9/17/08

Casualties and Survivors of the Darrin Syndrome

Does anyone remember that fateful day when you turned on "The Dukes of Hazzard", and instead of Bo and Luke, you got Coy and Vance? Kids around the country stared at their TV set in utter disbelief. Let's have a look back at some other shameless replacements and poor substitutes from pop culture history.

There's Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marcia, J-... hey, wait a minute, that's not Jan! Fans tuning in to the Brady Bunch Hour in 1977 found themselves squinting at the screen, thinking there was something different about Jan. Well, there was something different about Jan- instead of Eve Plumb we got the interloper Geri Reischl!

in-ter-lop-er (ĭn'tər-lō'pər) n. One that interferes with the affairs of others, often for selfish reasons; a meddler.

Of course, this all a matter of preference. Some people may have liked Dick Sargent better than Dick York. Me, I much preferred York to Sargent... and no, it has nothing to do with Sargent's gayness, and a lot to do with his excruciating whininess. York may have been a bit neurotic, but it was played with a lot more levity.

Sometimes, replacements come and go and no one even notices or cares. Soap opera viewers can attest to that. And did anyone really care when Becky changed faces on "Rosanne"? Not me.

Then there are those that more than meet expectations. Would anyone call Roger Moore or Tom Baker (Dr. Who) poor substitutes? How well an actor fills someone's shoes is often a matter of taste and can be complicated. There's even an MSN article about it.

Here's a tip. When someone asks for a beer, don't hand them a Zima. And when someone wants Van Halen, don't give them this guy.

Believe me, I understand that rock bands frequently change members. You just about need an Excel spreadsheet to keep track with the lineups of some bands (King Crimson, I'm talking to you!). However, it's when a central figure, a well-loved and respected member, gets replaced that there's a problem. Especially when the replacement happens to be Sammy Hagar!

Mr. Furley was a more than adequate replacement for the Ropers, but did Jenilee Harrison or Priscilla Barnes come close to measuring up to Suzanne Somers?

Maybe not. But I don't think a lot of you were complaining...

Here's some other TV character replacements with colorful opinions from your overly opinionated author:

1. Edna Garret (played by Charlotte Rae) is replaced by the lame Adelaide Brubaker on Diff'rent Strokes."Wha'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" I'm talkin' 'bout a replacement failure
2. Cheryl Ladd replaces Farrah Fawcett on Charlie's Angels: a success
3. Al Molinaro replaces Pat Morita as the owner of Al's on Happy Days: a success (incidentally, Morita would then replace Molinaro in the last couple seasons)
4. Woody replaces Coach on Cheers: a success
5. Spencer Milligan (as Rick Marshall) is replaced by Ron Harper on Land of the Lost: abysmal failure
6. Marilyn Munster was originally played by Beverly Owen, and replaced by Pat Priest: ignored
7. Jeremy Gelbwaks was replaced by Brian Forster (the great-great-great grandson of Charles Dickens) for the role as Chris Partridge on The Partridge Family: ignored
8. Joel Hodgson was replaced by Michael J. Nelson as the host of MST3K; I wouldn't classify this as a failure by any stretch, but there's a debate on this at No Smoking in the Skull Cave
9. There were actually two failed attempts to replace Flo on the TV show Alice
10. David Garrison left Married... with Children to be replaced by Jump the Shark's patron saint, Ted McGinley, and I'm proud to say he finally passed.
11. Lt. Col. Henry Blake was replaced by Col. Sherman Potter on MASH: I'd have to say this was a failure, although I'm sure many would disagree. I'd also have to say B.J. Honeycutt failed as Trapper's replacement.

A more comprehensive list of TV replacements can be found here at Wikipedia; however, I tried to come up with as much as I could on my own and hit the highlights.

Tv.com has a discussion topic on whether Randy on "That 70s Show" is the worst replacement character in the history of TV here. That's a strong claim, but I must admit, I don't watch the show, so can't offer my opinion.


Tooling around the blogosphere, it doesn't take long to discover the consensus on the worst comic book replacement of all time: the second Robin, Jason Todd. Check him out with the cheap groin kick.

I also must admit that I haven't followed comic books in a while (not a surprising admission from someone authoring a blog called retrospace, I know), so I'm not qualified to really comment on the Jason Todd deal. But I have to ask, what the hell happened to Aquaman? Apparently, we have (or had) a brand new Aquaman, reinvented for the modern day comic book reader. Now he's called Orin or something. WTF?

10 comments:

  1. I did always hate when beloved characters were replaced by characters we couldn't stand. I, along with all the other boys I grew up with, were really ticked off by the Dukes of Hazzard. It happened with so many shows.

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  2. Nice to see you mention one of my all time favorite bands King Crimson. of course the one constant member has always been Robert Fripp and Crimson is really his project in one guise or another. I was listening to a collaboration today between him and David Sylvian and really liked it.

    But I had to laugh at the Sammy Hagar remark. Absolutely right. While I never was a raving David Lee Roth fan (who was?) I still have to admit the band did better songs with his ego at the helm. I liked some of the Sammy songs sure but they really turned in power pop songs after awhile, which i can enjoy at times, but it all lost something after asinine Diamond Dave was given the boot.

    And while still on music no ever replaced Ozzy adequately in Black Sabbath. I like Dio and and the other singers too, but to be when Ozzy left (or was fired depending on what you read) it meant Black Sabbath "broke up" to me.

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  3. king of cool- Of course, we can't blame poor Coy and Vance for the downfall of Dukes... the "good ol' boys" got a bit greedy and pulled a Suzanne Somers and walked out of their contract.

    willy- I recently listened to the King Crimson "Lizard" album and absolutely loved it... I don't understand a single word of it, but I found myself liking it nonetheless. The sounds are so original, it was like a sonic blast of freah air.

    Van Hagar sucks.

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  4. I like how Farrah Fawcett was easily replaced but Kate Jackson was not and they failed twice before just giving up!

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  5. It's funny...for awhile Dick Sargent actually replaced James Best (Roscoe) on Dukes of Hazzard for a bit. Weird but true.

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  6. Would anybody really believe a hot babe like Samantha would marry a girly whiner like the second Darrin?? I think not! the show was never as good after Dick York.

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  7. No complaints about Jenilee Harrison at all... I had to save that sexy pic of her above for a little o solo me o time later...

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  8. On a semi-related topic: When the TV show "The Fugitive" was made, there was little attention paid to continuity. They didn't know that, in the future, people would be able to watch these shows on VHS or DVD, etc. Even basic facts, like the date of the murder, weren't kept straight episode-to-episode. Many guest stars were recycled, as many as five times, playing a different character each time. So, if you were to see a guy you've seen before, you can't assume it's the same character come back. It wasn't. When they did return a character, it was likely a different actor; such as Lt. Gerard's son or Richard Kimble's brother-in-law (three different actors). It was just a problem with actors' schedules; TV character actors made the rounds of the shows. However, Kimble's sister was played by the same actress throughout the four-year run, even though it was only a recurring character.

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  9. Colin Creevey turns into Nigel (Harry Potter)

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  10. This is a fine article, but it is not about the Darrin Syndrome. Darrin Syndrome is when a new actor is brought on to play the same character as a previous actor, not when a new character is brought in to replace a character who left, leaving a show without a funny sidekick or annoying neighbour.

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