Alan Dale is leaving 'Betty'

BILL HARRIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:36 AM ET

Alan Dale's run as Bradford Meade on Ugly Betty is coming to an end. But as the affable New Zealander put it, he has felt like a fish out of water anyway.

"Ugly Betty has changed, because originally it was to be a drama with humour, and in the end it has become an hour-long comedy," said Dale, 60.

"So I won't be with the show for very much longer, because my character doesn't do comedy, really."

There certainly was nothing funny for Bradford Meade at the end of last week's episode. Bradford had a heart attack and collapsed at the altar just before he was to marry the evil Wilhelmina, as played in comically bitchy fashion by the excellent Vanessa Williams.

Tonight's episode (Citytv, ABC) is titled I See Me, I.C.U., which gives us a pretty good indication where Bradford is headed.

Whether Bradford ultimately dies is not known. Maybe his old wife Claire (played by Judith Light) will re-emerge to take care of him, and they'll ride off into fictional retirement together.

You know, if they could take Betty's irritating on-again, off-again boyfriend Henry with them, it really would be appreciated.

Either way, Bradford is history, but Dale isn't bitter about it.

"They're going to go a different way, so I'll be moving on," Dale said. "But it's a fantastic show, breaking new ground, really. We'll see what happens next pilot season, but I'm surprised there aren't a lot more comedies just imitating it."

Actually, Ugly Betty has not been nearly the ratings success in its sophomore season that it was in its rookie season, so maybe Dale is getting out while the getting's good.

"I have a few jobs lined up," Dale said. "But I'm fine, I'm an old guy, I've been around a while. And I'm a New Zealander, so I have a lot in common with you guys (Canadians).

"I spent a long time in Australia working there. So you know, this is my O.E., my overseas experience. I was in The O.C. before Ugly Betty, so I'm on a pretty good winning streak. I've been in North America only since 2000, so it's really going great."

As for Ugly Betty on the whole, things haven't been going so great. A bad pattern has emerged in the writing that sees the characters behaving too irrationally and illogically, notwithstanding the suspension of disbelief needed for a TV show.

Far too often, the emotions of the characters have been careening back and forth -- between polarized positions such as "I never want to see you again" and "Oh yeah, I forgot, I'm always there for you" -- merely to drive the plot along.

The producers also have resorted to stunt casting, such as the inclusion of Victoria Beckham (a.k.a. Posh Spice) last week. We know this really is saying something, but she actually might be a worse actress than she is a singer.

There also have been rumours that Lindsay Lohan has been negotiating to appear in a three-episode arc on Ugly Betty, although the ongoing writers' strike in the U.S. may scuttle those tentative plans.

Whatever happens, Ugly Betty won't have Bradford Meade to kick around much longer.

"You just had to know that the wedding (of Bradford and Wilhelmina) was not going to turn out like you'd expect," Dale said. "But the success of the show starts with Betty. America (Ferrera) plays her beautifully. It's about her and everyone else sort of zooms around that, I think."


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