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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 20 October 2018 at 11:30am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

THE BILL is a UK police show that ran from 1984 to 2010. There is a podcast devoted to the show, which interviews the actors who played regulars.

Jon Iles is an actor who played Detective Constable Mike Dashwood from 1984-92. He returned for a guest appearance, the character having been promoted to detective sergeant - and given a post with the Arts & Antiques Squad of the Metropolitan Police.

During the podcast, Iles revealed that a producer pulled the plug on potential returns. These are Iles' words:


 QUOTE:
They got a new producer in who decided that it looked as if the programme was desperate when it kept giving guest appearances to ex-regulars. So he pulled the plug on that and stopped it being done, which was stupid and petty! 

It doesn't make you look desperate. An audience has invested years in those characters. And I think when one of them comes back, they're going to be very happy and say, "Oh, he's back!" Whichever one of us it is, they're going to enjoy seeing them again for another little story.

I couldn't agree more with Iles. 

I know a show has to move forward. I know it has to develop existing characters - and make them a priority. But there is a novelty (provided it's not overdone) in seeing older characters back for one or two guest appearances. 

Same with comics, too. 

There are countless shows where I'd have enjoyed seeing ex-regulars returning for one or two appearances. So I disagree profoundly with any producer who would have a policy that prevents ex-regulars returning. 

Thoughts?
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 20 October 2018 at 6:39pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Robbie, there are some who want nothing to do with any conceit that critics might throw back at them as being a "gimmick." Once those writing about you find a convenient hook to hang you by, they seem to never want to let you down from it. If bringing in former series regulars is tagged by the press as a stunt, anyone who does so will be seen as going for the cheap and easy route towards increased viewership.  Why make it easy for them by playing into their narrative?

Myself, I like the idea that characters live on past the moment they walk off-screen and can return at opportune moments. Others may see it as a well gone to too many times, however.


Edited by Brian Hague on 20 October 2018 at 6:40pm
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Christopher Frost
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Posted: 20 October 2018 at 8:40pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

The answer to this question relies on two things... 1) did you miss the character when they left and 2) does their return improve the storyline/show?
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 20 October 2018 at 9:04pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Couldn't have said it better myself. But I'd also add...

3) Depends on how they left. If it was a perfect exit, then why bring them back?
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 20 October 2018 at 11:02pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Very good points raised.

I feel there is a kind of ebb and flow as to whether/when characters should return.

All things being equal, I actually think they shouldn't return, as it's a backwards-looking endeavour. In an anniversary episode, OK yes, but generally, no.

*Edited for a typo


Edited by Peter Martin on 20 October 2018 at 11:15pm
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 20 October 2018 at 11:55pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I agree that there needs to be a story in play behind the character's return. The best possible example of a returning character having a genuine role to play in the development of events that I can think of occurred on St. Elsewhere when Nurse Shirley Daniels sued the hospital to have her job re-instated after she shot and killed the rapist. 

Ellen Bry came back and was electrical in her interactions with the rest of the cast following the events that led to her arrest and incarceration. The whole thing built to a hell of a climax and one of the most memorable exits in TV history. 

Man, I wish that show were available in full on DVD. In any case, if there is a solid reason to bring a character back, then by all means, a show should do so. If it's just a chance to do it for the sake of doing it, well, it can be fun having somebody back... 

As with anything involving storytelling, it should have a point of some sort to it.


Edited by Brian Hague on 20 October 2018 at 11:56pm
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 21 October 2018 at 1:27am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

The Bill went from being a great, quite realistic show,
to a soap opera. In the case of The Bill, it would make
sense for characters from different divisions and forces
to return occasionally, depending on the crimes being
investigated.
I`m all for characters returning, as long as it`s done
well in a decent story.What i don`t want is soap opera
type returns, dead characters miraculously returning
from the dead, same character-different actor etc.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 21 October 2018 at 4:05am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Thanks for your views, guys.

Provided it's not overdone, I am all for it. It'd be excessive to keep bringing ex-regulars back, but I am curious at times.

I'm more curious when it comes to police, firefighting, legal, hospital and medical dramas. Those professions, in addition to making for compelling TV, have people who transfer, get promoted, etc.

When the POLICE ACADEMY series aired (1997), it was bad in many respects, but it was great to catch up with characters from the movies. Leslie Easterbrook's character, a sergeant/lieutenant/captain in the movies, showed up in the series as a district attorney.

With long-running police shows, I'm often thinking about past characters. Wouldn't he be a captain by now? What's the captain up to now? Could he have become a commissioner?

That's why I was glad when they brought Harris back in the POLICE ACADEMY films. He was a lieutenant in the first film, an instructor at the academy; when he returned in the fourth film, he was captain of a precinct.

Films aside, that works for me on TV with the aforementioned professions.
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Steven Myers
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Posted: 21 October 2018 at 7:25am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I remember liking every episode of The Next Generation in which a character from the original Star Trek made an appearance.
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Greg McPhee
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Posted: 22 October 2018 at 8:07am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

The Bill went from being a great, quite realistic show, 
to a soap opera. In the case of The Bill, it would make 
sense for characters from different divisions and forces 
to return occasionally, depending on the crimes being 
investigated.

====================================================

That's where I lost interest in "The Bill" when it broke its rule about not showing the characters private lives which sent it down that route. Not to mention that suddenly a number of Sun Hill officers became killers, thieves and rapists. It was just too much.
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 22 October 2018 at 9:00am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Totally agree Greg.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 22 October 2018 at 9:45am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

It was pathetic, Greg.

One officer turned out to be the son of a female sergeant - and he tried to kill her. Didn't he kill himself?

A detective sergeant became pregnant by a senior officer. He killed himself, but she then had a relationship with a female officer.

The police station got burnt down twice.

One could go on...

Soap opera crap - and the beginning of the end.
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 22 October 2018 at 2:37pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

As with everything, it depends on how, why, and how often its done.  For example, I think the eventual occasional appearance of TOS characters in episodes of TNG was done really well.  When one of them appeared, it was a major event, and the stories made sense in the universe, made sense for the characters, and were basically love letters to the characters for the benefit of the fans.  But that's what, four or five episodes over seven years out of 170+ total episodes?

A lot of the 'return appearances' on Law and Order, on the other hand, have been pretty weak, and seemed designed mainly to carry the show in weeks where they couldn't get a significant celebrity guest defendant.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 22 October 2018 at 3:41pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

I think the keyword is moderation.

It's the same with wrestling (a fictional show, after all). Seeing a wrestler return for an interview or match is good. But if they start doing it a lot, and it becomes commonplace, it a) becomes repetitive, and b) takes away from the current talent.
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 23 October 2018 at 12:55am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

As with comics and crossover events, the more you do it,
the less special it becomes, and you need to keep
escalating things to try and make them more special,
until things become ridiculous.
I don`t watch U.K. soaps anymore, but a once dramatic,
and witty soap, Coronation Street is now wall to wall
murder, misery and adultery from what i see of the
adverts and reviews, as are all our other soaps.
The Bill went the same way, from being a fairly
realistic crime show with humour derived from the
situations and characters, to following all the above,
awful soap tropes.
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Greg McPhee
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Posted: 23 October 2018 at 3:55am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Bill, that is the issue with a lot of UK shows. Coronation Street balanced itself with dramatic (but within the realms of reason) storylines, but offset them with humourous ones as well. It has changed completely as you said above.

Did no one learn that when Brookside kept trying to out do itself it was that that doomed the show. From being gritty about 80s life in Liverpool to having a cult set up shop in the cul de sac and a helicopter crash on it, you know it could only keep going one way. Even then, Brookside still had a sense of humour in the early days.
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 23 October 2018 at 5:45am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

I forgot about Brookside Greg, i only saw it when i
visited my aunt, but it was a decent show initially!
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Ed Aycock
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Posted: 23 October 2018 at 10:07am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

I think soap operas could be left out here as characters are always going to return.  Sometimes in better ways than others.  I remember Whoopi in "Soapdish" screaming how can they bring a character back as he doesn't have a head!!

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Bill Collins
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Posted: 23 October 2018 at 11:14am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Ed, we were comparing how a once serious series took on
soap opera traits under a new regime, and went down the
pan, yes it`s a slight thread drift, but that`s how
conversations work in real life.
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Ed Aycock
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Posted: 24 October 2018 at 1:51pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Sarcasm noted, Bill but I find your tone really unnecessary as I certainly wasn't making any statement outside the parameters of this thread.  If you wanted it to be about "The Bill," you should have named the bloody thread "The Bill."
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Greg McPhee
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Posted: 24 October 2018 at 2:02pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Dallas and Dynasty were the masters at the most absurd character returns. Death really wasn't the end in Dallas for many.

I was never a big watcher of either Falcon Crest or Knots Landing, but I think they pretty much had very, very limited character returns. Once a person left those series they didn't seem to go back.
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 24 October 2018 at 2:17pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Ed, i wasn`t being sarcastic, just stating a fact, and I
didn`t start the thread, hence I didn`t name it.
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Ed Aycock
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Posted: 26 October 2018 at 6:45am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Ok.  Not sarcastic.  Rude.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 26 October 2018 at 4:57pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

Let's be friendly.

*Offers cucumber sandwiches to all*

Everyone in this topic has contributed a lot, and I appreciate it. Let's continue! 

Just remember, Ed, only us Brits get to say "bloody" as a swear word. No Americans are allowed to do that. ;-)
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 26 October 2018 at 10:27pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Yes, we bloody well are.

Edited by Brian Hague on 26 October 2018 at 11:35pm
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