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Celebrating guest stars and the shows they graced – or ruined

Guest stars: they can either make or break a TV show.

In recent years, guest stars haven’t been a staple like they were in the 1980s and 1990s. There are certainly some unforgettable guest star moments and those we’d rather forget.

“The A-Team” and Boy George

When you think of the A-Team, you think of Mr. T, that van, explosions, bad guys, Vietnam and … Boy George? It happened. And to make matters worse, the episode was called “Cowboy George.” And Boy George played himself.

In typical A-Team fashion, the four main characters are on the run from the law, leading them to some boondock of a Western town. Boy George is “accidentally” scheduled for a gig at some seedy bar with stereotypical biker gang patrons. At first, the crowd is disgusted with Boy George’s performance, but, he starts singing “Karma Chameleon” and the biker gang gets all into it. Convoluted? You betcha! But it was Boy George’s acting debut.

“The Muppet Show” and Alice Cooper

The innocent fun of “The Muppet Show”? Who doesn’t like Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang? Who doesn’t like the fact that in one episode in season three, Alice Cooper was on and offered the muppets anything they wanted in exchange for selling their souls to the Devil? What?! School’s out for summer, indeed!

At the end, Kermit quips, “Boy, it wasn’t spooky like this when Julie Andrews did the show!” The episode is a cult classic, and with the first season of “The Muppet Show” on DVD, you could see this for yourself very soon.

“Sesame Street” and Joe Pesci

When your character name in “Sesame Street” is Ronald Grump, you’re not a good guy. You’re not even a goodfella.

In the 25th anniversary episode of the classic children’s show, Joe Pesci tries to buy out Sesame Street so he can put a parking lot or a mall there or something. He’s evil. I mean, of course they weren’t going to let Sesame Street end like that. I just wish that Pesci had done his classic “What is so funny about me?” routine with Snuffleupagus, to which everyone would have replied, “Who is he talking to?” Because … you know … Snuffy’s imaginary … and all. Ah, childhood innocence, stained by Joe Pesci.

“Diff’rent Strokes” and Nancy Reagan

Okay, I know, I said I was talking about the ones that nobody remembered, but if there are three things anyone remembers about “Diff’rent Strokes” they are: 1. “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis,” 2. That episode where Dudley is molested in the bike shop, and 3. Nancy Reagan in a shameless plug for her anti-drug campaign. But think about this in today’s context. What show would Laura Bush go on? “Lost?” “The George Lopez Show?” “Mind of Mencia?” It isn’t going to happen.

Y’know, Ronald Reagan was recently voted as The Greatest American of All Time on the Discovery Channel, and I think it’s all because his wife got political advice from Gary Coleman, the man-boy who should be governor of California.

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