Alfre Woodard, <i>Memphis Beat</i> Alfre Woodard, Memphis Beat

Jeers to Memphis Beat for saddling Alfre Woodard with another one-note role.

The 14-time Emmy nominee (she's won four — for Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, The Practice and the HBO film Miss Evers' Boys) has lately been wasted in throwaway authority-figure parts on subpar shows like Three Rivers and My Own Worst Enemy. TNT's new cop dramedy is no exception, as Woodard's by-the-book boss mostly stands around scowling at Jason Lee's maverick Tennessee detective.

Woodard's career slump began with her ill-conceived 2005-06 stint on Desperate Housewives as Betty Applewhite — remember, the neighbor who kept her son chained up in the basement? You can't blame her: She's no doubt taking the best roles offered to her. True, her cameo as Lafayette's nutjob mom on this week's True Blood gave her more to sink her teeth into, but she should be playing leads at this stage of her career. Unfortunately, TV's recent rediscovery of women of a certain age hasn't extended to actresses of color. Where is Woodard's Closer, her Damages, her Saving Grace?

Do you think Alfre Woodard deserves better?

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