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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Monday, November 08, 2004

And featuring Janet, As The Nit Picky Blogger

There's a growing phenomenon in television today. It's what I like to call the "let's rely on" trend.

The concept is very simple. Take a show. Any show. Now most programs have the average 5 to 7 main characters, give or take a few. But then you have the add on's that are often infused into new or already existing programs. These people are commonly referred to as guest stars or in really super cases, special guest stars.

Usually the reason these people have been featured is really quite simple and can be boiled down to one of three reasons:

1. The show is new and figures adding "star" power will also rope in the viewers.
2. The show has been around for awhile and needs new viewers.
3. The show is on its last leg and really needs new viewers.

In all three cases the same rule applies, "Let's rely on (insert star's name here) to get this show, off the ground/back on track/save us please.

In some cases, this practice works. Take for example, Melrose Place adding Heather Locklear many moons and backstabbing soaps ago. The show was struggling, Heather came on board and along with a revamp, Melrose was riding high for years to come.

But for every shining example there's one that's not so hot. Take Will & Grace which, personal views aside, started as a rather funny show. But now nearly every single week there is SOMEBODY who just happens to stop by to chat it up with Will and the gang. To make matters worse, these people often play themselves (i.e. Cher) which takes a campy show and makes it even campier. If I wanted to watch famous people playing famous people I would watch SNL or even in some awkward twist of fates, the nightly news. I just don't get it. The last time I checked you had four, funny and capable actors already built on. Why go digging for diamonds when you've already got gems?

Then there are the newer shows that advertise up a storm when they add a "name" to the roster. The most recent example of this I saw was on the Taye Diggs drama, Kevin Hill. Diggs is a hot show lawyer. An alpha male Ally McBeal who unexpectedly gets saddled with a kid. But apparently Taye giving Stella her groove back wasn't enough for UPN. Oh no. They had to go and get a big time celebrity to seal the deal. And who, pretell, did UPN find? Well none other than one... Ms. Rhea Pearlman.

I'm sorry but is that name a draw anymore? In fact, let's call a spade a spade. Was it really ever a draw, ever? Even when Cheers was in it's heyday I don't remember seeing Rhea's name above the credits. Sure she had some funny one-liners, but so did Monroe on Too Close For Comfort and really, where is Jim J. Bullock now? If the rule serves to be true, he just might show up on Lost next week, or the more fitting...Will & Grace. (see how I came full circle with that one...wink wink)

And while I'm on the does one rate getting the very special guest star stamp of approval anyhow? Sometimes shows have actors, big names or not, that stick around for years that still maintain special guest star status. I don't understand. Is this a plus? Is this a minus? Does it mean more money or less? Or quite simply, does this give said actor an easy out when the show inevitably gets cancelled or jumps the shark, whichever comes first?

Sometimes I get excited when a show I like has a special guest star. Most of the times though, I find I'm rather let down when the guest star is underused or even worse, overused. But usually these are shows I already watch, that said star just happens to show up on. So note to the networks. I'm not going to start watching Cold Case just because you've got Bea Arthur playing on the team for one night. In fact, with Arthur at bat, I know I'm not.

In short, them being there is not a deal maker or breaker. So just shut up. You had me at hello.



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