Liam McIntyre portrayed the title role in "Spartacus: Vengeance." (AP Photo/Starz Entertainment)
On Monday, the prime-time soap, "Dallas" (9 p.m., TNT), bids farewell to J.R. Ewing, one of TV's iconic villains, with a funeral that reunites several stars from the original series.
"Dallas" thus becomes the latest in a long line of shows that has had to make course corrections following the death of a prominent cast member. A few others: "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" (John Ritter): After lead actor Ritter suffered an aortic dissection in 2003 during Season 2, his death was written into the show. The series introduced several new actors (Suzanne Pleshette, James Garner and David Spade) and adopted a shorter title ("8 Simple Rules"). But ratings slid and the show was canceled after Season 3.
"Spartacus" (Andy Whitfield): When Whitfield was diagnosed with early-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Starz delayed production on Season 2 of the costume drama and then produced a six-hour prequel miniseries ("Spartacus: Gods of the Arena"). Starz hired Liam McIntyre to take over the title role after Whitfield withdrew from the role. Whitfield died in 2011. "The Sopranos" (Nancy Marchand): Marchand, who played Livia, the domineering mother of Tony Soprano, for two seasons, died of lung cancer in 2000. Her death was written into the show, but not before producers made a bizarre ploy to air one more mother-son confrontation by digitally inserting past outtake footage of Marchand into a scene. "NewsRadio" (Phil Hartman): When Hartman was shot to death by his wife, Brynn, in May of 1998, "NewsRadio" had completed production on its fourth season. The show addressed his death in the opening episode of Season 5 by revealing that Hartman's character, bombastic news anchor Bill McNeal, had died of a heart attack. "Eight Is Enough" (Diana Hyland): Hyland, who played the wife of Dick Van Patten's character, shot only four episodes before falling ill. She died of breast cancer 12 days after the show premiered in 1977. At the start of Season 2, it was revealed that Van Patten's character, Tom Bradford, was a widower. Tom eventually married a teacher played by Betty Buckley and the show ran for five seasons.
Katey Cuoco and John Ritter from the pilot of "Eight Rules for Dating My Daughter."
(ABC/CARIN BAER) (CARIN BAER)
Read Chuck Barney's TV blog at http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/tv and follow him at http://twitter.com/chuckbarney.