A real man makes his own luck.
-Zane, Survivor: Philippines
A few days ago, on the cusp of the premiere of Survivor: Filippines: The Rise of Skupin, we were asked if Survivor as a series (not the Survivor Series) is still entertaining after twenty-four seasons. “How could it possibly be?” they wondered. But we told this person that the show, against all odds, manages to be fresh and new almost every season, that although the game uses essentially the same format that it started with back in Borneo, each season and its cast members offer something new and different, something that makes the show worth watching. Case and point, in the first episode of our new season, we are blessed with Zane, who once again proves that no matter how long this show goes the players will continue to be stupid. And that, my friend, is why, twelve years later, Survivor is still very much worth watching.
But, in our normal fashion, before we get to end and Zane’s stupidity, let’s start at the start. And we start with Jeff Probst channelling Bruce Willis in Striking Distance and rolling up in a speedboat, looking as confident and determined as ever, putting to rest any worries that one might have had that he’d be preoccupied with this just premiered daytime talker (and, perhaps, in another post it would worth discussing just how much Probst has meant to Survivor, and how much it owes its success to the man in blue). And we get our first look at the new cast, which in addition to the returning players that we’ve already discussed – Mike “Two Scoops” Skupin, Jonathan Penner, and Russell Swan (who, apparently, came directly from a jazz performance) – includes former Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel and former Major League Baseball MVP Jeff Kent.
A few hundred words on why we hate Jeff Kent and then the game is afoot…
With the proper premiere of Go On this week and its promising ratings, it seemed like the appropriate time to revisit our Groaning Pains series, specifically Go On star Matthew Perry’s short stint as Carol’s ill-fated boyfriend, Sandy. In other words, it’s time to discuss how we learned about drunk driving (and that a guy could be named “Sandy”).
When Friends premiered back in 1994 we may have been the only eleven-year-old in the country who thought to himself “there’s the guy who was in the Married with Children backdoor pilot and there’s the guy who was Carol’s boyfriend on Growing Pains that died from drinking and driving.” The former is Matt LeBlanc, whose Married With Children character Vinnie Verducci – Joey Tribbiani’s spiritual predecessor – was spun off with his father Charlie (the immortal Joseph Bolonga) into the very short-lived series Top of the Heap, and the latter is, of course, Matthew Perry. For years, Matthew Perry stuck in our mind because of his role on Growing Pains – 1) because his arc ended so tragically, and 2) because we never could quite wrap our heads around the fact he was named Sandy – and it would take a little while for us before we thought of Perry as Chandler Bing and not as Carol Seaver’s love lost, a cautionary tale.
Thanks to the wonder of Netflix Instant Watch we’re now able to go back and relive all those years of SNL that we had only read about in Live From New York. As we had previously mentioned, one of the seasons we were most curious about was the 84-85 season, the year that featured a bunch of ringers named Billy Crystal, Martin Short, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest. So as soon as we could we went right to season premiere, which began with a monologue from de facto lead cast member Crystal. We were struck by a number of aspects of the act: how young Crystal looks; the perfectly 80s sweater; the dark, depressing subway platform set. But what stayed with us most was this mildly racist bit about going to scary movies with African-Americans:
We’ve been meaning to upload this clip for a few weeks, but we were hoping to wait until we could procure better quality video. But we bring it to you now, without further hesitation, because last week’s SNL basically used the same exact joke in its “Globe Theatre” sketch:
Curiously, the sketch is not available on Hulu. Is a rights issue because they reworked a Black Eyed Peas song? Or maybe “Let’s all go the lobby” is not public domain. Or, perhaps. Mr. Crystal filed a plagiarism complaint.
Sadly, we’ll likely never know.
Either way, we’re a little concerned about how enthusiastic that one woman in the audience was when Crystal asked if anyone had “ever been to a scary film with a black audience” (it’s also kind of a weird question. The 80s weren’t the 60s, right?). Crazy times, man, crazy times.
The legendary, lovely, luminous Justine Bateman appeared on this week’s Urly Show, the podcast hosted by our dear friend Eliot Glazer and his team over at Urlesque, and she basically blew our minds. We thought we spend a lot of our time looking at Internet junk, but Justine has got us beat. Sure, you could argue with all the money she’s making off of Family Ties residuals she has nothing but time to look at animals in casts Tumblrs and Cigar Guy memes and fake Christine O’Donnell broomstick Twitter feeds. But she actually makes us feel like we’re not doing a good enough job of looking at Internet junk. Like, she wants it more. To us, her relative wealth would have led us to believe that she’d think of herself above the web fray, and instead of checking out the latest Sad Keanu photoshop job or post about spaghetti tacos she’d be using the New Yorker app on her iPad while sitting by the pool, possibly being fanned by a young Filipino boy. Turns out that she’s not above the fray, but instead thoroughly in the midst of it, and we have a new-found admiration for her because of it.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
The best part is that Eliot played a few clips from How Can I Tell If I’m Really In Love, a full length PSA from 1986 that features Bateman (as well as Ted Danson) educating teenage girls about the evils tricks adolescent boys use get into their pants. Eliot unearthed this time capsule when we were in high school, and we spent several nights watching the VHS in his parents’ basement, completely fascinated and confused (questions like: why did they insist everyone sit in such uncomfortable positions? And: Is this a joke?), so it’s unbelievable to see Bateman watching and commenting on it now (although, she has little to no recollection of shooting it. But we can’t really blame her for that). See for yourself!
Speaking of Family Ties and things that blew our minds, let’s take this opportunity to remind you of this and this.