Monthly Archives: February 2010

In Memorium Nostalgia Corner: Andrew Koenig

Foreward: Jumped The Snark updates have been few and far between for the last few weeks (in fact, they’ve been non-existent), because I have been in the process of moving out of LA, driving cross-country, and settling in back in NY.  I’d been hoping to get back to the blog sooner than this, and certainly on a much lighter note.  But while I’ve still just made a dent in my  to do list (chief among them: get a job, so let me know if you hear of anything), it feels important that I note this tragedy, even if it’s not the way I wanted to return to the blogosphere.

This is not an obituary.  This is not a eulogy.  This is not a tribute.  This is just some words and thoughts and memories.

I can still vividly recall one night twenty-one years ago when I planted myself in my parents bed to watch ABC’s Saturday night comedy line-up, anchored by heartthrob Kirk Cameron and Growing Pains.  Unfortunately, to my great surprise/disappointment, when the show started  I learned that Richard “Boner” Stabone decided to leave his comfy Long Island confines for the Marines, choosing his future before it chose him, and officially growing up beyond his rather unfortunate moniker (one that somehow got by the censors all those years).  As a child Growing Pains was my favorite show; I would constantly watch it in reruns, instead of playing “house” my friend and I would play “Growing Pains,” and even a secondary character like Boner felt like family to me.  And the idea that Boner was leaving, possibly forever, deeply troubled me.  In fact, I started bawling uncontrollably, consoled only by my sister’s suggestion that perhaps he would resurface in a spin-off, The Boner Show (and, at the time, the idea of a program being called The Boner Show, didn’t seem particularly bawdy or unlikely to me, and if Coach Lubbock got a spin-off, why not Boner?).  But, as you know, that never happened, and Boner never came back to Growing Pains (which is really unfair, as even Julie McCulloch‘s character was granted a degree of closure), and I’ve spent the subsequent years wondering what happened to Private Richard Stabone.  Did he find what he was looking for in the Marines?  Did he flame out and return to the suburbs?  Did he complete his service, move to Seattle and start selling stereos again?  Two Growing Pains reunion movies came and went and didn’t shed any light on his whereabouts.  Like Keyser Soze, he was  gone.  A childhood friend never to be seen again (although, one would assume that Mike and Boner have reconnected over Facebook).

So what does that have to do Andrew Koenig, the actor who played Boner, who took his own life a few days ago?  Nothing, really.  I don’t know Koenig, and I don’t know if Koenig was anything like his character.  He seemed well liked by the acting community, judging by the way that many actors and comedians tweeted their concern, their requests for help, and when his body was found, their sadness.  Maybe Koenig embodied the best parts of Richard Stabone,  the carefree attitude, the innocence, the sweet dorkiness, even the endearing naiveté.  But, hopefully, in his real life, unlike Boner, Koenig was taken seriously and appreciated.

Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that he was always known as Boner, and he always will be.  Perhaps it was an ill-advised, myopic, nickname, one that had no choice but to stick permanently.  Would he have been better off with less of a double entendre for an epithet?  Does Mark Price, Family Ties‘ “Skippy,” go through his life unable to escape his character and his character’s name?  I don’t know.  This is just hypothesizing.  But, either way, it’s always a shame that it takes a tragedy for us to start talking about someone whom we had long forgotten.

I recently began re-watching 21 Jump Street (which is a blog post, and hopefully an ongoing series, for another day) and came upon a season 2 episode entitled “Champagne High.”  I was first struck by the presence of a young Peter Berg as a high school jock-bully.  But I was soon even more surprised/intrigued by the subject of his bullying, a likewise young Andrew Koenig.  I don’t think I had seen Koenig in anything other than Growing Pains, and it was interesting to see him get a chance to play a more serious role (and, on 21 Jump Street, there’s no shortage of meaty, if cripplingly melodramatic, parts).  Like Boner, his character, Wally, was a pipsqueak.  But Booner’s space case doofusness was replaced by resentment towards Berg and frustration over his constant abuse.  In fact, Wally hires Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise, undercover as the rough and tumble McQuaid Brothers, as his personal bodyguards.  And the Jump Street officers then turn around and use Wally’s connections to set-up a sting operation, taking advantage of his father’s business as well as his vulnerability.  It’s not fair to assert that this is what it was like for Koenig in real life – that he was bullied, used, mocked –  but in light of his death, and the apparent circumstances that led to it, I don’t think it’s entirely unfair to wonder.

A little over a year ago a friend gave me what at the time was a wonderful, exceptionally thoughtful gift, a framed 8×10 screenshot of Boner with a faux-dedication and signature.   I proudly displayed the photo on my Ikea bookshelf, and upon moving to LA I put it right back up, providing a measure of comfort.   Now, of course, I feel bad that we might have had a good laugh at his expense, and I’m not sure what the etiquette is on displaying forged-autographed headshots of recently deceased semi-celebrities.  When I get settled I’ll probably put it back up.  But not so much as a joke anymore, but as a tribute.  And to remember that while Andrew Koenig might not be with us anymore, there’s still hope that Richard Stabone is living a rich and rewarding life, the life that they both deserved.

Thanks for the memories, Bone.

(and, yes, just teared up watching this)

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Filed under Count Bleh, Growing Pains, Jump Streets Ahead, Nostalgia Corner

Muppet Monday Tuesday: Beaker Epic Fail, Muppet Viral Victory

The Muppets are proving themselves to be the Leonardo da Vinci of modern media, moving effortlessly between movies, TV, community service, comics and cultural relativism*.  Dudes are just hitting it from all angles right now.  They’re like Miley Cyrus times four, with actual talent and vast more human emotion and independent thought.

Sure, they’ve always pounded the pavement when it comes to the traditional media, boasting a vault full of films and TV specials and music albums.  But lately they’ve shown to be experts at exploiting popular YouTube videos to create their own.  Right now the Muppets at the forefront of what I like to call viral video deconstructionism.  Starting with their attempts to usurp the iconic skateboarding dog, and most notably in their “Bohemian Rhapsody” music video, they’ve deftly played with what we’ve come to call internet memes (at least I think that’s right.  Still not quite sure what a meme is.  Ask Urlesque).  And they continue this trend now with what might be the most subversive video yet: Beaker (who has sort of become the go-to Muppet for these videos) performing a meepfelt version of “Dust in the Wind,” only to be crowded out and ultimately sabotaged by those YouTube pop-up comment boxes.  Beaker, shine a light and we shall follow.

Expecting Pepe After Dentist anytime now.

*Not really.

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Filed under Muppet Mondays, Muppets, Virulent

Thoughts on the LOST Premiere AKA Why LOST Was the Best Show of the Last Decade

I’m not sure if I’m going to make a habit of posting weekly Lost reactions.  First of all, there are countless other bloggers who do an infinitely better job parsing the show and its mythology (Doc Jensen, Videogum, Alan Sepinwall, AV Club to name a few)  And second, I think I’d rather spend my time reading other people’s thoughts and theories than formulating my own, because immersing myself in the world of Lost and its possibilities is one of my all-time favorite pastimes.  But, in honor of the season premiere, and in light of a post I didn’t get around to writing six weeks ago, I thought I’d put finger to keyboard and deliver commentary that’s more along the lines of Ken Tucker’s, focusing not on the mythology, but on the storytelling and the characters.  Not on what the things in Lost mean, but on what is Lost‘s meaning.

Read on: Why I thought Lost was the best show of the decade, and how I was wrong but still right.

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Filed under Freak Out Control, LOST, Must See TV

Muppet Movie Monday Tuesday: The Muppets Inch Closer to the Judd Apatow Chart, Ball’s In Your Court, James Bobin

Very delayed but very exciting Muppet news:  while most of our Muppet Monday posts have focused on the recent rise of Muppet visibility in Disneyland and on TV, as well as a few classic clips, we finally have some Muppet movie news!

Vulture reports that Flight of the Conchords co-creator James Bobin has been offered to direct a new Muppet movie in the works for Walt Disney Pictures.  However, there might be a snag, as Bobin has apparently also been asked to helm Bridesmaids, a Kristen Wiig penned (and we’re assuming starring) comedy produced by Jumped The Snark legend Judd Apatow.  But really, do you think Bobin should attach himself to a movie described as “two women battling to plan their friend’s wedding party?”  I think the Casey Wilson-penned Bride Wars kinda covered this ground, and between that and 27 Dresses, I’m not sure that the discerning comedy masses are clamoring for another slapstick/rom-com wedding flick (although, if it’s more like Baby Mama, then maybe I’ll revise that statement).  Plus, would you choose to work with a bunch of petulant divas* over the seasoned professionals that are the Muppets?

But maybe you’re thinking to yourself that Bobin should choose Bridesmaids for the chance to become part of the Judd Apatow fraternity and secure on a place on my chart.  Okay, fair.  However, this Muppet movie will be based on the script penned by Jason Segel and his Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller.  Both men have several ties to Apatow, so Bobin can join team Apatow either way, and if this movie is produced it’s definitely going on the chart.  So, James Bobin, if the main factor in deciding which movie to direct is earning a spot on the Judd Apatow chart, then I can assure you that if you take the reins to the Muppet movie you’ll get your due.  Plus, you have about an equal chance of working with Paul Rudd on either movie (actually, with this in mind, the odds might actually be a little better with the Muppets)

And with that out of the way, you can make a measured, smart decision.

Fozzie Bear or Gilly?

I think the choice is easy.

*Just assuming.  Cause that’s what I imagine Katherine Heigl is like and I’m assuming she will be in this movie.

Vulture Exclusive: Flight of the Conchords Co-Creator May Direct the New Muppet Movie

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Filed under Judd Apatow, Muppet Mondays, Muppets, The Big Screen

When God Closes a Guy Fieri Door He Opens a Guy Fieri Window

Last decade I wrote semi-extensively about Guy Fieri and his Food & Rock’n’Roll Road Show, an extreme food, drink and music extravaganza.  So imagine my excitement a couple months back when my brother called to tell me that he had tickets to that very show that very Thursday.  Oh the delight!  I’d finally get to see Guy Fieri live and “in concert.”  I mean, the guy had been stalking me, so it only seemed fitting that I should see him as he righteously rolled through Los Angeles.  So, then, imagine my disappointment when I found out my brother was actually calling to ask if I could babysit so he and his wife could attend the fiesta.  A dream deferred.

All wasn’t lost, however, because as a thank you my brother gave me his signed copy of More Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives: A Drop-top Culinary Cruise Through America’s Finest and Funkiest Joints (and, I guess, he really had no need for two signed copies of More Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives: A Drop-top Culinary Cruise Through America’s Finest and Funkiest Joints).  It wasn’t the same as seeing Fieri in person, the spotlight glistening off his backwards sunglasses and bleached spikes, but it was a nice token.  A little piece of Fieri to hold onto forever.  Yes, most certainly off da hook.

Guy Fieri!

And that’s not all.  They even captured video of the party, some of which I managed to hijack.  So if you were curious about that 25 gallon margarita machine, or wondering how literal Fieri’s song choice would be, your prayers have been answered:

Video after the jump. And…a second chance???

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Filed under Commodore 64, Tex Wasabi's, The Sixth Taste

‘SNL’: Hamm & Cheese and A Bublé Disposition

PUNS!!!

Jon Hamm SNLIn yesterday’s SNL appetizer post I surmised that last night’s show had a 50% chance of being funny.  However, immediately after making this less than bold proclamation I realized that I should have at least given the odds at 51%, and more accurately probably around 75%.  With SNL returning after a week off, having proven they perform best with a little rest, and under the capable reigns of Jon Hamm, the odds were certainly in their favor.

And had I thought it through yesterday and gone with the 75% estimation I would have been right, as about 3/4 of the show was (surprisingly or unsurprisingly, I’ll let you decide) solid.  From the moment Hamm stepped out onto the stage for his monologue you knew you were in good hands (sorta like the way I feel during the opening credits of any Quentin Tarantino movie).  Obviously the easy thing to do here would be to compare Hamm’s hosting performance to that of his Mad Men co-star, Ms. January Jones.  Of course, that’s entirely unfair, because Jones was clearly over-matched and out of her element, and Hamm has already demonstrated his hosting prowess.  There’s really no reason to compare a Picasso to a Bazooka Joe comic.  We already know which is going to come out on top (well, I guess in that scenario it depends on the criterion, if we’re talking about which is the superior work of art or which serves as a better gum wrapper.  But I digress).  However, we’ll indulge that comparison briefly, because, like Jones’, Hamm’s monologue employed some Mad Men parody, and to far better results than the “Mad Mennies” bit in Jones’ monologue.  As Hamm’s big break has been his role as the mysterious, stoic Don Draper, he showed some clips from his earlier “roles,” but in each of these Hamm maintains the personality of the debonair Draper.  The first clip, a Saved by the Bell parody titled “Late for Class,” was the best (if only for the spot-on opening credits.  Oh, the early 90s!), but the second, Hamm on QVC giving Kristen Wiig the same tough love treatment that Don gives Betty Draper, and the last, Hamm as Draper doing Def Comedy Jam, were nearly as good.  By the time Hamm said “stick around, we’ll be right back,” he didn’t need to.  We were sold.

Read on: A funny and incisive cold opening?! Pork and Champagne?! Serigo?! Plus: the bottom 25th percentile.

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Filed under Analysis, Good Humor, Saturday Night Live, Saved by the Bell