I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Best Guests

I've recently noticed that some of my favorite television shows of the past are really losing steam, most notably, The Office. It is fairly clear that the original story that The Office was intended to tell has already been told, but since ratings remain high these completed stories are still being developed, dragging us from the boring life of engaged Jim and Pam to the boring life of married Jim and Pam to the boring life of parental Jim and Pam. By now you've probably heard that Steve Carell is leaving The Office after the end of this season but that the series is set to continue without him despite the fact that it has been unoriginal and uninteresting for nearly two full seasons. The public is now trying to decide who should replace Carell as The Office's lead character and regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton.

I don't want to be left out of the discussion of possible additions to the cast of The Office, but I also don't want to limit the discussion to The Office alone. Television programs have commonly brought in guest stars or added actors to their cast in order to breathe life into a dying story, but guests are also an important part of several of the most popular television programs on the market. 30 Rock, for example, follows the format of Saturday Night Live in many ways, feeding us interesting guest star after interesting guest star. If I'm not mistaken I think they even featured James Franco as himself, only he was in love with a Japanese body pillow.

The following is a list of funny television programs and the guest actors who would complement them best:

30 Rock

Before I talk about why Justin Timberlake would be the best addition to the cast of 30 Rock, I'd like to applaud those who do casting for the show for getting Matt Damon to play Liz Lemon's love interest Carol. I had been kind of bored with the show for a couple of months, but when Damon appeared in the season finale as a quirky pilot who loves TGS a spark reignited for the show. My first thought, when thinking of who would work well with 30 Rock, was a play off of Matt Damon's character Carol. I thought it would be interesting to have Ben Affleck join the mix, creating a love triangle between Damon, Affleck and Fey. It would be funny first of all because of their camaraderie in creating Good Will Hunting, but mostly because of the recent staged fight between Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Kimmel that the two got caught up in.

Ben Affleck is too obvious, and there's no promise that he would be any near as good as Matt Damon turned out to be for the show. That's why I think Justin Timberlake would be the best choice. I'm a huge Justin Timberlake fan, but honestly that has little to do with why he would be perfect. Like Alec Baldwin, Justin Timberlake keeps getting called back time after time to host and re-host Saturday Night Live, the program that this show is loosely based on. He is also responsible for one of NBC's most watched videos of the last decade, the infamous Dick in a Box music video. He just has a chemistry with these people and is incredibly funny, and honestly, I don't think it's so hard any more to prove the case that Justin Timberlake is developing into a fantastic actor. Like James Franco, Timberlake has proven that he has a sense of humor about himself, which means that he would be ready for any sort of embarrassing character traits the writers would throw at him.

Big Bang Theory

I think it was season one when Big Bang Theory first featured one of Johnny Galecki's co-stars from Roseanne. Since then, both Laurie Metcalf (Mary Cooper, Sheldon's mother) and Sara Gilbert (Leslie Winkle, Leonard's on-again off-again fling) have made repeat appearances, and since then, I have been crossing my fingers that John Goodman would be the next. I think I'm probably the only one these days who sees it, and probably because everyone's so tickled by the bombardment of Huzzahs and Bazingas, but Big Bang Theory really hasn't been all that interesting for a while. It seems, like The Office, to have overstepped its original story and continues to coast on the infinite references that can be made to comic books and quantum mechanics. I honestly think that as long as Marvel and DC are making movies, there will be an audience for this show. If we're going to watch it for several years to come, then I want to see John Goodman become a major player, possibly Penny's out-of-work father who crashes at her apartment "until he can get his act together." Maybe it'll even develop from a Roseanne reunion to a Big Lebowski reunion when some of his buddies played by Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore. The possibilities are endless when you have John Goodman on your cast.


A show like Community thrives on guest stars, needing fun new actors every week to play a professor or classmate at Greendale. The lead actors are veritable Kevin Bacons of connections to other actors, from the old school SNL connections of Chevy Chase (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, etc.) to the various entertaining hosts of The Soup that Joel McHale grants us access to (Greg Kinnear, Aisha Tyler). But my choice for guest star of Community is a cry for justice. Maybe some of you remember the internet sensation surrounding Donald Glover and his campaign to be considered for the upcoming fourth Spider-Man movie. The people of the internet could accomplish such inane things as getting Betty White to host SNL and yet we couldn't elect a black Spider-Man? I think that Andrew Garfield, the kid they chose to play the new Spider-Man, should show up on Community, on Donald Glover's turf.

How I Met Your Mother

This choice was hard. With Alyson Hannigan you gain access to the cast of one of my favorite television programs Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With Neil Patrick Harris you get the whole Harold and Kumar cast. But I want to go even further back into Harris's career. And I'm not talking about Starship Troopers. I think that How I Met Your Mother would benefit most by re-uniting NPH with his original wing man, Max Casella. On Doogie Howser, MD, Casella's character Vinnie climbed in Harris's (Howser's) window on a daily basis. It's time for these two to become the Maverick and Goose of bird dogging, to show Ted Mosby what he could have become if he could just keep up with Barney's compendium of rules and illustrations.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I was originally going to sit on this blog idea for a while to see if I could brainstorm more ideas, but yesterday my good friend Josh, whose brilliant blog Fat Train deals with all the best and worst the worlds of television and film have to offer us, put some fire under me. During a class we both attend, he wrote a blog titled It's Always Funny in Philadelphia in which he linked his internet followers to this very blog post before it was even written. I thank Josh for his kind words and for introducing his people to my blog, but I also begrudge him for forcing me to be less lazy with my blogging.

The reason Josh prophesied this particular blog post is because we were discussing a recent episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia in which (SPOILERS!!!!!) Dee is revealed to be carrying the child of an unknown father. We both expressed that this would be the perfect time to invite a new actor onto the show and explain him as Dee's baby daddy. For some time now, I've wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger to join the cast as Danny DeVito's twin brother, calling, of course, back to the film Twins. Since we all know that Dee and Dennis were actually sired by Stephen Collins, TV's Reverend Eric Camden from Seventh Heaven, it wouldn't be completely tasteless for Dee's non-blood-related uncle to be the father of her child. It would be taboo, sure, but taboo is what keeps this show on the air.

The Office

My brilliant idea for the actor to replace Steve Carell on The Office was Michael J. Fox. He once had his own office, but it was taken away from him by Charlie Sheen. Now he's looking for an office of his own once again, and by golly, it looks like there's an opening. It would have been easy to write a decent amount about why this would be awesome, starting with the renewed focus on Back to the Future since the release of video of Eric Stoltz as the original Marty McFly.

To write an article about that would betray my sentiment that it is time for The Office to end. It is foolish to continue that show without Steve Carell, and I will not join in the speculations for his replacement because nobody should ever replace him. They need to suck it up, end the show, and start working on new pilots that promise to entertain people the way The Office did for its first few years. With an endgame in sight, there is only one choice that anyone can entertain for a guest star on The Office. That is the return of Amy Ryan as Michael's greatest love interest of all time, Holly Flax. In proper The Office fashion, things would look really grim for a long time, but Michael Scott would show a hidden reservoir of character that gives Michael and Holly some hope of being together. And that's where we end. The end of this season is the dignified end of this series. If it were to be done right, it would have happened closer to the time of the marriage of Jim and Pam, but it can still be done well.

1 comment:

  1. Love it! Especially your ending of The Office. Last year was terrible, but this season has been better. If there is a way to reinvent the show without Michael Scott, it could be a way to keep this show funny and fresh into the future. If not, I am all for saying, "we've had a great run" and ending it exactly as you propose!

    I did love the fact that Community had Donald Glover in Spider-Man pajamas in the season premiere, but playing it up even more by having Glover lose competition after competition to Garfield could be funny.

    It took HIMYM forever to finally play on the Doogie Howser past of NPH, but when they did, it was brilliant. Ultimately, Vinnie could come into play, and I have no doubt they would hit that out of the park as well. Wesley from Buffy and Angel (and real life husband of Hanigan) has already been on the show, so I would love to see some more, but for me, I would love to see some of the Judd Apatow- Freaks and Geeks cast make an appearance with their old pal Jason Segal.