Male scale

Twice recently, I’ve been struck by a scale difference between male actors on tv shows (seen in reruns) — in each case, a difference between a hunky regular on the show and a very noticeably bigger guest star. I found the effect odd: at one moment, the guest seemed unnaturally large; at the next, the regular seemed to have shrunk. It all depended on which one I was taking as the standard.

First, regular Woody Harrelson with guest Robert Urich on Cheers. Then, regular Donnie Wahlberg with guest Marc Blucas on Blue Bloods. (And then a footnote about Tom Selleck on Blue Bloods.)

Harrelson and Urich. “Woody for Hire meets Norman of the Apes”, S6 E13, first aired 1/7/88, in which Woody tries to convince his friends that he got a small part on Spenser: For Hire (set in Boston, as is Cheers):

(#1) Urich as himself, Woody Harrelson as Woody Boyd, Ted Danson as Sam Malone

Harrelson is 5′ 10″ and hunky; Urich was 6′ 2″, broad-shouldered, with head size to match — a genial bear of a man:


(Danson, meanwhile, is also 6′ 2″ and very fit, but lean.)

In their scene together, Urich overshadows Harrelson.

Harrelson, very briefly:

Woodrow Tracy “Woody” Harrelson (born July 23, 1961) is an American actor, activist, and playwright. (Wikipedia link)

And Urich, from Wikipedia:

Robert Michael Urich (December 19, 1946 – April 16, 2002) was an American film, television and stage actor and television producer. Over the course of his 30-year career, he starred in a record 15 television series.

Urich began his career in television in the early 1970s. After guest stints and roles in short-lived television series, he won a co starring role in the action/crime drama series S.W.A.T. in 1975. In 1976, he landed the role of Dan Tanna in the crime drama series Vega$. It aired on ABC from 1978 to 1981… In addition to his work in television, he also starred in several feature films, including Magnum Force (1973), The Ice Pirates (1984), and Turk 182 (1985). From 1985 to 1988, he portrayed the title role in the detective television series Spenser: For Hire, based on Robert B. Parker’s popular series of mystery novels [set in Boston].

Wahlberg and Blucas. “The City That Never Sleeps”, S4 E2, first aired 10/4/13:

When a famous movie star, Russell Berke, who shadowed Danny for research on his next role, is stabbed, Danny goes to his aid, but must keep the crime on the down-low due to Russell’s celebrity status [and his being in the closet]. (IMDb)

(#3) Marisa Ramirez as Det. Maria Baez, Blucas as Russell Berke, Donnie Wahlberg as Det. Danny Reagan

Wahlberg is 5′ 10″ and hunky; Blucas 6′ 2″, broad-shouldered, with head size to match, and in addition, Wahlberg plays his character as tightly-wound, while Blucas plays his expansively, with a mobile, smiling face and lots of body language, so that he projects a big body into an even bigger character. A shirtless photo in which you can see that he’s nicely proportioned, though you can’t appreciate his overall size:


About Wahlberg, from Wikipedia:

Donald Edmond [“Donnie”] Wahlberg Jr. (born August 17, 1969) is an American singer, songwriter, actor, record producer and film producer. He is a founding member of the boy band New Kids on the Block. Outside music, he has had roles in the Saw films, The Sixth Sense, Dreamcatcher, and Righteous Kill, also appearing in the World War II miniseries Band of Brothers as Carwood Lipton. From 2002 to 2003, he starred in the crime drama Boomtown. He has been starring in the drama series Blue Bloods as Danny Reagan with Tom Selleck (his TV father) and Bridget Moynahan (his TV sister) since 2010

And on Blucas, brief coverage in my 9/9/13 posting “Riley/Xander”, which notes his two most famous roles, as Riley Finn in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Matthew Donnally on Necessary Roughness.

And on Tom Selleck. The biggest man on Blue Bloods is definitely Tom Selleck, 6′ 4″ tall and seriously broad of shoulder; my 4/15/15 posting “Magnum” has a section on him (with of course a shirtless photo). In Blue Bloods he appears almost always in uniform or wearing a bulky sweater — presumably a device to make the viewer think that it’s his clothes that make him look so imposing.

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