Poor Richard Dean Anderson.
You know what, no. No poor him. The man has two characters he can forever ride the gravy train of success because of. He has the battle scars and injuries to prove it, but he still has two characters he will forever be known for (and thankfully, he embraces both).
Heck, for $10, I’ll gladly embrace all of those “awkward years” dance recitals I did in the 90s. I’m not too proud.
Anyway, as most actors do (see Exhibit A – er, Scott Bakula – if you need further proof), Richard Dean Anderson had to work long and hard and pay his dues to be able to revel in the glory of having two characters he will forever be known for. Ok fine, three if you count General Hospital, but he avoided fan conventions for years because of that role. He attends fan conventions because of the latter two roles.
As MacGyver, Anderson was a low-tech everyday superhero of a man who relied on little more than wit, skill, paperclips, rubber bands, and seat-of-your-pants ideas. He got knocked unconscious, poisoned, shot, had amensia, was paralyzed by a drug, heck, even a coma couldn’t stop Mac from saving the day…every Monday night at 8 pm from 1985 until 1992.
And then, from 1997 until 2005 (and a few times thereafter, from 2005 until 2011), Anderson rode the glory of his other famous role, as Colonel/Brigadier General/Lt. General/General Jack O’Neill on Stargate SG-1 and all associated spin-offs and films. He took the role where Kurt Russell left off, added an “L” to his last name (“Because there’s another Colonel O’Neill with one “L,” and he has no sense of humor whatsoever.”), informed us that he couldn’t kill it in a crew cut, and played the part of a wise-assy Colonel with a soldier’s instinct, a heart of gold, and a “never leave anyone behind…ever” mentality. If MacGyver made Anderson’s fans stand up and cheer, it was O’Neill that endeared him to his fans.
Lots and lots of fans.
Lots and lots of female fans.
Many of whom would likely agree with me that this was the most incredible shot of a man in uniform EVER.
Ok, fine, I like it. And for five years, it was my Google Avatar.
Until this happened.
But as I said earlier, Anderson had to pay his dues to get to where he wound up, and that meant many steps along the way – guest appearances, failed television shows, a few movies, a potential Facts of Life spinoff that thankfully never happened….
Yeah, I tortured myself to write about it some months ago on my blog’s former site.
So why don’t we witness an actor who paid his dues and made a few guest appearances, outside of a few failed television shows?
Prepare thyself. It’s going to be awesome.
The Love Boat (March 20, 1982)
[All Clips Via] MacGyver Online
Ugh. Make the bleeding stop!
In this shudder-inducing display of acting that I thought only existed in the Facts of Life episode (more on that later, since this is the second reference I’ve made to it), our lovable lug plays Carter Randall, Julie’s cousin, who is engaged to his childhood sweetheart…Muffy. Yes, Muffy. The only other time I heard that name, it was in Caddyshack II. So now I’m comparing this to the sequel version of torture.
In the episode, Carter is bored with his relationship to Muffy, because she is too “nice.” She lacks passion. He wants to…oh goodness, I’m really talking about this. He wants her to meet someone else. He wants her to have an affair, people. He wants to be forgotten.
I’m in love with a total jerk. (Muffy is totally Linda Blair from the Exorcist! – Vic)
So he decides to be that “someone else,” and disguises himself as a Texan named Jim Billy. Um….there was this one MacGyver episode I really didn’t like where he dreamed of the Old West (actually, this happened twice). This is giving me memories of why I haven’t watched either episode more than once.
Oh, and he wears those silly glasses that hide how hot he is.
So, what would Colonel O’Neill have to say about all of this?
“He’s a Geek, Sir.”
The Facts of Life (1981)
And now the torture part of our article…
“Brian and Sylvia” was the proposed first spin-off of the sitcom The Facts of Life, which was in its second season (the first since the retooling that pared down Eastland’s student population). In the episode, Tootie and Natalie go to visit Tootie’s Aunt Sylvia, who works for a television station in Buffalo. She’s married to Brian, a white boy (and let it be frequently known, show!). This episode was basically a combination of embarrassing dialogue, terrible acting, and enough race-related stuff to take the whole
Civil Rights movement back 1000 years.
Yes, 1000 years.
The idea of these two ever getting a spin-off scares the bejesus out of me. NBC wasn’t exactly making reasonable decisions in the early 1980s, but this could easily have been one of their biggest missteps, had they actually gone through with it.
Thankfully, they showed a glimmer of aptitude when it didn’t get past the backdoor phase.
This brings me back to the whole “Poor Richard Dean Anderson” thing. This man really had to pay his dues. Unfortunately, this was one of those dues.
If you’re feeling truly brave, you’re more than welcome to read my recap about this episode.
The $25,000 Pyramid
Video 1 – November 3, 1982:
Video 2 – November 4, 1982:
Video 3 – November 5, 1982:
Finally, the least embarrassing pre-MacGyver guest I was able to unearth. Well, it’s the least embarrassing in the sense that he doesn’t act like a self-centered jerk or a white guy married to a black girl who doesn’t mind being called white racial slurs. I mean, he wasn’t exactly good at helping anyone win, but he was cute, and heck, he could be my game show partner anytime!
By the way, he promoted Seven Brides for Seven Brothers during this appearance. Like I said earlier, paying his dues.
And since this wouldn’t be me without doing a search for some commercials. I did just that. And apparently, Richard Dean Anderson is the only actor in existence who didn’t do commercials pre-fame.
Seriously, I found nothing. Apparently he just did bad guest appearances on bad television show episodes. However, he has done some commercials since those days (some fairly recently), but here’s one from when he was on Stargate SG-1.
So there you have it, a few early appearances by the lovable low-tech hero/lovable lug of an Air Force Colonel, who worked his way toward better acting (and better acting jobs). The early 1980s, post-General Hospital/pre-MacGyver years may not have been kind to him (in some respects), but it was kinder in others…
I love you, Battle of the Network Stars.
As you may well know by now, Allison is a lover of nostalgia, and is never above admitting that she has a huge archive of commercials (none of which have Richard Dean Anderson in them). She is the owner/proprietor of Allison’s Written Words, and would love it if you stopped by. You can also subscribe to her blog via its Facebook page.
She’s never too “nice.”