Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Sitcom Reunion Movies
On a lighter note today... I've been thinking about TV sitcom reunion movies (you know, where the cast of a popular sitcom is reunited years after the original series has ended) and several popped to mind. It's easy for me to see why, despite the silliness of most of these films, they were embraced by a HUGE number of viewers when they aired. After all, in many cases, we grew up with these characters -- and may, in fact, have known them better than some members of our own extended family! Plus, it's always fun to see how the actors have aged since the sitcom originally aired. Ironically enough, in many cases, these films are conspicuous by the absence of an original cast member who decides not to reunite for the reunion. Tina Louise -- the original "Ginger" from Gilligan's Island -- did not return for the very popular Rescue From Gilligan's Island. The Gilligan's Island reunion sort of started the sitcom reunion genre, and itself spun off two more Gilligan's Island TV movies! While almost all of the principal cast returned for Return to Mayberry -- which, by the way, was the number rated TV movie of the year at the time -- Frances Bavier, who played Aunt Bee on The Andy Griffith Show, did not. In A Very Brady Christmas, youngest daughter Cindy was played by Jennifer Runyon and not original series regular Susan Olsen. (The reunion movie was popular enough however to launch a spin-off series called The Bradys. For that series, Olsen once again returned to play Cindy, but Maureen McCormick, who played Marcia in the original series and the reunion movie, was replaced by Leah Ayres.) InThe Odd Couple: Together Again -- the sitcom reunion I most eagerly awaited, and one which took years to materialize -- almost NO original cast members -- aside from Tony Randall and Jack Klugman -- returned! (Penny Marshall as Myrna Turner, and Garry Walberg as poker buddy Speed, made small appearances.) I'll admit, these films are at most, a curiosity. But so what? We're all entitled some guilty pleasures. TV sitcom reunion movies are mine! I much prefer them to the more recent trend of adapting classic sitcoms into theatrical films. Sadly, cast members of many classic sitcoms have passed on, making it impossible for a reunion. A Three's Company reunion without John Ritter or Don Knotts? All in the Family without Carroll O'Connor? No. But, enough time has passed that it would be great to see TV reunion movies from the cast of Cheers, Seinfeld, and The Cosby Show.