Television is swarming with overseas actors playing American characters, from Linus Roache on "Law & Order" and Anthony LaPaglia on "Without a Trace" to Anna Friel on "Pushing Daisies" and Rachel Griffiths on "Brothers & Sisters." Maybe they're good actors. But some do the American thing much better than others (cough, Anna Torv, cough). Here's a selected report card:
Simon Baker, Australia
Patrick Jane on "The Mentalist"
He has created a charismatic American, although his Aussie swagger does seep in now and then.
Hugh Laurie, Britain
Gregory House on "House"
He does East Coast acerbic better than real East Coast acerbics.
Anna Torv, Australia
Olivia Dunham on "Fringe"
She seems American enough until she opens her mouth and her IrishBritishAussieWhatever hybrid issues forth.
Jonny Lee Miller, Britain
Eli on "Eli Stone"
He passes for a fast-talking American lawyer, but you can't listen too closely.
Natascha McElhone, Britain
Karen on "Californication"
Her bright presence and unusually angled face distract from occasional vocal lapses.
Charlie Hunnam, Britain
Jax on "Sons of Anarchy"
He's so good, you want to forget the fact that his accent comes and goes like the wind.
Ed Westwick, Britain
Chuck Bass on "Gossip Girl"
He doesn't come across as a Brit or an American. His Chuck sounds more like a universal hissing snake.
Anna Paquin, New Zealand
Sookie Stackhouse on "True Blood"
She invents a fake Southern accent that is endearing and campily funny in its fakeness.
Damian Lewis, Britain
Charlie Crews on "Life"
Most of his performance takes place in his wry eyes, but he has the accent down pat, too.
Rufus Sewell, Britain
Jacob Hood on "Eleventh Hour"
You can feel words getting caught in his mouth as he works to shape them.
Jason Clarke, Australia
Tommy Caffee on "Brotherhood"
He tries too hard to sound like a Kennedy, but his tense performance is diverting.
Jason Isaacs, Britain
Michael Caffee on "Brotherhood"
His De Niro is on the money.
Jason O'Mara, Ireland
Sam Tyler on "Life on Mars"
He's dynamic, but -- poor guy! -- his New York pales next to costars Michael Imperioli and arvey Keitel.