Cult classic moulders despite guest turns
That 70s Show 8pm, Seven
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.
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