Tag Archives: Bruce Willis

Out of the Fire and into the Philippines: Michael Skupin Returns to ‘Survivor’

There’s a tale we like to tell to novice or late-to-the-party Survivor fans. It’s a story – feels more like myth now – about a tribe called Kucha in a harsh landscape called the Outback. This is pre-Russell Hantz, pre-Boston Rob, even pre-Tom Westman. This is back in the second season of Survivor, when they had no idea that their initial success would continue nearly unabated for twenty-four seasons, that Richard Hatch and his flabby, hairy, naked figure strolling the beach in Borneo had changed the face of television forever. In season two the show was still in unknown territory, not yet a cultural institution with enough memorable moments to fill a double DVD and enough beloved (and reviled) players to field a competitive softball league. This was a long time ago. But all that time we’ve never forgotten about Michael Skupin. And never gave up hope – despite how unlikely it seemed – that he would return. 

We often relate how this season featured a tribe that we found to be as formidable and as likable (save for Kimmi) as any tribe in Survivor’s prodigious history. It featured a pretty young face that we’d come to later know as Elisabeth Hasslebeck, football wife and The View co-host/conservative punching bag, then going by the surname Filarski. And while Kucha lacked the statistical dominance of Tom Westman’s Koror tribe in Palau, the team felt as strong and cohesive as any tribe, and it was getting stronger and more cohesive after each challenge and Tribal Council. There was Jeff Varner, the good-looking, drawling Tar Heel, and his partner-in-crime Alicia Calaway, who could have easily parlayed her Survivor appearance into a berth in the WWE. There was Old Man Rodger, who had formed such a sweet, good-natured, grandfather-granddaughter relationship with Elisabeth. And there was Nick Brown, the bright, young Harvard Law student. And they were all led by Michael Skupin, a midwest father whose receding hairline was more Bruce Willis than Ron Howard. Skupin served as heart and soul of the team, his intelligence and survival skills keeping Kucha focused and united at camp, his athletic ability pacing them in challenges, and his hunting prowess keeping them energized. With his guidance Kucha was poised to decimate the Ogakor Tribe, which featured such bickering, unlikable players as Jerri “the Black Widow” Manthey, arrogant chef Keith Famie, mama’s boy himbo Colby Donaldson, mama surrogate Tina Wesson, and another pretty face named Amber (yep, that Amber); it was a tribe that fell out of favor with us the moment they voted out Maralyn “Mad Dog” Hershey. Ogakor featured several future All-Stars and a couple million dollar winners, but after five tribal councils they were faltering, fractured and frustrated (Colby dousing Jerri with a bucket of water following a Reward Challenge loss, for example), and with one more Immunity Challenge defeat they were in danger of going into the merge down 6-4 to a Kucha Tribe operating with extreme confidence and bellies full of chickens and popcorn and, thanks to Mike, a pig.

And then, in the blink of an eye, it all came crashing down.

And like that, he’s gone…

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Filed under Be careful what you wish for, Century 21 Reality, Freak Out Control, Mancrush, Tribal Council

Reginald VelJohnson in Uniform Moment of the Week: Turner and Sutton

Okay, fine, we’re cheating this week.  In this clip Reginald VelJohnson isn’t dressed in what you’d typically call a uniform.  But he’s still playing a cop, and when we first conceived of this weekly feature it was under the moniker “Reginald VelJohnson as a Cop Moment of the Week,” so this one still sorta counts.  Plus, you could totally argue that a brown sport coat is a police detective’s uniform.  It’s a stretch, but we won’t fight you on it.

But, most importantly, this is a clip from the seminal 80s canine-crime-comedy classic Turner and Hooch, which means that Reggie VelJ carries his shield alongside Jumped the Snark favorite Tom Hanks.  And any collaboration with Hanks needs to be acknowledged, traditional uniform or not (plus this gives us an excuse to link tomhanksimals).  So, ladies and gentlemen, complete with the requisite coffee mug, here’s Detective David Sutton, learning the ins and outs of precinct paperwork from fellow Detective Scott Turner:

We do have one bone to pick with the YouTube user who was kind enough to post this video, Platypus Robot. He (or she) remarked in the description that “going from Bruce Willis to Tom Hanks is a hell of a demotion.”  Well, we would be remiss if we did not fervently disagree.  If you want to restrict this argument to whom would you want to save you in a ridiculous hostage situation, John McClane or Scott Turner, of course we’d take Willis’ McClane every time.  But if we’re talking strictly Willis or Hanks, c’mon.  Hanks all the way, no contest.  The man is one of the best actors of his generation, and by many accounts one of the funniest.  Now, as far as we know, Hanks doesn’t front any blues bands, but we shouldn’t hold that against him.  He’s too busy educating the American public about the lunar missions and World War II (and pranking Julia Roberts).

So, Reginald VelJohnson, consider yourself Hanxed.  We have no doubt you appreciate the significance.

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Filed under Hanx, Reginald VelJohnson, What? Too fabulous?

Reginald VelJohnson In Uniform Moment of the Week! Reginald VelJohnson 2: Reginald VelJohnsoner

Die Hard 2 (Die Harder) was pretty disappointing on all fronts, basically a Die Hard rip-off in the vein of the later Die Hard on a boat and Die Hard in a tunnel and Die Hard on a zeppelin copycats that would densely populate the 90s, as opposed to a worthy follow-up to the original.  But most dismaying was the severely diminished presence of Mr. Reginald VelJohnson, who undoubtedly stole the show as Sgt. Al Powell in the first film.  He was John McClane’s confidant, his best friend, his rock, and his savior.  It’s no stretch to say that without Sgt. Powell there’s no way McClane ever gets out of Nakatomi Plaza.  So it’s nothing short of a travesty that Reginald VelJ’s role in the sequel was limited to a desk-jockey cameo:

But in his two minutes on-screen VelJohnson shines, giving a Masters class on eating a Twinkie while talking on the phone.  And this scene really breaks down what an exciting, tumultuous time the early 90s were.  Fax machines!  Insurance companies!  The ol’ in-laws!  Fax numbers!  Pissing in pools!  It truly is a snapshot of 1990.

WAKE UP AND SMELL THE 90s!  It smells like VelJohnson!

(Completely Made-up Fun Fact: the role played by Samuel L. Jackson in Die Hard with a Vengeance was originally written for Reginald VelJohnson to reprise Sgt. Powell.  Strange, but not true!)

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Filed under Reginald VelJohnson, Rip-off, The Big Screen

In Memorium Nostalgia Corner: Bill Erwin

Well, it’s been a big week for Growing Pains news.  Unfortunately, this latest development is of the sadder variety, as we’ve lost another member of the Growing Pains family.  It was announced today that veteran actor, Bill Erwin passed away at his home on December 28th, at the admirable age of 96.  You may know him best as Sid Fields from Seinfeld, the old man whom Jerry volunteers to assist, a role for which Erwin was nominated for an Emmy.  However, long before Seinfeld, Erwin had already made an indelible mark on us from his many appearances on Growing Pains.  Over six seasons Erwin appeared on the sitcom eight different times as seven different characters, from Buzz the plumber to Lloyd the fumigator to the school janitor (he was the go-to old man for thankless blue-collar jobs, evidently).  He was like Bruce Willis in North, or Rachel Dratch in the first season of 30 Rock, there whenever the Seavers needed him, in whatever guise was most appropriate.  We’ve seen him in many roles since then, some he shot after, some he shot before, but, to us, he’ll always be the old man from Growing Pains.

And here he is as Bubs the mechanic, from the Growing Pains meta-episode “Meet the Seavers:

And if you watched Home Alone over Christmas (like we did a couple of times) you might also recognize Erwin as the old man in the Scranton airport who refuses to give up his plane tickets to Mrs. McCallister:

TV and film just lost a good one, that’s for sure.

[btw, not to be confused with Bill Irwin]

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Filed under Growing Pains, In Memoriam, Nostalgia Corner

Reginald VelJohnson in Uniform Moment of the Week: Debut Edition!

We recently had the pleasure of viewing Die Hard for the very first time (seriously!) and we were struck by a number of things.  For example, it’s really, really good, Bruce Willis had a lot more hair; Alan Rickman is super creepy; you can totally see its influence on Community‘s paintball episode; and the late 80s were a weird time when computer screens only broadcast in two colors, green and black.  But perhaps our biggest takeaway was this: Reginald VelJohnson sure does play a lot of cops and other uniformed personnel.  And with that small thought, that tiny light bulb, was birthed yet another Jumped the Snark semi-regular feature.  So, without anymore hesitation, our first installment of the “Reginald VelJohnson in Uniform Moment of the Week:”

Yes, we did that.

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Filed under Greendale Human, Reginald VelJohnson, TGIF, The Big Screen

Nostaliga Corner: ‘The Commish’ – A desk job? Not the way HE does it

There were a few shows I watched as an eight year-old that I probably shouldn’t have been allowed to view.  WWF(E) Monday Night Raw.  Probably not Married with Children.  Definitely not Silk Stalkings (although it proved popular among the whole family.  Except that we all watched in separate rooms).  Sometimes 20/20.  But one show that aired in the 10pm slot that I think was okay for me, even then, was The Commish.  Why I was watching ABC at 10pm on Saturday nights at that time I’m not sure (perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Growing Pains anchored the two-hour comedy block and failed “TGIF” spin-off “I love Saturday Night.”  Yes, that’s definitely it), but despite dealing in serious crimes The Commish was a show that (I think) had a soft touch and a real heart.

It’s hard to believe that before Michael Chiklis starred as a bad-ass shady cop on The Shield, looking like a cross between Bruce Willis and Andrew Zimmern, he played a doughy, lovable, balding police commissioner of a sleepy town in upstate NY, whose biggest problem was finding his pen

(as it turns out, the network was unsure about casting Chiklis, and apparently later asked him to stuff his shirt and not shave his head in order to look older/schlubbier.  TV magic!)

Keep reading: Lieutenant Cyd Madision AND Stephen J. Cannell!

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Filed under Growing Pains, Jump Streets Ahead, Nostalgia Corner