Viewers aren't the only ones shocked by Six Feet Under's plot twists. Sometimes the actors are, too.

Take

James Cromwell, who's not crazy about George's recent descent into madness. "They didn't tell me what was going to happen to this guy — all of a sudden, he started to fall to pieces, and I had no idea," gripes Cromwell, whose character undergoes electroshock therapy this season. "I'm not used to working this way. I like to know when I'm being led somewhere."

Cromwell thinks he's earned the right to be warned of such a sudden switcheroo. "S---, I've been doing this for 40 years," he says. "I'm not a goof. I understand if you've got a 19-year-old kid who doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground, but people spend their lives doing this. It doesn't add any more life to keep actors out of the loop.

"I have quibbles with writers running shows," Cromwell adds, pointedly referring to SFU creator Alan Ball. "Writers are belittled in this industry, and when they get in a position of authority, they tend to be very secretive of the process. No writer who's busted his b---s to come up with a script likes some actor to say, 'I don't think [my character would] say that.' They just want to punch your teeth. On the other hand, when you assemble a group of people who I believe are peers, it's nice to create an atmosphere in which there is feedback."

In his own defense, Ball pleads ignorance, claiming that even the writers don't know what's coming up for the characters. "It's funny that he has a problem with it, because I think he's done some of his best work and he should be proud of that," Ball says. "But a lot of times, actors tend to confuse their characters with themselves and don't want to be weak or infirm or unlikable." By George, we think he's got it.