Dave on Demand: Recycled, to a fault

Gwyneth Paltrow with Matthew Morrison on "Glee": A question of credibility.
Gwyneth Paltrow with Matthew Morrison on "Glee": A question of credibility.

Lots of TV series cast actors familiar from earlier series, but NBC's "The Event" carries the practice to a damaging extreme.

Posted: March 12, 2011

TV series are like the tubercular poets of yore: They pass too soon. Especially the good ones.

As a result, prime-time actors tend to show up again and again, commandeering a new horse as soon as their current one falters.

It feels like William Shatner, Sarah Chalke, Greg Grunberg, Holland Taylor, Jimmy Smits, Scott Bakula, Dana Delany, Jerry O'Connell, Kyle Chandler, Gerald McRaney, Scott Wolf, Michael Chiklis, Heather Locklear, Eric Close, and others are always with us.

The absolute king of this phenomenon is the late Robert Urich, who starred in everything but The Jeffersons. Urich was recycled more times than a SunnyD jug.

Usually, familiarity does not breed contempt. Several current series make effective use of frequent fliers - for instance, Craig T. Nelson and Peter Krause on Parenthood. And Blue Bloods is having a nice senior moment with Tom Selleck and Len Cariou.

But one show this season has faltered precisely because it took this practice too far.

NBC's The Event crammed its cast with so many TV veterans, it has become a distraction.

Among the featured players are Blair Underwood (who may one day shatter all returnee records. Alas, poor Urich) as President Martinez. His vice president is played by Bill Smitrovich (Life Goes On; The Practice). His security adviser is Zeljko Ivanek (24; Damages); his chief of staff is Roger Bart (Desperate Housewives).

Among the prisoners at Inostranka are Laura Innes (ER) and Clea DuVall (Carnivale; Heroes).

Also bouncing around the set are Scott Patterson (Gilmore Girls), D.B. Sweeney (Jericho), and Hal Holbrook (Evening Shade; Sons of Anarchy). This week, the series even had MSNBC's Chris Matthews unconvincingly playing himself.

Look, The Event has had a hard enough time selling its disjointed alien-invaders premise. It doesn't need its diminishing viewers pausing to marvel, "Gee, I didn't know Dr. Weaver was from outer space."

Remember when. Speaking of standing out like a sore thumb, Glee's decision to bring back Gwyneth Paltrow once again destroyed the show's marginal but stubborn plausibility (although I did like Gwynnie's version of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide").

Even better was Ms. Pillsbury (Jayma Mays) and her Chastity Club members demurely singing that pop chestnut "Afternoon Delight."

Hearing that ditty from '70s one-hit wonders the Starland Vocal Band brought back a flood of memories from an era of musical innocence (before Ke$ha and Lady Gaga were born).

Remember Up With People? Those shiny, happy kids were the halftime entertainment at three Super Bowls.

Good times.

That's an oxymoron, Dawg. A couple of judges' comments really caught my ear on American Idol this week:

Steven Tyler called Fraggle Rock fugitive Casey Abrams "a plethora of passion."

Randy Jackson praised Pia Toscano for a "very hot dope cool performance."

The judges' policy seems to be: "You slaughter the songs; we'll slaughter the language."

Bourne again. You know what I love about this country?

Equipped with a remote, there is not an hour of the day when I cannot watch Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity on at least one cable channel.

We are living, my friends, at the apogee of civilization.

Contact staff writer David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@phillynews.com. Read his pop culture blog at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/dave_on_demand.

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