Revolving roles

While the characters we see in reruns are stuck in a time warp, the actors have gone on to expand their horizons.

Ted Danson 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ted Danson 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
As I blithely surf the channels and my many program choices on HOT, I see a lot of familiar faces frozen in time in rerun perpetuity. Old standards like Gilmore Girls, Sisters, That ’70s Show, Friends, Party of Five and Babylon Five keep their cast forever young in that recurring TV space-time continuum.
But I know that the actors have long moved on to greener pastures.
In fact, some of these actors can be seen simultaneously in more current TV shows, while others have ascended to the bigger and more silver screen.
Lauren Graham, for example, the consummate mother, Lorelei, on Gilmore Girls, has moved on to star in the TV show Parenthood (which we don’t get yet on HOT, but I look forward to seeing whenever it finally does hit our airwaves). Meanwhile, Melissa McCarthy, who plays Lorelei’s best friend Sookie on Gilmore Girls, can also be seen as Molly in the sitcom Mike and Molly. And she is starring in the comedy film Bridesmaids. Playing her mother on Mike and Molly is Swoosie Kurz who, in another time slot, can be seen on Sisters in the role of Alexandra Halsey.
It’s an interesting juxtaposition, as on Sisters she plays an elegant socialite, while on Mike and Molly she’s a lowerclass, beer-swilling bimbo.
A very familiar – and very handsome – face can also be seen on Sisters. George Clooney plays detective James Falconer, and we all know how high Clooney’s star has risen since that show first aired in 1991-1996. His love interest on the show, Teddy Reed, is played by Sela Ward, who recently joined the cast of CSI:NY as assistant supervisor Jo Danville.
And speaking of sisters, the TV show Brothers and Sisters is not in reruns, but there are so many familiar faces on the show that the cast really does feel like family. Nora Walker, the matriarch of the five siblings, is played by the award-winning Sally Field, whose career has spanned movies and television for decades.
Her daughter Kitty is played by Calista Flockhart, aka Ally McBeal, while her other daughter, Sarah, is played by Australian actress Rachel Griffiths, whom we once knew as Brenda on Six Feet Under.
The actors who play the sons are not so familiar on other screens, but the man who plays Nora’s brother, Uncle Saul, is Ron Rifkin, whom we all knew and hated as the dastardly Arvin Sloane on the TV spy drama Alias. A face on the show that would be familiar to viewers of a certain age is that of Richard Chamberlain, who has made an appearance on several episodes but whom some of us will always identify as heartthrob Dr. Kildare of early TV fame.
Another actor who drops into the show is Michael Gross, who played Steven Keaton, the father on Family Ties, for its seven-year run. And lest I forget, real-life couple Patricia Wettig and Ken Olin also have key roles in the show as Holly Harper and David Caplan, but we can also remember them as the mates of other spouses in the TV series Thirtysomething. And yet another familiar – and very handsome – face was that of Rob Lowe, who played Kitty’s politician husband Sen.
Robert McCallister until his untimely demise (on the show). What a TV family reunion! And speaking of families, while the ubiquitous Party of Five features the young avatars of Matthew Fox, Scott Wolf (Bailey), Neve Campbell, Sarah Love Hewitt and Jeremy London, who have all gone on to do bigger and better things, we can see Wolf on the current sci-fi series V. He plays TV reporter Chad Decker. He co-stars with Elizabeth Mitchell, who plays FBI counterterrorist agent Erica Evans. But for fans of Lost, Mitchell still holds a special place in our hearts as Juliet, one of Dr. Jack Shephard’s (Matthew Fox) love interests on the show.
An actress who has risen to stardom from her early TV beginnings is Mila Kunis. While she graces our screens as Jackie Burkhart in reruns of the sitcom That ‘70s Show, the Ukrainian-born Kunis was nominated for several awards for her role in the film Black Swan and co-stars with Justin Timberlake in the new film Friends with Benefits.
And speaking of friends, Jennifer Aniston, who plays Rachel Green on the perennially repeated Friends, costars with Kevin Spacey in the recent film comedy Horrible Bosses.
As for familiar faces to look for in the future, James Spader, who did such a good job as outrageous attorney Alan Shore on the TV series Boston Legal, will replace Steve Carell (Michael Scott) in the sitcom The Office. And Ted Danson, who played the womanizing Sam Malone on Cheers, the surly Dr. John Becker in the sitcom Becker and the villainous Arthur Frobisher in the legal drama Damages, is in the comedy series Bored to Death and has joined the forensic team on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as a supervisor.
And so it goes........