regular Michael Boatman
says he knew going into Friday night's final taping with exiting star Michael J. Fox
that the cast would be performing at the top of their game.
"It makes the performances sharper because everyone realizes that they're sort of working toward something that a lot of people will see and that a lot of people will consider to be somewhat special," Boatman told TV Guide Online just hours before the taping. "You sort of ride on the crest of a wave of excitement and it tends to make the show better.
"It's more than the fact that he's leaving or that any one actor is leaving," Boatman says of Fox, who's exiting the show to focus on his real-life battle with Parkinson's disease. Next season, the show will move production from New York to Los Angeles and add star Charlie Sheen. "It's sort of the end of a hugely important experience in my life. I'm sure whatever happens in Los Angeles will be great, but whatever it is, it will be different."
Boatman, who began his TV career as a regular on China Beach back in 1988, also told TV Guide Online that he was happy to learn the Vietnam war drama will be joining TV Land's regular lineup on May 1 (weekdays, 2 pm/ET). The actor says he has nothing but good memories about the series, minus a few 20-hour workdays and the occasional discomfort that comes with watching his acting skills at age 21.
"I think I've changed a lot because acting is one mode of expression that you become better at as you get older," he says. "Acting is all about life experience and I think actors become richer and deeper as they get older. I had the fire of youth, the energy of not knowing what the hell I was doing. A lot of it was just nervous energy. I had more fear at the time. You're always afraid, especially when you're a younger actor, that you're going to get fired."