Morgan Fairchild and Bruce Boxleitner showed up this week as the extravagantly eccentric parents of Captain Awesome on



It's not the first time Fairchild has guest-starred as a prime-time parental unit. As you may recall, she was also Chandler's mom on Friends. His dad, a transvestite, was portrayed by Kathleeen Turner. That was certainly different.

Playing the wacky out-of-town parents is a time-honored TV tradition and a sweet, high-profile gig for veteran actors.

In the last month, Jane Curtin and Martin Mull turned up as Allison's parents on Gary Unmarried, and Fred Willard and Connie Ray served the same role for Sam on Worst Week.

Fairchild is hardly the first to double-dip. Marion Ross, for instance, appeared as Nora's chilly mom on Brothers & Sisters and as Drew's mother on The Drew Carey Show. (Mimi's mama on that sitcom was memorably played by Tammy Faye Bakker.)

Paul Dooley has been Cheryl's father on Curb Your Enthusiasm as well as Jamie's on Mad About You, with Nancy Dussault as his mate. A few seasons later they were supplanted as the Stemples by Carroll O'Connor and Carol Burnett.

Ryan O'Neal has been both Lynette's philandering father-in-law on Desperate Housewives and Brennan's shady dad on Bones.

The list of drop-in parents goes on and on. Tom Poston and Betty White were Kitty's folks on That '70s Show. Murphy's squabbling divorced parents on Murphy Brown were Colleen Dewhurst and Darren McGavin.

On Roseanne, that most matriarchal of shows, it was the women, fittingly, who ruled: Estelle Parsons as Roseanne's mom and Shelley Winters as her grandma.

On TV, you can pick your friends and your family.

You look familiar. Here's something you don't see every day: Sarah Brown has now been married to Maurice Bernard on General Hospital twice - as two different women.

Originally she played Sonny's spouse, Carly. Recently she returned to the drama, but since the Carly role has been assumed by Laura Wright, Brown was cast as Mafia princess Claudia. And it was down the aisle with Sonny again.

That's got to be against some statute, even in Port Charles.

Reelin' in the years. The most unintentionally funny scene of the week was a flashback on My Own Worst Enemy. (Boy, did that title turn out to be prophetic.)

It was ludicrous to see the 39-year-old Christian Slater trying to pass as a 20-year-old soldier. Even worse was the way they turned back time for 68-year-old James Cromwell, sticking a silly brown wig on him so he'd look middle-aged.

It was funnier than the flashback on Lost with a badly bewigged Cheech Marin as the father of a very young Hurley.

Dubious tough guys. Would Fringe really have us believe that the willowy Olivia was in the Marines?

And in the recent two-hour 24: Redemption, we were told that Kiefer Sutherland and his buddy Robert Carlyle met as Special Forces commandos.

Doesn't that branch of the service have a height requirement? Because neither actor looks tall enough to get on most of the rides at Six Flags.

Stella! One night this week, I played hooky from my usual series-watching to take in Great Expectations on Turner Classic Movies.

David Lean's film was fantastic, but I kept getting distracted by how much John Mills resembled Regis Philbin. Wouldn't you love to see Reege as Dickens' Victorian fop, Pip? With Kelly Ripa as Estella and Kathie Lee Gifford as Miss Haversham?

In fact, I would love to see any number of film classics remade with talk-show hosts. How much would you pay to see Maury Povich in A Streetcar Named Desire or Jerry Springer in Hamlet?