Fellow TV geeks, we have a future of several possibly great former co-star reunions ahead of us. Namely, we can look forward to West Wing alums Rob Lowe and Bradley Whitford on Parks and Rec in March (although it’s yet to be confirmed the two will actually cross paths), David Schwimmer and Lisa Kudrow on Web Therapy this summer, and even John Goodman and Roseanne Barr on her forthcoming show Downwardly Mobile. And if you’re looking for just one reason to justify Are You There, Chelsea?, it’s the Laura Prepon/Wilmer Valderrama hook-up expected later this month. So while you wait just a short while longer for the That ’70s Show Season 3 faux Fez-Donna date to become a reality, allow us to offer some healthy distraction as we reminisce about memorable co-star reunions in TV history. Exploitative ratings gimmick, genius, or both? We’ll let you be the judge, and as always, please share your personal favorites in the comments.
Childrens Hospital: Party Down catering makes first stop in hypothetical reunion tour
Party Down fans still undergoing withdrawal were in for a treat this past fall when Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr, and Ryan Hansen reunited with their former castmates on Childrens Hospital for Glenn’s adult bar mitzvah. Although the stint was fleeting, they crammed in a lot for 30 seconds: Roman slaps Kyle, Lydia gives racist mother advice, and Ron and Casey have a cell-phone power struggle. Which means the only reunion stops left for Party Down catering are Parks and Rec (where we did see Adam Scott share a scene with his Party Down co-star Martin Starr a few weeks ago), every other show Megan Mullally is on, Glee, and New Girl before Lizzy Caplan’s wonderful guest arc ends.
Arrested Development: Stars of Happy Days reunite on most dystopian family show of all time
Although the Bluth family members are the ostensible stars, it’s difficult to imagine an Arrested Development without omniscient narrator Ron Howard (without him, who would call GOB out?) and incompetent attorney Barry Zuckerkorn, played by Henry Winkler. There are several Happy Days references throughout the show, including a guest arc by Scott Baio, who pulls a “Chachi” once more when he replaces Zuckerkorn as the family lawyer who “skew[s] younger with juries and so forth.” But as far as we can tell, the only thing Bob Loblaw has on Zuckerkorn is a law blog. Fonz wins again.
Law and Order: SVU: Christopher Meloni sends Lee Tergesen to prison (again)
In 2010, Law & Order: SVU answered fan prayers when they reunited Christopher Meloni and Lee Tergesen, former Oz inmates/lovers known for their on- and off-screen chemistry (see infamous 2000 GLAAD kiss). And SVU knew how to ratchet up the anticipation, too, releasing photos like this and planting the idea of “sweaty interrogation scenes” in our heads. In the episode, Meloni sends Tergesen to prison (the latter plays a demented bible-beater that offs prostitutes) and he is never seen again. That’s the problem with reunion episodes; they’re too fleeting. But at least they bring back the magic for a little while. Ah, there’s no place like Oz television.
Working: Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper reunite one last time for tantric sex
If you were devastated enough by The Wonder Years finale to post on the When Kevin and Winnie didn’t end up together it made me want to kill myself Facebook wall, then you are part of a small demographic of people who should go back and watch NBC’s short-lived sitcom Working (1997-99), starring Fred Savage as young college grad Matt Peyser. To be clear, this was not a great show. But it makes the list because it managed to reunite one of the greatest couples in television history. First, the comedy brought on Danica McKellar for a one-night stand with Savage’s Peyser in the episode “As Bad as It Gets,” and then in “She Loves Me, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” the former childhood sweethearts have a naked brainstorming sesh and hours of tantric sex. Really!
Undeclared: Resident “freak” trades in James Franco for Seth Rogen
With all its Freaks and Geeks cross-over, Undeclared often feels like an alternate reality of the former. In this new universe, Bill Haverchuck (hi again, Martin Starr) has grunge hair, Ken Miller (Seth Rogen) is a business major, and Nick Andopolis (Jason Segel) threatens people with (empty) staple guns. But our favorite Freaks transformation is Kim Kelly (Busy Philips), bad girl- turned-campus tour guide. It is worth your time to revisit the above clip featuring an awkward Ken/Ron trying to speak to a baseball cap- and khaki-clad Kim/Kelly. Ah, see what they did with the names there?
The Big Bang Theory: Johnny Galecki and Sara Gilbert yesterday, today, forever
What can we say? Johnny Galecki and Sara Gilbert have amazing nerd chemistry. First as Darlene Conner and David Healy on Roseanne, and then as Leslie Winkle and Leonard Hofstadter on The Big Bang Theory. Their ongoing intellectual connection has spanned everything from graphic novels and physics to string instruments, and we hope they find each other on at least a few more sitcoms before their acting careers are over. Watch them reunite here.
30 Rock: Will Forte plays most challenging role in TV history
30 Rock is a breeding ground for SNL cast member reunions. To name a few: Jason Sudeikis as Floyd, Chris Parnell as Dr. Leo Spaceman, and Rachel Dratch as Barbara Walters, cat wrangler lady, and Not-Kenneth, the NBC tour robot (to name a few). But if forced to choose the best SNL guest appearance, we’re going with Will Forte, Jenna Maroney’s Jenna Maroney-impersonator boyfriend Paul L’Astnamé who identifies as “gender dysmorphic bi-genitalia pansexual.” Forte discussed the challenges of the role with Today last year: “You think you’re doing all right and, all of a sudden, it’s a runaway G-string! It’s up there from the back and then its starts digging into the front.” Get this man an Emmy!
Notably, this wasn’t Forte’s first time undergoing dramatic physical transformation for the show. In Season 1 he got a bowl cut for the role of Prince Gerhardt’s manservant Tomas (discussed here).
Curb Your Enthusiasm: The cast of Seinfeld gets a finale do-over
When the cast members of Seinfeld appeared on Curb’s seventh season, we got a “non-reunion reunion” that deftly subverted reunion genre fallout (namely, “lameness”) because it wasn’t real. Genius, right? At the same time, Larry David teased out an alternate finale that left us feeling very satisfied: George made millions on an iToilet app and lost it all to Bernie Madoff; Jerry still loves Superman and is a sperm donor daddy to Elaine’s daughter, Isabelle; and Kramer is…still around. What a perfect non-ending ending.
Portlandia: Battlestar Galactica cast members return for “One Moore Episode”
Here’s another monumental “non-reunion reunion” episode. In a recent installment of Portlandia, Doug and Claire script a new episode of BSG and stage a reading with Edward James Olmos, James Callis, and Portland-based actor Ken Reynolds (as played by BSG creator Ronald D. Moore), in a local man named Ron Moore’s kitchen. Clearly, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein felt the reverberating disappointment of Battlestar Galactica fans everywhere when NBC passed on the 17th Precinct pilot.
The Lucy Show: Lucy Ricardo and Fred Mertz meet once last time
In Season 4 of The Lucy Show, William Frawley channeled his curmudgeon once more for his last-ever on-camera performance as a gruff horse trainer. Lucy’s “You know, he reminds me of someone I used to know,” line is, of course, over-the-top self-aware, but in retrospect it only makes us teary eyed, given all we know about the tumultuous personal lives of these two actors.
Bonus: Two Broadway besties reunite on Glee
This one goes in the bonus category, because technically Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff (affectionately known as “The Groff”) were Broadway, not TV, co-stars before they reunited on Glee. Groff’s Jesse St. James may be a self-declared automaton, but on stage he’s anything but. And whatever your feelings are towards Lea Michele, the chemistry between these two is incredible. Which is why we’re bummed Groff’s name has yet to come up in recent Spring Awakening film adaptation buzz. In the meantime, please swoon here.