The last time Amber Tamblyn starred in a television series she talked to God. Accordingly, she couldn't make a return to network TV in just any old program.
Her vehicle of choice, "The Unusuals," lives up to its name. It is a cop drama, but with a lot of dark humor. The officers live relatively sane lives in an insane world. The detectives embrace life and death with the same passion.
Even Tamblyn knows this is not an easy series to explain. In some ways, Tamblyn's breakout role in CBS' "Joan of Arcadia" faced the same initial problems as "The Unusuals."
"You really cannot describe the humor and the quirkiness and the honesty of this show without seeing it," Tamblyn says of "The Unusuals." She adds that even the promotional advertisements don't show how well the series balances drama with comedy.
The 25-year-old Southern California native appeared in a host of small television parts from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to "CSI: Miami" before landing the lead in "Joan of Arcadia." Since then, she has appeared in a handful of movies, including the two "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" features.
Her film success wasn't why it took a half decade before Tamblyn decided to return to television work. Tamblyn's passion for the offbeat almost brought her back to television a year earlier. She filmed a first episode for the potential CBS series "Babylon Fields." The series about zombies in Long Island was not put on the schedule.
"I knew that it would be hard to find something that could top 'Joan.' It is rare when you get to read something you really like," Tamblyn says.
"The Unusuals" was something she liked a lot. Her character gets transferred from vice to the NYPD's homicide unit. It is a strange new world. Eric Delahoy (Adam Goldberg) is trying to get himself killed in the line of duty. Leo Banks (Harold Perrineau) refuses to remove his bulletproof vest. Religious detective Henry Cole (Josh Close) is trying to keep his secret past from his streetwise partner, Alison Beaumont (Monique Gabriela Curnen).
And the criminals are even stranger. The series gives Tamblyn a chance to play a more mature role. Although she could easily pass for a high school student, Tamblyn will turn 26 in a few months. Age is not something she thinks about when choosing work.
"Everyone keeps talking about me doing older roles. Even my agents. I definitely enjoy playing all ranges of things. If there is a role of a woman who had a baby when she was young. Great. I'm there. If they want me to play 16 or 17. Done. It is all about the writing," Tamblyn says.
Speaking of writing: While waiting for just the right series to come along, that's how Tamblyn filled her time. Her second book of poetry is scheduled to be released in the fall. She wrote her first book, "Free Stallion," while on the set of "Joan of Arcadia."
Now she goes through starts and stops of writing inspiration. "Wanda Coleman, who is a wonderful poet out of Los Angeles, once told me those are the times when your inner muse is resting," Tamblyn says. "She believes there is no such thing as writer's block.
"You should never freak yourself out thinking you have writer's block. It only makes matters worse."