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.
A while back, I wrote about this show called The Clinic, that I had stumbled upon in the oddest of ways. Namely, I had been watching an old MST3K that somebody had taped off TV, and it had the commercials in tact, so I saw commercials for this old show from Comedy Central I had never heard of, even though Adam West was in it.
Well, I did some research at some point, for the purposes of writing something else, and I found out somebody had put all the episodes on YouTube. Also, did you know all the episodes aired on one night? I read this in an article from the Chicago Sun-Times or something, the only writing on the show I had found. I am not linking to them, because I have not watched them and cannot vouch for them. However, if you search for “Adam West The Clinic” on the YouTube, you can go nuts with them. It was some sort of over the top soap opera parody type thing. Kind of like an early Childrens’ Hospital. I haven’t watched that either.
Nirvana is en vogue again, or at least Kurt Cobain is, so perhaps it’s fitting that we finally got around to talking about them. How do we feel about this seminal rocking band? Only our hairdressers know for sure.
I missed the moment in the zeitgeist where everybody was chitting and chatting about Harry Shearer leaving The Simpsons, but, as a man who has written and spoken about The Simpsons so many times in the Existential Parachute Pants universe, I figured I couldn’t let it pass entirely.
Obviously, it’s a bummer. Shearer was a vital component of the voiceover cast. He voiced some of my favorite characters, most notably Mr. Burns and Skinner. I wish he had stayed with the show, but it’s his career and he can do what he wants. I don’t want to cast an opinion on this whole situation, because it is a business situation and a career situation, and I don’t know all the details. However, Shearer’s reputation brings to mind a quote from the television program Justified, “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole,” and, if you hear Shearer talk, he seems to run into an awful lot of assholes.
So, you know, if this had been, say, Hank Azaria, it would feel different. However, the show will go on, and I will continue to watch it. I mean, those of us who have watched the show all these years have seen a ton of changes already. Voices have already changed, even when done by the same person. Hell, Mr. Burns now doesn’t sound like Mr. Burns earlier in the show’s run. Homer’s voice changed. The animation has changed a bunch. The history of the world has changed. So yeah, some major characters are going to sound a bit different, and it may feel weird and jarring at first. However, eventually it will no longer feel that way. Harry Shearer will go on, and The Simpsons will go on.
Have I ever written about American Gladiators before? I presume I have. I must have, if only to talk about Nitro being on Saved by the Bell: The College Years.
There were all sorts of games. Some were interesting, some were silly. There was a game called Powerball. It has nothing to do with the lottery. It was sort of football like, and they had to put balls into little buoy type things while gladiators tried to tackle them. Larry Csonka was the co-host at the time. He was a former pro football player. Solid career. Played for the Miami Dolphins. When somebody got hit particularly hard, he’d include it in the “Csonka Zonks.” At least, I think it was zonks, and that folks got zonked. It could have been Csonka’s Csonks, but that seems silly.
Anyway, why this happened only for this game, I do not know. There were big hits in other games. Like, when somebody got womped in joust. By Gemini. Or maybe Nitro. He was a karate instructor on Saved by the Bell: The College Years, you know?
You know what is a great Seinfeld joke? When George orders clams casino from Monk’s, the diner they always go to. I mean, it’s not a huge thing. It’s from “The Betrayal,” the backwards episode, so it really is just part of a bit. George is feeling funky, and then we go back in time to find out that he ordered clams casino for the lousy diner they always get coffee from.
It’s the sort of clever minutiae that Seinfeld is often credited for. Having somebody order something weird from a diner they always go to is a nice touch. Clams casino is a great choice. It’s so clearly a poor decision, but it’s also a well-appointed detail. Does not everybody, at some point in their life, decide to order something idiosyncratic or weird? I mean, for years I desired to order a banana split, because they are such a well-worn dessert cliche, in pop culture and stuff, but people don’t really eat them. I’ve probably ordered other odd stuff. Odder than a banana split.
I’ve never had clams casino, though. George did. He’s the hero.