Obscurity Knocks: Episode 1 – Mackenzie Astin

Mackenzie-Astin_Mad-MenSee that gentleman facing off against Jon Hamm? That’s Mackenzie Astin.

Yes, really.

It’s been a long time since the days when Astin was hanging out with Blair, Tootie, Natalie, and Jo at Edna’s Edibles and Over Our Heads on The Facts of Life, as evidenced by his appearance in the above photo, but Mad Men isn’t the only high-profile gig he’s had lately: over the past few years, he’s turned up on Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Shameless, Bones, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Scorpion, and Castle, among others, and he had a recurring role on Scandal last season that carried over into this season as well.

Mr. Astin was kind enough – some might might say crazy enough – to endure being a guinea pig for this first installment of Obscurity Knocks, but when I explained the premise of the podcast and filled him in on the three virtual cards he’d be able to play during the course of the proceedings, he proved his mettle as an actor by feigning excitement so perfectly that I almost believed him.

Before you dive into the podcast and hear how nervous I sound, first of all, let me promise you that I’ll get better once I’ve done a few more of them. In addition, though, I wanted to pass along the list of projects that I presented to Mr. Astin for discussion. In the future, I’ll try to remember to offer at least a nutshell summary of each item during the conversation itself, but even at that, you might want to have something to reference later, so I’ll still continue to provide these. Also, the summaries that are in quotation marks come straight from IMDb – I figured that’s only fair, since that’s where I found the info about the projects in the first place – and if there was no summary on IMDb, then I composed a little something based on my knowledge of the project.

So take a look, and after you’ve done that, take a listen and keep your expectations realistic for a first-time podcaster, but I think I’ve found a format that plays to my strengths in print interviews while not feeling like it’s actively ripping off anything else.

That was certainly what I was trying to do, anyway. Let’s just hope I succeeded.

Mackenzie_AstinLois Gibbs and the Love Canal (1982): “An poorly-educated house-wife fights companies polluting her hometown’s water-table in up-state New York during the 1970’s.”

I Dream of Jeannie… 15 Years Later (1985): “Jeannie uses her magic powers to thwart her sister, Jeannie II, who has designs on Major Nelson.”

Harrison Bergeron (1995): “In a distant future, egalitarianism has created a truly equal state. The cost? The sacrifice of everything great about humankind. The question: is peace worth the price?”

Dream for an Insomniac (1996): “Girl leads a lonely life until she meets the boy of her dreams. The boy, however, has a live-in girlfriend.”

Widow’s Kiss (1996): “A lawyer befriends a client and before he knows it he’s married to her. Both are recently widowed with teenage sons. When the lawyer dies of a heart attack within a matter of days his son becomes suspicious.”

Everything but the Girl (2001): A failed NBC sitcom pilot best known – if it’s known at all – for being the reason why Tiffany Thiessen passed on the opportunity to replace Shannen Doherty on Charmed. Whoops. Anyway, it’s faded so far into obscurity that there are only a handful of clips to be found, and none of them feature Mr. Astin uttering so much as a single word, but at least in this one you can see him within what would’ve been the ongoing ensemble of the series.

Laughter on the 23rd Floor (2001): Adapted from Neil Simon’s play inspired by his early career experience as a junior writer for Your Show of Shows, the TV movie focuses on Max Prince, the star of a weekly comedy-variety show circa 1953, and his staff, including Simon’s alter-ego Lucas Brickman. Alas, there’s no clip of this one available that features Astin in any capacity whatsoever, but he’s in there, I swear.

Two Days (2003): “Paul Miller, a self-described ‘failed actor,’ sets out for his final act and his ultimate role: the last two days of his life ending with his suicide on tape. He tries to reunite with old friends and family members to say one last final goodbye, all of whom attempt to coax him out of killing himself or dismiss his intentions as a joke.”

Welcome 2 Ibiza (2003): “A young woman from America inherits a beach bar in Ibiza, Spain, and soon experiences all kind of wild and crazy adventures.”

Military Intelligence and You! (2006): “Major Nick Reed is an intrepid analyst for Army Intelligence. It’s his job to locate a secret enemy base whose fighters – the dreaded Ghost Squadron – attack our bombers. Complicating his efforts is a chance meeting with his former love, Lt. Monica Tasty, and her current beau, Major Mitch Dunning. Can Reed find the fighter base in time for the 4th Armored to attack? Will the Nazis learn our next target and send the Ghost Squadron to attack our bombers? Why do some women fall for the bad boys, completely ignoring the good responsible men right in front of them?”

Elf-Man (2012): An Elf is left behind by Santa to help rescue the Harper family from a lousy Christmas. The Elf and the family get more than they bargained for, as the kids help the Elf discover his special powers and true identity as a budding superhero.

D-TEC (2013): An action-packed, multi-screen TV series that fuses classic film noir with science fiction.

This entry was posted in Obscurity Knocks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Obscurity Knocks: Episode 1 – Mackenzie Astin

  1. Peter McElroy says:

    Congrats on the new podcast. This is a fun interview, and now I would really, really strongly urge you to interview Mackenzie’s father, the legendary John Astin, best known as Gomez Addams but of course an actor in a million other roles and former theater professor at Johns Hopkins. I can’t think of a better person for this podcast or for Random Roles. He even had a small role in St. Elsewhere, which would help you finish your Great White Whale quest to interview everyone ever on that show.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.