Chris Marcil has written for shows such as Beavis & Butthead, Daria, Newsradio, and Frasier. He was enough of a gentleman and a scholar to join us on the podcast to talk about working in television in the 90s. Not the greatest audio fidelity we’ve ever had, but not a real issue, and it’s most definitely a worthwhile listen.
You can find Chris on the Twitter at @ChrisMarcil. Hot In Cleveland, which Chris and his writing partner Sam Johnson have been running this season, is airing its series finale on June 3 on TV Land. So check that out. Even if you’ve never seen an episode before. The first episode of Seinfeld I ever saw was the series finale, and I turned out OK.
Steve Urkel, known as Urkel to most, was a very popular TV character. He had all sort of tie in products, including but not limited to Urkel-O’s, an Urkel based cereal. However, I feel like the folks behind Family Matters missed out on some more marketing opportunities. For example:
Sleeve Urkel: A long sleeved shirt with Urkel’s picture on the sleeves.
Stove Urkel: A stove with Urkel’s face on it. Maybe it comes with a timer than, when it runs out of time, goes “Did I cook that?”
Steve Jerkel – Beef Jerky. Snap into a Jerkel! Oooh yeah!
David Letterman is leaving television. Dave was never by late night host. I mean, he was the first late night host I knew. My dad watched Letterman, and so sometimes I would watch The Late Show. I’d be amused by his wacky antics, and tune out for the interviews, because I had no real concept of these celebrities. I distinctly remember watching it one time, not know how caring who the celebrity was. It was Julia Roberts. She was one of the more beloved guests on the show.
Anyway, the host of my youth was Conan, and the host of my adulthood was Craig Ferguson, but I have always liked and admired Letterman. He was a vital piece of television history, and also he was in Cabin Boy. I am sort of lost in the sea of late night now with Ferguson gone. I’ve been watching Seth Meyers, and he’s good, and I am going to watch Colbert when he takes over for Letterman, but that is still some ways away.
However, Letterman leaving TV has me disheartened for a specific reason. Without Letterman and Ferguson, there is too much god damn sincerity in late night. Well, maybe sincerity isn’t the right word. It’s hard to call Jimmy Fallon’s hyperbolic, fawning love of everything sincere. What I’m saying is that late night is just all the same now. There is too much positivity and pleasantry and ebullience. Everything is a party. Nobody is dry or biting or sardonic. I don’t like it.
Generally speaking, comedy has tilted too far toward sincerity. Irony was the big thing for a while, and that had its own issues, but we need some of both. Somebody have some sense of detachment! Somebody give a guest a hard time, or anybody a hard time. We don’t need everybody being an asshole or a bastard or a sonuvabitch, but we do need somebody who is willing to go there. That’s what Letterman was.
Craig Ferguson would fuck around with his robot skeleton sidekick and yell swear words at his producer and have actual conversations with people. Letterman liked to mess about too, and do things for his own amusement. Maybe that’s what I miss most. I miss the guy who is willing to go on network television and not care if anybody but himself is entertained. Somebody needs to occupy that space between “Too cool for school” and “Hooray for everything!”
So farewell, David Letterman. Everybody in late night doesn’t give a shit every now and again. You had the integrity to let people know it.
I wrote about Seinfeld recently. I wrote about how I really liked the detail of George ordering clams casino from Monk’s. Well, I’ve been thinking about Seinfeld some more. Maybe because Veep has been on, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is awesome. Maybe it is because reruns are always on, and so they seep into your day-to-day life. Anyway, here’s what I’ve had on my mind.
It’s in a similar vein to the clams casino thing, but on a grander scale. It’s a well-thought out detail that is a major plot of an episode. I’m talking about the episode where Jerry and Elaine have been waiting out a couple, and now that George has introduced friction into their relationship, Jerry and Elaine are ready to pounce. I love the idea of two people “waiting out” a relationship, ready to make a move if it fails. It both falls into the minutiae that Seinfeld trafficked in so well, but it also fits so aptly with the general awfulness of the main characters on the show. Plus, we get to watch Jerry and Elaine work together to try and figure out a plan to earn the hearts of these two folks.
That’s a bit more sitcom-y, and so is the part where the guy tries to screw up George’s engagement with Susan, but George is actually happy about it, but that stuff is still really funny. This is a great episode of Seinfeld, and it is rooted in the mundane douchery of life. Seinfeld was truly the show with the most well-appointed details in TV history, save for perhaps The Simpsons. I don’t love it as much as most, but I still appreciate its excellence.
In 1997, Jon Hamm was in an episode of Ally McBeal. He played a character called “That Guy.” This is his only acting credit of the 90s. He was super good on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I never got into Mad Men. Or Ally McBeal. My apologies to Lucy Liu.
Single Female Lawyer, fighting for her clients. Wearing sexy miniskirts and being self-reliant.