By Kevin Wilson: CNJ columnist
“You still go to the video rental place?”
The question was inappropriate. OK, so the question itself wasn’t inappropriate — we were on a movie date, so movie questions are fine. But it was the tone. She asked it like one would ask, “You still use a camera with film?” Or “Your car has an eight-track player?”
Yes, I go to the movie rental place. And I rent from those red, box-shaped machines. And I love that place that sends you DVDs by mail, and lets you watch TV shows and “flicks” on the “Net.” (Sorry, I’m seeing just how far I can bend the opinion page’s policies on not mentioning for-profit businesses.)
They all have their pros and cons:
• The rental place is the most expensive option, but the movies are there.
• Movies by mail has the best selection, but you’re at the mercy of your mailbox.
• The box is the cheapest option, but there’s little variety. Imagine if McDonald’s opened an outlet restaurant and everything’s $1, but you can only get Egg McMuffins and ginger ale.
Lately, I’ve swung towards movies by mail, and the option to stream via the Internet. I’ve caught up on a ton of series, and discovered I was foolish to discount “Arthur” because it came out when I was 3 years old.
It was during another TV series viewing that I wondered if the same thing would happen to one of my favorite stars — one Phil Hartman.
Lately, I’ve been using the Internet to watch Hartman as Bill McNeil on “Newsradio,” and snickering every time he knocks a so-so joke out of the park.
And I can always kill time on an episode of “The Simpsons,” where he voices washed-up actor Troy McClure and low-life attorney Lionel Hutz. The much-hyped downfall of “The Simpsons” always gets discussed, but the loss of Hartman never gets its deserved weight in the conversation.
Best known for his eight years on the cast of Saturday Night Live, Hartman earned the nickname of “The Glue” for keeping things together in SNL’s greatest era. It was Hartman, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Dana Carvey, Jan Hooks and Jon Lovitz, closed out by Dennis Miller on “Weekend Update.” Sorry, Will Ferrell and Eddie Murphy, your eras lose.
But it wasn’t Hartman’s big skits I loved the most. They were the small skits, like the robot television show host who became increasingly angry with his producers not listening to him. Or the interview on “Today,” where he brushed off contract questions with, “Well, it’s not the money that’s important. It’s about the things we can buy with the money.”
I don’t expect this column to do much, other than to show my appreciation for comic genius. I just hope the next generation of narcissistic adults on the verge of midlife crisis check out Hartman’s hits, and not fall prey to the self-centered idea that something doesn’t matter if it happened before you were a teenager.
The Glue deserves better.