One thing’s for sure in life—with time, everything changes.
For instance, years ago, May sweeps meant that the television industry saved the best for last. The networks broadcast non-stop, action packed, cliff-hanging storylines every night of the week, hoping to pull in the largest ratings of the year before announcing which shows would receive pink slips.
And while this still rings true for some series, times have changed (for the most part). Today’s May sweeps ultimately means knowing which shows will return and which shows will be swept away before the season finales have all aired.
Another example would have to be the season/s in which new TV shows air. Back in the day, and similar to May sweeps, most television series aired from September to May. The summer months were left to reruns and made-for-TV specials, leaving parents and children tons of time to enjoy the warmer weather and outdoor activities. But today, viewers have to pay close attention to when their favorite shows will play new episodes—it could be the traditional September through May, or it could be August through November, January through April, June through August, etc.
With these new and scattered TV schedules, one would have to assume that taping for these shows is also sporadic and all over the place. Right? I think so. And I see this as a good thing. Why? Because it’s providing more opportunities for a few of the familiar faces we see in non-starring roles.
When I was a young girl, very rarely did I see an actor or an actress, regardless of how small or large their recurring role in a particular TV show, act in any other program on television. Occasionally we’d see them in a Hollywood film or TV special they were able to tape during their “off-season,” but never did they land a second recurring role on another popular series.
The same is not true today.
Because of alternating filming schedules and series airing at multiple times throughout the year, actors and actresses have the opportunity to take on multiple roles. Over the last year alone, I’ve seen four different actors/actresses land recurring parts in multiple TV shows… that I can think of off the top of my head. Granted, these stars are only members of larger ensemble casts in their primary programs and not the leading man or woman, but their characters are crucial to the story and their names appear in the main credits versus the “also starring” or “guest starring” tape that airs after the first commercial break.
The actor who prompted this post played one of my favorite characters on Fox’s 24 for multiple seasons—Roger Cross. For years he played Curtis Manning next to Kiefer’s Jack Bauer, and that was the only role, at the time, that I recall seeing him play. But today, as in the 2012-2103 TV season, he landed three recurring roles on three hit TV series (in their own right, anyway): Sergeant Bloom on ABC’s Motive; Detective Hilton on the CW’s Arrow; and Travis, a member of the Liber8 escapees, on SyFy’s Continuum.
But Mr. Cross is not alone.
David Ramsay, recognizable for his previous roles on Dexter, Outlaw, and Ghost Whisperer, currently plays two different characters on two completely different shows—Diggle on the CW’s Arrow and Mayor Pool on CBS’s Blue Bloods.
Corbin Bernsen, most notably from L.A. Law and the Hollywood hit, Major League (but does he really need an introduction at this point in his career?), plays dad to two of my favorite TV detectives—to Shawn Spencer on USA’s Psych and to Jim Longworth on A&E’s The Glades.
And last, but not least, we have Gina Torres (from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Alias, Firefly, the second and third Matrix movies, and a show I enjoyed that was given the axe way too soon, Fox’s Standoff). Currently we all know Ms. Torres as Jessica, Harvey’s and Mike’s boss, on USA’s Suits, but she can also be found playing her real-life husband’s (Laurence Fishburne) wife on NBC’s Hannibal.
I find the mechanics behind how TV shows work today very interesting. And personally, I think these changes are great for the industry. I mean, if you’re not the lead, why not explore your options and add to the resume as much as possible?
What do you think? Do you like seeing actors and actresses appear in multiple roles at the same time? Can you add to my list of four? I’d love to hear from you!