5 Best Television Shows To Waste A Half Hour Watching

Being Green Is Great, But Is Hollywood Taking Recycling Too Far?

September 26th, 2008 10:20am EDT
Jerry OconnellIs there such a thing as a show-a-holic? A glimpse at the TV guide shows certain names keep cropping up time and time again attached to new shows. Could certain actors be addicted to starring on TV? And will they do anything to keep working whether the show is a quality one or not?

Isn't addiction classified as doing something to the point of excess, even after the point at which the person knows it's not healthy for them anymore? If the answer is yes then there are a few actors working today who show signs of needing serious career detox and rehab.

Case in point: the new TNT series, "Raising The Bar." Its recycled cast including Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Jane Kaczmarek and Gloria Reuben. Would audiences accept "Zach" from "Saved by the Bell" in a new drama, playing a lawyer of all things? What about Jane Kaczmarek, the non-stop screaming soccer Mom from "Malcolm In The Middle" as a lusty judge? It's a tad creepy to see her kissing some guy in chambers with her judge's robe hiked up around her thighs. Not to leave Gloria Reuben out of this discussion. She had the tough role on ER, back when it was worth watching, of a medical professional living with HIV. How would her role in this new drama compare and would audiences care to watch?

The answer was yes, and in such high numbers that TNT ordered a second season before the third episode even aired. Looks like "Zach" is still saving the day, even with his new weirdly long hair and serious pout. He apparently developed these new levels of acting while on NYPD Blue, along with "Silver Spoons" ex-star, Ricky (call me Rick) Schroder.

Speaking of child stars who insist on chasing the spot light no matter how many shows of theirs get canceled, Jerry O'Connell just won't quit. He and Fred Goss starred in the short-lived "Carpoolers" last season. Fred came over to "Carpoolers" to join Jerry after "Sons and Daughters" and "Significant Others" were canceled one after the other. Then "Carpoolers," which starred both O'Connell and Goss, bit the dust. Jerry was trying out a new show on Fox called "Do Not Disturb." Apparently audiences were so disturbed by O'Connell that they tuned him out. Fox just canceled this one after only three episodes. It has the privilege of being the first show of the new season to be canceled.

Do Not Disturb


Jerry O'Conell's latest failed series Do Not Disturb



This was such an embarrassment the writers released a statement apologizing for creating such a horrible show. Even if this publicity stunt was meant as a joke to scare up some critical support it sends the wrong message. And it makes O'Connell the official "kiss of death" to new sitcoms. Someone in Hollywood has got to start asking who keeps giving this guy shows to star in when there are more bankable actors available and willing to work?

Even Jimmy Smits, also of "NYPD Blue" fame, tried out a bomb of a show called "Cane" which went off the air before its first season could reach its mid-point. Now he's hoping to have better luck on "Dexter." To be fair, Jimmy only has a supporting role on the show and it's a Showtime original that was also picked up, cleaned up and aired on CBS with a two season lag for those without cable, so it's hard to make a real comparison of success with this one.

The problem may be timing and exposure. Perhaps these stars are not allowing enough time for audiences to miss them before appearing in a new show as a new character. Television, although passive, is a very intimate medium. People become very attached to their characters and storylines, they are not necessarily willing to accept their favorite star in another life, surrounded by new sets and supporting actors and dealing with new problems.

Some stars may never be able to take on a new character. Roseanne Barr, Jerry Seinfeld, and Ray Romano made such huge impacts on audiences they will forever be associated with the characters and sitcoms they created. This phenomenon might only effect comedians who, let's face it, don't have that big of a range as actors to begin with.

So how does someone with tremendous range fair? Kelsey Grammer has been, and continues to be, a stand-out actor on the big and small screen. He parlayed his success on Cheers into a spin-off called "Frasier," which lasted over a decade. And he has successfully lent his voice to characters such as "Side Show Bob" on "The Simpsons" and in voice-over work for commercials. Yet his latest sit-com "Back to You" failed in its first season.

Back to You


Formerly successful TV star Kelsey Grammer failed with Back To You.



And the phenomenon is not limited to men either. Grammer starred along side Patricia Heaton who came on board after "Everybody Loves Raymond" went off the air. With "Back To You" off the air it won't be too long before we see Ms. Heaton again.

There is a positive side to this trend for women. Brooke Shields had a successful sit-com with "Suddenly Susan" and is now the star of the racy primetime dramatic hit, "Lipstick Jungle." And Christina Applegate found her own success on the surprise gem "Samantha Who?" after years playing the dumb blonde daughter on "Married with Children."

It is not always the star but rather the vehicle that determines the success of a recycled TV actor. The moral may be: if you want to be re-heated more times than a burger at a fast food restaurant, then you better be serving quality and not quantity.

Erin MacMillan-Ramirez
Story by Erin MacMillan-Ramirez

Starpulse contributing writer