"Law & Order" is reaching back to its first season, signing veteran actor David Groh ("Rhoda," "General Hospital") to reprise a role he first played in 1990. In that episode, based on the 1987 Joel Steinberg case, Groh played a psychiatrist convicted of abusing and eventually killing his daughter. Steinberg was paroled earlier this year, leading the show’s writers to revisit the character.
What a great idea! I hope they use some footage from the original episode for flashbacks…that would give the episode an extra punch. Either way, I’m there.
It’s rare when a show revisits an old episode… and reunites the guest cast. As it happens, I watched an old episode of GUNSMOKE today entitled "Mannon" which they revisited nearly twenty years later (with Steve Forrest back as Mannon) for GUNSMOKE: RETURN TO DODGE. They did it again in GUNSMOKE: THE LAST APACHE… revisiting characters and events from the old episode "Matt’s Love Story." It really gives the story emotional resonance… and solidifies the sense that the characters live within an evolving universe… that past events (which we share with them as an audience) still ripple through their lives. It doesn’t happen in television often enough… on most non-serialized series, it’s as if past episodes never occurred.
We sort of did what LAW AND ORDER is doing when we had private eye Joe Mannix (Mike Connors) on an episode of DIAGNOSIS MURDER. We took a MANNIX episode from 25 years earlier, reunited the guest cast (Pernell Roberts, Julie Adams, Beverly Garland) and continued the story… using the old footage for flashbacks. Boy, was it fun.
Bill Rabkin and I always try to reference past episodes — even if only in passing –in the series we write & produce. On MISSING, our characters have spoken of past events (ie episodes), acknowledging those events the way you would any life experiences.
I’m also trying to do it now in the DIAGNOSIS MURDER books… I often have the characters refer to events that happened on the series and in previous books, though not so much that it would alienate readers who have never seen the show or read the earlier tales.
The book I just finished… DIAGNOSIS MURDER: THE PAST TENSE… revolves around Dr. Mark Sloan’s first case in 1962… and I explain some events only hinted at in some of the TV episodes, particularly one we wrote guest-starring Jack Klugman entitled "Voices Carry."
I love that kind of stuff. It brings out the TV geek in me.