Ever have one of those moments where someone you haven’t thought about in years is suddenly everywhere you turn? I’m feeling that way lately about my man Chevy Chase. I haven’t been too excited by his output as a movie star since… uh… let’s just say, “a while.” But two recent TV developments reminded me that he can still rule the small screen when he wants to.
First, he made a surprise appearance on last weekend’s Saturday Night Live, commandeering his old post on “Weekend Update” for an all-too-brief political-news segment (pictured). It took me a second to realize how much I’d missed his presence. He was as witheringly sarcastic as he ever was in SNL’s ’70s prime, meting out equal-opportunity barbs to the current crop of presidential hopefuls. (Where would Stephen Colbert be without the original smarmy fake-news know-it-all?) And woe betide the person who tries to play his co-anchor: Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler are hit-or-miss “Update” hosts even at their best, but they looked like flat-out amateurs next to the master of comedic condescension. Meanwhile, today’s news that Chase is joining ABC primetime soap Brothers & Sisters for a multi-episode role as Sally Field’s high school boyfriend (!) was even more of a surprise at first. Chevy Chase, a conflicted love interest in a weepy drama? But then I remembered how great he was playing a thinly-veiled Mel Gibson type on a serious Law & Order ep last fall. Humor may come more naturally, but he can do heavy, too. Let’s face it, Chevy Chase is a TV icon.
Is “icon” too strong a word for Chevy? Well, let’s say a TV icon is someone whose place in TV history is assured, someone who transcends mere acting skill and commands the medium, someone whose very appearance on a show evokes warm memories of time you’ve spent in front of the tube. In my book, Chase qualifies as a top television icon; in your book, maybe it’s someone else. So let’s hear it: Who, living or dead, are your top TV icons?