My favourite episodes of Fame tend to be the ensemble shows, where all or most of the cast are involved and the story and scenes are shared amongst the cast. I not really keen on guest star centric episodes.
Now I understand that every TV show needs guest stars to come on to the show to bring new situations and create drama and I have no objections to guest coming on to help support or create a story for our cast but I do get frustrated when guest stars came on and took over completely and our cast get ignored.
I refer to this as guest star syndrome and found it was particularly prevalent in seasons 2 and 3. It was almost as though the executives thought they had to have all these guest stars to make the show popular but to me the show was all about the cast as most of the guest stars would be gone by the next episode and we’d never see or hear about them again.
A number of guest stars were also given the opportunity to write or develop ideas for the story of that episode and also write and perform the music. Sadly most of them took full advantage of this and made themselves the star of the show. Giving themselves the main story and the songs to sing. Personally I felt this made those episodes a little slow and boring, particularly if the main cast were ignored. In some cases it was almost like the guest star was using the show to promote themselves and show the World what they could do. I felt they didn’t really care whether the story fitted the show or worked for the audience, just as long as they got what they wanted out of it.
I guess part of the issue for me was a big fuss would be made of a guest but in the U.K. and I’m sure other parts of the World too, we didn’t actually know who some of these people were and what all the fuss was about.
So an example of what I’m talking about Tom Sullivan comes on to the show in Season 2 as Jim Hamilton and I feel takes over that episode. He’s allowed to provide the ideas for the story and writes and performs the music. There are a number of scenes where we see him on his own or like in the opening sequence where he’s with the janitor. There needed to be more interactions with the cast and the episode should have been told from the point of view of Doris who develops a crush on him and Lydia who struggles to tech him, to sing.
Compare this to say “The Monster That Devours Las Vegas” Tuesday Knight guests and sings on a song but all of her scenes feature other cast members and her purpose in the episode is for Doris to fight against, be jealous of and then for Doris to realise that people she believes are popular have the same insecurities as she does. This is how I prefer my guest stars to help the development of my favourite characters.
What was even worse than a guest star taking over an episode was when they suddenly appeared but really had no purpose like in Season 2’s “Blood, Sweat and Circuits” when Brenda Vaccaro suddenly appears and we have a whole question and answer sessions with her that has no bearing on the rest of the episode at all. That really made no sense to me.