Monday, June 09, 2008

When the Beeper King met the king rat?

Quick question for the "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" fans out there, however many may be reading this blog: were you at all distracted during last night's episode by Dean Winters playing a cop who wasn't his character from "SVU"?

Now, I know that the "L&O" franchise recycles actors all the time, and that on very rare occasions (Jerry Orbach as a lawyer a few years before he was cast as Briscoe), you'll even see recycling happen with a regular castmember, and, for that matter, that Winters was on "SVU" for all of five seconds. But this is the first time I can remember a former regular coming back to the franchise (albeit not the same show) playing an entirely different role, and, like Rich Heldenfels, I spent a decent chunk of last night's episode wondering whether Winters was, in fact, playing a new character of if he was still playing Brian Cassidy, undercover and using a fake name in a complicated sting on Goren.

Just curious if I was the only one anal enough to be bothered even slightly.

32 comments:

Andrew said...

I never had much trouble with the situation. I mean Dean Winters was only on SVU for a half a season, and it was nine years ago. Plus, he was technically not a regular on SVU; he was listed as a guest star in all of his episodes, so I don't think his CI appearance really violated any rule. I was more amused when the mothership had Jeremy Sisto playing different characters in consecutive episodes.

Anyway, I never for a moment thought Winters might be reprising a previous character because with all the showrunner shuffling that the various L&O shows have done over the years, it would be a cold day in hell before they decide to do a callback to a recurring character from another show in 1999.

hmf said...

And he was on Homicide, too -- not the L&O franchise, I know, but (what with the crossovers and Munch 'n' all) probably in same lobe of Tommy Westphall's mind.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And he was on Homicide, too -- not the L&O franchise, I know, but (what with the crossovers and Munch 'n' all) probably in same lobe of Tommy Westphall's mind.

If you wanna bring in the entire Westphall-verse, or even the Homicide/L&O crossover-verse, I'm just going to get a headache. (Another example: J.K. Simmons was the villain in the Homicide half of the first crossover, then wound up as Dr. Skoda on L&O for years.)

Again, I recognize that Winters' tenure was both so brief and so long ago that it's not egregious to recast him. But it did throw me.

Andrew said...

Then again, since his stint on SVU was so brief and long ago, they probably could've just called the character Cassidy and saved everyone the headache. It's not like SVU has any plans of ever bringing him back and nine years is such a long time that they could've pretty much changed the character any way they wanted without disrupting continuity.

Also, if you start bringing in the Westphall-verse, you have to bring in Oz, which throws the episode into even more of a clusterfuck since all three major guest stars were Oz alumni.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, if you start bringing in the Westphall-verse, you have to bring in Oz, which throws the episode into even more of a clusterfuck since all three major guest stars were Oz alumni.

Remind me again how Oz connected to the Westphall-verse? I know Fontana produced, and that it featured lots of actors from other Westphall-y series, but it's been so long since I watched it that I can't remember whether it ever explicitly linked itself to another Westphall show. Did a character from St. Elsewhere or Homicide ever pop up and I'm blanking on it?

Andrew said...

It's a kind of obscure connection. There were never any shared characters or anything. There was a fictional TV show, "Miss Sally's Schoolyard" that the Oz inmates would watch, and that show can be seen briefly on a television in Homicide: The Movie. See, told you it was obscure.

Anonymous said...

I spent much of the episode wondering if DW was playing the same character that he played on SVU, too. Not really a big deal, especially since I really had to suspend disbelief when Munch popped up on The Wire.

Anonymous said...

When Dennis. I mean Dean, first approaches Goren with a job opportunity, I was certain Goren would be selling beepers in the next scene.

jim treacher said...

I can never see him as anybody but Ryan O'Reily anyway.

Anonymous said...

According to IMDB's trivia section for Oz: "In the third season, the medical ward was privatized and taken over by a company called The Weigart Corporation. The Weigart Corporation is also the name of the company that bought St. Eligius Hospital in "St. Elsewhere" (1982)."

Also: "Dr. Nathan learns that Nurse Carol Grace previously worked at St. Eligius which was the name of the hospital in "St. Elsewhere" (1982)."

Alan Sepinwall said...

Weigart! I remember that now! Yeah, that's a pretty clear Westphall-ian connection.

Dan Coyle said...

I always thought Oz should have ended with Tim Bayliss' first day in the prison.

David J. Loehr said...

Munch and Miss Sally also appeared on the very short-lived The Beat that Fontana did for UPN waaaay back when.

Just to make your head swim a little more, not that this is much of a surprise, but the actress that played Nurse Grace on Oz has played different judges on two L&O series.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I can never see him as anybody but Ryan O'Reily anyway.

I used to think that, too, but his work on "30 Rock" has finally superseded "Oz" in my mind. Now he shows up and, like one of our anonymous posters said, I just assume that a beeper joke is coming within 10 seconds.

Amy said...

Ah, still not as bad as Diane Neal playing a rapist in one episode, then shortly after joining the cast as ADA Casey Novak. Whenever that rerun comes on USA I spend half the episode confused.

Amy said...

Oh and, the character John Munch has been on 10 different shows.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Oh and, the character John Munch has been on 10 different shows.

Yeah, but it's always as John Munch. You don't see Richard Belzer leaving Homicide and then coming back years later as a different character.

Andrew said...

So long as we're quibbling, Munch has only been on nine shows in my opinion. I don't count his Sesame Street appearance because Muppet Munch wasn't voiced by Belzer.

dez said...

I'm confused--was last night's L&O:CI new?

Amy said...

Fair enough Andrew, he'll have to make up for it in the future

Zach Haldeman said...

Yeah, but it's always as John Munch. You don't see Richard Belzer leaving Homicide and then coming back years later as a different character.

If I recall, didn't he turn up twice in the final season of Arrested Development, once as himself (I think "S.O.B.s" for around a second) and then near the end as Munch teaching a fake scrapbooking class?

DanteHicks said...

How does character creation payment figure in all of this? I believe I'm correct in saying that if a character who is created by a specific writer returns, he or she receives a WGA required fee/payment. For example, I read that the writer (name escapes me, but not Ken Levine) who was credited with writing the first episode Fraiser Crane appeared in, always received a credit on the Fraiser show.

David J. Loehr said...

For example, I read that the writer (name escapes me, but not Ken Levine) who was credited with writing the first episode Fraiser Crane appeared in, always received a credit on the Fraiser show.

If I'm not mistaken, that would be Glen and Les Charles, who also created Cheers to begin with.

I don't know if I've ever noticed a similar credit on L&O: SVU about Munch...

floretbroccoli said...

Bothered me, too. Largely because he was a cop (or former cop). If he'd played a civilian, wouldn't have seemed so glaring.

Maura said...

I was confused when I saw previews for the episode, although I figured out pretty quickly that Winters was playing a different character when I heard the character's name.

It still bugged me though, at least for a while. (A lot more than when Amy Sherman Palladino cast Sherilynn Fenn in the role of Anna Nardini on Gilmore Girls, after Fenn portrayed a different character in one episode of GG a few years before. Much of the fandom went nuts though. One would think that Kelly Bishop suddenly show up as someone other than Emily.) About halfway through, all thoughts of Cassidy had disappeared from my mind.

Wolf using the same actors in different roles is fine with me. In fact, I like it. The only time I get confused is when Ron Liebman shows up as an attorney. I can never tell if he's playing the mob attorney and old friend of Jack, who Jack sent to jail.

Barney Miller did the same thing to great effect. Their repeated use of certain actors gave me a feel for what it was like to work at The 1 2. Same stuff, different day.

That First Andrew said...

Richard Belzer did indeed appear on two epsiodes of Arrested Development, but they were pretty much back to back, and in the first one (indeed, SOB or "Save Our Bluths) he was never identified by name. He was just in the montage of celebrities showing up to their fundraiser.

Hs second episode (I want to say the mock trial with J. Reinhold episode) identified him as John Munch. The name Richard Belzer was never uttered.

It always makes me smile to think of him becomng famous for this hard-boiled (although comical) detective character, considering his whole career before John Munch was as a standup comedian. Is there anyone else who has made that kind of transition from standup to drama as well as Belzer?

Anonymous said...

I'm with Alan -- especially since I think Winters' character in SVU came from and returned to the Narcotics department -- I was not only confused by it, until I read this blog entry, I was half-convinced he WAS the same guy (it helped that I couldn't remember his SVU character's name).

Anonymous said...

Since I was not an OZ watcher, I always think of Dean Winters as Tommy's brother Johnny on Rescue Me. He also played a NYC cop on that show. He died, since Tommy has taken over Sipowitz for TV character with the most personal tragedies.

Stef said...

I'm not much of an L&O / Oz watcher, but since I'm so used to Dean Winters as Johnny Gavin it is strange for me to see him as Dennis with his beepers.

I'm doing my own summer rewind, rewatching all of The X-Files (hopefully) in time for the movie. So it tripped me out to see Nicholas Lea in a first season episode as the victim of a shapeshifter sex killer, long before he was Alex Krycek. I was really confused rewatching, thinking "Wait, is this how we're introduced to Krycek? Can't be!"

Jenn. said...

The one that always confused me was when one actor from Homicide (Peter Gerety, maybe?) participated in the cross-overs with L&O and later appeared a couple of times as an attorney on L&O.

Anonymous said...

I also thought they were bringing back the ex-SVU cop (& why not? it made sense - he left SVU because it was too tough, joining vice or narcotics would have made sense and brought a nice sense of continuity around). And it was a bit distracting.

Kerry said...

Call me too anal, but Ileana Douglas is playing a witness on CI tonight and she's been an attorney on SVU several times. Totally different characters, and she's a distinctive actress. That's too dang confusing. The casting people need a good shake.