Friday, January 26, 2007

Recurring Themes

I don't know why I like recurring characters so much, but I always have.

For me, there is always something cool about a show that creates an indelible character and uses that person just enough where we anticipate his or her visit.

It's different than the "special guest star" deal that seemed to always be the staple of "ER," in which a big-name star shows up basically once or twice and gets a lot of attention for doing so.

Take "Supernatural," for example. The episodes with the Winchester boys' father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) have been among the best of the series because of the interaction among the characters. But the series was all the better for using Morgan selectively, adding to the impact of each of his visits. Had they made him a regular, it would have lessened that impact.

Recently, there's been a whole slew of guest actors who have signed on to many series in recurring roles.

Liev Schreiber is perhaps the most notable, since he is taking over for William L. Petersen in "CSI" while the latter actor is off doing another part.

Other recent announcements include that of Patricia Wettig reviving her role as President Reynolds on "Prison Break" later this season and Eric Roberts joining Christopher Eccleston as new recruits on "Heroes."

Last night, Phil Morris made his first appearance as the Martian Manhunter on "Smallville," a part we will almost definitely see again this season.

And it seems likely that "24" fans will get to see the return of former first couple Charles and Martha Logan at some point later this year, though reports are coming through that former Jack Bauer flame Audrey Raines (Kim Raver) probably won't be returning this year, even though her other series "The Nine" is off the air.

Who are some of your favorite recurring characters?

FRIDAY'S BEST BET: Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) gets his dream job as Sean Astin's butler in tonight's episode of "Monk" (USA, 9 p.m.)


Phillip Ramati said...

In regards to yesterday's comments, our blog guy, Ryan, said that there shouldn't be any difficulties in choosing an identity under "other."

Zodin2008 said...

The use special actors/guest stars is always great when a series does it just right.

For example, Phillip, as much as you deride "24", the producers of the show should be was widely reported this Fall that A-List movie stars like Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller wanted to guest star on "24" and were flatly denied by the producers of the show because the show will only put in actors if their parts are pertinent to a storyline.

James Cromwell or Peter Macnicol are certainly not as big of stars as Aniston or Stiller, but their parts were smartly laid out for the strengths of these actors. They've done a wonderful job with former "Deep Space Nine" star, Alexander Siddig, who's profile has been raised signifigantly with his juicy roles in films such as "Kingdom of Heaven" and "Syriana".

A TV show that was the worst example of guest stars was NBC's "Will & Grace". That show was the anti "24" and continually tracked down the biggest stars possible (from Matt Damon to Michael Douglas to Madonna) to do these one shot stunt appearances.

If anything, the name guest stars apparently became a crutch for a show that stopped being funny about 5 years before it ended.

Guest stars should play nicely into the story and strategic. Besides "24" (and the Logans are the best examples of it) another show that's done a nice job with its guest stars this year has been the wonderful "How I Met Your Mother". Between former "Family Ties" dad Michael Gross as Ted's father, to the always hilarious Bryan Cranston as Ted's former boss/now employee, to the talented Wayne Brady as Barney's surprising brother...the show hasn't necessarily brought in huge names, but funny actors who fit seamlessly into the zany world of Ted, Barney et all.

One current sitcom I watch that, in my honest opinion, has been hit or miss with its guest stars, is NBC's "My Name is Earl".

"Earl" has had some guest stars like Kathy Kinney from "Drew Carey" or Marlee Matlin that I thought were funny and did a great job fitting in, but then they keep shoving the talent-less Giovanni Ribisi down our proverbial throats and I would just like to know who Ribisi has naked pictures of that he keeps receiving actual paychecks in Hollywood. He's the single worst and most annoying actor in the history of the industry. He's even more annoying then Laurie Metcalfe if that's possible!

(and her guest shot on "Monk" last Summer was the single worst "Monk" episode ever).

By the way...why exactly won't the Producers bring back Audrey? No offense to Rena Sofer who's stunningly beautiful, but Jack and Audrey is really one of the great TV romances. And we all know Raver is readily available with the cancellation of "The Nine".

Hotspurs said...

Never been crazy about Ms Raver so I can live without her. The trouble with many of the"stars" is tat they play themselves not a minor character.

sink sink socks said...
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Boogie said...

Wish "Earl" would bring back two of Macon's finest. Blake Clark and Brett Butler were terrific as Joy's mom and dad the Darvel's.
Does anybody know why there are so many Smokey and the Bandit references in the show?

Phillip Ramati said...

I would like to see Joy's parents back in a future episode. I think the "Smokey" references is because all of the characters live in trailer parks, and because Burt Reynolds guest-starred on the show.

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