Cult clas­sic moul­ders de­spite guest turns

That 70s Show 8pm, Seven

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

THE spe­cial guest star syn­drome is of­ten a sign your favourite show is go­ing to the dogs. It gen­er­ally means the pro­gram has run out of ideas and is re­ly­ing on the buzz of hav­ing some­one fa­mous ap­pear for one or two episodes to pep it up.

When it works, it can be bril­liant. Friends was a mas­ter at it, par­tic­u­larly in the early sea­sons. When Ju­lia Roberts was dat­ing one of the show’s stars, Matthew Perry, hav­ing her guest star in an episode as his char­ac­ter Chan­dler’s girl­friend was a clever move. That she was slightly un­hinged and bent on re­venge for a past slight, which in­volved per­suad­ing Chan­dler to wear her un­der­wear be­fore she stole all his clothes, was com­edy gold.

Un­for­tu­nately, Will & Grace fell into the trap of guest stars to try to im­prove its lack­lus­tre last few years. When you need the likes of Madonna, Brit­ney Spears, Kevin Ba­con, Michael Douglas, Jen­nifer Lopez, Janet Jack­son and El­ton John ( many of whom played them­selves) to help a story, you know a show is strug­gling.

Seven is screen­ing the sixth sea­son of That ’ 70s Show , a clever sit­com about a group of teenagers in mid­dle Amer­ica dur­ing the 1970s. It’s not fair to ex­pect it to be a big hit. Even in the US it was more of a cult clas­sic, never one of the block­buster shows such as ER or CSI .

That ’ 70s Show ran for eight years, but in its last few sea­sons the pro­gram ap­peared just to go through the mo­tions. It was a star- mak­ing ve­hi­cle for Ash­ton Kutcher, who plays the good- look­ing but dumb Kelso, and he has started to make a name for him­self in movies and as a pro­ducer of shows such as Punk’d . So for the past few sea­sons the show’s pro­duc­ers kept in­tro­duc­ing guest stars to keep up in­ter­est lev­els.

Tonight, Alyson Han­ni­gan ( of Wil­low in Buffy the Vam­pire Slayer fame) guest stars as Suzy Simp­son, a fel­low trainee with Kelso at the po­lice academy. It’s an epiphany for Kelso, as he nor­mally sees women as sex ob­jects. But gun- lov­ing Suzy is the first girl he has liked as a friend.

The episode of­fers some laughs, but

’ un­for­tu­nately Han­ni­gan is phon­ing in her role as Suzy and her wooden ap­pear­ance brings down the whole story- line, a clas­sic ex­am­ple of a guest ap­pear­ance gone wrong.

The star turn tonight be­longs to Eric’s mother Kitty, who is try­ing to prove to a psy­chi­a­trist that she’s not the cause of her hus­band Red’s stress. It’s a clas­sic mo­ment from a great show.

Ge­orgina Wind­sor

Flak jacket: Ash­ton Kutcher’s take on the 70s made him a celebrity

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