On the late, lamented Boomtown, Neal McDonough spent two seasons playing David McNorris — a prickly, intense Irish-American deputy D.A. with a troubled marriage and a drinking problem. In the 38-year-old actor's estimation, McNorris was "a self-loathing mess." Even so, that mess earned him some very loyal fans! "People are still upset by the cancellation," he says. "I'm going to really miss [it]."

That said, McDonough's piercing blue eyes have no trouble spotting the silver lining in this cloud. "I got to do 30 episodes of a phenomenal TV show, I had a ball doing it and got to meet some really fantastic people," he says. "Were it not for Boomtown, there's no way that NBC would have given me my own show on the network. I'm so grateful."

He's talking about this fall's Medical Investigation, where he'll headline as Stephen Connor — a prickly, intense Irish-American epidemiologist with a troubled marriage and a dark secret. Dr. Connor runs a mobile medical team called in to investigate unexplained illnesses. It's considered a mix of CSI and ER — part procedural, part personal drama. But too bad it doesn't have a snappier title like those hit series. During our interview, McDonough accidentally calls the show "Medical Mystery" a few times before catching himself! If even he can't get it straight....

"Medical Investigation is a tough name," he sheepishly admits, "but I think it says exactly what the show is. It is medical investigation. I heard when they were talking about naming Friends, [someone was] like, 'You have got to be kidding me. No way that title's going to work!' This show might be abbreviated to something else [or] it may stay as Medical Investigation, but if it's a good show, it really doesn't matter what the name is, hopefully."

By the way, McDonough isn't fond of the "CSI-meets-ER" billing the show gets. "Those shows are all about finding this crazy killer who's whacking people to death or raping people or all these horrible things that I just don't like watching," he says. "The last thing I want to do when I watch television is get more depressed. Yeah, our show is about disease, but at the end of each episode, our show is really about hope."

That doesn't mean the weekly disease stories won't give viewers the heebie-jeebies — and send them reaching for the antibacterial soap. "I'm not really a hypochondriac type," McDonough teases, "but I haven't had a hot dog since I did the pilot, which is brutal."

For more from McDonough, including the tale of his whirlwind romance between making Boomtown and Medical Investigation, pick up the current issue of TV Guide.