Q: I’ve noticed that actor Scott Wolf is in two different TV series this year in a primary role. One is “The Night Shift” and the other is “Perception.” How is that possible? When a viewer is into a series, the viewer gets bonded to the characters in that series, and it makes it difficult to see that actor in another series in the same season.
A: Actors have long found ways to work in more than one series at once, if the series want them. In the ’70s, for example, Nancy Walker co-starred on both “Rhoda” and “McMillan and Wife.” Also in the ’70s, Richard Anderson played the same character, Oscar Goldman, on both “The Bionic Woman” and “The Six Million Dollar Man.” In the ’80s Heather Locklear worked on both “T.J. Hooker” and “Dynasty.”
Wolf is now a regular on “Perception,” but he was a guest on “The Night Shift,” appearing in just four episodes. Still, TV logistics make it possible to work more often; a season for one show may be brief (“Night Shift’s” first was just eight episodes) and year-round programming can also translate into production spread across a TV year. Some other examples of crossing-over actors: Alison Brie has been able to appear from time to time on “Mad Men” while working more often on “Community,” and Iain Glen of “Game of Thrones” also had a recurring role on “Downton Abbey.”
Memories of ‘Maverick’
Q: The death of James Garner started me thinking about his start on “Maverick.” I remember that the first show began with Bret going into a really grungy bar in dirty trail clothes. He asked for a “man.” Quickly the show moved into the comedy fashion show that became so popular. In a similar vein, Brian Keith (and a dog) had a show that opened the same way and that one also transitioned into a comedy. Am I correct in these memories?
A: Yes and no. In the series premiere of “Maverick,” a dirty Bret (Garner’s character) enters a fancy hotel but gets a room after tricking the clerk into thinking he is very rich — promptly establishing Bret as a bit of con man. And while we think of Bret in his fancier wear, there are several episodes in which he looked scruffy while passing between towns.
I can’t tell you about the opening of “The Westerner,” a 1960 series with Keith as a drifter with a dog. I have not seen the series, which ran for just 13 episodes despite a production team that included director Sam Peckinpah.
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