With “House” coming to its conclusion on Monday after an eight-year run, it’s fair to say that quite a few regular cast members have seen their way in and out of the doors of Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, but their number can’t hold a candle to how many guest stars – we’re talking people who were on the show for a single-digit number of times – have turned up over the years. This isn’t all of them, but it’s a start…
Robin Tunney (Ep. 1.1, “Pilot”) Character: a kindergarten teacher who becomes dysphasic and starts having seizures. Turns out she’s invested with tapeworms.
Sam Trammell (Ep. 1.4, “Maternity”) Character: the father of a baby girl that’s not even out of the maternity ward and already on death’s door from a virus.
Elizabeth Mitchell (Ep. 1.5, “Damned If you Don’t”) Character: a nun who looks like she’s suffering from stigmata but is later discovered to be suffering an allergic reaction to a copper cross IUD left over from her, uh, wilder days.
Dominic Purcell (Ep. 1.6, “Fidelity”) Character: a husband whose wife – the Patient of the Week – turns out to have been unfaithful.
Amanda Seyfried (Ep. 1.11, “Detox”) Character: girlfriend to the Patient of the Week.
Scott Foley (Ep. 1.12, “Sports Medicine”) Character: a baseball player suffering cadmium poisoning from all the pot he’s been smoking.
Joe Morton (Ep. 1.17, “Role Model”) Character: a senator suffering the after-effects of an epilepsy treatment from childhood
John Cho (Ep. 1.20, “Love Hurts”) Character: a guy who, after spilling apple juice on House’s clothes, ends up being diagnosed by him as having had a stroke. Upon further investigation, it’s determined that he has a trauma-induced aneurysm as a result of a preference for sadomasochism.
Carmen Electra (Ep. 1.21, “Three Stories”) Character: While begrudgingly lecturing a classroom of medical students about a past patient who is depicted as looking like Carmen Electra playing miniature golf. In reality, the patient was actually a male golfer…and he played regular golf, by the way. (Who knew miniature golf could be so sexy?)
The competition: Dancing with the Stars (ABC), Two and a Half Men / Mike & Molly (CBS), The Sing-Off (NBC), House (Fox)
Starring: Rachel Bilson, Jaime King, Wilson Bethel, Cress Williams, Scott Porter
Executive producers: Leila Gerstein, Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage, Len Goldstein and Donald Todd
What the network says: “Fast-talking New Yorker Zoe Hart has her life all figured out: after graduating top of her class from medical school, she’ll follow in her father’s footsteps as a cardio-thoracic surgeon in New York City. But life has other plans for Zoe. Turned down for the prestigious fellowship she had been certain she would get, Zoe is without a job and without a plan. Desperate, she decides to finally respond to the kindly stranger, Dr. Harley Wilkes, whom she met at her medical school graduation and who had offered her a place at his small medical practice in Bluebell, Alabama. She swallows her considerable pride and heads down South – temporarily, she assures herself.”
What we say: If you thought the worst thing about “Hart of Dixie” would be trying to buy Bilson as a surgeon, you’re wrong. In addition to painting the character of Zoe with the sort of broad strokes where she starts the pilot as a complete bitch who’s dismissive of living in a small Southern town and ends it as a thoughtful young woman who believes the people of Bluebell just might have a few life lessons to teach her, the proceedings tend to be little more than cornpone cliches slathered atop a heaping helping of schmaltz. There are a few clever lines and amusing characters, like the mayor of Bluebell, a former football player who regularly refers to himself in the third person, but viewers below the Mason-Dixon line will likely sneer at the way they’re portrayed, while everyone else will just roll their eyes and switch over to…well, just about anything else, really.
(9 – 10 PM, Sept. 13)
The competition: Dancing with the Stars (ABC), NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), The Biggest Loser (NBC), New Girl / Raising Hope (Fox)
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nestor Carbonell, Mike Colter, Ioan Gruffudd
Executive producers: Pam Veasey, Jon Liebman and JoAnne Colonna
What the network says: “Bridget Kelly is a recovering addict, struggling to turn her life around. She’s six months sober, and beginning to get back on track, when she witnesses a professional hit. She’s placed in federal protection under the watch of Victor Machado, an agent determined to see that justice is done. But Bridget knows that Victor can’t keep her safe and she flees, telling no one, not even her close friend and Narcotics Anonymous sponsor Malcolm Ward. Hoping to buy some time, Bridget contacts her identical twin sister, Siobhan Martin, and joins her in New York City, reuniting with her for the first time in six years. Siobhan is fabulously wealthy, with a strikingly handsome husband, Andrew, who has no idea that Bridget exists. When Siobhan suddenly disappears, seemingly taking her own life, Bridget makes the split decision to take on her sister’s identity.”
What we say: With so many unabashed “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans among the writing staff, no one wants to see Sarah Michelle Gellar succeed in a series more than Bullz-Eye, but for that to happen, viewers are going to have to get past the painful sequences at the beginning of the pilot where Gellar interacts with herself. If you can get beyond that, Gellar’s interactions with the trifecta of Carbonell, Colter, and Gruffudd may offer enough charisma to keep people coming back, but given that we weren’t even halfway through the pilot before we started wondering incessantly just how long Bridget was going to be able to perpetuate her chicanery, things are going to have to get really interesting really quickly for the show to maintain the initial “welcome back to the small screen, Sarah Michelle” momentum in the ratings.
(8 – 9 PM, Sept. 14)
The competition: The Middle (ABC), Survivor (CBS), Up All Night / Free Agents (NBC), The X Factor (Fox)
Host: Mario Lopez
Executive producers:Mike Fleiss, Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey, Mario Lopez and Jeremy Spiegel
What the network says: “Celebrities are constantly in the public eye – but not everyone is a fan. Each week, celebrities from the world of television, sports and music will come face-to-face with their biggest ‘haters’ to try to win them over.”
What we say: All we’ve seen thus far is a “presentation” to give us a feel for what the show will be like, but it now appears that the season premiere is going to feature the same material, namely Snooki from “Jersey Shore” and Jake Pavelka from “The Bachelor” each confronting a “hater.” The concept itself isn’t so awful – it’s about time some of these internet trolls were taken to task by the people they’re mouthing off about from the safety of their computers – but based on the sampling of future “stars” who’ll be appearing on the show, it’s clear that the word “celebrity” is going to be pretty relative. Given the competition, it’s hard to imagine that reality-show alumni facing off against their “haters” are going to pull sufficient ratings to make much of a ratings dent against actual reality shows like “Survivor” and “The X-Factor.”
The Secret Circle
(9 – 10 PM, Sept. 15)
The competition: Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), Person of Interest (CBS), The Office / Whitney (NBC), Bones (Fox)
Starring: Britt Robertson, Thomas Dekker, Gale Harold, Phoebe Tonkin, Shelley Hennig, Jessica Parker Kennedy
Executive producers: Kevin Williamson, Andrew Miller, Les Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo
What the network says: “Cassie Blake is a normal, happy teenager, leading an everyday life with her devoted single mom, Amelia. But when her mother dies in what Cassie thinks is a tragic, accidental fire, her world is turned upside down. Cassie moves in with her warm and loving grandmother Jane in the beautiful small town of Chance Harbor, Washington – where the residents seem to know more about her than she knows about herself.”
What we say: The fact that it’s from Williamson, most recently known to CW viewers as the man who brought them “The Vampire Diaries,” may lead everyone who’s aged out of their teens to believe that “The Secret Circle” will be at best no more than another guilty pleasure that they’ll never publicly admit to watching. “Circle,” however, begins without the bandwagon-jumping feel that “Vampires” had at the outset – “It’s just like ‘Twilight,’ except it’s on every week!’ – and instantly offers a dark, intriguing premise as well as all the teen angst you’ve come to expect from a Williamson project. Yes, many oldsters will smile knowingly at the similarities to “The Craft” when the bitchy teen witches hit the screen, but it feels more like an homage than a rip-off. This could prove to be one of the more enjoyable series of the season. Stay tuned.