things because I'm not going to. I just thought they lost their way a bit and that means this season will be spectacular. Also, to follow up Johnny Lithgow as a bad guy is almost impossible. He was so unbelievable and even before him Jimmy Smits was great."
"This fifth one is my guilty pleasure. This is sooooo good. It's all T 'n' A, big sweaty men, the hot chicks, Roman extravagance—it's great. The technology used by the director of the film 300 during the swordplay and the scenes where they slow down a fight is used in Spartacus. It's great."
What do you think of McGinley's picks? Did any of them surprise you?
Catch McGinley on Burn Notice starting tonight at 9pm on USA.
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