Originally published on Mike the Pod, 12.16.09
I think we can all agree that this has been a mean year. Personally, the sudden and recent death of a close friend has tinged so many things with sadness; favorite movies, toys, books, comics… it feels endless. These are the trying kind of times that make us crave nostalgia, possibly out of a desire to return to when life was just simpler.
It was this craving that resulted in hours of NewsRadio-watching as of late. It was my favorite show when it originally aired, and I was a struggling actor commuting to Hilton Head for puppet shows and murder mysteries where I always ended up playing the killer, back when you could simulate gunplay in a comedy club without causing a serious problem. I had to do caricatures too, which I hated, but the tipping involved was unbelievable; after one particularly crowded gig on that shoe-shaped island, I thought I was going to get jumped on the walk to my car, due to the baseball-sized wad of twenties that was barely contained in my jeans pocket. I wouldn’t trade it for now, but there are certainly moments I recall fondly, often for their quaint simplicity.
But enjoying NewsRadio in 2009 requires a few mental concessions. You have to forget that one of the brightest stars of its ensemble was murdered, in his prime. You have to forget that producer Drake Sather, a talented comedian in his own right, killed himself about six years ago (although it’s possible you didn’t know about this until now, in which case, sorry). And the opening credits, spotlighting a New York that almost looks idyllic, prominently feature a pair of buildings you might have heard about that don’t exist anymore. To really enjoy the show, one has to climb into its 1990s comfort bubble, and revert to a simpler mindset free of the ugly truths we now know. Heck, people still laugh at Hogan’s Heroes, and there’s a whole movie about what that guy did, and what grim fate ultimately befell him. Also, that whole comedy-Nazi bit.
This is why so many folks come back to toys for mental comfort. I mean, sure, that’s what toys are designed for in the first place, but also, toys don’t suddenly snap and commit murder-suicide, or rob gas stations for coke money. Toys don’t join political cliques that make you lose all respect for them and finally come to hate them and their ass faces. Toys don’t make sex tapes, or hang themselves in a closet while beating off. People get attached to toys easier than they do to other people because toys are far less complicated. It’s a piece of plastic; you’re either entertained by it, or you’re not. Continue reading