From USA TODAY- Small screen, big talents <span style='font-size:8pt;line-height:100%'>(Full article not posted, only the section on Jennfier Garner.)</span> By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY Television actors are an underappreciated lot. Not financially, of course. When it comes to cash, starring in a TV series is one of America's most well-rewarded professions. Yet despite the riches — and despite some progress — TV stars still lack status in the acting world. Movies are more glamorous, the stage more prestigious, which may be why so many TV stars migrate to both. In part, this denigration of TV actors is a long-standing hangover from the industry's early days, when TV was seen as the last, sad stop before career oblivion. Movie stars might be willing to appear on TV as a lark, but no one took their work in the medium seriously. Times have changed, but one major factor hasn't: the inherent limitations of the medium itself. Where movies and theater are larger than life, TV is smaller. Series television is built upon empathy and familiarity, upon characters who come into our homes every week. We identify with them, or at least we recognize them as identifiable types. That familiarity often fools people into thinking TV actors are just "being themselves." Even other actors have confessed their surprise at discovering that NYPD Blue star Dennis Franz is nothing at all like Andy Sipowicz, the character he has so indelibly created. And I'm convinced one of the reasons Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry have failed to win Emmys is that people think they're behaving "naturally" and don't see the skill behind the artifice. So as the season winds down to its end next week, it seems like a good time to honor the 10 actors who gave the year's most valuable performances. I concede that the number is arbitrary and unfair, and there are many more actors who could have made the list, starting with Franz, LeBlanc and Perry. With that caveat, here are the USA TODAY Top 10, with a sample episode to watch for in reruns. Jennifer Garner, Sydney Bristow in Alias Sydney is the kind of role that can make a young actress's career, and Garner has made the most of it. Before ABC's Alias began, it was hard to imagine Garner in the part, based on the little we knew of her from Felicity and Significant Others. Now it's hard to imagine anyone else as Sydney, which is one of the tests of a TV star. Her all-American, athletic "good-girl" aura is not only a perfect fit for Sydney. It also makes her undercover array of trashy bad-girl disguises amusing rather than disturbing. Luckily, Garner is a star who can act. (The two don't necessarily go together.) As they work their way through some of TV's most nonsensical plots, Garner and a first-rate supporting cast make sure we believe in the characters and their personal upheavals, even when we don't believe the story. Episode to watch: "Phase One" (Jan. 26): Just because the stories don't make sense doesn't mean they're not fun, and never more so than in this ingenious post-Super Bowl special. The episode allowed Garner to move from high point to high point, from her jaw-dropping midair fight at the start, to an emotional breakdown in the middle, to a long-awaited kiss at the end. How can you not love this show and its star?