Friday, August 23

Watch This First: Julia Louis-Dreyfus with The Practical Theater Company, 1982

by Jason Toon

As a former cast member of Saturday Night Live, Julia Louis-Dreyfus should be the Seinfeld star whose skeletons are easiest to pull out of the closet. But NBC is ruthlessly about 86ing SNL clips from YouTube (with one odd mildly NSFW exception), so here's this instead: a TV report from Chicago about three local comic actors who had just hit the big time. The fresh-faced Louis-Dreyfus, her husband Brad Hall, and fellow SNL rookie Gary Kroeger reminded me of the excessively buoyant theater students from my college dorm - so, frankly, it's not the easiest six minutes for me to sit through.
 


That does it for our week-long excursion into Seinfeld prehistory. See the rest of it - and more video coffee beans plucked from the pile of civet droppings that is the Internet - in the Watch This First archive.

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Thursday, August 22

Watch This First: Jason Alexander for Delta Gold Potato Chips, 1987

by Jason Toon

Unlike his all-singing, all-dancing burgerstravaganza seen here on Tuesday, this static-camera clip finds Jason Alexander staying in one place to extol the virtues of a potato-chip brand I've never heard of. The overall effect is "Albert Brooks's flamboyant junk-food-addicted cousin."
 


See tomorrow's edition of Watch This First for more Seinfeld archaeology. And see our archives for more of our favorite video distractions.

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Wednesday, August 21

Watch This First: Michael Richards & Larry David on Fridays, 1981

by Jason Toon

Today's dig into the Seinfeld sediment yields a double treasure: Larry David and Michael Richards on ABC's briefly hip Saturday Night Live knockoff, Fridays, in 1981. Let's just say the show - including Richards' signature character, Battle Boy, a creepy little kid playing with army men - hasn't aged well. Was it shot on a speeding bus that would explode if the performers failed to deliver a pandering weed reference every thirty seconds? This two-minute excerpt has its share of cheap "ah-woo!"s, but both David and Richards get in a decent moment or two.
 


See tomorrow's edition of Watch This First for more Seinfeld archaeology. And see our archives for more of our favorite video distractions.

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Tuesday, August 20

Watch This First: Jason Alexander for McDLT, 1985

by Jason Toon

Yesterday I showed you the unfunny skeleton in Jerry Seinfeld's closet. But that was only, at worst, the second-most embarrassing moment for a future Seinfeld star. Presenting the classic 1985 commercial featuring Jason Alexander hoofing and crooning in honor of the McDLT, complete with cuffed sleeves on his white sport coat and either a bad toupee or a haircut that looks like one. Alexander makes the most of this no-win situation, throwing himself into the performance with the same whole-hearted enthusiasm that George Costanza put into his elaborate lies.
 


See tomorrow's edition of Watch This First for more Seinfeld archaeology. And see our archives for more of our favorite video distractions.

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Monday, August 19

Watch This First: Jerry Seinfeld on Benson, 1979

by Jason Toon

A decade before his own show revolutionized the sitcom, Jerry Seinfeld had a recurring role on a very un-revolutionary one, Benson. His character "Freddie" was a delivery boy who specialized in very bad jokes and very tight pants. A few seconds of this and even the Seinfeld finale starts to look pretty good.
 


See tomorrow's edition of Watch This First for more Seinfeld archaeology. And see our archives for more of our favorite video distractions.

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Wednesday, August 07

Watch This First: Meet the People at Public Television, 1977

by Jason Toon

I'm Jason and I live most of my life lost in the flickering fantasy corridors of YouTube, gulping down the occasional tube of sports gel only so I have the strength to keep clicking the play button. Starting today, I'll be sharing this burden with you every weekday morning, one video at a time. Today we meet the staff of WOUB-TV of Athens, Ohio in 1977. To watch it is to know that your own workplace will never be this laid-back and optimistic. I wonder if 1977 is hiring.

 

 

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Friday, May 24

Four Arrested Development Bits That Just Don't Work

by Jason Toon

Is Arrested Development one of the funniest, weirdest, best TV shows ever made? No question. Am I eagerly awaiting the return of Arrested Development on Netflix this weekend? You know it, bro. Can Arrested Development sometimes drop a miserable crud-bomb of a joke that makes me squirm with embarrassment for everyone involved? Emphatically, yes.

Here are four Arrested Development bits I've been trying really hard to forget. Let's hope Mitchell Hurwitz et al. don't force me to remember.

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Wednesday, February 20

The Trivial Eye: TV Workplaces

by Jason Toon

As our Cubicle Fever Woot-Off grinds on, here's another piece of work-related (but not that way) frivolity to provide a few minutes of relief from your salaryman anomie. Below you'll find eight workplaces from television programs, some with their names blurred. Can you identify the shows, and the fictional workplaces where their characters punch their imaginary timeclocks?

eight TV workplaces

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Wednesday, January 23

The Trivial Eye: 90s Movies Based on Old TV Shows

by Jason Toon

OK, maybe the '80s got it started with Dragnet, but we really have the '90s to blame for the plague of Hollywood remakes of old TV shows. If it was on the Nick at Nite lineup, you can bet some producer was trying to convince Judge Reinhold or Kelly McGillis that it would be a perfect family-friendly comeback vehicle. Can you endure the awful memories long enough to remember these eight '90s movies based on much earlier TV sources?

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Wednesday, September 05