February 12, 2014
The path to success, as we know, is long. It’s long for almost everyone, but it’s particularly long for those who want to make it in Hollywood. It’s amazing to look at big stars now and see that they worked as servers and went on auditions in LA, livin’ on a dream, for SO MANY YEARS (like, Jon Hamm did that for 15 years) before landing their big break.
In our current Television Golden Age, a big break can as easily come in the form of a TV show just as much as a movie, but that wasn’t always the case. In the days of shitty sitcoms, some of our favorite stars had bit parts, or even regular parts, that were totally forgettable. Let’s take a look.
Neil Patrick Harris and Tony Shalhoub — Stark Raving Mad
NBC, 1999 — 2000
I remember seeing promos for this show in between Friends and Seinfeld episodes back in the eighth grade. I thought it looked kind of funny.
I was a dumb eighth grader though, and I was wrong. It wasn’t funny, and it was cancelled after 22 episodes.
NPH had to wait 5 years before he got How I Met Your Mother, and Tony Shaloub hit on Monk in 2002.
Louis CK — Lucky Louie
It’s so weird to watch this show, knowing what we do about the kind of TV Louis CK has gone on to create. The laugh track is so insane.
I also love that Louie’s TV wife in this series was played by Pamela Adlon, who plays Pamela in Louie.
David Schwimmer — Monty
Hahaha. Weird. This Henry Winkler-helmed half hour only lasted 13 episodes, and thank god because Friends started later that same year.
Bonus: David Krumholtz, who I always think of as the best friend in 10 Things I Hate About You, is in this too.
Julie Bowen — Ed
NBC, 2000 — 2004
It pains me to include this on a list that’s called “forgettable sitcoms,” because I LOVED Ed. It was a sweet, funny, weird show that never quite found its audience, and for that I am sorry. Ed was good stuff.
That said, it certainly didn’t make Julie Bowen a household name. It wasn’t until 5 years later that Modern Family came along and provided fame and Emmys (in between she was in a bunch of other shows, like Boston Legal).
Connie Britton — The Fighting Fitzgeralds
This was a Brian Dennehy vehicle that lasted only 10 episodes. The plot was that Dennehy was a firefighter who wanted to be left alone, but then his three sons, one with a wife (CONNIE) and daughter move in and bug him.
It doesn’t look like it was great. But oh, the things that lay ahead for Connie — some time on The West Wing and 24, and then, at last, Tammi Taylor on Friday Night Lights in 2006.
Kyle Chandler — What About Joan
Oh, the synchronicity. While Connie was toiling at NBC, Kyle was playing Joan Cusack’s boyfriend over at ABC. It went on for 21 episodes before it was put to bed.
He kept plugging along, doing a bunch of random stuff including a stint on Grey’s Anatomy, until he met The One in Dillon, Texas.
Jon Hamm — The Division
Lifetime, 2001 — 2004
A show exploring the professional and personal lives of five policewomen in San Francisco, and it went on for a bit. Jon Hamm was around for 16 of its 88 episodes.
It’s weird that no one saw him and was like, wait, he’s so hot! Make him a star! Instead, he hung around for a long time, doing bit parts here and there, until Mad Men hit us all in the face in 2007.
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